Sunday, April 17, 2005

Zen Train

Today Yaacov and I took the train from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv. For those of you unfamiliar with the topography on Israel, let me tell you, it's more that just a train ride! Basically, Jerusalem really is a "city on a hill" surrounded by many (steep!) hills. It's a challenge to get up to Jerusalem!

There was once a train to Jerusalem that was built during the Ottoman Empire. They say that it was so slow climbing the hills and winding through the valleys to Jerusalem, that you could get out and pick flowers and jump back on! Several years ago, the old train to Jerusalem was abandoned due to the slow trip. It wasn't practical. (FYI according to the Israel Railways website the first train rolled into Jerusalem in 1892 and passenger train service was stopped temporarily in 1998.) ...oh yeah, the new train to Jerusalem started on April 9!

But today Yaacov and I rode on a newish, modern train. Now, it was slow through the hills, but my goodness it was worth it! This train is totally a tourist train or for folks not in a hurry...the Zen train. The scenery is beautiful! After leaving Jerusalem the train weaves through wooded valleys and by streams. It's wonderful!

The train speeds up on flat ground after Beit Shemesh and makes a couple of stops (Lod, etc) before coming to Tel Aviv.

All in all, it was a great trip. 90 minutes. No worries about a car -- where to park -- traffic -- crazy Israeli drivers. The trains run on time! Yaacov and I calculated that for one person it's cheaper to take the train than to drive a car (just gas not other car costs), but for two people a car is cheaper. Yeah carpooling! Buses take you anywhere in Israel, but the train is more spacious and just better! Plus I think that buses hold maybe 80 people per engine...the train has a much larger capacity per engine...I reckon that's less pollution?

So, if you've got time to spare in Israel, take the Zen train. You'll love it!

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