We had a fabulous time in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City and on Ben Yehuda street.
*NOTE: Ben Yehuda street is different from “Machane Yehuda,” which is also known as “The Shuk.” Stay tuned for a post about Machana Yehuda/Shuk when we go later this week.*
Overall both areas are very accessible. They become less accessible with more people (as is the case in most cities). Both neighborhoods have broad streets and very few stairs. The stairs that are present are optional; there is a ramp directly next to the stairs. The bottom-middle picture shows the main street in the Old Jewish Quarter, Rehov Tifereth Israel. We parked at the Yafo Gate and walked / scooted about 7 minutes into the Old City from there. Many of the restaurants have open seating outside, eliminating the need to maneuver Yishai’s scooter inside a restaurant.
As you can see from the bottom-right and bottom-left pictures, there are lots of signs for handicap accessible bathrooms and pathways through the Old City. Very exciting!
One problem we encountered was the bumpiness of the road (see top-left picture). This is a problem that is difficult for people who are NOT in wheelchairs to understand (such as myself!). Going over the very uneven and bumpy roads of the Old City and Ben Yehuda street is very exhausting and trying on the person driving the chair. And we should be careful to point out; these cobblestone streets are not originals! The city of Jerusalem used them to pave the roads of these areas to improve the aesthetics of these areas, especially for tourists. Unfortunately, they did not think about the effect of these stones on certain individuals.
Finally, the picture on the top right: an ice cream shop!!! While many of the stores and restaurants on Ben Yehuda street have 1-2 steps to get in, this ice cream store had not one ramp, but two!!!! They have one entrance and one exit to their store, to encourage the flow of traffic in a single direction. Each entrance/exit has a ramp, so Yishai could drive in, order his ice cream (gleeda!) and then continue driving, without having to turn around in a small cramped store. Yay!!!