Tag Archive | Bus

A Trip to the Consulate

Part of being an expat is deciding if you want your kids to be registered as citizens of your birth country.  Sometimes you want the tax benefits; sometimes you think that it is better for the kid in the future; and sometimes you think that it is worthwhile, or necessary, of the present.

We never really debated the subject; it was just kind of obvious that since Yitzchak and I are both American, and we have family in the States, that we would register our kids as American citizens.  When Shlomo was born, and we realized the expense involved (admittedly a pittance in comparison to expats who are not married to other expats, or who did not spend any time actually in America), we thought about just getting him a visa for his Israeli passport whenever we wanted to travel.  Not only did this turn out to be against the rules, it wasn’t even worthwhile financially.  We spent about a thousand shekels on getting him a Report of Birth Abroad and an American passport, and then we still had to get him an Israeli passport (because we were planning to travel).  Now, we had to register Tova.  Having no immediate travel plans, we pushed it off and pushed it off and finally decided to get it over and done with, for the sake of taxes.

Here is the story, for those who are interested in life in Israel and life as an American expat.

Part One: Making the Appointment

There is a U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, and there is a U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem.  Because we used to live in Jerusalem, we went to the consulate to register Shlomo.  Because I hate Tel Aviv, and know where the consulate is (since I’ve been there before), I emailed the consulate and asked if we could still come to Jerusalem, even though technically the consulate is only for the residents of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria.  The response I got was that we could go to the consulate and did not have to go to Tel Aviv.

Throughout this narrative, I write, “I,” because while we weren’t sure if Yitzchak would end up coming, it was pretty obvious that I had to go, since I am nursing Tova, and was still on maternity leave.

Then, I had to make an appointment with the consulate.  There were a few issues with this:

1. It is, at minimum, a two and a half hour trip into Jerusalem, not including the bus that goes from the Jerusalem Central Bus Station to the consulate.  Two and a half hours, multiplied by two trips (there and back) is already five hours minimum.  From the Central Bus Station to the consulate is about an hour each way, by bus.  Taxi might be faster, but costs a lot – maybe 100 shekel, or more, per trip.  The taxi may not save us time, either, because Jerusalem has awful traffic jams.  So far, we have a seven hour trip at minimum – and that’s not even counting the time we would spend at the consulate, which is calculated to be about an hour and a half, on average.  Total amount of time to travel from home to the consulate and back: 8.5 hrs.  Or, in other words, an entire [work] day.

2. We needed to get Tova a Consular Report of Birth Abroad.  Let it be known that this is an absolutely gorgeous document.  We also wanted to get her, and Shlomo, social security numbers.  When Shlomo was a baby, I sent in an application for a social security card, but we never got the card.  I don’t know if the application was rejected or if the card never reached us.  At any rate, because we wanted their social security numbers for taxes, we wanted to make the appointments in enough time to send in the forms at least before the June 15th expat tax date.  Looking back, I realize that my calculation was foolish, since it can take up to six months to get the social security cards.  But no matter.  We need to do it, and the sooner the better.

We debated whether to get Tova a passport at the same time.

The pros: No need to worry or race if we end up traveling, or if we decide to move back for whatever reason.

The cons: An extra $105 (about 420 shekel), and it expires in 5 years; Yitzchak would need to waste an entire day so that both of us would be present, or we would have to waste money on a notarized consent form that he allows his child to get a passport when he is not physically present; if both Yitzchak and I are at the consulate, where is Shlomo?

Which leads us to #3:

3. Only the people who are absolutely necessary for the appointment are allowed into the consulate.  In other words, if you are applying for a Report of Birth Abroad, one parent accompanies the child.  If you are applying for a passport, both parents.  But – if you have another child who has nothing to do with the appointment – he will not be allowed into the consulate.  Hmmm . . .  I considered making a fake appointment for Shlomo (because, after all, he did need a social security card, even if I didn’t need a separate appointment for it), but Yitzchak reminded me that Shlomo coming with us meant Shlomo running laps in the consulate, for about an hour.  We decided to that it was worth trying to avoid having to discipine him.  After all, what’s wrong with running laps?  (Answer: Nothing.  It’s just that the consulate isn’t really the place to do it.)

