Originally we had planned to rent a car for chol hamoed but in the end we decided to cancel the rental and just go to the zoo one day and a nefesh b'nefesh trip the next. Each day ended up costing us less than in would have for the rental alone- including all admissions, food (we brought with us both days even though technically there was stuff to buy) and transportation.
From the time we got to the train station until the time we finally got back to our apartment, we were not sure which of the beheimot (animals) were in the cages and which were on our side of the fence. People were so incredibly rude and self centred I found myself wanting to smack a lot of them.
I am sure the Zoo is a nice place to go, but I doubt we will be going again any time soon.
Ok, so maybe I should start at the beginning.
There were a grand total of 5 trains going into the zoo over the course of the whole day (and from where we live train is sort of the only option, although we did find out after that we could have bussed to Jerusalem then busees from there to the zoo but we did not know that ahead of time and in any case I suspect it would have been just as bad if not worse- going in to Jerusalem on A) chol hamoed and B) easter sunday just seemed like a crowded option.)
So after waitign 45 minutes for a bus that should come every 10 we ended up calling a cab to make it to the train station for the 2nd train of the day (the first got there 2 hours before it opened so we had decided to take the one that got to the zoo about a half hour ater it opened).
The train was a mob scene.
People were pushing and shoving. I am amazed no one ended up falling into the tracks. No one was willing to fold up their strollers, so there was way less room then there could have been. Channah sat on the floor at our feet and Jason and I stood for the 45 minute ride- not a big deal until you factor in the rolling strollers and kids racing back and forth along the train because they were bored (no idea where the parents were). Heaven forbid any of them should actually say slicha if they trample on you- no you just get a nasty look like it is your fault.
This was what we saw when we got off of the train.
We got off the train and were met by what I can only call a gaggle of people shrieking in every language under the sun. We went to a temporary booth set up to sell tickets and got in line. Silly Canadians. Don't you know that waiting nicely in line is not the Israeli way? We finally got to the front of the line (the people behind us helped push the line along) and some woman tries to smush in front of us from the side.
Um no. I slamed my credit card down on the table and in my best pissed off Israeli Hebrew informed the lady behind the counter we had been here and she was serving us next. (The guy behind us vouched for us as well). she looked at me sort of like she was not sure what to do as clearly this woman beside me was going to get pissy and I just handed her my card, told her what tickets I needed and told her to ring them up.
She did as I am pretty sure that between me and the other lady I looked the more pissed off at that moment.
In any case, we got our tickets and went in to the zoo. Inside we got our tickets to the 3D movie and hung out in the front area watching the monkeys and planning our day for 15 minutes or so until the doors opened for the movie.
Once again, the "line" to get in to the theatre was more of a boxing ring. We just waitign in line, took the best seats that were still left and put on our glasses. Jason and I loved the movie. The whole 3D thing was really well done. channah was terrified of most of it (it was about bugs) but did take her head out of my arm pit long enough to see the butterfly get eaten by the praying mantis.
Oh, every time they showed a picture of the rain forrest they had it rain in the theatre and a mist came crawing along the floor. This did not go over so well with my neat as a pin and fairly fussy five year old.
After that we wandered the zoo for a long while. Everywhere you went you saw adults pushing in front of kids. Kids totally out of control and racing around cutting in front of everyone. People who were just plain rude. It was your basic average major chillul Hashem.
We got the visitors centre where three computers that kids can use. Again we wait in line nicely. Channah waits while kids cut in and out. Most of the time it is 2 to a machine, they stay longer than I think should be allowed ocnsidering the number of kids waiting, but what can I do that is how it is set up (note there are no staff anywhere monitoring the situation. After almost a half hour Channah leaves because even when she managed to get to one of the computers another kids tells her it is "saved" and she starts to cry.
Then came the washrooms. Clearly we polite Canadians never learn our lessons. Channah and I stood in line for 15 minutes to deal with her "I need to go right now" ringingi n my ears. Again we finally got to the front o the line to the point where she was next. Again someoen comes up beside us as squeezes in front of us. she is with a child roughly the same age as Channah who clearly also needs to go.
"I'm sorry but there is a line"
I am ignored.
"Excuse me but there is a line"
More being ignored.
"There is a line and we are next"
she sends her kids in front of us to the next avaialble washroom. Channah is seriously wimpering.
"I said there is a line and my daughter is next." (said rather angrily. Mother behind me tells the other woman to go to the back of the line. woman's kid starts to cry).
She turns to me. How dare you speak to us like that. You could just ask nicely
Channah is now in the bathroom.
(woman behind me, "She did")
she continues "she did not. My daughter has not gone for 3 hours"
me. "Not my problem. My daughter also has not and the only difference is she has been in line for the last 15 minutes".
woman behind me concours again.
channah comes out, washes her hands, we leave. I see other parents pushing in front of the woman who cut in line and telling her to go to the back. I was furious over the incadent for quite a while after that.
Be that as it may there were some better parts to the day.
I am amused to discover that this is what ISraeli's call a squirrel. I see chipmunk.
This is probably the coolest (and biggest!) pidgeon I have ever seen in my life.
This hear is some local Israeli specimens in their winter coats having lost the gene to shed their fur coats in the warmer weather.
This amused the heck out of me. Anytime something was called a Palestinian anything in English, in Hebrew it was renamed "Yisraeli". I could make a comment about rewritting to suit a purpose, but as I am on the wrong side of this one I am going to keep my mouth shut.
Going into the Noah's Ark shaped visitors centre.
Seriously. I am never going anywhere touristy, especially by public transit, on chol hamoed again.