Wednesday, 9 February 2011
Chapter 33 Haifa - Part 1: getting there
It’s a long trip to Haifa from Nablus.
Taxi drive to Ariel (nearby Israeli settlement): 30 minutes
Bus to Tel Aviv: 1 hour
A bus from Tel Aviv to Haifa South Station: 2 hours
An overground train to Haifa Central Station: 10 minutes
General waiting around for buses/trains and taxis: 20 minutes
Total: 4 hours
Don’t ask me to tally up the costs, I’ve already comfort eaten my way through enough chocolate today.
In the days before the second intifada and the wall, going straight from Nablus to Haifa: 1.5 hours
People reference that time period often. Before. Before they were penned in. Before they were separated from friends and family by the wall. Before they began to think their stands counted for nothing.
When they would go to Israel for visits. Israelis would come to the West Bank to buy things for cheap.
It feels like they miss those times.
They certainly miss the places they used to go to.
The landscape is different driving up the coast; its very green. At moments it's almost like driving through the UK countryside (minus gloomy overcast).
There's also lots of McDonald’s signs, outlet stores and large malls.
There are no Western brand stores in the West Bank. No Zara or Footlocker. No Dominos Pizza (though we do have a domino bizza in Nablus), No Harvey Nicks, and – much to the chagrin of many of my colleagues – no Starbucks.
There is however a Stars & Bucks in Ramallah which I thoroughly enjoy. Great shisha.
At home we have no TV or radio which means we have been blessedly untouched by the clutter of advertising in almost any form. A large yet unobtrusive billboard every once in a while is pretty much it.
What a difference from London where there is an ad of some sort crammed into every possible nook, cranny and sound wave.
I mull over this as I stare out of the bus window at acres of greenery. I prefer it this way.