Thursday, August 11, 2011

We made it to Israel - eventually!

Our Trip to Israel, August 2011
Tuesday, August 9
Of course David worked most of the day, and at the very last minute had to run back to the office to FedEx something. But Dave Burg arrived at 3pm, and by 3:30 we were on our way to Logan Airport...for what would turn into 24 full hours of travel!

We arrived at Logan with plenty of time to spare, just shortly after 4. Of course, between the pouring rain and the major construction project at Terminal B, already it was an interesting trip. When we got to the US Air desk to check in, we were informed that Philadelphia, where we were making the connection to Tel Aviv, was having really bad weather, so they had moved us to the 5:30 flight rather than the 6:30, just to be safe.

Well, that turned out to be a bad idea. The 4:30, 5:30 and 6:30 flights all got turned around. The 4:30 did not take off until after 7pm. We got on the 5;30, but not until after 6:15, and then spent about an hour on the plan, making it all the way to the runway before pulling back to the terminal and deplaning. But the 6:30 got out right before the 5:30, and made it in time!

So, our bags were on their way to Philadelphia, but what should we do? It took a full half hour for the stroller to be brought up from the gate check, and I was holding one very heavy sleeping sack of child. (Sofia had been really excited about flying, but as soon as we got on the plane, she completely panicked. Flopped to the ground, we had to pick her up and struggle her into the seat, where she kept her head pushed into the seat and arms clenched to the arm rests...until she fell asleep.)

Anyway, David had been on the phone with US Air while we were still taxiing back to the gate, but they could not figure out a solution. But the very enterprising gate agent found a way.

We RACED to Terminal E (not so easy to do when you must wait for the shuttle bus, which then makes 6 stops before yours!), and made it with 20 minutes to spare - we needed to be checked in by 9:15. We were going on Lufthansa, to Frankfurt!

Hurry up and wait, but we actually got out at around 10:30. Of course Sofia was wide awake now after her nap. The four kids and I all sat in a center row, which was basically bulkhead type seats but one row back from the bulkhead seats. The most uncomfortable and squashed seats I can ever remember flying in, plus the row in front of us only had 3 seats, so one of us (Mommy) ended up with no video screen. David sat right behind me.

The boys watched Thor while Sofia stared at Kung Fu Panda 2 (but without sound, since she does not like to wear headphones). After the movie, the boys went to sleep, but Sofia was still awake, so we moved her to the empty seat next to David, and then I switched with him. Thankfully, she fell asleep soon after, and I was able to get some rest (plus my legs did not hurt as badly. The bulkhead-type seats do not have moveable armrests, and the edges were pressing badly into my legs).

Got to Frankfurt ...uh.... sometime in the morning. I love walking through the transit hallways between terminals in European airports. You get to see all sorts of humanity! Wait, wait, wait, for the El Al gate staff to arrive.

Then more waiting. We were officially booked on the flight, but no one seemed to know how to “do” the tickets, and we did not have seat assignments. But eventually they figured it all out, and long after everyone else had gone thru security, we went in.

Micah, Sofia and I got to sit in Business Class! David and Samuel kindly took the two Coach seats (David does get to do quite a lot of Business Class flying). It was nice. Sofia fell asleep about two minutes after take-off, freaking out from seeing the ground recede from view. She slept several hours. Micah was absolutely adorable and extremely polite. It was nice. I did not get much sleep, but I did get a little near the end of the flight. I woke Sofia so she could finish Micah’s dinner (since he didn’t eat so much of it!), and relinquished my in-flight video system (where I finally watched my first episode of Glee - ok, I “get it” now!).

So we landed in Tel Aviv a little after 7 pm local time (noon at home). Two big mysteries still remained. Where were our bags, and how were we getting to Jerusalem?

Well, the amazing news is that the bags MADE IT, and arrived several hours before us. If US Air had not “kindly” switched us to the earlier flight, all would have gone as planned!

But when we got through collecting our bags and going through passport and customs, we could not connect with our friend Eli (he and his family are the reason we are here - daughter Adrin’s Bat Mitzvah party next week). We had sent an email from Boston, telling of the flight change, and had left a voice message at Eli’s parents’ house from Frankfurt, but we could not find him. We tried the various cell numbers, the house phone, and email. Nothing. So after about an hour, we gave in and took a “Nesher” taxi (shared van) to Jerusalem. Made it to our apartment around 10:15...which brought us right up to 24 solid hours of transit!

The apartment is nice, right near the center of the city. We unpacked, and I demanded that we take a quick walk to get some breakfast food and fresh air. Found a 24 hour grocery on Ben Yehuda Street. Had yogurt smoothies just before midnight.

But now the reverse jet-lag is kicking in. Micah and David are asleep, but Sam, Sofia and I are WIDE AWAKE. And I can’t figure out how to get my laptop on the network. (Sam just asked what he should do since he can’t fall asleep. I told him he should read. He decided to try going to sleep.)

I was up until about 2:30, working on the internet connectivity (without resolution).

Thursday August 11

Of course Sofia popped into my room at 8:30 to tell me it was morning. I’ve been up for about an hour with her. Right now she’s eating her grits, so I can get back on my laptop, but otherwise she’s been watching her movie and I have been still trying to reconnect the internet. No such luck.



Left the apartment around 11:30, and walked up toward the Shuk, Machane Yehuda, to finally meet up with Debka and Eli and the girls. Finally found them in the mob. Stopped for lunch first - although Sofia and I had eaten breakfast, the boys had not, and they were all grumpy. Lunch was delicious shwarma, and Sofia had a really yummy rice & beans. Then we walked around the Shuk, which is the giant market place.

There is no place in the United States that compares to The Shuk, both for the amount of foods and things, and for the amount (and variety) of people. It was wild. Tasted yummy “Tamar Hindi” (Indian Date) juice, Apricot juice, Almond juice, and not-so-yummy Mint juice (tasted like Scope!). Bought all sorts of interesting items - some sort of Melon, dried dates, dried pineapple and mango, fresh leechee, other fresh fruits. It was cool. But VERY crowded!

Finally burnt out (and the stroller basket was filled to overflowing, ‘cause we also got 6 large bottles of water), so we walked back to the apartment (and ELi fixed the internet connection for us). Debka and I took a quick stop at a local grocery for dairy items. They headed back to visit Eli’s grandmother, and we will go meet them tonight for a barbeque in the park with half a million relatives.