There are hills upon rolling hills, some of them mini mountains, that are filled with caves below and many terraces above. These are obviously man-made terraces that contain groves of olive trees, grapes and other lush vegetation, which are supported by many stone walls. There are also the natural terraces cut into the hillside by centuries of layering town upon town as they were destroyed by one invading religious group after another.
The city of Jerusalem also has many, many, many ups and downs, as we discovered not only with our guide, but through our own wanderings. Today was case in point as Drude, Samira and I decided to take on the rampart walk around the city. The wall has a path on top, which served as a lookout, and the views are spectacular, even if cluttered with satellite dishes, water tanks, and roof top junk. The path is as narrow as maybe 24” and 42” at the widest, but the many, many steps are anywhere from about 8” high to 12” high. A very strenuous walk indeed. Iron hand rails have been installed for safety reasons, and I cringe at the thought of soldiers walking that path in sandals with nothing but a mighty drop with one misstep.
We found that from Jaffa Gate to Lion’s Gate was a little far, so descended at Dung Gate (more like Pee Gate) and attempted to get oriented once on the ground. We thought that heading to Via Dolorosa would be our best bet and ran into a really scary mob crunch at one intersection. Everyone was coming into this one spot, and it was extremely difficult to move. We managed to get to a side street, found a restaurant and took a break. By the time we found our way back to Jaffa Gate, we had once again gone up and down stone steps, ramps and uneven paths. Jerusalem residents, no matter which century, really need to be in good shape.
With the Via Dolorosa still in mind, I come to my second surprise. I do not consider myself to be overly religious or spiritual, but I found that while walking this crushing path that Jesus followed, as he carried the horizontal bar of the cross, my emotions got the best of me. Same while at the site of the possible tomb, the Garden of Gethsemane, and going down the donkey trail to Jerusalem. Don’t know why it happened. Something to take home with me to contemplate as Easter approaches.