Monday, May 18, 2015

Walking in Jerusalem 48 years after reunification

We arrived on a crowded intercity bus from Tel Aviv in the morning on the Jerusalem Day holiday. Traffic was very dense with cars and trucks, horns blowing, people crossing between cars, motorcycles weaving around lanes all in 34 degree heat in full sun. It was a school holiday and there were children in the streets everywhere. We saw groups of teens, parents with small kids, soldiers with heavy back packs and long guns slung over their shoulders, Boy Scouts in uniforms, people wearing white shirts in celebration of the reunification of the city almost 50 years ago.

Jerusalem is a stone city. Apartment buildings, houses, roads and sidewalks are built from the golden white chunks of stone that are dug out to form foundations and shaped by masons to become the building blocks for the project..  Walking on the hilly streets is challenging on a hot day as the heat is also reflected back on you by the stones. Every long walk up and down stony hilled streets is aerobics. Seniors with infirmities and mothers with strollers and small children in tow had the toughest times.

We could not find the small hotel we were seeking. Every person whom I asked suggested we walk straight for 2 blocks and turn left. I finally approached 2 young women who cheerfully looked up the address on their iPhones and then also called the front desk for direction. They were heading to the City celebrations but went out of their way to walk us to the front door.  One woman was so proud of her city that she caught a discarded plastic bag in mid air and put it in the nearest garbage receptical. We would not have spotted the hotel because there is no sign. It is over stores at street level in an refurbished 100 year old building. The guy at the small front desk greeted us with a broad smile. "You were the guys who phoned? Welcome."

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