Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Israel Wrap-Up

During a conversation yesterday, I was informed that I had "left (my) readers hanging", without an appropriate entry describing the trip home, etc.  This person was particularly interested in my travel rig and was shaken when I told him it was khakis and a polo.

But I am nothing if not responsive to the cries of my readers, so here goes.

We arrived at the airport well inside my standard 3 hours prior to an international flight, which had some of us a bit concerned.  This was driven by the performance of the evening's dinner restaurant, which was superb, but a bit slow.  I had a lasagne bolognese that was to die for, and I am not joking when I tell you that it was the size of a standard US red brick.  Kinda looked like one too.

Even after a number of trips to Israel, I had never flown out--before, a lovely warship conveyed me from its shores.  So this was my first interaction with vaunted Israel airport security.  We had a number of "checkpoints" at which we were pleasantly interrogated--prior to getting to the X-ray screening which seemed less intrusive than in the US (shoes on, liquids in the carry on). 

As we had discussed, the international legs of the trip were on United Business First, though this time I was in a window seat, which was not optimal.  At one point, a stewardess asked me if I were willing to move to another window seat (apparently there was some movement afoot), and I said no thank you, I would move only for an aisle as I was quite comfortable.  A few minutes later, one of the women from our group came up to the empty aisle seat next to me and said, "I heard you don't like windows--I don't like aisles--want to switch".  Heaven.

Because I was in the Holy Land, I was particularly aware of the cardinal sins that I was committing, especially gluttony.  I decided to make the airplane flight my first step toward self-improvement and eschewed the gourmet dinner that was served at midnight, deciding instead to revisit the latest Bond film (classic) and then go to sleep.  Which is what I did, waking up a short 3 hours from our destination and almost immediately having a flight attendant offer me a cup of coffee.  I finished with Bond, was served breakfast (I passed on the "main course".  Who eats breakfast courses, by the way?), chatted pleasantly with my seat-mate and then the flight was over.

We arrived at Newark at 0400 in the morning, so the trip through customs, etc, was short.  I was the second person to enter the complex.  My flight to National Airport was scheduled for 0918, but a well-meaning fellow traveler said that there was an earlier United Express flight (0630) and that she had sometimes been able to get on it.  So I raced from international arrivals to the A concourse, only to be told when I got to the United Express counter that no such flight existed and my 0918 flight was the first one.  Oh, and it is back in the terminal from which you just came.

Back to terminal C for the five hour wait for my next flight.  Except it wasn't five--it was 8.  On a beautiful Sunday morning across the entire eastern half of the US, United STILL managed a three hour delay our our flight, the second leg of the day for this particular plane.  So the morning was spent reading, emailing, chatting with friends and having a random conversation with Bill Cowher, former Steelers coach, while in the United Lounge.

We eventually made it to National, I got into the Jag, fired up the AC and drove to hearth and home, where I've been luxuriating since.

Some closing thoughts on Israel:

--I'm in the tank, and always have been. This trip did nothing to change that.
--I got a much better sense of the strength of the magnetic draw of Israel to the world's Jews.  Something I simply hadn't considered before.
--Because the Palestinians are split--physically (Gaza, West Bank) is not nearly as important as their political split (Hamas, Fatah).  I don't have much hope for Secretary Kerry's energetic ramblings in the region.
--A tour bus with WiFi is a gift from God.


Juan Bjorn Evreeminett said...

I am surprised that a seasoned air traveler like you fell for the old "there's an earlier flight across the airport but you have to run to make it" routine. Oldest trick in the book. Heh.

Anonymous said...

You did not say if you ate any Humos or Schwarama. Did You?

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