Sunday, October 19, 2008

עולה הרגל

The last little while has been so busy that there has not been time to post about our adventures. Today was another interesting day.

The original plan was for us to all go to Jerusalem. This plan has been postponed a number of times over the past two weeks. The plans once again had to be revised when Rachel woke up sick this morning. It was just Channah and I heading out to the Israel Museum while Rachel stayed home to rest.

It didn't take long to catch the 417 into Jerusalem. From there we walked across to the bus stop for the 17 by the tachana. After waiting for 45 minutes I decided to start pricing taxis. The first one offered 25 NIS for our trip. I decided to go for 20 NIS. The next ten or so cabs all wanted 30 NIS. I finally told one that other cabs had asked for 25 NIS and we were on our way.

When we got to the Israel Museum we found out that the main building is closed due to construction. They are hoping it will open by 2010. The youth wing and the 2nd temple period model of Jerusalem were open and they are what we came to see. Children were also free during Sukkot. We went to one of the Sukkahs for lunch before heading to the Youth Wing. Channah made a flower by deocorating an old water bottle with stickers. It was part of the recyclying exhibit.

On our way to the next stop there were four dancers setting up with two piece band. The first dance was more of a Greek or Celtic dancing to Israeli music. Then a tour group came through and said they wanted to participate. They ended up doing old style kibbutznic/Young Judea dancing with the professionals leading the group. One of the band members even started up Havnagillah before deciding to play something different.

We went to the Shrine of the Book. Underneath the main exhibit there was a huge amount of agurot pieces. Channah asked if we could go downstairs to see the rest of the exhibit. The money could not be seen from the lower level. Channah asked what happened to the 'gold'. We then spent time at the old city model. Since arriving here Channah loves them everywhere we go. It is especially fun when we connect the model to real places she knows. As we were leaving we happened to stop in front of a picture of the model for tour guide purposes. She asked me to find her the castle (Migdal David) and took a picture of it. I explained to her the I used to go the Kotel via Shaar Schem (Damascus Gate). She took a picture of that picture too. The description I ended up using was inside hole. She got excited when I pointed out the gate later on when we were on the bus. A post card later and when we were off to catch the bus again.

This time we did not have to wait long for the 17 bus. On the bus was a family we happened to know from the old country. They live in Kiryat Sefer and are friends with our Kiryat Sefer friends. We eventually transferred onto the 1 heading to the kotel. It was jam packed. A man made his son move over so that he could share a seat with Channah. She did not agree at first but after almost falling once she was agreeable to the arrangement. When somebody got on the bus with a stroller tried to tell him that it should be stored in the luggage compartment. I had to explain that only works for inter-city buses. She was fairly calm considering one guy kept coming close to ramming her had with his stroller and another man with his bag. At one point I pushed the stroller away to keep her from being hurt. I had very little sympathy when he had trouble getting off the bus because the stroller was wedged in the seat. Most of that came from trying to get off at the same time. I also held the guys bag away from Channah for the last 10 minutes of the bus ride for the same reason.

The kotel was packed. I ended up davening Mincha on the ramp down to the men's side. It was the closest I could get. Channah was great at sticking close to me and avoiding the scores of people. During Shomeni Esrei I had to push someone. He was walking backwards and almost ran into Channah. I just put my hand out in front of me to stop him.

We then went for pizza for dinner followed by cotton candy. It was the most generous helping of cotton candy I had ever seen for only 5 NIS. It was then time to start heading home. The busses were so crowded that there were Egged staff clicking people through outside the backdoors. We eventually made it onto the crowded bus. Once again there was a man sitting with his sone. He offered me his seat so Channah could sit on my lap. When the bus cleared up I was willing to sit backwards in order for him to reclaim the seat next to his sleeping son. Although I hate to say it the people who were careless with their stuff dressed a particular way and those that offered their seats to make life easier dressed another way.

We did not have to wait long to catch the 417 home. About 10 minutes outside of Bet Shemesh there was a major traffic accident. We came to standstill for about an hour. People were getting out of their cars and walking around. The a Zaka vehicle with full sirens came driving through. This was not a good sign. There was a Maariv minyan on the road just behind our bus. Two police cars drove through the minyan and traffic starting moving before everyone was finished. They just casually walked up to the bus. Our bus ended up being turned around before taking a detour around the accident. While our bus was turning around it was backing up towards van where the driving was learning or saying tehillim. As the bus got closer and those at the back of the bus yelled stop he had a look of complete fear in his face. We eventually made it home in over two hours in what should have been a 40 minute bus ride.

Despite our recent bad run with public transportation this week, Channah and I had a great time spending the day togther.

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