The private minibuses were exactly how Bandora described them: The drivers ensured loudly that everyone knew which bus was going where (“Tel Aviiiiv, Tel Aviiiiv, Tel Aviiiiv” “Beth-leheeeeem, Beth-leheeeeeem…”) and didn`t leave at a particular time but simply when they were full.
Despite telling me the price when I asked, the driver didn`t want to take money before I entered his bus nor before the journey started. All over sudden however, people started to rattle my shoulder from the back and gave me all this money, very obviously expecting that I did something with it. Noone spoke English, and various attempts at discussing the matter proved not fruitful. Eventually, another passenger got up, took the money off me, distributed change to the other passengers and then opened his hands to myself. I added my fare, the man smiled and handed two handful of money to the driver who tucked them away without checking.
I gathered that I was sitting in the wrong seat and chose a middle one on my journey back, but the same thing happened again. Finally, an English speaking passenger explained that everyone hands their fare to the person in front of them, who is also responsible to ensure s/he receives the correct change, and the best thing is really to chose the back seat if you don`t want to get involved.
The journey went to Tel Aviv bus station, where my bag was raided when I entered (bathroom!) It felt strangely safe.
I found a bus which went to the harbour, which I had heard was especially pittoresque. But after a lengthy journey through a notably larger city than Jerusalem, I was finally asked to exit in front of numerous industrial buildings, which were definitely not pittoresque: “Finish here.” It turned out that there were two harbours: the Jaffa Harbour (which is the tourist attraction) and the industrial harbour (which is the one I was looking at). I didn` t know, so I didn` t specify which harbour I was wanting to see.
I found out that the beaches were just round the corner, and the Jaffa Harbour was in the same direction (but about an hours` walk in the blazing heat), so I just started walking, hoping to see a bus stop soon.
I actually walked the whole thing, but not without switching from beach to back streets, craving shadow and food, and I stopped at a fantastic little place, where I paid a flat rate for being tossed a salad with as many ingredients as I chose from their large display. I then pulled out my tablet and skyped my husband, who laughed when I said that he saw me sitting in Tel Aviv.
Eventually, I started to see the Jaffa harbour in the distance, but it always seemed closer than it was. When I finally reached it, bought myself a fresh lemonade as well as a bottle of water and just sat for ages with both before walking around and having a look.
The skyscrapers in the distance stood in stark contrast to the ancient Jaffa Harbour, as were the people. In Jerusalem, I had learnt to dress modestly by now, but in Tel Aviv, anything goes. Tiny bikinis could be seen next to full burkhas at the beach, and no one winked an eye to each other, and I was told the night live was a cut above many a “real” Western City.
I didn`t see anything else, unfortunately. There were a couple of arts museums, which I had earmarked, but I never made it. When the sun started to come down, I took a bus to the bus station and was lucky enough to be one of the last few people to complete a minibus back to Jerusalem. There, I finally discovered the direct bus that went to my hosts` house (I knew about it, but just couldn`t figure out where it left) and came home long after the little girl went to bed, me and my throbbing feet.
But I was proud of myself. Me, who has no sense of orientation whatsoever, got lost in Tel Aviv, but made it to my destination and then back home without any further incidents!!