Getting around town.

Now that I’ve been getting around on only four wheels (as opposed to 4386524 wheels on a bus), I’ve totally forgotten what it’s like to use public transportation. Yes, it’s only been a couple weeks, but somehow, I’ve completely lost the former public transportation patriotism I held so dear.

So, for everyone I’ve left behind as I rev the engine of this bad boy (Ford Focus?), I can only offer as much help as I can. Here’s a quick summary of some transportation websites:

אגד

EggedThe redesigned Egged website is pretty impressive for an Israeli online service. As far as intercity lines, you can easily look up routes and schedules, order tickets and now they have a new SMS service: Text to the number 2800 (in Hebrew only) what you need to know and they will get back to you right away with an answer. Actually, I’ve tried it and it took a few tries before I got closer to the answer… But Egged’s phone service is always there and pretty decent (03-6948888).

One issue for some might be that although they claim to be available in English and Russian as well as Hebrew, most of the cooler features are not actually in those languages.

Another major lacking is that there is no updated bus map for Jerusalem. I guess they make up for this by having a fairly good system of buses for the city, as well as the recently-added night lines (which a lot of us expected to die out after the summer).

But you can get a historical overview of Egged! There’s even an Egged museum.

דן Dan  buses

Dan has a friendlier site than Egged; in Jerusalem Egged is your only choice and in Tel Aviv and other area, Dan is the leading bus company, so it really doesn’t matter which site is nicer.

You can look up routes between Tel Aviv and the surrounding areas. It’s the same concept as what Egged did. And like Egged, they are also lame with the bus maps.

It’s nice to know that there are plenty of sheruts in the Tel Aviv area that operate along the same routes as the bus lines. It just means more available transportation.

קווים

KavimThe Kavim website is the same concept as Dan and Egged. I love their logo, though. So happy.

They have the timetables although they are not as user friendly or easy to read as when you can enter where you’re coming from and where you’re going with a drop down menu.

סופרבוס

Superbus logoFor all those living the suburban dream in Modiin (and Lod, and Shoham?), Superbus is what you need to get to… well, a few places and every 20 minutes. It seems that for these residents that aren’t too many choices, so you pretty much have to put your travel plans in their hands. Of course… There is the train… if it’s running of course.

רכבת ישראל

Israel Railways

Well, the whole Israel Railways train system is undergoing renovations. Sure, some of the trains are running, but the website is pretty lame for now. It’s sole purpose at the moment seems to be offering announcements about what is closed and what’s not running. It’s a shame, because the trains are supposed to be the easiest and fastest and more environmentally-friendly way to travel.

Connex

Ok… I don’t know much about the where and how of Connex, but their site is the most professional-looking and easy to navigate. I suppose that’s logical, it’s also the one that is owned by an international company. Interestingly, there English version of the site is… “comming soon”. I guess I spoke too… early.

אוטובוסים

Autobusim website

Otobusim is one site with information on seemingly all of the transportation systems in Israel. It includes routes by: Egged, Dan, Metropoline, Kaviim, Connex, Metrodan, Superbus, and the Haifa Carmalit.

Doesn’t seem to be available in any other languages aside from Hebrew, though. However, the best thing about this one is that it has one page with all the other companies’ contact details… And we all speak the language of phone numbers, right?

That pretty much sums it up for now… I’m sure there are more sites out there, and feel free to leave them below.

Happy traveling!

Attempting snow in Israel.

Just went for a drive… sort of. I guess I underestimated the snow; we tried driving to a friend’s and although we didn’t make it far, I did get a dose of nostalgia for snowy days back in upstate New York. Yep, stuck in the house all day, playing in the snow by night…

I have to say, I am very impressed by how slowly and carefully my Israeli neighbors were driving. No one flashed me with brights, no one crawled up to my tail. I give them an A for  caution.

At the same time, I would award an A for effort when it comes to this favorite snowy pastime:

Israeli snowmen

They even tried the carrots thing. I guess American movies pay off… but something always gets lost in translation.

Moving update.

We’ve been hitting snags in the moving process. Like the fact that we didn’t move last week so that we could be cozy in Tzur Hadassah for this snowstorm.

