After getting back from the Synagogue, we headed off on our first official trip of the day.
We’re back out in the country again! Fascinating as Jerusalem is, I can’t last in the middle of a city for two long.
We headed south.
Going most directions out of Jerusalem requires crossing what is essentially an international border, between Israeli-administered territory and Palestinian-administered territory. Just about anything off a major town-bypassing route in Palestinian-administered territory bears this sign:
So we can’t go to Bethlehem, for example, which is in Palestinian territory, because Yuval and Tzion can’t go there.
But we were heading towards Herodion, which is a matter of kilometres from Bethlehem. On a side note, however, Bethlehem is an Arab town but about 35% Christian.
On the way to Herodian, we passed some sheep.
The shepherd was quite friendly. He offered to let us get out and hold the lamb and have a photo with him and the lamb for a small fee (5 shekels, it turned out). Several members of the group obliged.
Despite the exciting potential of being photographed with a Palestinian lamb, apparently I’m too Scottish to waste 5 shekels (about $1.50) on something that I could just as easily do at home. Also, the thought of smelling like rather grubby sheep all day didn’t really appeal to me.
Shortly thereafter, we approached Herodion in a sort of circular fashion.
This mountain is artificial. And it’s not a volcano. It was extended, because Herod wanted his palace to be able to see Jerusalem.
We went in to a little building about halfway up, which housed a model…
… and a short film (more of a comedy, really) about Herod, Herodion, and his other building projects.
Most of the group then walked up to the citadel on the top, but I, along with three others, stayed and poked around the shop.
I bought a couple of packets of snack-sized halva.
It’s easily the best halva I’ve had since coming to the country. All the other halva I’ve had here has been dry; this was just moist enough to be delicious and not dry out the mouth (but not moist enough to be mushy), and delightfully sweet.
I also had a look around outside.
There was a large gaggle of soldiers in the carpark. Here’s one that came into the building: