Could Jerusalem be one of the most overtly cosmopolitan cities in the world?
As with Bethlehem, Jerusalem is a city uncannily familiar to anyone that has attended Sunday School or read an illustrated bible. It’s also seen as the epicentre of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
So I was unsure as to what to expect.
We crossed into Jerusalem through the ‘Bethlehem 300’ checkpoint on foot – experiencing firsthand the challenge that Palestinians looking to reach Jerusalem face: a 30 minute wait with no explanation and a tense passport/ID check.
On exiting the checkpoint we were greeted by a welcome party of Israeli IDF soldiers. These soldiers – many still teenagers can be seen throughout Jerusalem. Compulsory military service means you quickly have to get used to seeing young people carrying rifles. The most startling example of this was when I walked into a toilet at the Central Bus Station only to find four IDF soldiers with rifles around their necks at the urinal. Never has such a simple task felt so tense.