Israel Trip – Day 10 – November 15 – Tuesday

This was the day that had been set aside as our “free day”.  Basically that means that you could do whatever you wanted to do for the entire day, as long as you let someone know what you were doing.  Some went off to explore Jerusalem, others to do some shopping.  A group of us wanted to do the famous “Hezekiah’s Tunnel”, a tunnel constructed at the direction of King Hezekiah about 2700 years ago through 1500 feet of solid rock.  It was an ancient feat of engineering skill.  The tunnel connects the Gihon Spring with the Pool of Siloam, and the intent was to bring water into the city of Jerusalem and keep it out of the Assyrian hands when they came to besiege Jerusalem.  It’s a forty-five minute walk through a totally dark tunnel (you carry flashlights with you) that has water running through it.  A few times the water got up to our thighs, but most of the time the water was about halfway up your calf.  David and I had prepared by bringing tennis shoes that would dry quickly.  Others brought water shoes or flip-flops.  At times the ceiling gets kind of low and if you’re not careful you will scrape your head on the top (I wore my Angels’ cap).  There are also times when you are walking bent over because the ceiling is low.  And it’s also fairly warm and humid in the tunnel, despite the cool water running over your feet.  Once we got to the pool of Siloam, we hiked back up towards the Temple Mount, stopping to take a peek at the ruins of King David’s palace complex.

When we got to the Temple Mount, some of us went into the area known as the Southern Excavation Park.  A lot has been uncovered since I was here three years ago.  The area covers the southwest corner of the Temple Mount and around to the southern side of the Temple Mount.  All kinds of cisterns, miqvaot (ritual bathing pools), and storehouses have been uncovered.  Also a wall dating back to the time of David has been uncovered as well (the Ophel).  David and I explored, climbed, and took lots of pictures.  We also took a stroll along the top of a section of the wall around Jerusalem.  From there we headed off to explore Jerusalem.  We visited the Wohl Museum – some homes of wealthy people, the ruins of which date back to the time Christ.  We had pizza.  We drank coffee.  We walked through just about every inch of the huge Jerusalem bazaar.  At 5:00pm we met up with Terry and his son John-Mark and Tim in order to have a special dinner.  We had been invited to the home of our wonderful tour guide Miriam and her husband Arik.  Miriam cooked a wonderful Hungarian meal for us and we all talked and laughed.  A wonderful evening.  We’re now back at the hotel and getting ready for tomorrow’s journey.  We have one more day of touring left, including a surprise trip to the city of Bethlehem.  Not many tours get into Bethlehem, but our guide Miriam is one of the few guides who is licensed to take tours into this Palestinian city.  We are all on pins and needles about the prospect.  Tomorrow’s adventure will end at the airport with our flight leaving just before midnight and arriving at home sometime on Thursday.  I’ll try and get one more update out tomorrow, but don’t hold your breath – it all depends on how much time I get and whether or not I have an internet connection.  We certainly are going to be taking back a lifetime of memories.