when i picture Bethlehem in my head, i think of inns and mangers, not an overabundance of churches and military checkpoints. to be honest, i didn’t know what at all to expect since it wasn’t until this morning that i really learned about how separated (physically and otherwise) the West Bank really is. for five minutes i tried to get the car’s GPS to get us to anywhere in Bethlehem. i was completely confused as to why it kept complaining no route could be calculated and why it had absolutely no street maps at all of the city. thanks to a combination of road signs and Google Maps, though, we made it to — and through — the checkpoint and to Manger Square. and it wasn’t until we drove up to the checkpoint that it dawned on me: i was entering the West Bank, not really Israel anymore and hence outside of the GPS coverage area. (this is also a side effect of letting someone else do all the planning — i know pretty much nothing.)
sidebar: parking it’s not immediately clear where you can and can’t park — we asked a policeman and he directed us to a lot on the other side of Manger Square (continue driving through it, start to head downhill, and will be on your left, a big lot). parking was free despite there being an attendant — not sure who pays his wages!