An epic day of walking, reacquainting myself with Jerusalem

I am tired.   Not necessarily from jetlag, but from walking, 13 miles.  A freaking half-marathon.  Today was my day to do some sight-seeing, so I got up, had breakfast at the hostel (I love this place, its not fancy, but its cheap, and it has just a great feel), and then decided to go on a short walk.  Ha!  Short walk.   I had decided that I would go to the Citadel this morning, instead of the Israel Museum, but I thought I would just meander a bit, and then come back to the room before heading out.

I walked down Jaffa Street to King George, and past the hotel I stayed at last year – the City Center Suites.   Kept walking, the city is kind of a ghost town on Shabbat, but it felt safe.  I walked through a park and a garden and ended up on King David Street.   It was familiar, we had dropped a car off there last year.  At this point, I decided it was sunny, not raining, why not just walk a little further.   A few weeks ago I re-watched the movie Schindler’s List, and at the very end, the Schindler Jews all paid homage at his grave-site, which I knew was in Jerusalem.  I had looked it up, and saved it in google maps.  He was buried in the Protestant cemetery.   At this point, it looked like I was fairly close to it.   Close, but the maps don’t show the hills and ravines.   But I kept walking.

I ended up walking past it, could not find any entrance from the road.  Or wasn’t even sure it was there.  But I realized I was at the Tomb of King David.  So I ventured in, and visited the tomb, as it was shabbat, there were lots of people praying.  A christian site was adjacent to it, in the same complex, the room of the last supper.  I visited that too.   But I was determined to find Schindler’s grave.  I went a circuitous path, and finally, ended up at a gate of a cemetery which looked like it was it.  Fortunately two cars showed up, and two Arab families got out, they were going to a family member’s grave.   I asked if this is where Oskar Schindler was buried, and was told yes, and that someone would be along momentarily to open the gate.   So, I managed to get in, and then the man (who was also a tour guide, of course), pointed me to the grave site.   I took a rock, and placed it on the tomb.   I spent far more time trying to find it than I was actually there, but it was truly worth it.

At that point, I walked back past the Tomb of King David to the Zion Gate to the Old City.  I then walked along the inside of the walled city, and came to the Kotel, or Western Wall.   I walked through it, and then back through the Jewish and Armenian Quarters to Jaffa Gate.  Before leaving, I went into the Citadel, or Tower of David Museum.  This was the one Old City attraction I did not get to see my first trip.  It was cool.  The best part was going to the panaromic view on the highest level of the tower.   What a view of the Old and New Cities.   After about an hour I was done, and  by now I was hungry.   I wasn’t in the mood for Old City fare, so I decided to go to the restaurant at the YMCA, which I was told was very nice — and more important – was open on Shabbat.  It was both.    After a great meal, I walked back to the hostel.  I showered, took a break and then said, its 1pm, I am in Jerusalem, I can’t just hang out, I need to visit something.  So I decided I’d go to the Israel Museum.   For this I took a cab.   Kind of felt like I got ripped off with a “shabbat price,” by the cabbie, but he got me there.

The Israel Museum is on a large campus, across from the Knesset.  I immediately went to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, in the Shrine of the Book, and then visited the huge model of second-temple Jerusalem.  Very cool.   Although since I can’t read the Dead Sea Scrolls, it was less exciting than I’d hoped.    I then walked to the main museum, and explored the archeology and fine arts collections.   Both were excellent.  They had a room filled with Piccasos, and a good — not quite Art Institute of Chicago, but still excellent – impressionism, with lots of Monet, Gaugin, etc.   AND yes, there was ONE Van Gogh.  Properly photographed.  The museum was pretty cool.  The archaeology section was excellent.

By now, my energy level was getting depleted, but I still wasn’t thrilled about a 50 shekel cab ride, and by my trust Google Map, it was less than 2 miles back.  SO…. off I went. I started by hoping to catch a view of the Knesset, but it was unclear if foot traffic was allowed, where the gated road was.  Same was true for the Israel Supreme Court.  But it was at least viewable from the road.   I took a few photos, made my way through the Orthodox neighborhoods west of the Mahane Yehuda market, and back to the hotel.   All by 3:20pm.   According to Apple Watch, 1,260 active calories burned, 28,855 steps taken, and 12.96 miles walked.   I believe it.

I’m done for now, going to nap, and then out to dinner with Ethan Felson and the group he is with at a neat restaurant a SHORT walk from here, and a discussion afterwards with the owner and a local Jerusalem poet.

And that was my day.   No great epiphanies, but I saw a lot of the city, and it is a cool place.   I do wish the stores were open, I could use some more food.  🙂

I’ll update this blog with photos later on.   It is nap time.

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