Friday, October 7, 2011

A tram fan

FORGET THE Dome of the Rock or the Western Wall, Jerusalem has a new top attraction. Especially if you're three. But, this being the city that it is, it's not without its controversies.

The Jerusalem light railway, or the tram to Louis, divides opinion because the first (and thus far, only) line runs from the Jewish settlement of Pisgat Ze'ev in East Jerusalem (the Arab bit) to Mount Herzl in the west. Which to your clueless observer (hitherto me) might sound unifying, but granted that settlements are illegal - because they sit on land captured by Israel from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria during the 1967 war - riles those who want East Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestine because it tightens Israel's grip on the disputed territory.

Not that you think about the potential political implications of a bright, shiny, new tram if you're three. All you want to know is when you can ride it and whether you'll see "where the trams sleep" at the end of the line. I answered the first question by jumping aboard with them both but despite giving Louis free rein as to when we got off, we only went as far as Damascus Gate at the edge of the Old City before heading back up the hill in the other direction to the shuk. He immediately wished we'd stuck it out longer because he spotted - joy of joys - a track splitter up ahead.

Being brand new - it only started running in August - it made for a pleasant half an hour or so even if we couldn't get on the first one because it was so crowded. But there were plenty of fun signs to spot while we waited (road signs giving wheeled vehicles a run for their money on the excitement front for Louis right now). And the ultimate bonus is it's free to ride on because it's still being tested, which means that along with the massive bunches of herbs once we made it to the shuk it's pretty much the only thing that's good value in Israel. I predict we'll be like the homeless on the Circle line as was, riding it up and down, before next week's out.

No comments: