Tag Archive | Bus stop

Two Bus Drivers

We went to visit some friends for Shabbat.  Since they don’t live in Jerusalem, we had to check when the last bus left.  There was a bus at 15:30, 15:50, 16:15, and 16:45.  We wanted to take the 15:30 bus.  It didn’t happen.

Instead, we got to the Central Bus Station at 16:20, just in time to pick something up for our hosts (we hadn’t managed to bake something), take a few minutes to sit, and board the last bus to our destination.  We saw the bus pull up and went out to meet it.  We were among the first people to reach the bus, which meant that we would have our choice of seats and be able to sit together.

egged bus, israel bus system, israel buses, egged, buses, public transportation, afula, bus routesAs we got on, the bus driver called out, “I’m going to Rishon L’Tzion, he’s (pointing to the bus to his right) going to Ramle.”  He turns to each passenger and asks where they need to go, telling some of them to go to the other bus.  I didn’t quite get it.  And I was even more confused when he told someone that he’s not stopping at Mishmar Ayalon, because I know that that’s one of his stops.  It’s true that as each passenger boards and pays, he tells the driver where he is headed and how many tickets he is buying, as well as whether or not he wants a round-trip ticket.  But the bus driver was really into it, asking everybody ahead of time and repeating his announcements over and over.

Then the driver closed the door and started pulling away.  As one last straggler ran to catch the bus, the driver opened the door and yelled out, “Leave with me, so you don’t get anyone who wants Rishon L’Tzion.”

Huh?

What’s the number of the bus beside us?

Ahhh, it’s the same as ours.  Why are there two buses with identical routes and numbers leaving at the same time?  I have no idea.

But I do know what the driver was about: He and his friend decided that they wanted to finish their last route early that day and go home, and knew that the passengers also wanted to get where they were going faster.  After all, it was only a few hours before Shabbat.  So the two friends split the route between them, shortening both bus rides: The other bus would stop at every stop until Ramle, inclusive, and Ramle would be his last stop.  Our bus would not stop until we passed Ramle, even though we were traveling an identical route, but on the other hand, it would go to the end of its route, dropping off everyone who was traveling past Ramle.

It took fifteen to twenty minutes off our ride.  On the other hand, we went fast enough that Shlomo threw up – all over the nice young ladies opposite us who let him sit on their laps and “play” their game with them (translation: they played with him when he insisted on asking for their game).

Only in Israel . . .

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Taxi? Car! Bike?

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I went with Shlomo today to go pay two bills – one at the post office, and one at the bank machine.  Since I had to pick something up from Yitzchak, I chose to go the the post office near the shuk.  From there, it is about a minute’s walk to the bus stop (not the one by the shuk, the one right after).  I figured that at 10:30 in the morning, the bus would be empty enough to justify getting on a stop after the shuk, and I would still be able to get a seat.  Thank G-d, I was right.

While we were waiting for the bus, Shlomo started getting antsy (read: tired and bored).  I asked him a little while prior if he wanted to go to sleep, and he said, “Yeah?”  I gave him his doll, but he hadn’t gone to sleep yet.  So, to keep him from getting upset, I asked him where there were cars.  (Answer: Parked on the other side of the street, and driving on both sides.)  He immediately perked up and started looking at the cars.  “Car?  Car?”  And I started pointing to the cars that were parked opposite us.

In Israel the way you hail a taxi is by sticking your arm out, and pointing your finger.  That’s right – hold your arm out, over the curb, and point your index finger.  We were pointing at cars, and one of the cars, going the opposite direction, was a taxi.

“Car!” I said.  “Oops, that’s not just a car, it’s a taxi.”  At the same moment, I saw a taxi going in our direction.  I took down my finger, and shook my head (and wagged my finger from side to side), but it was too late.  He slowed and stopped, and I shook my head again, apologizing.

“What are you doing?” he asks in Hebrew.  He was kind of annoyed, and justifiably so, because he thought he had a customer, who then recanted.

“I was pointing, ‘car, car, car, car, car,'” I said.

The taxi driver grinned.  Suddenly, it was no big deal.  “Also, ‘bike, bike, bike,'” he said.  “Have a good day!”

We were standing right outside a bike shop.  Good idea, taxi driver.

“Sorry about that!” I called after him.  I don’t know if he heard me, but I’m not sure it matters.

On the Bus Home (Jerusalem, Part VI)

My bus came.  I boarded the bus via the rear doors, and, to my delight, found that the bus was fairly empty, and that both sets of my favorite seats were available.  I chose which set I wanted.  I plopped Shlomo down in one of them, with my backpack on the other.  (I use a backpack instead of a diaper bag, nowadays.)  I folded the stroller.  Since there was such a long line of people, I decided to wait until they had boarded before going up to pay.  I then reconsidered, but it was too late – the bus had started moving.

