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Israel Four weeks in Israel, March 2019

Pauline

Forums Admin
Sunday March 24

We are in for two days of cooler temps (low 50sF) and rain. But Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are looking good, so we will probably take the car out and do some hiking in the Judean Hills on those days.

Today it was cooler and overcast, with some rain in the morning, but a light rain. We headed out on foot and walked to the Haas Promenade on the edge of North Talpiot. North Talpiot has rows of modern high rises but has an historic part in the center I think. We will go there another day. The American Embassy which was recently moved to Jerusalem is in this area. On the northern edge there is a park and two long promenades that go along the top of the valley. We started at the Haas Promenade which looks out over the Arab neighbourhood Abu Tor in the Kidron Valley, the Old City (a good view of the gold dome on Temple Mount) and Mount of Olives (the thousands of graves that line the hillside across from the Old City). It was not clear but we still had a good view.

We walked east on the Promenade to the next one, Golman Promenade. By this point the hilltop makes a turn and we were looking east to another part of Abu Tor. We could clearly see the separation wall and Abu Dis in the Palestinian Territories beyond. We kept walking thinking we could then turn into Talpiot, but we had left that area behind and were heading down into Abu Tor, so we turned around and walked back.

From the Haas Promenade we walked north, still along the top of the valley, into Trotner Park and the Peace Forest (planted after the war in 1967 when Israel regained control of this part of east Jerusalem). The park is lovely with fields of olive trees and there were even sheep grazing – right in the city! There are many green areas in Jerusalem making it feel less like a big city. It is the largest city in Israel with a population of 800,000. Israel has a population of 8 million. We walked through the park and came out eventually on the Hebron Road which is the edge of our neighbourhood – German Colony/Baka’a.

We made our way back to Emek Refaim, our main street, and had lunch at the new falafel restaurant. The falafel was great! Green inside, freshly cooked, good pita. I am starting to really like falafel. Steve too.

It rained a bit on our walk. We rarely lose things on our trips, but on this trip we have lost two things. One of our umbrellas (either left in the Haifa apartment, or in a café we went to on a wet day) and one of my two plastic containers that I use for lunch sandwiches. I had it full of carrot sticks and left it in the Kfar Blum hotel, in the fridge. I opened our one remaining umbrella a couple of times, but the rain was light.

Later in the afternoon we walked out again, up into Katamon, to a bakery that we like (Tomer’s). We ended up walking about 6 miles.



 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Monday March 25

Cold (52F) and wet today. Last night we had heavy rain, lightening and thunder. Today we had drizzle in the morning and heavy rain in the afternoon.

With the rain forecast we thought we would have a museum day. The plan had been to go to the Israel Museum. We went there on our first trip but did not give it the time it deserved. But last night we listened to a Peoples March (calling for a new vote on Brexit) speech by Michael Hazeltine and he spoke about the original idea for the EU being to unite the countries so that no wars between them would ever happen again. We always avoid things about the Holocaust because it is too hard to deal with emotionally. We did not watch the popular Schindler’s List movie, we went to one concentration camp memorial (Dachau) 30 years ago and said we would never go to one again, I don’t read books about the Holocaust. We have not been to Yad Vasham, the Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, and had no intentions to go to it. But things going on in the world today made us reconsider and we spent several hours there today.

If we took the bus it would take 40 minutes and involve walking and waiting in the rain, so instead we drove. It was interesting to see how it is driving around Jerusalem - not too bad but traffic is thick and moves fast. People love to beep, especially when the light changes to green and you are not immediately on the go. Steve drove and I directed. We were there in 15 minutes.

Yad Vashem is a large complex on Mount Herzel on the western edge of Jerusalem where the forest starts, sitting high above Ein Karem. Within Yad Vashem are several memorials and the Holocaust History Museum. Entrance is free but it costs 28NIS to park in their underground lot.

The car park was almost full and there were constant tour buses dropping groups off at the entrance. We bought a map of the site, but not the audio tour. Then we spent nearly two hours walking through the History Museum. It was magnificent. It was a walk through time starting when attitudes towards Jews in Europe where changing in the early 1900s, to the rise of Hitler, to the details of the holocaust, with details about Jewish fighting and others helping Jews. It was presented with videos (mostly of survivors talking), photographs, items relevant to the topic (items confiscated, piles of shoes from a concentration camp, part of the rail line in a concentration camp). One part was set up to look like the Warsaw Ghetto. It was made personal with personal stories on the videos and details in the exhibits. Very moving, but so well done that it did not make you an emotional wreck (which was my fear).

