After some deep meditation on the theme of where in Israel I should go, somehow I feel strongly compelled to visit both the Negev and the Golan. We could sit around discussing why exactly I feel this way. Or we can concentrate on getting me there!
Inevitably my line of thinking has raised a fierce internal debate: the respective merits of car and bus travel in order to cover relatively vast distances within Israel.
Merits of driving: Getting quickly from place to place; hence, the ability to see many more places. That’s less time attempting to keep an inquisitive baby confined to a bus stop and more ease in stowing away the litany of luggage that comes with her.
Merits of riding a bus: That whole part about driving being faster and more direct is nice in theory, but if you a) don’t know where you’re going and b) are a bit challenged when it comes to following directions, it may be argued that these results may not be experienced. In a bus, on the other hand, you get to sit back, relax, and enjoy the countryside (disclaimer: unlikely to occur with a baby). The company also adds some local flavor. Last summer in Jerusalem, for instance, an older man sat down next to us and started up an extensive conversation in Hebrew, which culminated in him offering Ayelet a wafer cookie (containing nuts, open package, not to be refused). Upon seeing that she readily ate it, he gave us the remainder of the package to take home.
In short, I made the decision that buses are the way to go. As such, I had to mentally release some of my half-baked, driving-intensive plans (We can go to the Museum of Bedouin Culture! And a spa! And the burial site of Ben Gurion! All in half a day!) Instead, it looks like I’ll have to resign myself to a few dedicated locations for longer periods of time – places that are bus-accessible, at that.
I spent several frustrating hours playing games on egged.co.il, such as randomly inputting various cities and pressing “Find trip!” only to find that the trip entailed three transfers, or wasn’t traversable by bus at all. Eventually I determined that Katsrin is a major hub in the Golan; that getting from the South to the North inevitably means stopping in your choice of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem; and that it inexplicably takes twice as long to come back to Tel Aviv from Mitzpe Ramon than it does to get there, even though the way back has no transfer. Maybe there are more stops on the way back because everyone wants to get to Tel Aviv and no one wants to leave? I ignore the logical conclusion of this theory.
I keep coming back to wondering how Ayelet is going to survive multi-hour bus travel. Only one way to find out…