4. We are always loath to part with such large sums of money.  The trip to Jerusalem is about 80 shekels round trip.  The Report of Birth Abroad is $100 (400 shekel).  That’s a LOT of money.  But we have no choice; we are required to file taxes and we want to be able to write down all exemptions possible, just in case, somehow, it may in some fashion look like we earn enough to actually owe something.  Plus, we probably qualify for $1000 a year, per child, in tax returns.  With Shlomo we were too lazy, and stingy, to get an accountant to deal with it, and we didn’t know how to file ourselves.  But things have changed since then (mostly expat tax laws), and it looks like, lazy or not, we need to file this year.  Which means, why not do it all at once?

5. The appointments are made online.  You can only make one appointment per child.  I cheated the system, not knowing which day I wanted to go, and wanting to make sure I had an appointment that worked for me.  The system allows you to make appointments only for the next three weeks or so, and they get taken very quickly, leaving only 8 or 8:30am appointments, and even then, only on one or two days out of the month.  You need to really keep on top of the appointment site in order to get one that works.  I made two appointments for Tova, and got past the system’s block by changing a letter in her name.

Part Two: The Stupid Rules

American security is infinitely stupider than Israeli security, for the simple reason that they do not know what they are doing.  One example is what I wrote above – only the people pertinent to the appointment are allowed entry.  Here are a few others:

– If you come more than half an hour early for your appointment, you may be denied entry and your appointment will be rescheduled.  Gee, it’s nice you wrote that on your website and not just on the window outside the consulate, for folks like me who are dependent on buses, live a few hours away, and called Egged, only to be told that the only bus that goes to the consulate leaves once an hour, at a quarter to the hour, and takes 50 minutes to get there.  It’s a shame I didn’t schedule my appointment differently.  On second thought, maybe I couldn’t have scheduled it so that it worked with the bus schedule.

– If you have a stroller, you need to leave it at the gate.  Oh, and they aren’t responsible if it gets taken.  Make sure you bring a sling, if you have a baby, or your arms will get exhausted.

– In order to be allowed entry, you first need to prove you have an appointment.  This you do by handing them the printout of your appointment details and the documents and forms that you brought with you.  The guy you proved it to gives you a pass.  Then, pass in hand, you go to the security guy, who asks you more questions, gives you a basket to put your phone and charger in, and asks if you have other electronics that need to be in the basket.  Basket in hand, you go through the doors, to pass through the metal detector and put your bag through the x-ray machine.  If, like me, you have forgotten about an electronic device that you happen to have in your bag (I forgot that I had the camera), they get very angry at you and treat you like you are a bigger threat than Iran.  The contents of the basket are put into a “cell” and you are given a card with the cell’s number, which you present in order to get your belongings back when you are done.  By the way, they are not responsible for any electronics put in the “cell”.

– Let’s say you need to make a phone call.  You go back to security, show your card, get your belongings (all of them), walk outside, make your phone call, and need to be readmitted by the guard.  Let’s say you need to get a document or whatever, and you walk out for a second.  Same deal.

– They take checks, written for the exact amount, according to that day’s exchange rate.  No credit cards.  They take cash, but do not give change.

– No one is allowed to wait outside the consulate.

– No sealed envelopes are allowed in.

For more stupid rules please see here.

Part Three: The Debate 

I had a Thursday appointment and a Friday appointment.

Advantages of Thursday:

– If only I go, and I am on vacation, it is just a waste of a day (and not a waste of two peoples’ days and double the money).

– It leaves me all of Friday to prepare for Shabbat.  Therefore, it is less stressful.

– I can also do some clothes shopping while I am there (I hate clothes shopping, but sometimes there is no choice); on Friday the stores close early and I probably won’t have time to shop.

Advantages of Friday:

– If we are not home for Shabbat, it is not a wasted trip.

– Yitzchak has books to pick up in Jerusalem; if we go as a family and are not home for Shabbat, we “kill” two birds with one stone.

– We do not want to be home for Shabbat anyways, since it is the Shabbat before Pesach.

– If I go on Friday by myself, I can meet my friend, who I haven’t seen in ages.