The museum is in a long wide hallway with rooms to each side and you zig-zag your way through history. There were a lot of people but everyone was reading and looking and there was so much to see that the crowd did not matter.

The last room is the Hall of Names where they record the names and details of everyone killed in the Holocaust. It is a large dome with photos. In the center is a deep hole into the stone with water at the bottom. I heard someone say it was an old reservoir discovered when they were building the museum.

The hall ended with glass doorways onto a terrace on the edge of the cliff looking out to the forest. Israel has planted many trees in the Judean Valley and it is beautiful to see.

We skipped the Children’s Memorial (which Amy just posted on Facebook was amazing to see), but walked to all the other sites. I loved the Valley of the Communities where they made a 2.5 acre monument dug out of the bedrock with the names of the over 5,000 Jewish communities decimated in the Holocaust. There is also a Cattle Car Memorial to the Deportees, a cattle car on a track suspended over the hillside.

We could have spent hours there. I am happy that we went – but it is such a horrible part of history to remember. Still, very significant to see it in Israel. Even though I don’t like to read about the Holocaust, most of the history was familiar to me, so I have absorbed it from somewhere.

We were going to go into Ein Karem (I love that village on the edge of the city) but it was very cold and the rain was starting. We drove home, went to Bagel Café and got fresh bagels, got good pickles at the supermarket, then had a fabulous lunch with that and spreads we had left over from the weekend.

Nothing more today because the rain was too heavy.








 

ItalophileNJ

100+ Posts
I read in Haaretz that dressing up for Purim originated with Italian Jews in the 14th century!
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-why-do-jews-dress-up-for-purim-1.5330308

Ha’aretz is my go-to source for Israel news, but I’m not sure you can read any of it without a subscription. So here’s another link, to Tablet, which is pretty reliable for discussions of non-hot Jewish news topics and culture. As usual, no one really knows.

https://www.tabletmag.com/scroll/189349/the-origins-of-your-favorite-purim-customs
 

ItalophileNJ

100+ Posts
You will get a very different picture of life in Israel. I read Ha’Aretz in English online, and I also have Jerusalem Post headlines coming up on my homepage. Also the Times of Israel mostly for its blogs ——-and not only because an old friend is an editor.
Ha’aretz is pretty far left and/but has serious journalists on its staff. Including one whose beat includes archaeology.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Tuesday March 26

If anyone is following the current Brexit turmoil, Sir Oliver Letwin is our MP (from West Dorset – not that I voted for him). He is leading the current effort to have parliament take over Brexit.

No rain today but it was cold. Low 50sF. Such different weather than our last two visits! We were here a year ago and it was hot in Jerusalem. Happily I packed our lightweight puffy jackets (we use them for hiking) and we wore them today.

What a wonderful, life-affirming, day – which we needed after Yad Vasham and after spending almost a week in a big city. We did the Wadi Ktalav hike, from Israel by Foot, which we did last November. The first time we did the hike it was only our second hike in Israel and I was shocked by how rocky the trail was (you had to be very careful walking) and that we were frequently scrambling up and down large rocky sections. Some even had handholds that you used to climb up the rock, or places where you had to sit down to be able to get down to the lower level. We don’t do scrambling like that in England!

This time we were prepared. We drove out to Bar Bahar, a restaurant in the countryside where the hike starts. It is just over 30 minutes from where we are staying. You drive on Highway 60, the road to Hebron, so go in and then out of the West Bank Area C, which was unsettling last time but now I am used to it. No one looked at passports going in or out, both ways. Cars just drive slowly through. We drove by Palestinian towns and by Israeli settlements.

The weather was sunny for a bit, then cloudy, all day long. The hike took us four hours and was fabulous. It is a good workout and we felt it. You start up high then walk down into a canyon, along the midpoint for awhile, then right down to the bottom and back up again. So lots of climbing.

At the start of the hike we talked to a young couple who were walking out when we were but they stopped at the first viewpoint. They are both originally Americans (brought here by their parents I would guess) but now live in Israel. Judging by their dress they are religious (he had strings dangling, she in a headscarf). We talked for a bit. They wanted to know where we were from, why we moved to England, why we come to Israel. They live in Gush Etzion, which I am pleased to say I knew was a West Bank settlement. (Some tourist info I was reading recommended going there for hiking, so I looked it up and the tourist information failed to mention it was a settlement!) So I asked them how it was living in a settlement town. He said it is just like living in a suburb, except that people shoot at you. I asked if it was cheaper to live there compared to Jerusalem which has very expensive real estate. He said rent is only 1000NIS ($300) cheaper per month and you need a car to live there, where you don’t in Jerusalem. I didn’t ask anything more, but I had a million questions. It is true that these settlement towns could easily be mistaken for suburbs. Rows of new houses or apartments, usually with red roofs. Very organized looking. Surrounded by fencing and with a security gate – but every small town in Israel is like that, which is very surprising to me. Even our Amirim, the vegetarian village in the Upper Galilee, has a security gate (open during the day, closed at night and everyone has a clicker to open it) and is surrounded by fence.

We finished the hike at 3:30 and the restaurant was still serving. People from Jerusalem drive out here just for the restaurant (Bar Bahar). We had sandwiches on the hike but we are usually both starving after a hike like this. We had a very nice late lunch. I had Shakshuka (eggs in tomato sauce) and Steve had lentil soup. The restaurant is vegetarian. We sat out on the deck, in the sun (at times), with an incredible view. The restaurant was busy even this late in the afternoon.

After our late lunch we drove another 15 minutes west to a spot I had read about – Derech HaKaiser (the Caeser’s Route), remains of a Roman Road that went to Jerusalem. Ancient steps carved out of stone remain of the route. We parked at the downhill end of the hike and walked about a mile uphill, in the woods along a busy highway, and found the steps. It was starting to get dark so we turned around. The steps were right alongside the road. They are wide and long – carved out of the stone. Archaeologists believe the road was built for a visit by Emporer Hadrian in 130 AD/CE.

At the start of the walk we came across some Roman pillars lying by the trail. You could easily miss them. I see now reviewing my notes about this walk that these were milestones when they were upright! Just like the ones we’ve seen in France.

I drove us home. Usually Steve drives and I navigate, but I am trying to get some Jerusalem driving in because I want to get used to it. We use Waze to navigate and coming up to the checkpoint to leave the West Bank the traffic was slowing and Waze wanted me to exit to take a road to avoid the traffic. I don’t think so!! I am sure I would come across the big red sign that tells you this is Area A and you are not insured if you drive there (and that Israeli citizens cannot go there and their lives could be in danger).

Home in the dark – but worth it to have seen those Roman steps.





 

ItalophileNJ

100+ Posts
Oops, I didn't notice that ItalophileNJ mentioned that already....anyway, now it's been given two positive recommendations.

No problem, @joe. Just more notice given to Times of Israel.
My friend who is an editor says she knows she is doing her job well when she gets both email complaing she is too slanted to the left and email complaining she is too slanted toward the right.
 

joe

500+ Posts
This time we were prepared. We drove out to Bar Bahar, a restaurant in the countryside where the hike starts. It is just over 30 minutes from where we are staying. You drive on Highway 60, the road to Hebron, so go in and then out of the West Bank Area C, which was unsettling last time but now I am used to it. No one looked at passports going in or out, both ways. Cars just drive slowly through. We drove by Palestinian towns and by Israeli settlements.

Actually, there is no need to take Highway 60 or to go through checkpoints. A much nicer drive is to take 386 from Ein Kerem or the vicinity. You can program Waze in Settings, to avoid roads that go through the A,B territories, or "high-risk areas". Otherwise, Waze will simply direct you to the shortest route.
 
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Pauline

Forums Admin
Wednesday March 27

Cold today, but warm in the few sunny spells. Rain was forecast but never came. We had planned to drive out to hike, but tomorrow is supposed to be much warmer (64F) so we will hike then. Today we did some local exploring and got groceries for our last few days.

We took the bus up to the market. The number 18 bus is our main transportation. It stops at the end of our block, goes along Emek Refaim, then into the city center running parallel to Jaffa Road, crossing it and going to the market and on to the bus station. Traffic is usually thick in the town center and it was today.

The road that it runs along is on the edge of the Haredi (Orthodox) neighbourhood so is always interesting to watch out the windows. We’ve been re-watching Shtisel, an Israeli TV show set in the Haredi society, in the evenings and I love watching the Haredi walking along the streets. It is funny how you start to see more details the more you watch things. Today I noticed a different type of Haredi dress, where the men where long black coats to their knees with only black tights visible from the knees down. I saw that they wear short trousers to the knee under the long coat. One young man wore this style in a jaunty way, walking along with his prayer shawl in an embroidered bag and within a plastic bag, because of the predicted rain. His black hat was even at a jaunty angle.

