While many of our excursions have taken us all around the country, Adam and I have begun to realize that there are an amazing number of treasures here in Jerusalem. Others have realized this too; in fact there is a blog that provides a lot of information about all the great things to do right here in the city at http://www.funinjerusalem.com.
With my teaching done, Friday has become free once again for Adam and I to get errands done or spend time together. Our first real Friday off together was on May 31st, and we decided that we both needed a taste of nature. We searched online and found a place nearby that would suit our needs. It is called Gan HaKipod, which literally means Porcupine Park. It is to the north of the city, but is accessible by intra-city buses. The main attraction of the park, besides the large play area that has what looks like a giant porcupine, is the gazelle reserve. Behind the actual park is the Ramot Forest which contains a number of hiking trails, one of which is known as the Gazelle trail. It is believed that this part of the forest is home to about 35-40 gazelles and falcons.
We got ourselves together and went to catch the bus to Ben Yehuda. While at the bus stop, we saw some friends of ours and had a nice chatting while we waited for the bus. They were headed in the same direction as us, so we got to ride on the bus with them for a short bit. We got off at Ben Yehuda and then waited a few minutes for another bus to take us to our final destination. Before we knew it, we were walking the streets of Ramot, which is a suburb of Jerusalem. The streets were very quiet and peaceful. We made our way to the park entrance, and we entered at a less official spot so there weren’t too many trail markers or a map. We quickly came to a fork in the path and made a choice, and we began to walk. The trail was not too strenuous, which is what we had planned; we just wanted to be outside. As with our hike in the Jerusalem forest, we were struck by the immediate peacefulness which comes with being out in nature. The more time you spend in the city, the more you get used to the sounds, but when you get away from it, you realize just how loud the buses and traffic can be. It was really nice to just walk together and talk together while looking at amazing flowers, interesting rock formations, and beautiful butterflies. As we walked, we also kept watch for any gazelle. We knew that we weren’t on the official Gazelle trail yet, but the entire park is part of the gazelle habitat so it was worth being alert.
Eventually we came to another fork in the trails. Adam and I like to take paths with as few people as possible, so we made our decision of which path to take based on the fact that we saw other people heading the other way. We walked up hill for a while, and eventually out of the corner of our eyes, we saw a gazelle running away from where we stood on the hill above us. It moved too quickly to get a picture, but it was so graceful! We continued on our path until we found a way to head up the hill where the gazelle was. We were hoping to find it or others, but it had disappeared. We explored the area for a little while before we decided it was time to make our way back. We headed down the way we came until we reached the fork once again.
Instead of going back the way we came, we decided to continue on the path we were on. A few feet later we found signs indicating the start of the Gazelle trail! We were a bit disappointed because it was about time for us to start heading back home, but we figured it was just another reason to come back to the park again in the near future. I sat down on a rock to rest while Adam walked a short bit onto the Gazelle Trail. He said it was nice and more in the trees than where we had been, so it was definitely worth a return trip. We continued making our way back toward the entrance to the park, only this time we found the real entrance where there was an official trail map and the playground that was home to the gigantic porcupine structure for which the park is named. We felt a bit foolish for not starting at this point; if we had we would have spent most of our time on the Gazelle Trail, but it just left more for the future. Our disappointment really was minimal since we really just wanted to be outside together and that is exactly what we did. We left the park, exhilarated from the walk and cheerful as ever.
We grabbed the bus back to Ben Yehuda street where we picked up 20 shekel pizza to take home for lunch. It was so delicious! Then we both rested for a bit before getting ready for Shabbat. It really was a wonderful day; just what we needed after weeks and weeks of stressful work! It really is amazing how many wonderful things exist so close to home!
Until next time…