Our current landlords are giving us issues and because of the snow, the tenants at our future apartment are having issues getting their kablan to finish working before Sunday.

But, yes, Sunday is moving day, assuming the rest of the week falls into place.

To snow, or not to snow…

It’s 6 p.m., and all the Israeli news can report about is the impending ‘snow storm’. It’s been hyped about all day, with news reporters actually looking excited as the students who await instruction to stay home from school tomorrow.

The sky has been eerie and gray and has given an extra-apocalyptic feel to the whole weather prediction of Jerusalem. Many people worked from home today and others prepared to leave early to avoid harsh driving conditions.

As a former New Yorker, I’m enjoying all this on multiple levels… But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t childishly excited for the winter’s day of my youth. Plus, my husband has yet to experience his first real snow storm. We’ll see if this one lives up to the hype, though in Israel, it’s pretty rare that they do.

Vote for Jerusalem as property on the Global Monopoly board.

Monopoly ManCheck this out from the makers of Monopoly:

Have your say in the world’s first global Monopoly!

I’m creating the world’s first global Monopoly so I want to know what your favourite cities are!

I’ve pre-selected 68 great cities for you to choose from but you can nominate any other city you want – these are known as Wildcard cities.

Vote for your top 10 cities… and keep voting every day!

The 20 pre-selected cities with the highest worldwide votes on February 29 2008 will make it onto the board. Plus, you will have from March 1 to March 9 2008 to vote on the most nominated Wildcard cities. Only the top two will make it on the board!

How fun is that? And whaddya know, Jerusalem is one of the choices. So are New York, Melbourne, Prague, Dublin, and a few of my other all-time favorite cities of the world. Can’t wait to own them all myself… and think of all the dividing Jerusalem jokes we can make!

Go ahead and vote now.

For an alternative means of defense.

It’s some sort of rite of passage that olim go through; the idea of “becoming more Israeli.” In this case, I don’t mean wearing flowy skirts or forgetting grammatically-correct English.

I mean the process of becoming overly defensive and jumping to attack at any flare of doubt or wrongness – the process of becoming more accusatory, more hot-tempered, more impatient… more ‘Israeli’.

You arrive here with the belief that in order to survive, you have to push your way to the front. You have to claw your way to getting what you want. It’s an image of Israel we Anglo olim carry with us from our youth to our first visit to Misrad Hapnim, and really, through the rest of our Israeli lives.

And the more time goes by, the more I see that supposed-Israeli beast rise out of me. My Hebrew flows better in anger and my voice becomes loud and my eyes dim to any kind of patient truth I might normally seek out.

It’s very disappointing and I’m saddened by my reliance on that ‘Israeliness’ that has developed. If we only conform to the stereotypes we’ve always perceived, how are relations going to change among Israelis? How are we going to achieve understanding and tolerance in this country?

I don’t like that part of me and I want to work on toning it; as a conflict management student and as a generally empathetic and tolerant person, I feel that I can retain that image while living an Israeli life.

And I invite any other Israeli – or potential oleh – to try the same.

Happy Australia Day!

Nah, I’m not Australian just because I’m married to one… But the Aussie I’m married to was given Lamingtons today by an Aussie coworker in hono’u’r of Australia Day this Saturday, and he brought one home for lil ole American me. Another benefit to “mixed” marriages.

The Lamington is an Australian pastry consisting of sponge cake dipped in chocolate and coconut. Here’s a Lamington recipe for the patriotic.

Australia Day Lamington

Sahlab! The Israeli winter milkshake.

It’s been unusually freezing here in Jerusalem the last few weeks… or maybe it’s because we have no heat in our building. Either way, there are tons of way to warm up (piles of blankets? heated argument with Mizrachi neighbor? watching the news?) but my favorite at the moment is Sahlab. It’s a warm, milky drink accessorized by sugar, cinnamon and pistachio. You could say it’s an Israeli winter milkshake.

Here’s a Sahlab recipe for the daring out there… or you could do what we did and buy “אנסטנת סחלב” (Instant Sahlab) from your local super:

Sahlab