Ehm… Daniela, I think that this is the end of the line.
Yes, it was indeed the end of the 30 bus route and instead of taking us to the Israel Museum, Josh and I had wound up at Kibbutz Ramat Rachel. Not that there’s anything wrong with Ramat Rachel per se, and given that one of the major works that Josh is exploring in his Master’s thesis is Naftali Bezem’s the The Defence of Ramat Rachel, to say that we’ve been there&emdash;if only to alight one bus and board another in the return direction&emdash;is rather gratifying. But it wasn’t the Israel Museum.
As my friend Arieh were to extol later that day, our mistake had been to catch the bus ‘anywhere around Agrippas Street.’ The buses run in counter-intuitive directions there and while it seemed entirely logical to me to catch a bus pointing in the general topographical direction of the museum, it would actually take us in the opposing direction. Towards Ramat Rachel.
Of course, we could have avoided this entire magical mystery tour had I either asked the driver or read the bus’ direction of travel. There were, however, two particular issues with either of these courses of action. The first being that my previous interaction with a Jerusalem bus driver, two days prior, requesting directional confirmation had resulted in my turning heel and getting off the bus after he had shouted at me with such vehemence that I felt nothing but humiliation. I wasn’t prepared to go through that again. The second was that there was no direction of travel listed on the front of the bus. All I had to go on was its number. This was not helpful. Hence us jumping on a bus going in the wrong direction.
While buses might be cheap and frequently efficient, they do carry with them an air of mystique and vagary. There is a dark art to reading timetables, acquiring tickets, and understanding intersections. It doesn’t matter which bus network you use, in which city, governed by whatever language, there is always immense potential for screw-uppery.
Thankfully, our detour didn’t detract from our plans, despite it being a Friday and the museum closing at 14:00. We were able to saunter through the Israeli art galleries, take in some Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, enjoy the Avedon exhibition, and even grab a high-speed peek at the Dead Sea Scrolls. Then we caught the bus back to Jaffa Street, this time travelling in the right direction.
The moral of the story? Never get on a bus around Agrippas Street in Jerusalem.