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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

GREEN AND FLOWERING JERUSALEM NEIGHBORHOOD

Another beautiful day in Jerusalem. We have a “free” day until 4:00 PM, and while shuttle busses take people to a shopping area, Rob and I see a beautiful park from our balcony. We pack some water, our books and cameras and head off to explore.

Jerusalem gardens

Trees and greenery are precious here, and as the official aim is to re-forest the country there are flowers and trees everywhere. During the Ottoman Empire, trees were taxed, so people denuded the land of ornamental trees, keeping olive trees, date palms and other “useful” trees. When Israel became a state, it began a massive effort to reforest—to re-green—the land. Jewish people give money to the Jewish National Fund and other organizations with the express purpose of planting trees. Any occasion—a memorial or a joyous event may result in a gift of a tree planted in a person's name. The tree symbolizes life, and I've always felt that in its planting the tree allows life to continue. The devastating fires Israel suffered earlier this year, therefore, hurt the country and its people in many ways.

Rob and I want to explore the spot of green we've seen from afar. We enter the park at Dutch Corner where, as a sign of friendship in 1990, Holland gifted Israel with hundreds of tulip bulbs. Of course they are not blooming now in November, but we do see a lion with what seems to be a Delft design on its body. Just a guess.

Dutch Gardens, Jerusalem

There is a windmill inside the park we erroneously assume is also Dutch. Actually the British placed it there, but it never worked in this area. Still it looks tall and stately against the brilliant blue sky.

windmill

The park is green, a wide, grassy strip bordered by flowers from the main road down to neighborhood houses. Arbors covered with bountiful and aromatic flowers—as the one under which we sit now as I write—abound with benches to protect people from the bright and hot sun.

flowers

The flowers, the date palm trees, and the ever-present silver-leafed olive trees attract birds. The air is filled with their melodies. The breeze cajoles petals into floating to the white Jerusalem stone walkway, and in some spots the ripe olives have fallen too, leaving dark contrasting stains.

Jerusalem neighborhood
Isn't that Jerusalem stone walk gorgeous?
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Ironically we are in the first neighborhood built outside the Jerusalem walls, Mishkenot Sheananim, and because Jerusalem is built on hills, we sit here looking across the valley in wonder at those ancient walls, now as always a natural part of the city. Beautiful churches reach toward the heavens in Jerusalem.

Jerusalem

To reach our arbor we've walked through narrow streets of homes packed tightly together but many with intricately decorated gates, red Spanish tile roofs, and small yards overflowing with flowers. Lovely and peaceful.

Jerusalem neighborhood.

Jerusalem neighborhood

Jerusalem neighborhood

Jerusalem neighborhood
Notice the address is Windmill Street.  Love it.
We walk to the end of the park by climbing back up the stairway and passing through a copse of evergreens whose pinecones form designs on the thick needle carpet.

Once up on King David Street, the noise level is almost an assault. How the atmosphere has changed in a few short steps. This is a small country with limited space for the luxury of a park in the midst of a famous, ancient, thriving city.
Jerusalem Y
Jerusalem YMCA--famous and rich in programs for all

We walk past the huge YMCA where programs abound.
Past the King David Hotel where fame was gained in 1948.

King David Hotel
entrance to the King David Hotel

We are back in the urban center, and we're ready for lunch in a corner outdoor cafe: avocado/sliced egg/lettuce & tomato on foccacia accompanied by sliced pickles, olives, cherry tomatoes, and sliced cucumbers.

Lunch is over, and it is almost 2:00 PM. On Friday in Jerusalem businesses close at 2 as the city gets ready for Shabbat. For us it's time to go back to the hotel before the next treat of the day, welcoming in the Shabbat by the Western Wall.

travel trips vacations destinations tours "Third Age Traveler" "third age" "travel blogs" photography photos pictures "photo blogs" "Margaret Morse Tours" world "Middle East" Israel Jerusalem Shabbat "Western Wall" windmills England Holland Dutch tulips green nature trees green "Mishkenot Sheananim" lions "Jerusalem YMCA" "King David Hotel" flowers houses gates arbors "Jerusalem stone"
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