On Friday, I passed into Israel and made my way towards Jerusalem where I settled at a hostel in the old city.
After going through the immigration officer, recovering your bag and going through custom, the first thing you need to do is usually get money in the local currency. This time, I did not need to do it at once as Rod exchanged his Egyptian pounds he had left and I did not want to exchange the Jordanian dinars I have left since I am going back to Jordan soon. So, I borrowed some money from him and planned on getting cash from an ATM as soon as we would get to Jerusalem.
Once arrived in Jerusalem, we walked into the old city and found a very nice (except for the curfew and some other rules) hostel to stay at. The next step was to get money so we started going around in the old city and could not find any bank or ATM here. I asked to many shop keepers about that and they confirmed the fact: No ATM inside the old city! You have to go out and walk a bit to find one.
Alright, so after having lunch, we went on and exited North by the Damascus gate in the search of a bank. I think we might have walked more than 1 hour in streets bordering the old city but could not find any banks. Asking the locals proved not easy as they either did not understand me (how do you say “Where is the bank?” in Hebrew yet?) or they just did not know where there was one close by! We had come to the conclusion that people in the old city do not use banks and keep all their money under their mattress!
Anyway, since Rod had enough Shekels for 2 for the day, we decided to postpone the money hunt and resume our visit of the old city and neighboring vicinities by hiking to the top of the Mount of Olives and strolling around in the streets of the old city after getting back in through the Lions gate.
We actually gave it another try later in the evening by going in the other direction once out of the Damascus gate but without any more luck. Whatever! Rod still had enough money and worst get worst, I could change some of my Jordanian dinars :).
Yesterday, we decided to resume our search after visiting the Wailing wall and the Church of the Saint Sepulchre as well as some of the other stations and one of the church where the last supper might have taken place. We got out by the Jaffa gate and started walking North on Jaffa street as many people had told us there were banks up on that street. The added benefit being that it was in the direction of what is called the new city that is the animated part of town so we could check it out!
We walked for like 10 minutes: no sign of banks. And with all the shops closed on Saturday, there was no way to ask people.
We continued on walking for like 5 minutes more and here it was: A bank!!! I have never been that happy to find a bank with an ATM.
And it has never been so hard to find one in any city I travelled to before! I usually just need to get out of my hotel and walk for 2 minutes maximum before I find one. But not in Jerusalem if you are in the old city.