I have always been fascinated with Hezekiah’s Tunnel–a tunnel hastily built to bring water into a walled city ahead of a siege from an all-powerful nation; a tunnel built through solid rock using only the tools of a Middle Iron Age civilization; a tunnel built coming from both ends to meet in the middle…it’s fascinating to my archeology mind, to my geology mind, to my war history mind.
Yesterday we got to actually traverse Hezekiah’s Tunnel, and it was everything I was hoping for!
(That almost never happens, you know. Sometimes I build stuff up in my head so much that the actual event feels like a letdown.)
With Eva recovering from her faint on Sunday, we deliberately took a slower approach to the day, and didn’t actually get going until around 10am. Eva chose to rest and relax for the day at the apartment, and so we were only eight for our adventure. We bused into the city center, just outside the Western Wall. The City of David is on the lower slopes of a hill just south of the Temple Mount.
The weather yesterday and today (and hopefully tomorrow, when we go to Masada) was/is GORGEOUS. Highs no more than 82 degrees, clouds to cover the sun every so often, and cooling breezes. We feel very blessed and super lucky.
At the City of David, we bought tour tickets for 1300 (1pm), and explored a little (LaDonna and I explored the gift shop first, hahahaha). Gee decided they were not interested in trying to navigate all the stairs on the tour, and so decided to stay behind and “chill” in the shade. Unfortunately, we got our wires crossed and the tour was three hours and not two, so Gee wasn’t thrilled with the extra hour wait. They were so patient, though, and good-natured about it. I’m grateful for such kind and considerate children!
The tour started with a 3D movie (our second in the Holy Land), which was instructive but very propagandist and over-the-top. We thoroughly enjoyed it. 🙂 Then we climbed to the observation tower and admired the view while our guide oriented us.
Our next stop was the (still working) excavations of the “Large Stone Structure” aka David’s Palace. There were many, many stairs–as much as I missed Gee and Eva, it was probably best they didn’t accompany us.
We really loved the House of Ahiel, mostly because it is from the same time period as Lehi and Nephi’s Jerusalem. It was the house of a rich man, which Lehi presumably was, and within the city walls, which presumably Lehi’s house was as well. It’s fun to think about Lehi and Sariah and their boys growing up in this type of house and this area.
When we got to the tunnel, most of our tour group split off to walk through the DRY, short Canaanite tunnel. Em decided to go with them. The rest of our family (and two of the others in the tour) decided to brave the (somewhat chilly) waters and narrow passageways of Hezekiah’s Tunnel.
Things I wish could have been different: I wish it wasn’t so crowded, so I could have paused more in the tunnel. I wish it wasn’t so LOUD–the group behind us were singing and wailing and shouting and ululating and it was very uncomfortable for my ears. But those were totally minor things altogether.
We met up with Em and our tour group at the Herodian stairs. Em had a marvelous time, finding out more really cool things and neat facts. Our tour guide kindly recapped a few last things for the waterlogged tunnel-explorers.
To return, we chose to shun the 5 shekel shuttle and the above ground sidewalk, and took the underground sewer/drainage tunnel. This was cool, and amazing, but really long and uphill and slippery and walking for 30 minutes sometimes hunched over got old fast. I’m still glad we did it, even if Zee and Hebs sped ahead of us and didn’t realize Yummy was trying to keep up. When Yummy got out, they were gone–walking over to the Visitor Center which was not necessarily clearly marked–and she couldn’t see Dad and Mom and Grandma and Em, and it was a little fraught for a time. I’m sorry she got lost in the Herodian Tunnel, but at least there wasn’t too many places to peel off.
We gathered back up and refreshed with cool water and ice creams, we let the ever patient Gee choose dinner–McDonald’s! American food for the win. First we had to navigate rush hour on public transport with a wheelchair. Everyone was so kind. We manage to rearrange and make room for a nursing mother, another wheelchair, and add money to someone’s bus card. It was awesome. And crowded.