Egged Bus 99, Biblical Zoo, and Lots of Israelis  

Posted by inkstainedhands in , ,

After another adventure-filled day, here I am, trying to do it justice. But even with all the photos and videos I took and the notebook pages I filled, I still do not think I can do justice to the sights, the experiences, the sounds, and the feelings one goes through in the course of a tourist's day in Israel. This is all new to me, so I am just taking it all in. I was here when I was four years old, but that hardly counts as anything more than a stamp on my old passport and some photos of me with my relatives.

My day started off at 10:30 AM local time, which would be 3:30 AM in New York. Now, I usually go to sleep at that time at home, so it was not very pleasant to actually wake up then. But I somehow did it, and we were out of the house by 12:45 PM.

We went to hail a taxi on a big road near our apartment. A middle-aged Israeli man, walking past us, advised us to go wait at the bus stop. What a brilliant idea! There was shade and a place to sit there. A young soldier was sitting there too.

Our taxi took us to the central station in Jerusalem. Before going out, we asking the driver exactly where bus 99 is. He pointed to the other side of the street and told us to cross it. We did so, and then asked another Israeli where we should wait for the bus. He also pointed to the other side of the street, where the first Israeli had dropped us off. So we crossed back again and finally got onto the bus, seating ourselves on the upper level, from where we had a beautiful view.

The tour bus took us past Machane Yehuda (where I want to return later when we have time), Davidka Square, Haneviim Street, Mount Scopus, an Arab village, Mt. of Olives, Lion's Gate with a view of many churches, Dung Gate, Mt. Zion, the Artists' Colony (which my father and I had passed by yesterday on our way back from the Kotel), Jaffa Gate, some hotels, King David St., the Old Railway Station of Jerusalem (which had cute murals painted on it), a view of Northern Jerusalem with its many synangogues, churches, and mosques, a view of Western Jerusalem, and finally the Biblical Zoo.

Since we had gotten 'on and off' tickets, we decided to get off at the Biblical Zoo stop and walk around there for a couple of hours. We were dropped off in the middle of a long and winding road, and since we were not sure which way to go or how far, we hailed a taxi. We asked the driver where the Biblical Zoo is, but he did not quite understand what we wanted, so I put my meager Hebrew skills to good use, and said, "Gan ha'chayot." He said it's around there, and invited us into the car. We later laughed because it would have only been a five minute walk for us an

The Biblical zoo was pleasant and entertaining, even though we had to frequently stop to seek shade and rehydrate ourselves. (And you should have seen my delight when I spotted an ice cream stand. Frozen vanilla ice cream in such heat is the most refreshing thing.)

We saw all kinds of animals at the zoo, and I will post some of my pictures from the day. There was a particularly fascinating exhibit with some very interesting animals. As my mother put it, creatures from Darwin's theory. There were four guys, either drunk or high, yelling and enthusiastically laughing at the giraffes and zebras. I found a nice spot a distance away to take a picture of that exhibit, and it came out perfect. Haha. Overall, what a fun day at the zoo!

Afterward, we went back to the bus stop to get on the next bus and continue our tour. But apparently, it was delayed by over half an hour, so my parents and I decided to simply take a taxi and go find a place to eat, because I had not eaten anything substantial, and a lollipop and ice cream are not what I would normally consider even a decent breakfast, much less a decent breakfast-lunch-dinner all in one.

Our taxi driver, not recognizing the addresses we showed him of restaurants and cafes, simply told us that he will take us to Center One and we can eat there. Most of the way there he was assuring us, "Is good, is good!" When we were getting out of the taxi finally, he once again stated, "Is good for you! Is very good!" So we ate at the Korus dairy cafe (which has very nice Caesar salads, milkshakes, and chocolate souffles with vanilla ice cream, and then I found in a little shop inside the mall a very cute pair of sunglasses, so I bought them.

During the taxi ride home, at a red light, the taxi driver recognized the guy driving a truck next to him, so they both opened their windows and started chatting in Hebrew.

We got safely back to our apartment after a long day, and now I am just relaxing and collecting the memories. I am uploading some photos from my camera right now, which I will hopefully post later on.

Tomorrow we are probably going to Beit Shemesh to visit my mother's relatives, and if we have enough time afterward, I hope to go to either Machane Yehuda, Yad Vashem, or some museums in Jerusalem. There are also some stores I wanted to check out. I should probably do a few Google map searches to see which things are clustered in one area and what the nearest cafes are, so we can do as much as possible with the time we have. Oh, and currency exchange is a must. My parents ran out of shekels and the driver was hesitant with dollars and was not sure how much change to give us, so I ended up paying him with the last 40 shekels I had in my wallet (and my father will pay me back afterward). So now neither I nor my parents have shekels. That should probably be our first destination tomorrow.

So that's the story. :]

This entry was posted on Wednesday, August 5, 2009 at Wednesday, August 05, 2009 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


Hopefully you shouldn't always be a "tourist" in Israel.. should have tried the shawarma at Center 1, it's awsome. ..or the yerushalmi meurav...

..and like I said, Israel Mueum and the Tanach Museum are pretty good. There're also a lot of small exihibits in and around the old city (perhaps "archaeological displays" is a better word than "exhibits" actually)...

August 6, 2009 at 1:50 AM

Shawarma? Um... I'm a vegetarian.

I have a list of museums I want to go to and places to see, but I am not sure I will get to it all because we did not really do anything today besides for visiting a relative, and we are probably not going to get out tomorrow either, and then on Sunday we're going to the Golan Heights, returning on Tuesday probably, and the Sunday after that we are going to Ashdod. Not much time left in Jerusalem.

August 6, 2009 at 6:05 PM

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