Saturday afternoon cycling and robots

When I was a child, I had this dream where I was in a playground and all the other children had run off out of the school, I wasn’t sure what they worried about, I turn around and there is an evil robot coming towards me.  It was a weird nightmare I had a few times…

Today I decided to take a ride around my neighbourhood of East Talpiyot in other direction away from Jerusalem city centre.  I head to a convenience store and get a bottle of Fanta and ride back along the main road, towards the food bank which I work there typically one day a week. Anyway I am riding my bike across a junction where there are some traffic lights and I see a policeman stopping a coach and talking to the driver, he doesn’t see me and I ride past him, in the corner of my eye there is a policewoman and a police Ford Focus stopped diagonally at the traffic…    Then someone yells at me STOP three times….  At the same time I hit the brakes when I see what is ahead of me… If you can’t see anything, look closer at the taller white railings.  There is a garbage bin with usual piles of old clothes spilling out like I see on most street corners and about 15 metres ahead is a bomb disposal robot with caterpillar tracks and a single arm is analysing the piles of clothes…. I turn around and head to the opposite side of the road, the police don’t seem to be cross that I didn’t notice this road block. I get some pictures.   The robot is partially concealed by the barriers in the road. Apart from my childhood nightmare turning into a reality, this experience didn’t worry me too much, there are all kinds of circumstances where items abandoned in odd places start a security concern and procedures have to done to see if there is a genuine threat.   Its just I often see piles of rubbish falling out in bins like this. I talk briefly to two men sitting on a bench, its seems quite funny.   I take a detour to another street to go south towards out of Talpiyot. Another 5kms or so down the road, and this is a nice view of a very new housing estate, my maps tell me this is called Homat Shmuel. A little bit further and now I am completely out Jerusalem and I can see the border with the West Bank.

Border controls.  I take a U turn and head back on the main road.

This sign seems interesting.  This is pointing the another biblical place, seemingly named after a king who was famous for killing babies.  This adventure is for another day as I have no water left and ought to get back.

Just before going home, I did see these ruins which look Roman looking, from standing in Derech Hevron Street.

Riding to work – commuting Jerusalem style Part 2

first bit –  second section –  Third and final


Get to these nice modern flats with neat gardens, turn right..

Nice long downhill ride, not much effort here!  turn right at the end of here and go past some shops.

Turn left here by these lights.  You can see the walls of the old city ahead and the towers of a Greek church.

These derelict railway station looks sad.   Not sure why there are no trains any more in central town.  You can see where the windows are there was a fire at some point.  Oddly enough on the right looks like a car covered with a tarpaulin, it actually is some kind of modern art exhibit with a big solid fibre glass cover over it.  Someone’s nicked the plaque on it, so I don’t know who designed it or whether it was a bizarre punishment for someone parking illegally. 🙂

There are nice parks either side of this main road as I ride uphill.  There is also a nice fountain on the right and this place is often a choice for weddings for people to have their pictures down, especially with Arab and Ethiopian people.

Also on the right not visible is the windmill from the old district of Yemen Moshe.

This is the outside of the world famous King David hotel, and on the right, directly opposite side of the right is the YMCA.  Youth hostels are usually thought of as simple affairs for casual travellers on a budget, but this one is huge and is impressive as the hotel it faces.

This is the King David’s rival, no not Goliath, but certainly Goliath in size.  The Citadel seems to be the main choice for foreign heads of state to come and stay, but also I sometimes see poster outside advertising a forthcoming boy’s Bar Mitzvah, a birthday or some other type of big party.

Mamila shopping centre.  Looks super modern from outside but has several buildings inside that have been removed from elsewhere and carefully dismantled with numbers written on the bricks and then reassembled carefully again.

Another hill upwards.  Sheesh, I don’t think anyone in the bible ever got fat.  Going anywhere is up and down hills all the time, this road joins onto Jaffa Street.

first bit –  second section –  Third and final

Riding to work – commuting Jerusalem style Part 1

first bit –  second section –  Third and final

I thought I would mention a bit about my commute to work.

My house is in East Talpiyot, is 6km (4 miles) from work, I got a bike not long after my return from the UK in March.