When it starts raining I watch some of the men take their wonderful black hats and wrap them in plastic before putting them back on.

We got off the bus near the market and then walked around the Nahla’ot neighbourhood across from the market. It has narrow pedestrian lanes and low rises buildings with small parks here and there. It must be one of the older neighbourhoods.

We went into the market again and had hummus for lunch at the same vegetarian place that we went to last March (Hagas 1).

We had planned to either walk down Mount of Olives, or go to the City of David area but it was cold and windy so instead we walked around downtown a bit more, then took the bus back to our neighbourhood (German Colony) and walked around our pretty streets. I felt like we had not spent enough time in our own neighbourhood, so it was good to do this.

I am trying to figure out what I think of this apartment we are in. It is nicer than the other two we rented previously, but it isn’t perfect. (That Haifa apartment is perfect, even if you can hear noise from the street.) Like every apartment in Israel, or so it seems, there is a solar heated hot water tank on the roof. I still am surprised when I see apartment buildings like ours with all the water tanks on the roof. There is an electric booster to use when it has not been sunny. We don’t always have hot water and last night when we were using the electric booster, it blew out all the electrics for the apartments. We’ve had very little contact with the owners or managers of the apartment. They are good at sending me messages suggesting that we hire one of them as a tour guide, but no messages at all to see if we have arrived and how we are doing. We did not see them when we arrived, but checked in via a lock box. I phoned them to ask where the breakers were (there is no house book, just a short note saying to not use the hot water booster for more than 1 ½ hours). I explained who I was and what the problem was and was then told she could not understand me and to speak slower. I did that and it took her awhile to figure out where we were staying (they own/manage several apartments) and then she told me where the breaker is and we got the lights on. But I feel like we are here on our own with no contact. Such a difference from the place we rented in Amirim where you were greeted on arrival and sent a message every day asking if you needed help or advice.

Also, all the reviews on Airbnb say the place is “spotless”. Cleanish, I would say, certainly not spotless. Everything was covered in thick dust when we arrived but that was probably just because all the windows were open and it was easy to clean. It feels like an apartment that a lot of people stay in – such is Airbnb where you rent for one or two nights. High turnover wears out an apartment.

So I am still looking for that great Jerusalem apartment that we can return to each year. It may be this one. The stovetop is excellent, good sized fridge, washing machine. I don’t mind the two flights of stairs. And it has huge windows with good light. Oh, I forgot my main complaint. There is construction going on about 50 feet from our bedroom window! There is an older highrise there and they are renovating an apartment. I should count myself lucky that they are not putting up a new building. We don’t hear the noise in any other room and at least it gets us up earlier than usual. There is construction everywhere in Jerusalem (and Tel Aviv – last November our apartment was beside a big construction project) so maybe it is unavoidable.






 

ItalophileNJ

100+ Posts
Aah, i thought from your doorway photo on Instagram that you were at the Israel Museum!
I think that Nachla’ot is an old neighborhood that’s seen a lot of renovations recently, some beautiful apartments. But I’m attached to the Moshava, the German Colony because....just because.
And also because it’s possibly the only neighborhood in Jerusalem with a choice of liberal synagogues.
Sorry your landlord is MIA. One of the things I like so much about the Colony Suites apartments is how well they’re managed and how quickly any minor problem gets taken care of. But then again I don’t care so much about having a full kitchen; a refrigerator, range and some oven like apparatus is fine. And a washer.
Enjoy the rest of your trip!
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Yes Colony Suites was better about meeting you on checkin. It makes a big difference to start off with a personal interaction I think. I want to rent their Wedgewood apartment but there has been construction next door. They told me about it when I was wanting to book last November. We walked by today and they are in the finishing stages.
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Thursday March 28

Thursday is Israel is like Friday in the UK (because the weekend here starts on Friday) and a stupid day to plan a trip out to the countryside, but the weather was great and that is what we did. We paid for it coming back into Jerusalem at 5pm, but it was worth it.

Warm, almost hot, and sunny today. We drove out into the Judean Hills west of Jerusalem. It took less than 30 minutes to get to Sataf, a park, archaeological site and hiking area. This area is north of where we were two days ago and we drove out through Ein Karem. I had hoped to spend an afternoon wandering around Ein Karem on this trip (we’ve done on previous trips), but we haven’t. I love Ein Karem. I would love to live there because you can get a bus to the city train for Jerusalem or you can walk out on trails into the hills. Plus it is a very cute town. Marian told me about it when I was planning our first visit. We went there and I fell in love. This will most likely be an unrequited love.

Ein Karem sits on the side of a valley below the outskirts of Jerusalem and below the huge Hadassah Hospital. You can see that hospital from most hikes in this area. The valley goes down to the Soreq River after Ein Karem. Sataf sits up high on the other side of the valley, with Mount Eitan rising above it.

We were at Sataf on our last trip. We took a bus from Jerusalem to Sataf, then walked from there to Ein Karem. This time we would do the trails through Sataf. This area was a farming community 6,000 years ago (Chalcolithic Period), during the Israelite time. Terraces were built 4,500 years ago. The area flourished in the Second Temple and Byzantine periods. The terraces and fields have been restored and are farmed now.

We walked the main trail through the site in a circular walk from the upper parking lot. It took less than 2 hours (3 miles). It was fabulous except for one thing – school kids, hundreds of school kids. I think it is better to hike in these areas on the weekends when you don’t have these large groups. Luckily the groups tended to gather in one spot for lectures by their teachers, so we were able to scoot past them and after the first 30 minutes they were behind us.

There are two springs, the remains of the village, rows and rows of terraces, views, olive trees, fig trees, wildflowers. It was a fabulous walk.

We were finished around 1:30 so decided to drive further west to find the Burma Road. During the 1948 War of Independence when Israel was created and the Arab armies decided to take more land than had been agreed to, the Arabs blocked the road between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to starve out the Jews in Jerusalem. The Israelis built a new road not far from the blocked road and used it to move supplies into Jerusalem. Trucks from Tel Aviv met trucks from Jerusalem at a mid point and gave them the supplies. People from around the world came to Israel to help with this project. There is a memorial to them.

Much of the road still exists as a rough dirt road. We drove to a mid-point on the road, near where the read mid-point was, near a spring where goods were moved between trucks, parked and walked west for 1 ½ miles, then walked back. The part we walked was through a big valley now filled with grape vines. We came upon a sort of memorial – cutouts of the trucks that went along this road.

Near where we parked, where the road continues east (and that looks like it would be a good walk), there is a memorial to the Burma Road listing the people from overseas who came to help.

It was 4:30 now and we decided to head home. There are several more things I wanted to see (the valley where the David and Goliath story happened, the start of the Burma road), but I thought we should head back earlier because it is Thursday night. Steve drove because the navigating was going to be tricky. The drive on highway 1 was okay but we could see the traffic thickening and stopping and Waze directed us off the highway, us and many others, onto small roads that wound up the hills to Jerusalem. The traffic got thick there too and we sat hardly moving for 30 minutes or so. A very circuitous route to avoid heavy traffic roads and we got home an hour after we started.

Difficult driving. Israelis drive like southern Italians. They beep nonstop, the force themselves in front of you, then the guy behind beeps because you let someone in. Motorbikes pass you in the breakdown lane. One guy did this and there was a car in the breakdown lane and only because Steve slowed to let him in was an accident prevented. A guy behind us for the part where traffic was hardly moving beeped nonstop – and he was in a car decorated for a wedding! Anyway, home with no incident but yikes!

We did some last grocery shopping because shops will be packed tomorrow, then closed Friday afternoon until Sunday morning, and we leave Sunday! We bought dates to bring home (some for us and some for our neighbour who looks after our house). Then we got takeout falafel for dinner.

We got sun today – my face feels hot – but what a lovely day! Except for the dog. A big barking dog ran for us at the start of the Burma Road. I am terrified of large dogs and my instinct was to get behind Steve. Steve is happy to kick a dog that comes too close, so that was my best defense. His owner finally called him off us, so no kicking was done, but I was shaken. Dogs! Don’t get me wrong, I like small and medium size dogs, and dogs who ignore me even if they are big. It is the ones that run towards me barking that I hate.











 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Friday March 29

In the mid-1990s Steve had a job that required him to spend a week every month in New York City. This went on for over a year. I frequently went with him and we both got to spend a lot of time there. One of the things that I loved was walking out on Saturday night to get the Sunday New York Times. You could beat the morning rush and get your paper the night before.

Yesterday early evening when we were walking out to get falafel for dinner we stopped at the French Bakery on Emek Refaim to get bread and saw that they had shelves full of challah. That bread was not going to sell that evening, so it must have been for Friday, when the crowds hit the shops and get their food for Shabbot. We bought our challah Thursday night and beat the Friday crowds! We just had it with dinner tonight and it was very good. Our loaf last Friday was not as good.

Usually we get up at 8am. We are not early risers. Today we slept in until 9am and I was surprised. I had hoped to get us out the door early so we could do a hike out in the hills and be back in the afternoon. We were moving slow and it was getting too late. Plus it was overcast and raining. Then I realized – the clocks went forward at 2am Friday morning, so we had got up at 8am on the old system. Not as lazy as I though.

But still lazy. Instead of going for a hike, we had late breakfast/early lunch at Caffit, a kosher dairy restaurant on Emek Refaim that Marian told me about before our first trip. I’ve always wanted to have breakfast there but it never fit into our schedule. It was very nice. Steve had bagel with smoked salmon, I had shakshuka. It was fun watching all the action in the restaurant.

After that we strolled around Emek Refaim until it started raining again then went home. We talked through several options for the day – bus to top of Mount of Olives, then walk to Old City and home (because buses stop running in the afternoon), bus to Old City and do the Ramparts Walk, walk into Talpiot, etc. – but it was getting late and still raining, so a nap was the chosen activity. The sun came out in the late afternoon, around 5pm (which really is 4pm), and we did a nice walk along the Train Line Park to First Station and then to a viewpoint to look at the Old City. First Station was busy. Some places were closed for Shabbot (places close around 3pm) but many were open and a lot of people were out. The sun felt wonderful after the dreary day.

We took the long way walking home because I wanted to hear the siren that announces the start of Shabbot (at sunset). It is in the Srugim (TV show) introduction and they talk about it on the show. We have never heard it and we have been there for several Fridays. I might have heard it last Friday. I read that it goes of 40 minutes before sunset to give people notice. Well, we didn’t hear it. But Shabbot was starting. Fewer cars on the road, groups of men heading to the synagogue (one is around the corner from us), people walking in the middle of the street. That wonderful feeling of peace as the sun sets and the city grows quiet.

This morning I thought “I am ready to go home”. This evening I felt really sad about leaving. One more day and rain is forecast.





 

Pauline

Forums Admin
Saturday March 30

Horrible weather! It was forecast to rain all day but changed yesterday to say rain mid-afternoon, so we headed out for a last hike. We drove across town to Yad Kennedy, a monument to JFK at the western edge of town, past the Hadassah hospital, past the town of Aminadav. It was 10 minutes across town, with hardly any traffic (religious Jews don’t drive on Shabbot), then 10 minutes on a narrow road going around Aminadav to Yad Kennedy, then down a narrow road to the park, Se’Adim Ruins in the Aminadav Forest.

We did this hike last November, The Springs Trail from Israel by Foot, and loved it. That time we took the bus to the Hadassah Hospital and walked down to the midpoint of the hike. This time we started at the official start and did the short version, about 1 1/2 hours. It was cold and windy but nice when the sun came out. The springs we walked by were beautiful. Our views included Mt Eitan and Sataf where we hiked on Thursday. There were a lot of wildflowers. We saw a tortoise.

Halfway into the hike the lightening and thunder started. We put on our rain jackets and then the skies opened. It poured for 15 minutes. The trail turned to a river. By now we were heading back on a dirt road so it wasn’t so bad. The rain stopped and we were dry by the time we reached the car. We saw a few other hikers and some bikers. There were even a couple of 4x4s, which are allowed on a different trail.

When we got into the car, the skies opened again. We drove back home and spent the afternoon getting organised to leave tomorrow.

We could not get much of a late checkout, 11am instead of 10, and we don’t have to leave town until 12:30 (flight at 4:40pm, arrive 3 hours ahead, 1 hour drive), so we will probably go out for breakfast and then drive up to the Israel Museum for a short visit. Rain is forecast for all day tomorrow. The weather changes to warm and sunny on Tuesday. And at home in Dorset it has been sunny and warm all week. Hopefully the good weather there will continue for us.