In the end, my cousin saved the day.  We went on Thursday afternoon to Jerusalem, I did some shopping, we stayed at my cousin’s overnight, and early in the morning I went to the consulate, and Yitzchak went to pick up his books.  Then, we all traveled to Kfar Chabad for Shabbat, and after Shabbat went home.  On Thursday night we changed the clocks, which meant an hour less of sleep for everyone, but more time to get things done.  It was tough, because we were exhausted from all the running around, but we made it.  My cousin was also traveling for Shabbat, so we helped them get out, as well.

Total time spent going to and from the consulate: 4 hours.  Not bad, considering that if we had traveled to Jerusalem just for the consulate, it would have taken an entire day.

Oh, and I forgot – Friday was our fifth anniversary.  And we spent it traveling.  To and from the consulate, from Jerusalem to Kfar Chabad.  We had thought to do something else, less for the anniversary than because it was an excuse to get a babysitter and take a breather.  But in the end, like every year, we forgot the date until afterwards.

Stay tuned for the next section of this riveting narrative . . .

Advertisements

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 . . .

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.

tachana merkazit, central bus station, jerusalem central bus station, jerusalem bus station, jerusalem station, tachana merkazit yerushalayim, merkazit yerushalayim, security guards, metal detectors, bag check, people, buses, taxis, traffic, streets, waiting in lines, yaffo, jerusalem, jerusalem bus stop, jerusalem buses, security, screening, security check, security guards

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.

tachana merkazit, central bus station, jerusalem central bus station, jerusalem bus station, jerusalem station, tachana merkazit yerushalayim, merkazit yerushalayim, security guards, metal detectors, bag check, people, buses, taxis, traffic, streets, waiting in lines, yaffo, jerusalem, jerusalem bus stop, jerusalem buses, security, screening, security check, security guards, bomb shelter, underground bomb shelter, sidewalk

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.

tachana merkazit, central bus station, jerusalem central bus station, jerusalem bus station, jerusalem station, tachana merkazit yerushalayim, merkazit yerushalayim, security guards, metal detectors, bag check, people, buses, taxis, traffic, streets, waiting in lines, yaffo, jerusalem, jerusalem bus stop, jerusalem buses, security, screening, security check, security guards, bus, passengers boarding bus, jerusalem bus, passengers, bus driver, bus tickets

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

tachana merkazit, central bus station, jerusalem central bus station, jerusalem bus station, jerusalem station, tachana merkazit yerushalayim, merkazit yerushalayim, security guards, metal detectors, bag check, people, buses, taxis, traffic, streets, waiting in lines, yaffo, jerusalem, jerusalem bus stop, jerusalem buses, security, screening, security check, security guards, bus, passengers boarding bus, jerusalem bus, passengers, bus driver, bus tickets, bus stop

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

tachana merkazit, central bus station, jerusalem central bus station, jerusalem bus station, jerusalem station, tachana merkazit yerushalayim, merkazit yerushalayim, security guards, metal detectors, bag check, people, buses, taxis, traffic, streets, waiting in lines, yaffo, jerusalem, jerusalem bus stop, jerusalem buses, security, screening, security check, security guards, bus, passengers boarding bus, jerusalem bus, passengers, bus driver, bus tickets, gesher hameitarim, string bridge, jerusalem string bridge, string bridge jerusalem, entrance to jerusalem, light rail, light rail train, jerusalem light rail, jerusalem light rail train, light rail bridge jerusalem

tachana merkazit, central bus station, jerusalem central bus station, jerusalem bus station, jerusalem station, tachana merkazit yerushalayim, merkazit yerushalayim, security guards, metal detectors, bag check, people, buses, taxis, traffic, streets, waiting in lines, yaffo, jerusalem, jerusalem bus stop, jerusalem buses, security, screening, security check, security guards, bus, passengers boarding bus, jerusalem bus, passengers, bus driver, bus tickets, gesher hameitarim, string bridge, jerusalem string bridge, string bridge jerusalem, entrance to jerusalem, light rail, light rail train, jerusalem light rail, jerusalem light rail train, light rail bridge jerusalem

tachana merkazit, central bus station, jerusalem central bus station, jerusalem bus station, jerusalem station, tachana merkazit yerushalayim, merkazit yerushalayim, security guards, metal detectors, bag check, people, buses, taxis, traffic, streets, waiting in lines, yaffo, jerusalem, jerusalem bus stop, jerusalem buses, security, screening, security check, security guards, bus, passengers boarding bus, jerusalem bus, passengers, bus driver, bus tickets, gesher hameitarim, string bridge, jerusalem string bridge, string bridge jerusalem, entrance to jerusalem, light rail, light rail train, jerusalem light rail, jerusalem light rail train, light rail bridge jerusalem

