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Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Need for Speed

Say what you will about Israeli drivers: the fact remains that driving in Israel can be exhilarating. I'm not talking about the gridlocked streets of Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, although there is still some challenge to be found there. No, I'm talking about the narrow roads that wind their way up and down the mountain ranges of Northern Israel. The sudden changes in elevation, hairpin turns, blind corners, and soaring vistas seem tailor-made for the video game racing enthusiast.

That is, if you have the right car. Sadly, I did not. As Fudge pointed out, I was driving the roads of my dreams with the car of my nightmares. I shouldn't complain. We were lucky to have any vehicle. Mrs. B's aunt managed to procure one for us at the 11th hour from some Charedi rental agency in Tel Aviv. The price was exorbitant, but at least we got a minivan.
However, it was not what one would call, a performer. If the Kia Rio that I rented when my car was in the shop was powered by a lawnmower, the power plant of the Kia Carnival contained, in my opinion, a gerbil in need of a hip replacement. And it was a diesel, so it was loud and smelly too. I'm not sure how old it was. This picture to the right, which resembles it fairly closely, is a 1999 model, according to the Russian auto sales site from which I stole it. I think. I can't really read Russian.

As far as I can tell, it was not capable of accelerating. Any forward movement of the van was on the basis of either gravity or possibly wind. Certainly, it didn't seem interested in going forward when I depressed the gas pedal. This was particularly distressing in situations where rapid acceleration was desirable, say when attempting to enter one of Israel's many traffic circles, or trying to make a left turn onto a busy road. This is usually what you'd hear, if you were sitting in the car with us:

Mrs. B: OK, that guy passed, you can enter the traffic circle.

Me: OK.

Mrs. B: GO!

Me: I'm trying!

Mrs. B: Why aren't you moving?

Me: I don't know! I'm pressing the gas! Wait...are we starting to go forward a little?

Mrs. B: Hurry up! That truck is getting closer!

Me: I'm flooring it! Hey, OK, now we're starting to move a little!

Mrs. B: Would it help if I got out and pushed?

Me: It might. Crap that guy is going to hit us!

I can only daydream about what it would have been like to cruise those roads in a Lamborghini. Well, I guess there's always video games.


Hila said...

I'm sorry at your misfortune with the minivan in Israel, but I have to admit that this post made me laugh so hard I cried! I don't know what it is, but the way you write things definitely tickles the ol' funny bone! At least you made it back in one piece, thank G-d.

Shira Salamone said...

Reversing the usual procedure, it seems to be *Dad's* turn to be "Home Alone," or so I gather from Rafiki/Larry. Better upload all *your* photos before the rest of the gang gets home, as I gather you won't have much access to the, er, photo transfer cable once Rafiki gets hold of it. :)

Sorry about that rolling tuna can you got stuck with. It made a funny post, though. :)

MoChassid said...


When I go to Israel I always rent from El Dan. Because I'm a frequent customer, they always upgrade me so I get a sick car with massive horsepower. I do some serious KPH on the number 1 highway.

tnspr569 said...

PT- just know you're knocking Lenny's van, too.

MoC- I don't know that one would be able to rent a very powerful van in Israel that can seat the entire PT clan. But great for you, though! What "special" cars have you driven there?

the apple said...

"the power plant of the Kia Carnival contained, in my opinion, a gerbil in need of a hip replacement."


PT, you are too funny. And if you want some heart-racing driving, you should try mountainside roads in Turkey - veeeery dangerous hairpin turns, one narrow lane each way, pathetic wee little guardrail.

PsychoToddler said...

Lenny told me his van sucks.

Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

driving in Israel is like driving in Boropark (speaking as a born-and-bred Boropark driver, BP represent)


except that at no point do you cross the border into the next neighborhood over and get a chance to relax :-P

zach said...

I do some serious KPH on the number 1 highway.

A little dated, but still relevant:


tnspr569 said...

PT- there are some vans there that don't suck. Vans and MPVs, actually. Still, that sucky van becomes a lot cooler with rock-proof windows and a GPS connection to the army. Kind of like Jameel's van!!

Lenny's cool enough to rock any van, though.

Anonymous said...

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Jacob Da Jew said...

Steg, how true!

Da Wife drives in "over the border" everyday so when we went to Israel for 2 weeks, driving there was comparably hair raising.

PT, I agree. When we were last there, we rented some fiat? Hyundai? that barely did 20 miles uphill.

But the view and curves were awesome!

I just hated how the Israeli drivers just sat on your tail till they could pass you.

PsychoToddler said...

I just hated how the Israeli drivers just sat on your tail till they could pass you.

But it was nice that the truck drivers would move over onto the shoulder to let you pass. That doesn't happen around here.

yingerman said...

OOHHHH hit a soft spot.
I love driving in israel, north south wherever except near lfar saba about 5pm 3 hours to go nowhere.
Ever rented a really tiny car, no power steering? try driving up to tzfas in one of those, sheesh, shoulders still hurt thinking about it.
on the other hand i drove a brand new mazda 626 with less then 1000k on it down to elat. the road from Sodom to elat, that road has no signs, no life, no traffic, no cops, uh well not that I've ever seen, but the most beautiful land ever seen.
Ahhh the good old days.