This book appeared in my library as soon as my first car here. in Israel was bought, in the year 92. The book was called 'Scenic Sites in Israel.' From that moment on, before every next 'Shishi Shabbat' (weekend), we would chose some route, very often just by looking thru the pictures, because we had never heard of most places in the book.
Well, except very famous well known to all places, like Caesarea ( Historical town in Israel) or Dead Sea.
But one place I remember from that very moment when I opened book first time - on one of the photographs I seen the strange castle or fortress. It was looking like just part or of the mountain, like strange but natural extension of the stones. All the fortresses that I saw before had geometry. Not always correct, but understandable. This one was looking as a chaotic jumble of walls of different heights, connected at different angles. The fortress seemed to crawl away from the mountains, but at the same time making up a single whole with them. Inside the walls there were temples under the blue domes and regular houses that were not less chaotic.
The headline of the photo read: 'Monastery and fortress' for men only 'in Mar Saba.' I immediately fell into the monastery, but it was located somewhere in the Judaean desert, and, neither the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee), nor the Golan Heights, nor much of the first row had been examined yet. In general, Mar Saba has been postponed. And then Oslo happened, and now to get to the monastery, you had to drive through Zone A - although the monastery itself remained in Zone C. And this is how my dream would have remained a dream forever, if not for Michael Tuval who has organized the trip 'For the lazy'.
As it turned out, the “not lazy” would walk 18 km. round-trip, well, we ('lazy') were taken there by buses. Palestinian ones, naturally. What was also interesting - we did not have time to go to the Arab village, so when the bus stopped on the way - everyone in the bus was treated with cardboard cup of aromatic and strong coffee, right through the open window.
And at the end of the tour - same, but with no less fragrant Bedouin tea. We did not get entrance inside the monastery walls, that privilege is reserved only for christian pilgrims. But even without that, the descent into the Kidron Valley, amazing views of the monastery and the Judaean mountains (or the desert?) are rewarding enough!