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

entrance to jerusalem, kiryat moshe, light rail train, jerusalem light rail train, jerusalem light rail, light rail jerusalem, light rail train stops, neighborhood by jerusalem light rail, bus stops, bus route, apartment buildings, jerusalem apartment buildings, old jerusalem apartments

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

entrance to jerusalem, kiryat moshe, light rail train, jerusalem light rail train, jerusalem light rail, light rail jerusalem, light rail train stops, neighborhood by jerusalem light rail, bus stops, bus route, apartment buildings, plants, trees, flowers, plants beside apartment buildings, jerusalem apartment building, plants

entrance to jerusalem, kiryat moshe, light rail train, jerusalem light rail train, jerusalem light rail, light rail jerusalem, light rail train stops, neighborhood by jerusalem light rail, bus stops, bus route, apartment buildings, plants, trees, flowers, plants beside apartment buildings, jerusalem apartment building, plants

entrance to jerusalem, kiryat moshe, light rail train, jerusalem light rail train, jerusalem light rail, light rail jerusalem, light rail train stops, neighborhood by jerusalem light rail, bus stops, bus route, apartment buildings, plants, trees, flowers, plants beside apartment buildings, jerusalem apartment building, plants

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.

entrance to jerusalem, kiryat moshe, light rail train, jerusalem light rail train, jerusalem light rail, light rail jerusalem, light rail train stops, neighborhood by jerusalem light rail, bus stops, bus route, apartment buildings, plants, trees, flowers, plants beside apartment buildings, jerusalem apartment building, plants

entrance to jerusalem, kiryat moshe, light rail train, jerusalem light rail train, jerusalem light rail, light rail jerusalem, light rail train stops, neighborhood by jerusalem light rail, bus stops, bus route, apartment buildings, plants, trees, flowers, plants beside apartment buildings, jerusalem apartment building, plants

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.

entrance to jerusalem, kiryat moshe, light rail train, jerusalem light rail train, jerusalem light rail, light rail jerusalem, light rail train stops, neighborhood by jerusalem light rail, bus stops, bus route, apartment buildings, plants, trees, flowers, plants beside apartment buildings, jerusalem apartment building, plants, construction, supermarkets, valley, fence

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.)

yad sarah, high school israel, jerusalem high school, security guards, yefeh nof, light rail train, light rail train stop, jerusalem light rail train, jerusalem light rail, israeli high school, israeli schools, security in israeli schools, israeli security, budka, fence, armed guard, security guard, high school student, basketball field, school, school days, school day

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.

bus stops, egged stops, buses, sidewalk, bus stop poles, bus stop signs, jerusalem bus, jerusalem bus stop, shuk bus stop, shuk buses, sidewalk stops, bread,

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.

bus stops, egged stops, buses, sidewalk, bus stop poles, bus stop signs, jerusalem bus, jerusalem bus stop, shuk bus stop, shuk buses, sidewalk stops, bread

The store right beside the bus stop.

bus stops, egged stops, buses, sidewalk, bus stop poles, bus stop signs, jerusalem bus, jerusalem bus stop, shuk bus stop, shuk buses, sidewalk stops, bread, toilet paper, old man

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.

bus stops, egged stops, buses, sidewalk, bus stop poles, bus stop signs, jerusalem bus, jerusalem bus stop, shuk bus stop, shuk buses, sidewalk stops, building decorations, parking signs

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.

bus stops, egged stops, buses, sidewalk, bus stop poles, bus stop signs, jerusalem bus, jerusalem bus stop, shuk bus stop, shuk buses, sidewalk stops, bus, cell phones, ipads, ipods, touch phones, touch screens, smartphone, iphone

The bus passed . . .

bus stops, egged stops, buses, sidewalk, bus stop poles, bus stop signs, jerusalem bus, jerusalem bus stop, shuk bus stop, shuk buses, sidewalk stops, bus, cell phones, ipads, ipods, touch phones, touch screens, smartphone, iphone

