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January 02, 2014 - Image 19

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-01-02

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

world >> on the cover

Birmingham Wellness Center Presents

Frugal Travelers

A local couple finds an affordable
way to enjoy Jerusalem and Israel.

Barbara Lewis I Contributing Writer

CONTINUED FROM PAGE 1

remodeled the rooms into comfortable
studio flats. The common area has a
washer and dryer (so we were able to
pack a lot less for our three-week trip),
vacuum and computer for tenants' use.
Each large, air-conditioned room has a
lofted queen bed, reached by seven spiral
steps. Under the loft is a bathroom with
shower and a kitchenette, with a small
fridge, microwave, two-burner hotplate, a
few pots and pans, dishes and silverware.
For an extra $10, Eliana will provide
kosher kitchenware.
The room is furnished comfortably
with a table and chairs and a futon that
can sleep another person, and there's
wi-fi. Most rooms have a tiny balcony
with a table and benches for two. Sitting
on our balcony, we were able to chat with
some of our neighbors: a man and his
adult daughter from Ontario, and a young
couple from Germany.
There were some trade-offs, like no
television. Sheets and towels are provided,
but we had to buy some basics, including
shampoo, napkins and a small French
press to make coffee. There was no house-
keeping, and we had to take out the trash.
But right downstairs there was an
Aroma cafe (the Israel equivalent of
Starbucks) and a delightful French pastry
shop with fabulous croissants. After a few
days, the owner recognized us as regulars
and greeted us affably.
We were a 10-minute walk from the
Machane Yehuda market, where we
bought fresh fruits, vegetables, cheese and
nuts so we could make supper in the flat,
saving money we would have spent on
restaurants.
We used public transportation instead
of renting a car. Our flat was a block away

from Jaffa Road, site of the new light rail
line that runs from one end of the city to
the other. More than a dozen bus lines
run along King George Street, so it was
easy to get anywhere. We even figured
out how to buy "Rav Kay" cards. First,
you buy the card for about $1.50, and
then you can load discounted fares onto
it. We bought 10 trips on the bus or light
rail (normally $20) for $16. The card is
reloadable.
We were steps away from the Ben
Yehuda Mall, the heart of center city. We
could easily walk to the Old City, about a
mile away, and to the new Mamilla Mall,
which has upscale shops, restaurants, out-
door art and street musicians.
Our rent was so reasonable that we
didn't mind paying for a few days we
didn't use. When we went away for two
nights to Eilat and Petra (in Jordan) in the
middle of our visit, and to a friend's house
for Shabbat, we took a minimum of lug-
gage and left most of our stuff "at home'
Had we stayed in a hotel, we'd have had to
pack everything up and move out.
We found plenty to do in Jerusalem.
There's always something new in the
archaeological digs in and around the Old
City, and many excellent museums. We
did something touristy just about every
day, but because we were there for an
extended stay, we never felt rushed.
There are similar studio rentals near
the King George Suites, including the fan-
cier City Center Suites — but they cost at
least 50 percent more. If you're willing to
stay in a less central neighborhood, there
are small apartments for rent for a price
similar to what we paid.
We found basing ourselves in one city,
renting an apartment and using public
transportation was an easy and cost-effec-
tive way to experience Israel. ❑

A well-
located,
affordable
Jerusalem
studio
apartment
served as

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January 2 • 2014

19

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