 

ItalophileNJ

100+ Posts
Saturday March 30

Horrible weather! It was forecast to rain all day but changed yesterday to say rain mid-afternoon, so we headed out for a last hike. We drove across town to Yad Kennedy, a monument to JFK at the western edge of town, past the Hadassah hospital, past the town of Aminadav. It was 10 minutes across town, with hardly any traffic (religious Jews don’t drive on Shabbot), then 10 minutes on a narrow road going around Aminadav to Yad Kennedy, then down a narrow road to the park, Se’Adim Ruins in the Aminadav Forest.

We did this hike last November, The Springs Trail from Israel by Foot, and loved it. That time we took the bus to the Hadassah Hospital and walked down to the midpoint of the hike. This time we started at the official start and did the short version, about 1 1/2 hours. It was cold and windy but nice when the sun came out. The springs we walked by were beautiful. Our views included Mt Eitan and Sataf where we hiked on Thursday. There were a lot of wildflowers. We saw a tortoise.

Halfway into the hike the lightening and thunder started. We put on our rain jackets and then the skies opened. It poured for 15 minutes. The trail turned to a river. By now we were heading back on a dirt road so it wasn’t so bad. The rain stopped and we were dry by the time we reached the car. We saw a few other hikers and some bikers. There were even a couple of 4x4s, which are allowed on a different trail.

When we got into the car, the skies opened again. We drove back home and spent the afternoon getting organised to leave tomorrow.

We could not get much of a late checkout, 11am instead of 10, and we don’t have to leave town until 12:30 (flight at 4:40pm, arrive 3 hours ahead, 1 hour drive), so we will probably go out for breakfast and then drive up to the Israel Museum for a short visit. Rain is forecast for all day tomorrow. The weather changes to warm and sunny on Tuesday. And at home in Dorset it has been sunny and warm all week. Hopefully the good weather there will continue for us.



Love the field of anemones, kalaniot
כלניות
That’s my granddaughter’s Hebrew name, Kalanit
כלנית
 

Pauline

Forums Admin
We are home. Our flight yesterday was at 4:40pm so we did not need to leave Jerusalem until 12:30. We had breakfast at Bagel Cafe then left the apartment. It was a lockbox checkin and checkout. We never met the owners/managers.

I liked the apartment because it was very bright and the kitchen was good but there was a problem with hot water. It is a solar powered heater on the roof. This is pretty standard there. But they ask you to never put the electric backup system on for more than an hour and a half. We had many cloudy days and not much hot water. If I wanted a morning shower I had to turn on the electric backup then wait for an hour. The apartment sleeps 4 - 6. I don’t know how more people would manage.

We had an hour to fill before leaving so we drove around some neighbourhoods I wanted to see - more of Baka’a and Talpiot. We even found the new America Embassy in Talpiot. We stopped at the Haas Promenade for a last view of the Old City and Mount of Olives.

The weather was good but the heavy rain came on our drive to the airport. Waze took us on a different route than I expected. Not highway 1 but a route to the north the cut through Area C of the West Bank. An appropriate way to say goodbye driving with high security walls on each side of the road.

Sometimes it reminds me of that sci-fi book O Zone, where wall lined roads take you through the rough parts of town. Other times it makes me think of a recent BBC show called The City and The City (based on a book) where two cities are side by side but people learn to not see the other city.

It was a fabulous trip. We learned more about Israel on this trip and saw a lot of things that I wanted to see. The hiking could have been better but we had several rainy days and the ground was muddy. Still we did some really good hikes.

I bought 2 kg of organic dates, more dates as gifts, two jars of tahini, zatar (herbs), a book listing all the National Parks because their website is not easy to use, two copies of a cheesy tourist guide (great descriptions of the main sites) - a copy for me and one for Valerie and Bryan because they are planning a trip - pretzels , a some nuts. Our two suitcases weighed 22.5 kg and the limit is 23 kg, us a bag of wet hiking gear (from that last walk where we were caught in the rain).

We misjudged our gas for the car and returned it 3/4 full when we had paid for the tank and should have returned it almost empty. Oh well ...

It took 1 1/2 hours to get through Israeli security, airline checkin, airport security, passport control. We shared a Sabich Sandwich (potatoes, eggplant and eggs I think) at the Aroma in the airport. The flight was good. We spent the night at the Sofitel at Heathrow. We’ve stayed there so many times that we get upgraded to a luxury room every time.

Drove home this morning on a mild, sunny day with blossoms on the trees and new lambs in the fields. And Brexit turmoil. Home!


 

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