Thursday, 12 November 2009

Bethlehem by bus

A one-hour journey that was full of interest, even in the dark.

On the way out from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to stay at Bustan Qaraaqa, we caught the 21, from the Arab bus station near the Damascus Gate. In fact there are TWO Arab bus stations and when we eventually got to the right one (Jerusalem East) we were quite late in the evening. In any case, we knew that this 21 took us under the Separation Wall, past the checkpoints and that anyone going into Palestine/West Bank would not be stopped – it’s coming the other way that takes the time! I gleaned this from a blog entry linked to the Bustan Qaraqaa website, where "michael" takes you through the journey. The other bus is the 241, which does get checked.

Once in Bethlehem we got a taxi – of course the young man driving had NO idea where we were going, and stopped several times at shops to ask the way – we ended up at a house above BQ, and a woman from there got into the taxi to make sure we were delivered to the right place. Local knowledge vs. The Knowledge – is it only London taxi drivers who do this test? Of course it cost us 50 shekels (£6.50 ) rather than the 30 we had agreed.

Bethlehem was NOTHING like I thought it would be, very commercial and shabby - it seems like real exploitation of people’s belief, and of a mythic experience, although we did not go to the Church of the Nativity or Manger Square. The taxi driver was quite surprised we didn’t want to go there! Peace be upon Us All.

NB: for the return journey on the 241, see Checkpoint Bethlehem.

No comments:

Post a Comment