More buses going in the other direction . . .

bus stops, egged stops, buses, sidewalk, bus stop poles, bus stop signs, jerusalem bus, jerusalem bus stop, shuk bus stop, shuk buses, sidewalk stops, bread

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.

bus stops, egged stops, buses, sidewalk, bus stop poles, bus stop signs, jerusalem bus, jerusalem bus stop, shuk bus stop, shuk buses, sidewalk stops, bread, gesher hameitarim, cranes, construction, tachana merkazit, central bus station, jerusalem string bridge, sky, lamp posts, light rail train, rakevet kalah

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

bus stops, egged stops, buses, sidewalk, bus stop poles, bus stop signs, jerusalem bus, jerusalem bus stop, shuk bus stop, shuk buses, sidewalk stops, bread, line of buses, lots of buses, line of egged buses

bus stops, egged stops, buses, sidewalk, bus stop poles, bus stop signs, jerusalem bus, jerusalem bus stop, shuk bus stop, shuk buses, sidewalk stops, bread, line of buses, lots of buses, line of egged buses

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:

shuk, walking, yaffo, yafo, agrippas, people, machane yehuda, shuk, marketplace, open marketplace, jerusalem shuk, newspapers, stores, shopping, cheap stores, cheap

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

shuk, walking, yaffo, yafo, agrippas, people, machane yehuda, shuk, marketplace, open marketplace, jerusalem shuk, newspapers, stores, shopping, cheap stores, cheap, magazines, newspaper stands, newspapers, jewish magazines, secular magazines, drinks, beer, cigarettes, poison, cigars, smokers, smoking, harming people, health

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

shuk, walking, yaffo, yafo, agrippas, people, machane yehuda, shuk, marketplace, open marketplace, jerusalem shuk, newspapers, stores, shopping, cheap stores, cheap, restaurants, smoking, smokers corner, cigarettes, cigars, smokers, people who smoke, nicotine, addiction, smoking outdoors, harming other people

A store selling snacks . . .

shuk, walking, yaffo, yafo, agrippas, people, machane yehuda, shuk, marketplace, open marketplace, jerusalem shuk, newspapers, stores, shopping, cheap stores, cheap, snack shops, bamba, bissli, snacks, junk food, junk food stores, snack bags

shuk, walking, yaffo, yafo, agrippas, people, machane yehuda, shuk, marketplace, open marketplace, jerusalem shuk, newspapers, stores, shopping, cheap stores, cheap, snack shops, bamba, bissli, snacks, junk food, junk food stores, snack bags

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

shuk, walking, yaffo, yafo, agrippas, people, machane yehuda, shuk, marketplace, open marketplace, jerusalem shuk, newspapers, stores, shopping, cheap stores, cheap, soft drinks, juices, drink shops, alcohol, liquor, wine, grape juice, soda pop, soda, water, fruit juices, soda shops, juice stores, stores selling drinks

shuk, walking, yaffo, yafo, agrippas, people, machane yehuda, shuk, marketplace, open marketplace, jerusalem shuk, newspapers, stores, shopping, cheap stores, cheap, soft drinks, juices, drink shops, alcohol, liquor, wine, grape juice, soda pop, soda, water, fruit juices, soda shops, juice stores, stores selling drinks

shuk, walking, yaffo, yafo, agrippas, people, machane yehuda, shuk, marketplace, open marketplace, jerusalem shuk, newspapers, stores, shopping, cheap stores, cheap, soft drinks, juices, drink shops, alcohol, liquor, wine, grape juice, soda pop, soda, water, fruit juices, soda shops, juice stores, stores selling drinks

We finally reached the bus stop.

shuk, walking, yaffo, yafo, agrippas, people, machane yehuda, shuk, marketplace, open marketplace, jerusalem shuk, newspapers, stores, shopping, cheap stores, cheap, bus stops, egged stops, buses, sidewalk, bus stop poles, bus stop signs, jerusalem bus, jerusalem bus stop, shuk bus stop, shuk buses, sidewalk stops, bread

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.

Through the “Fake Shuk” (Jerusalem, Part III)

We left off, in my last post, in the middle of the fake shuk.  Now we continue, all the way the end of the street.

