donderdag 28 november 2013

28th November, Jerusalem and Haifa, Erinke Siegersma



28th November, Jerusalem and Haifa, Erinke Siegersma

What we have learned from this specific Thursday:
           Schedule extra time when you are going to use public transport abroad and have an appointment you want to catch;
Actually do not take the public transport because it will take longer. Call a cab;
3    Third, watch out for the kind of cabdriver you choose. The cabdriver might not know where he needs to bring you…
Now you’re wondering, what happened? I will start at the beginning and tell something more about our unfortunately short visit to Jerusalem. Thursday morning we woke up quite early so we could spend our last hours in the Holy City. In the late afternoon we were going to meet the Israeli participants at the Technion University in Haifa, which is an industrial port town located on the other side of the country. This is not a big distance from Jerusalem -Israel is even smaller in comparison to the Netherlands- but still at least a two hour drive.
In the morning we planned to go to the Temple Mount, one of the highlights of Jerusalem.  Temple Mount is known in Hebrew as Har haBáyit and in Arabic Haram al-Sharif. These different names shows the cultural mixture in Israel, specifically for Jerusalem. All these religions –Judaism, Islam, Christians and even more- live together in a country which has just been established 70 years ago. This results from time to time cultural differences, which we see on the news. These daily difficulties became clearer when we spoke to the Israeli Jewish students. It is really interesting being in Israel and every day I learn more and more.
Returning to the Temple Mount, this closes from 11:00 to 14:30. We were waiting in the queue for less than an hour when the entrance closed. The waiting time was not a waste. Most of us had the chance to take the time to read the information in the Lonely Planet guidebook. This was nicely interrupted by passing families celebrating Bar Mitzvah. We sometimes recognised the rhythms of the music. It made me feel happy to see these families and friends singing and dancing around their son/brother/friend. It was not one group, no there were many. If I had counted them I think it will be over the amount of ten.
After the plan of visiting the Temple Mount failed, we split up so everybody could do what he or she wanted. With the majority I went to the Old City of David. This was quite funny because we took the so called Hezekiah’s tunnel route in the old canals. We checked out the old water system by walking the old passageway that led to the Gihon spring, which was the water source for Jerusalem. The spring was located outside the city walls. Therefore the builders had to create a protected passageway, which we visited.
Around 2 o’clock we left the hostel and went to the central bus station in Jerusalem. So far so good. After we found the bus that was going to Haifa, which is really crowded and chaotic, there was the decision to take the private bus instead of the public one.  Just after the departure we got stuck in a huge traffic jam around the city of Jerusalem. Finally on the highway, Deirdre mentioned that it was strange the bus driver did not take the direct route to Haifa but the one via Tel Aviv, shown on the direction signs. Two and a half hours later we were in Haifa. The busdriver stopped and asked passerbys something in Hebrew. Within a couple minutes it became clear that he had no idea where he was, which was confirmed when we passed the old port as we knew that the port was not close to the Technion. The atmosphere in the bus changed, we were constantly chuckling to ourselves about the situation. How idiotic is it when you conclude you are in a bus with a driver who does not know where the destination is where you should bring your passengers? In Jerusalem he ensured us he knew where to go, but sadly he clearly didn’t… Even a call with Professor Avi could not help him, so the driver decided to ask a taxi driver to guide the way. This is the first and probably the last time I was in a bus that was escorted by a taxi. Ashamed because we were so late and at the same time happy because we made it, we arrived at the Technion for a dinner with the participants and supervisors of Technion. “Just” two hours too late. The delegation from Israel, our apologies. Maybe this story makes it clearer why we were late.



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