Just had to share …
This week I took the train from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on my own, when I could just sit and enjoy the view.
It was heaven! I timed it so that I would arrive in Jerusalem as the sun was setting. I made sure to sit on the left of the train, window seat, facing forward.
The train leaves on the dot.
The first part of the journey takes me out of the built up areas of Tel Aviv to reveal intimate glimpses of people’s back yards. Within minutes I am seeing planted fields, sheep and even some domestic camels. I sweep by Lod, Ramle, and then I am away from human habitation. A look at the map will reveal that in this tiny country, these fields are an even tinier part – but somehow as you travel along you feel as if you are a thousand miles from civilization. The waving wheat is a rich green, the searing winds have not yet turned it golden. Then the track veers eastward and more fields are on the left, a Tel stands out upon the plain (Samson was here!), a forested slope is on the right, and the wild flowers are competing for my attention.
Bet Shemesh; the train empties and I know the best is yet to come. Towering cliffs on the right, the valley falling away below on the left, with glimpses of rushing water, the Sorek River. Yellow is the predominant colour, broom, acacia, wild chrysanthemums, mustard, with here and there a splash of red, anemones, red buttercups, poppies. The glorious redbud tree with its deep pink blossom, the cream flowers of the strawberry tree and the creamier flowers of the storax, all delight the eye.
I see kingfishers and jays, kestrels and eagles. A family of chukkars scuttle up the embankment (why do these birds never fly, I wonder). A jackal is hunting, following a well-worn path.
Ancient terraces, originally built by the returning Children of Israel 3000 years ago, straddle the hills. Today they encompass tiny plots planted with vegetables, vines, olive trees. I know I am approaching Jerusalem.
Whoever said this train is not fast enough has never travelled on it. The speed is perfect for watching nature as we pass it by –I find myself looking at my watch, wishing for the time to go slower.
Sadly the journey is at an end!
I'll be back!
p.s An hour and a half of sheer bliss for 20 shekels (less than 5 dollars)