This is the second turn into the main shuk.

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, alleys

Then we pass another housewares/paper goods store . . .

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, paper goods, housewares

. . . and a store selling nuts and dried fruits (as well as the third, and last, turn into the main shuk).

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, fruit, dried fruit, nuts, dried goods

Someone else has just received a delivery . . .

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, cakes, cookies, deliveries

A store that sells legwear and accessories.  To the left is a store selling only accessories, with a wider variety of them.

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, clothing, accessories, purses, bags

An outdoor cafe.  It seems a bit too fancy for the surrounding stores, but it is just as busy.

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, aroma cafe, cafe, restaurant, outdoor dining

A store selling kippas, the religious headcovering for men.  This store carries a wide variety – wide enough that someon from almost any religious stripe can find something in their style.

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, kippa, beanie, yarmulke, religious head covering, kippah, kipa, kipah, jewish head covering

And a new juice bar.  It is too fancy, and too American-style, for the surrounding area, which is probably why I have almost never seen anyone actually buying there.  Chances are, the chain (of which this store is a part) will go out of business soon.  I have to say, I’m waiting for that day to come.  Israel has its own unique flavor, and American-style stores just ruin that uniqueness.

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, bar, fruit bar, health bar, restaurant, juice bar

We will turn the corner in the next post.

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.)

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, boxes

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.

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, lights, wires

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

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, fruit stores, fruit shop

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

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, cold cuts, canned goods, hot dogs

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

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, iraqi shuk, iraqi marketplace

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, iraqi shuk, iraqi marketplace

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.

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, housewares stores, housewares, home goods, home essentials, buggy carts, bubby carts

The first turn into the main shuk.

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores,

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

jerusalem, shuk, machane yehuda, olive cans, deliveries, jerusalem market, marketplace, shopping, groceries, stores, cheap stores, musician. hippy, hippy musician, soldier, fathers, daughters, father and daughter, soldiers families, israeli soldiers, israeli families, IDF

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.

Stroller-less!

graco travel system, travel system, stroller, carseat, graco stroller, graco carseatWe have gone on a few stroller-less outings before, most of them extremely short.  And, when we traveled for Shabbat, we decided to skip the stroller, too: We had a short bus ride, a short walk, and then we would be in a minibus until we reached our destination.  After Shabbat, it would be the same, just in reverse.  Since we were bringing a carseat for the minibus, it added a lot of weight.  Maybe it would have been easier to bring a stroller, since we could put the carseat on it, and put stuff under it.  But, on the other hand, a stroller just adds bulk and one more thing to carry.

Even though I was skeptical, I didn’t regret the decision, except for during about forty-five minutes (maybe an hour) when we had trouble with the minibus, and the company had to send another one – at night, after an adventure-filled (for a toddler) Shabbat, with a tired, cranky, overstimulated toddler, who was also a bit hungry.  We made it, though.  I changed him into pajamas in a bus shelter, we read a book, and we gave him a bit of food.  And we held him.  A lot.  But, then the minibus came, and life got easier.

That was the only time, during the whole 36-hour trip, that I regretted not bringing a stroller.

Today we took another stroller-less outing.  It was supposed to be a short bus ride, cross the street, do some stuff at the bank, cross the street again, pick up a few items in the store, get on a [light-rail] train (buses only go in one direction on that part of the street), get on a bus, arrive home.  The bank machines were not working, though, so we got on the train and went down to a different bank.  And since Yitzchak was worried I wouldn’t be able to handle Shlomo on such a long trip without a stroller, he met us and accompanied us partway, and went to the store instead of me.  So Shlomo and I went to the bank and went home.

I often don’t realize how much taking a stroller (or maybe taking a heavy stroller) makes me not want to go out.  When I left the stroller, though, and took the kid – by myself – it was amazingly refreshing.  That doesn’t mean that I don’t want another one, though; carrying a baby in a sling and holding a toddler’s hand is also stroller-less, at least for a few months.  (In addition, it is also one of my ideas of bliss.  Yes, I’m crazy.  I know.  You are far from the first person to think that.)

But seriously?  Toddler + stroller = super heavy.  Infant + stroller = somewhat heavy.  I think the toddler can walk short distances, thanks very much.