It’s our free day in Jerusalem. Oh the decisions and options from which to choose. There are some basic things that are always great to do – so I stuck with the more traditional options.
I actually slept until 7:45 am. Didn’t think that was possible. It only means that getting home jet lag will be a bear. But I cleaned up quickly and headed down for breakfast. It wasn’t too crowded that late in the morning.
After breakfast we rounded up in the lobby at 9, and eleven of us headed out to walk the walls of Jerusalem – the Rampart Walk! We decided to head down to the Damascus Gate and begin from there. It’s a bit of a hike, but we had fresh legs. The only problem was that when we got there, it is closed for restoration. Of course, nothing ever says that or anything. So we had to come back up to the Jaffa Gate – and this time we came outside the walls.
Got to the Jaffa Gate, got our tickets – a little strange. No one was in the ticket booth, but in a shop he sold us tickets. Then, when we got over to the entrance, someone was there to let us onto the wall – and I think would have sold us tickets. A bit confusing.
But we were soon up on the wall – and I loved every step. It was a nice sunny day and we had a great time strolling down some very historical vistas. As we got over toward the end I could just reflect on how familiar David and Solomon would have been with those views and the same hills I saw on the walk. It is an amazing experience.
Off the wall finally – and we decided to head down into the Kidron Valley. We hadn’t even seen the bottom and the two monuments down there. We were certainly an adventurous lot by now. Oh, but we lost a couple of folks at this point.
It was great to walk down into the Kidron Valley – and even more powerful to be at the bottom and look up to the Temple Mount towering over us. Wow. What a perspective.
We then headed up the valley again and past the Church of All Nations. Crowded today and glad it wasn’t on our itinerary. Then through St. Stephen’s Gate back into the Old City – and really the Via Dolorosa. I did miss a turn so we had to ask for some help from kids to get out. They wanted money. But were not interested in the amount I offered. So I’ve been officially cursed in the Old City. Sweet.
We made it to the Panoramic Restaurant – with views of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and Dome of the Rock and the tower of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer. Three stories up – tarps above us – with a gentle breeze, it was lovely. Really lovely. And the lamb schawarma….best of the trip! It was amazing.
Then some shopping – well, a couple of hours of shopping and back to the hotel to rest, type, pack, and soon we’ll see about going out again.
Just back from our farewell dinner. And, the food was delicious. Salads and BBQ – which means grilled chicken, lamb, and ground lamb. And we got the best fried ever – piping hot with a wonderful spice sprinkled on top. There were some grilled tomatoes (I let others have mine being the servant that I am) and onions. Oh wow -- best dinner we’ve had in Israel. The Ambassador is a lovely hotel and we enjoyed our evening there – just wish it could be inside the Old City like Hotel Gloria.
We begin to break up the group tonight. Ronnie Paul heads out tonight. Sharm and Gena in the middle of the night. Hard to fathom that this is all wrapping up already. But, we have Jordan ahead of us, and that will be interesting for sure. We are up at 6 in the morning, out the door at 7:30 – all our luggage in tow. And we’ve done enough shopping that the luggage should be bursting at the seams! Good for the local economy at least.
I’m going to hit the sack early tonight, and try to stay ahead in the sleep department. I walked plenty today – so I’m just as tired as ever. Before dinner I went up onto the roof and read some Scripture – and then went back just before we left for dinner for some farewell pictures of the walls. Hmmm…when can I come back?