Monday, January 30, 2017

Israel Travelogues: From South to North


I took the long-distance Egged 444 bus from Eilat to Jerusalem instead of taking a shuttle bus. The main reason why I chose this bus was the timetable: Egged buses run more frequently than shuttle buses. There is also a price difference between the two buses. Tickets to the shuttle bus cost thirty-five euros, while the tickets to local bus cost seventeen euros. With shuttle bus you have the advantage that they pick you up at your hotel but my hotel was very close to the central bus station so I could simply walk to the central bus station where local buses were leaving from. The bus was really comfortable but for example my camera backpack did not fit to the storage room over the seats so I had to leave the backpack in the trunk of the bus. I took my camera, my passport, my wallet and the extra lens with me to the bus and left the bag downstairs, I would not leave these items in the trunk at home either but otherwise I was not worried to leave the bag there.

During our trip we crossed the Negev first and then we drove past the Dead Sea after which we arrived in Jerusalem. We had one stop at a petrol station during our trip where you could get yourself a coffee, go to the bathroom or have some snacks. Everything was clean and well organized and the place had a friendly staff. Something what came as a bit of a surprise to me was how seldom you could see English scripts in Israel on name plates of shops or packaging of everyday products. When everything is written in an alphabet you are not familiar with even guessing if you took sugar or salt to your coffee can be fun. Besides that orientation is a bit harder like this it makes the trip more exotic because you can feel that you are really at a foreign place.

I enjoyed the drive through Negev, it lasted for couple of hours but I was not bored at all. Even though you were driving through the same desert, the landscape, the composition and shape of the mountains and the flora was changing from time to time so there was always something new to see. Sometimes we passed by kibbutzes which seemed like green oases in the middle of nowhere. The sight of vegetable tents and diary farms in the desert was a bizarre and impressive view. Everything seemed so well organized and disciplined. Besides kibbutzes you could see military bases in the distance. They were not directly by the road and did not pop out of the landscape. You could notice them mostly by following the signs by the highway. 

Then came the Dead Sea and its holiday resorts. These were not real cities but rather a bunch of big luxury hotels next to each surrounded by palms trees facing the sea. I spotted even a McDonald`s among them- of course the name was written in Hebrew under the M.

After the Dead Sea some mountains followed and you could see soon more green vegetation and urban landscapes. I could hear someone sitting behind me saying the name of Jerusalem and as I turned left I just caught a glimpse of the  the golden dome of The Dome of the Rock among the buildings.

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