We all woke up early today. There was a donkey crying intermittently throughout the night and morning. Youngest son Eliyahu kept starting up thinking he had to go deal with the donkeys. We have three at home. After that happened a few times he just gave up on sleep. I had barely fallen asleep, again, when T(he) H(usband)’s alarm went off, so that was it for me. It is amazing to me how well I can function on almost no sleep, and for how long. I don’t like it, but it is seemingly a natural part of my life for the past (who can count that high?) years.
Our hostess insisted on driving us to the train station, so we got to sit in the waiting area, one of the nicest I know of, for the better part of an hour. We read aloud, and I finished knitting a potholder. The train came and we headed off to Hod HaSharon, which is the other terminus of the line that starts in Sderot, where we started from Sunday morning.
TH and I knew, since he works in Hod HaSharon among other things, that the station there was really nothing much and in the middle of nowhere, but we figured it wouldn’t be right to skip it. In the end the only thing it got us was a bit of ill-will – the station personnel apparently resented having to get me off and almost immediately back on to the same train. We didn’t even make it to the end of the platform, didn’t have time to cross over to the other platform to actually see the station interior. Eliyahu climbed up to peer over the wall that surrounded the platforms and reported that there was a road, and that was about it. I asked weren’t there any fields? but apparently whatever there was was too barren even for that.
From Hod HaSharon we travelled – I think it took a whole three minutes – back to Kfar Saba. Years ago we had lived in Karnei Shomron, which meant that pretty much any time we wanted to go anywhere we ended up going into or through Kfar Saba, so we knew the city rather well. We had liked it then and were looking forward to seeing some of our favourite places.
The train station at Kfar Saba is possibly the worst-designed one we’ve been in. There were several natural bottle-necks and it was difficult to even see where to go for the wheelchair to pass through around the turnstiles. When I managed to catch a glimpse of the universal wheelchair logo, we still had to get through crowds of people who either couldn’t or wouldn’t make way for us. We did make it out of the station, though, and trekked across what felt like a significant chunk of Kfar Saba in search of what is (to our family) the very best ice cream in Israel. There may be better, but we haven’t found it yet.
It is a store called Penguin (in Hebrew, PENG-veen) where they make their own ice cream, and it is delicious. All three of us had a huge serving, TH and Eliyahu had cones, and I had mine in a cup. The server, who turned out to be a neighbour of the owner just minding the shop as a favour, put the scoops on a cone and then up-ended the cone into a large cup. It was delicious. Can I say that too many times? Eliyahu got vanilla and a fruit blend, can’t remember what three fruit but one was lime. I had a taste and it, too, was delicious. I also can’t remember exactly what TH got, but one of his flavours was Cherry. I got two giant scoops of chocolate chip. Proper chocolate chip with vanilla ice cream and chips of chocolate mixed in. Yummy!
I couldn’t finish mine but Eliyahu could. I probably shouldn’t have let him, I’m amazed we didn’t all have teeth fall out, or something. We aren’t generally used to eating a lot of very sweet foods. However he doesn’t seem to have taken any serious harm.
After the ice cream we went looking for some real food, knowing that the drop in blood sugar would not be good. We went to a bulk foods store and got dried apricots, sunflower seeds, walnuts, mixed nuts… We had a few supplies left over from other days and made a little picnic in a park-like area between a couple of retail buildings on the main street.
It took some tossing back and forth, but we finally decided to head for Petakh Tikvah before trying to find someplace to stay for the night. There are two stations in Petakh Tikvah, one in an industrial area and one in S’gulah. We headed for S’gulah, it being very familiar. Getting back into the Kfar Saba station was almost as exciting as leaving it was, but a worker at the station suggested we wait until after the last train before our had left, and all the people cleared out of the station, before trying to get me to the tracks, which worked out well enough.
I stopped in the bathroom, as part of my world tour of handicapped bathroom facilities. It wasn’t the best ever, but a darned sight better than many I’ve seen. I had a little trouble locking the door as I couldn’t turn the wheelchair once I’d gotten into the stall, but otherwise all was well.
It is impossible to imagine, unless one has been traveling and using a wheelchair, how important the issue of toilet facilities is. There are places I need to go where I have no choice but to use some kind of adult diaper because there simply isn’t a single place where I can get into a stall. Me moving is hard enough, and if I am going to be out all day and relying on public restrooms it can be a serious disaster. Knowing that when I come into a train station that is something I don’t need to worry about makes traveling by train so much more attractive and pleasant – there are no words.
The trains we got on this line, the Sderot-Hod HaSharon line, were all equipped with double-decker wheelchair accessible cars where the lower level had a ramp and space for a wheelchair or two, as well as for bicycles.
Here’s a conundrum for you: In ordinary train cars, every four seats have an electrical outlet that can be used for charging one’s phone or notebook or laptop, or anything else one might want an electrical outlet for on the go. But, in the lower level of the wheelchair accessible car there is one (1) electrical outlet. One, and it is at the far end from the end of the ramp where it would be bloody difficult for a wheelchair to go even if there weren’t bicycles in the way which, in my experience so far, there always are.
In other types of w/c accessible cars the same thing – there are no electrical outlets by the w/c seating. What gives? Don’t I have to charge my cell phone, too? Eh.
The bathrooms, or WC for water closet, on these cars are really good, though, lacking the problem with the other w/c I used on another train of there not being enough room for assistance. There was a problem on one train of the automatic door opening when one didn’t want it to and hadn’t pushed the button. Annoying but not critical.
Arrived in Petakh Tikvah and other than stopping at an Office Depot and picking up some notebooks, pens and pencils, there was absolutely nothing working out there. We made some phone calls to see if we could meet up with anyone today and it all just didn’t work out, so we decided to just get right back on the train and head to Tel Aviv or maybe Jerusalem to find someplace to spend the night.
The staff at the Petakh Tikvah station were rather put out by our wanting to get back on a train when our visit to their fair city hadn’t worked out, but by might and main and running (and listening to at least two more lectures on phoning ahead), we were able to dash onto the train that was leaving in seven minutes. 😉 There was another miracle in that when the railway personnel failed to show up to help me get onto the train, I stood up (!!!), and managed to get myself up the two steps into the train. I couldn’t have done it twice and it was exciting as all hell, but really uplifting, too. It’s been too long since I propelled myself anywhere for any reason without being pushed, or moved, or ‘transferred.’
Anyway, TH got the w/c up on the train in no time so I was able to collapse into it and the rest of the ride was without major incident.
Since I’d picked up a notebook (the paper kind), from then I started to take little notes, perhaps the sorts of things I would have been blogging along the way if I had the capacity to do that. And that starts another post. Happy travels,