Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Yes, I Ride the Buses Here...

I know, it's scary. I really don't want to be riding the buses here in Jerusalem. It was actually one of my biggest fears in coming here to Israel. I am sure you all aware of the tragic history surrounding the Jerusalem buses, but I will spare you the details. Regardless, the reality is that you don't have much of a choice here. Just like in New York City, public transportation is the easiest way to get around and having car is actually more trouble than its worth. There is nowhere to park, the traffic is overwhelming and the cost of public parking is likely to break your bank account. Thus, as they say, "when in Rome, do as the Romans do", so here in Jerusalem, I am riding the buses (which is an entirely new concept to me in the first place, having lived in southern California and in Dallas, Texas). Sure, I am nervous every time I step onto a bus, just as I am every time I fly; however, you just have to bite the bullet and carry forward with your life. Here are the green Egged buses that you can find all around town here in Jerusalem:










The Central Bus Station is one of the staple locations here in Jerusalem and one of the busiest stations in all of Israel. From here, you can catch trains and buses to anywhere in the country. The modern structure welcomes you into the city and is recognizable by the large clock on the face of the building:

 





Welcoming you into the city and also into the Central Bus Station is the famous landmark, Gesher HaMeitarim, a uniquely crafted bridge located just outside the bus station at the entrance to the city. If you find yourself lost in Jerusalem, you can look up and try to find the bridge somewhere up high, and let it guide you toward the Central Bus Station. Here are a few images of the city's prideful adornment:

A view of Jerusalem's "Chords Bridge" from behind
Locals in Jerusalem were clearly thrilled to usher in this new and beautiful landmark
A glass walkway connecting you from the Kiryat Moshe neighborhood to the Jerusalem Central Bus Station
Regarding transportation, something that locals are quite excited about here is the introduction of the modern and sleek new addition to the city of Jerusalem: the Light Bus Rail system. It is a project many years in the making, and believe it or not, the completion date is tentatively set for April 2011. So, just a few months away. All over the city, tracks are being laid, and nearly everyday you can find the cars being run and tested by engineers, which draws many looks and pointing fingers from local onlookers. People are excited to be getting the next best thing in terms of transportation. As I explained in previous posts, Jerusalem as a whole is becoming much more modern that you would ever expect such an ancient city to be. Here's a look at these new rail cars:


Engineers testing out the light rail system
There's one of the completed tracks in the middle of a Jerusalem neighborood
And of course, the light rail will make a stop at the Jaffa Gate, which ushers you into the old city
You may or may not recognize the above location from a previous post where I described a huge Hanukkah celebration that took place outside the Jaffa Gate. Regardless, we will see if the light rail actually opens up at its anticipated date to be able to connect the locals more easily to city destinations. Only time will tell. If you happen to make a visit to Jerusalem one day, perhaps you will be able to enjoy the convenience of these modern and efficient light rails. Or, if you do not feel comfortable taking buses (don't worry, it took me years to get on one) you can feel free to rent a car, take taxis, or get around by foot, which is entirely possible if you stay at a hotel in the city center. Another option is to take a guided tour throughout all of Israel where you will be safe and secure on the tour company's transportation. Lastly, here in Jerusalem, you can jump onto the Jerusalem City Tour Bus, which operates everyday of the year:


We plan to hopefully get a car in the next few months, but for now, I guess I will still be riding the buses here in Jerusalem. As I mentioned, I don't really have a choice in the matter. Sometimes, on my journeys throughout the city, I shake my head wondering how I ever got here in the first place. Riding around on the buses in Jerusalem was never something I anticipated while growing up! If I don't post something in the next few days, I want to wish everyone back home a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! We will be going away this weekend to Haifa for a huge Bar Mitzvah. Luckily, this time, we will be renting a car to get from A to B, and I'm very thankful for that!

3 comments:

  1. Good for you Rayzee for braving the bus system! It appears to be much safer that the chicken packed buses I rode in central america :)

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  2. Oh really!? You never told us about the chicken buses! Or maybe you did, I can't remember. I can imagine how that is, just like in Colombia. They really carry chickens!!!!

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  3. That's great that you are braving the buses...like a true Israeli...have so much fun in Haifa this weekend, can't wait to see pictures!

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