I have had to commute distances before in previous jobs, when I started working for the Southampton NHS trust (for non-UK people, a hospital authority) to start with, the drive of about 26 miles was hell, due to heavy traffic and the maddeningly complex lane system around Southampton.  After getting a Tomtom unit and planning a different route and fair bit of practice, this journey got easier, after a couple weeks I really started to enjoy this job, and my boss gave me some assignments to do in other parts of the city (there were about 100 different buildings to be visited between a team of about 8 of us)   I think this was God telling me to be more persistent with things.   Plus after a couple of months of this role all the roadworks was complete, giving me more time to get in.

Here though, I am on two wheels which might seem dangerous given the more er, ‘energetic’ Israeli style of driving here, but in general riding around isn’t too much problem as I use the pavement and just keep an eye out for pedestrians. Right: Out of my flat

This junction here doesn’t look much, but I actually have a archaeological site 100 yards from my house. The Talpiyot tomb. I have looked around and I can’t actually see this place, I have a feeling its probably hidden one of those electricity type shed things to the left.   There are steep steps down from this junction, so it could be under the road.
Up a hill, then down.   Then up.   A sneaky short cut up this hill to the right.

Good morning UN!   The United Nations building used to the headquarters of the British Mandate of Palestine (pre 1948)  Apparently looking at this location on a map, shows this place during biblical times was called the ‘Den of evil council’ (!)
I then cut to the right where this white car is:

The promenade!!  You get some amazing views from this place!!   Today it was a bit misty though, I am not sure how you get fog in a dry desert country but visibility in mornings is often like this.

Ride along this path.

Another sneaky shortcut, to the right takes a few minutes off…

first bit –  second section –  Third and final

bike theft and modern day Samaritans

Later on Monday afternoon I went to meet up with a new friend who is Australian born but living in the the UK I got to know from my church, he is just a casual visitor here on holiday, and him together with some other (two Scots, one Aussie, one Danish) people from the hostel he was staying at, we got to do some Easter sightseeing.  A quick visit to the church of the Holy Septelcur, before meeting up with the other guys, some fairly random circles around the city seeing as the narrow streets get a bit disorientating sometimes.  Seeing the Via Delarosa, the street where Jesus carried his cross after being sentenced, then grabbing falafel and ice cream and just a lot of chatting.

Here this tourist lady has borrowed a cross to get a feel how Jesus would of carried, on the Via Delarosa.  His cross would of been much larger, and the fierce heat and the severe wounds from beatings before hand would of made this unbearable.

When I came back to where my bike was parked, I was horrified to see it in bits still locked to the railings opposite the Jaffa gate, I looked around hoping it was someone elses and mine was some distance away, no, I had been a victim of a crime.   I parked it here, as being such a big famous part of the city where thousands of people pass through a day, that it would be safe.  It was chained up, but because it has quick release levers for the wheels, someone had tried to steal the wheels, but then abandoned them.   After depressingly mumbling to myself and to the people next to me that this was not fair that had decided to take/damage something that wasn’t theres, the couple offered me a lift home, I turned around and the man operating the kiosk of fresh orange juice (they have boxes of fruit and mechnical press to sell drinks)  said he chased away someone who was trying to steal parts of my bike.   So they took my rear flasher light, the levers of the wheels, theres a spring and one the brakes had broken off, and noticed one of the spokes is bent, but its otherwise all there.

This put a really bad ending on what was a really nice weekend, but I had two different lots of people who were my good Samaritans, the couple (who were bike enthusiasts anyway) who let me strap my bike to there 4×4 which had two other bikes on there, and two Arab kids about 12 who quickly knew how to fix my rear wheel back on and got the chain in the right place, this meant I could carry the bike one handed on one wheel back to their car.   I gave the children a 10 shekel coin each I had in my pocket.  I also got approached by a man asking for money for food, as all my small change was gone, I told him I was take his number and see if Bridges for Peace’s food bank might be able to arrange something.   I also got to chat to the kind couple about the organisation I was working for, what I was doing in Israel so far.   Anyway I was also hugely grateful of them being able to get my home rather have to find a big enough taxi or walk home with the bike in bits for 5kms.

I took it back to the shop today, they are replacing the nuts and the brake pads which got damaged, this should be around 100 shekels which isnt too much, but this is an expense I could do without.   Anyway I am thankful the Lord provided some ways of making this situation less bad than it could of been.