Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Beyond Ein Kerem

This beautiful terraced hillside is the Sataf Nature Preserve on the outskirts of Jerusalem just west of Ein Kerem. I rode my bike there yesterday and then got off to go hiking up to a spring where I did some of my reading work for a while.

My reading was interrupted by the arrival of these energetic teenagers arriving on a tiyul (school trip)

I was really touched by how much they seemed to love their trip leader. He's the guy sitting with the white hat and his water bottle, which he appears to carry in an athletic sock.

Here he is, again, preparing to lead his charges into the cave at the spring. Note that he was having a little trouble with his headlamp, which is pointing straight down.

This is the pool at the spring with the cave entrance in the background.

Here's a map of the spring complex.

Up above a bit, there was another spring with a little pool you could dip your feet in. Here another one of the tiyul leaders has just chased a bunch of the kids out of the pool where they were loudly splashing.

Although it's a nature preserve, some of Sataf's terraced hillsides are still being worked for agriculture. It must have taken a lot of labor to terrace these hillsides. I would be interested to know how ancient that work was.

Here's a map of the preserve.

Here's my bike patiently waiting for me to return (and I was glad to get back to the four liters of cold water that were waiting for me in that saddlebag!)

And here's the route (in green, with the hiking portion in red):

View Larger Map

The route took me past Shaarei Tzedek hospital and Har Hezrel. While I was sitting on the ground resting just a bit shy of Har Herzel on the way back, a Russian speaker came up to me and asked me in English for directions to Ein Kerem. . . I was impressed that he was walking so far!

The ride was another challenging one for me. It took me only about an hour to get to Sataf, but it took me nearly three hours to get back! As I'm sure you can guess, it was predominently uphill the way back -- the lowest point (the parking lot at Sataf) is at an elevation of around 500 meters and the highest point was around 820 meters (around Har Herzel). That makes for a climb on the way back of about 1000 feet.

I was glad, however, to find a nice dirt road (=no cars) for a good piece of the return. It led me from the Sataf parking lot to the Ein Kerem traffic circle.

It was another great ride!


Yesterday, by the way, was my two-week anniversary in Israel. . . . I still haven't gotten around to going to the Old City or any museums, but I finally got around to a couple of other things this week. Last night, me and Minna went out to a sit-down restaurant for the first time since I've gotten here (I got some Yemenite meat soup and some kuba). And, on Sunday, we met in a cafe for a "study date" where I got my first double espresso since arriving:

Here's Minna enjoying the last of the yummy sandwich she got there!

I practically lived in these cafes the last time I was here, but I've been more of a homebody this trip.

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