So, I waited until the next bus stop, when I placed my backpack on top of Shlomo (keeps him occupied, seated, weights him down a bit more, and provides something soft that he can lean into in case the bus moves slightly), and went up to pay.  True, I cut in front of the passengers who were just getting on, but what can I do?  It’s not like anyone offered to take my fare up, I don’t want to take Shlomo up to pay with me, and I have to get back to my seat – and my toddler – before the bus starts moving again.  In my own defense, though, I don’t think anyone minded – what I did is fairly common, almost expected.  It could be that I felt rude because I’m American.  The truth is, I actually don’t think that Israelis consider it rude at all for a mother to come up to pay when everyone else is getting on.

After that stop, our next stop was the Central Bus Station.  Note the security guards (yes, they are armed) and the metal detectors – typical of all Israeli buildings, establishments, and offices.

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This is still the Central Bus Station, just a bit further down the street.  The plastic “triangular” “building” sticking out of the sidewalk is an underground public bomb shelter.

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Passengers boarding the bus – and the inside of the bus itself.  I am sitting right behind the rear doors.  There is a set of two seats, one on each side of the bus, just behind the rear doors (with an aisle in between, of course).  These are my favorites – easy to board, fold the stroller, unload bags, and keep an eye (and a hand) on Shlomo at all times.  My set of seats has a clear plastic “wall” in front of it, presumably so that in case of a sudden stop, passengers do not bang into the doors.

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A bus stop just past ours at the Central Bus Station.

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The string bridge itself.  While I don’t think it fits the character of the city, it is still impressive.

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Notice the contrast between the building and the walls erected for the light rail train.

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At a red light, I was able to photograph these plants, that are growing right beside an apartment building.

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We turn onto a side street, to continue our journey home.  The light rail train, Herzl (the main street, where the string bridge is) is one-way only for a few blocks.  The other way is diverted to a neighboring street.  We are “the other way” right now.  This is a view of the corner, at a red light.

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Construction across the valley, while driving on the “other” street (Ish Shalom, if you must know).  There is a bus stop at the beginning of the street and at the end.  The good part – one of the only good parts of this whole train business – is that the bus goes faster now.

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Here, we did a U-turn and went to the joint light rail/bus stop at Yad Sarah.  This picture is of the school across the street.  Notice the fence: all schools here, or at least all Jewish schools, have fences (often high fences) and security guards.  (The schools pay the guards, I think.)  There is a metal booth on the left; this is for the security guard to sit in, while he watches.  Once an hour, the guard locks the gate and walks around the campus to make sure that no one has jumped the fence or thrown any suspicious objects into the school grounds.  The security guards, just like the ones at the Central Bus Station, and everywhere else, are armed.  I’ll leave it to you to guess why.  (Hint: It’s not because of kidnappers or mentally ill people who have guns.)

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That’s the end of this series.  I didn’t continue taking pictures for two reasons: 1) I’d rather keep some semblance of anonymity.  2) Shlomo was getting cranky, and my camera was slowly using up its battery.

Waiting for the Bus (Jerusalem, Part V)

In my last post, we had walked down Agrippas, and were waiting for the bus at the bus stop.  So, we continue from there.

It’s funny how before I started this series, I never realized how much went on while waiting for a bus.  I just kind of made sure to keep my spot in the line, jiggled my foot, watched the time, and waited for the bus to come, planning how I would get a seat, and where I would put the stroller.

Now that I am posting it, I realize that there are a lot of things that I don’t think about anymore, because I started considering them to be part of everyday life.  Maybe that’s what changed since I made aliya (moved to Israel):  I started seeing things as ordinary, everyday things, instead of special moments to be savored and remembered, of a year that will never happen again.  But the truth is, no year, and no day, will ever happen again.  I am so worried about what-ifs, and obsessive about what I need to do and where I need to be, that I often forget to just be in the moment.

The exception is when I am at home with Shlomo.  For some reason, staying home with him has relaxed me, and de-stressed me, in a lot of ways.  Now, I understand why:  I don’t [usually] think about where I need to be, what I need to do, and worry obsessively, when we are at home, playing.  Sure, I have to work, but I know, and expect, that I will be interrupted, and I try to work when he is either napping, sleeping, or playing happily by himself.  When he wants to play, I try to be available.  After all, that’s why I made this decision, right?

Here, I am standing at the bus stop.  Obviously, you can’t see me, because I’m the one holding the camera.  I stand a little bit up from the stop, since I have a stroller.  Strollers board the bus from the first set (or only set, depending on the bus’s size) of rear doors.  This prevents the stroller from taking up place in the line.  It also, usually, allows a quick-thinking, quick-acting mother to save herself, and child/husband, a seat.  If the bus is too full, I will at least have a place to stand.  And standing on a bus, with a baby or toddler in your arms, is a very good way to guilt someone into giving you a seat.

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The other side of the street.  You can see a brand-new bus going in the opposite direction, trailing behind some cars.  Actually, Yitchak says that the more buses on a street, the slower traffic goes, and the more private cars, the faster.  He believes this to be true because buses stop, and let people off, at every bus stop, and are also larger, heavier, and slower than private cars.  I disagree, because I think private cars are more likely to have slowpoke, rude drivers.  I have only met one nasty bus driver in my entire five-year, bus-taking career – and he was a Muslim, and got fired after he harassed too many people.  All the bus drivers here are nice.  Some have more patience than others, but they are all really nice.

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The store right beside the bus stop.

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A big building across the street that recently got decorated.  You can see the decorations above the parking signs, on the pillars.  Here, it’s no big deal: this is typical of Israelis, and of Israel.  It looks pretty, so why not?   When I first saw it, though, a few weeks ago, it sparked the teeny-tiny American tourist in me.

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A bus came (not mine), and two women stood huddled over their whatever-you-call-it-type cell phones.  You can see the reflection of some people on the sidewalk, in the bus’s windows.

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The bus passed . . .

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More buses going in the other direction . . .

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The sky, which I couldn’t help photographing because you can see so much from where I was standing: The cranes to the left, on the next main street over; in the far right background, the pink-and-blue building that is the Central Bus Station; the top of the big “string” bridge by the entrance to the city; and, of course, the mountains and trees that are part of what make up Jerusalem.

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And here comes a line of buses.  I don’t think one of them was mine; I think mine came just after this bunch.

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That’s all for now, folks.  The next post, which is the last in this batch, before I return to regular post-writing, will be after I get on the bus.  I put my camera away after taking these pictures, so that I’d have my hands free to board the bus that I suspected would come soon (it did).  And, I took the next batch while I was on a moving bus, looking out the window.  So, I can’t promise the same quality.

To the Bus Stop (Jerusalem, Part IV)

We’ve finally reached the corner.  Now, we turn right, onto Agrippas, and start walking down towards the bus stop, to go home.  These bus stops used to be on Yaffo, where the train now is.  When they built the train, they transferred all of them to Agrippas.  Now the “bus stop” is no longer a [useful, not pretty] old shelter, with a sign on top.  It is just a sign post on a small sidewalk, where people waiting for the bus push and are pushed by the people walking on the street, or going in and out of shops.  In other words a too-small sidewalk became even smaller – without actually changing the sidewalk itself.

The corner:

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The store on the corner, selling newspapers (and beers, and cigarettes).

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And a restaurant with a tiny smokers’ area.  It keeps the restaurant smoke-free, but what about the rest of us?

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A store selling snacks . . .

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. . . and a store selling all kinds of drinks: soft drinks, alcohol, water, juices – you name it, they have it.

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We finally reached the bus stop.

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Next post: Waiting for the bus.  (Yes, I will eventually finish this series and get back to normal writing.  If you must know, I thought of this series for two reasons: 1) To help satisfy readers’ curiosity about life in Israel, 2) To help aid my writers’ block that will only allow me to write rants about how awful formula is.

Honestly, though, we all know that posting too many pictures in one post is never a good idea.  So, I’m trying to divide the pictures up in a sensible manner.)  But, if you are getting bored of this, let me know.

In the Fake Shuk (Jerusalem, Part II)

After we got off the train, we met up with Yitzchak for a few minutes, before he headed back to where he’s studying, and we headed home.  There are many places to switch from a bus to a train, but because Yitzchak had to give me something, I chose to switch at the shuk (marketplace).  It’s not the easiest place to switch, or the best bus stop, but it works, and it has the advantage of being an earlier stop – which means that I’m more likely to find a seat.  Even if I didn’t get a seat right away, the bus stops just above the Central Bus Station and lets everyone off, before going on to its “official” stop a bit lower down, to pick people up.  That two-minute break usually allows the quickest passengers to find seats before everyone else gets on.

So, we walked through (or cut through, if you like) the shuk on our way to the bus stop.  I pass through here a lot, but this was the first time that I actually slowed down, or stopped at all, when I wasn’t actively buying something.

This part of the shuk, or as Yitzchak calls it, “The Fake Shuk” is uncovered.  It is the widest street in the shuk, and has streets leading off into pretty much every other part of the shuk.  Yitzchak calls this part the “fake shuk” because the stores here tend to be, as a whole, fancier [and sometimes more expensive] than those in the other part.  Also, Yitzchak defines shuk as, “A bunch of people competing and yelling at each other from their little holes in the wall.”  This street doesn’t exactly fit that description.  Well, it almost does, but not quite.  (Now he has changed his definition slightly, but I don’t have patience for the new, fancy one.)

When we turned into the “fake shuk”, apparently, there were a few deliveries that had just been made.  This one is for the olive store that you see on the right.  (Again, all these pictures are mine.)

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As I walked along, I snapped pictures with one hand, while pushing the stroller with the other.  In this picture, I wanted to capture the people on the ground, along with the lights, wires, flag, and balcony colors.

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A fruit shop (and the first turn into the main shuk) . . .

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. . . and a cold cuts/ canned goods shop.  Notice the wares hanging from a bar near the ceiling.

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The entrance to the Iraqi shuk, off of the “fake shuk”.  Notice that it has a kind of plastic ceiling.

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A housewares store.  This used to be my favorite store – it sold all kinds of useful stuff, cheaply, and then it changed hands.  It’s still a pretty good store, though.  Again, not the items hanging from the ceiling.

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The first turn into the main shuk.

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A [hippy] musician, and a soldier with his daughter.

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And with this, I will end off for the day.  We haven’t finished walking down to the bus stop yet, and are still passing through the shuk, but there are a lot of pictures.