It is vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. – Jane Eyre
I’m in Tel Aviv! After a draining experience at Dulles (thank you United Airlines), and a transfer in Philly, and screaming babies next to me on the flight to Ben Gurion, I am at the hotel. It’s been a whirlwind so far. I haven’t quite gotten my bearings yet, especially not in Tel Aviv, so my descriptions right now might be poor.
I was so surprised, when I arrived in Philly, and walked to the US Airways International terminal, I had about 1.5 hours before boarding began for my flight to Tel Aviv. I walked over to the gate, just to be sure I knew where it was and make sure it was the right gate (thank you, Dad, for teaching us that), and the gate was like any other normal gate, except completely screened off. Like floor-to-ceiling walled off, except for a separate metal detector and bag x-ray thing. There was secondary security to go through just to sit at the gate, separated from the rest of the terminal, just for the flight to Tel Aviv. I was so intrigued! I was trying to imagine what other country (that still flies commercially from the US) would have that type of security at a US airport. And then, what that must feel like to be a citizen of that country – I felt a little special, yes, but also a more heightened sense of danger? I wonder if other airports that have flights to Israel have the same double security standard for that specific gate.
The TSA also were not screening people to go through to sit at the gate until just 30 minutes before boarding, so I sat around to see if I could figure out who else was going to take the flight. It seemed like an interesting mix of Americans and what I think would be dual-citizenship families. The parents would speak fluent (well it sounded fluent to me!) Hebrew and their children would answer in non-accented English. Some Americans traveling alone (not very many), a couple pairs of older women (how I imagine me and booboo traveling when we’re older, two crazy women going to crazy locales), and then a couple families (standard American 2 parents, 2 children). The, well I’ll call them, Israeli families seemed to be traveling in much larger groups – 2 or 3 full families together, maybe the parents are related to each other somehow, or they were just friends traveling together, lots of children all playing together, the parents all working together to keep the kids in line. Once I got on the flight, a guy sitting near me was explaining how he works for HP and travels to Tel Aviv a lot (like 4 times in the past 3 months!), which I thought was interesting and made me wonder how many other people were on the flight for business reasons.
After we landed, and walked through the Ben Gurion airport to get to passport control, it was really very modern, very minimal, very clean. Signs in Hebrew and Arabic, most signs had English as well, or a picture (of luggage for baggage pickup, etc). So it was easy to find the huge lines for passport control. The passport guard I had was curt, but polite enough. She asked me a few questions to get more information on the research I’m doing, and after asking how long I’m staying, I told her 3 months this trip, and she smirked and stamped my passport for a 3-month visit. So I’m in!
I walked outside of the airport to a pretty humid 85*F, which threw me for a loop, considering I’ve been freezing for the past 17 hours (at both airports and on both flights). The taxis were waiting at a dispatch center, like they do at National or Dulles, so I hopped into one, and my driver had no idea where my hotel was. He called his friend and made me talk to his friend in English, then pulled out a GPS (all of this while driving at 120 km/hr, crazy swerving in and out of lanes… it was fun). We circled around Tel Aviv streets for a bit, which gave me some time to look out the window (which was none too clean, thereby making it difficult to really see). But Tel Aviv looks really big and bustling! Skyscrapers, but also really tiny shops on the ground level, I saw a shop for Hungarian blitzes, and then a shop for Scottish wine and spirits. Nothing really seems up-to-date – buildings seem old from the ground level, there’s a decent amount of graffiti on buildings. Most signs have Hebrew and English and Arabic, so it’s decently easy to figure out where you are. Except I never once noticed a street sign.
We did drive by the beach, since my hotel is close. The beach looked PACKED – tons of people there, seemed very European (like I know what a European beach looks like??), but very casual, people walking around in bathing suits, bikinis, etc. The view from my hotel room:
So those are my travels so far. I know I’m missing stuff, so I’ll look through notes that I jotted down in my journal (yayy for friends who gave me journals!!), and post more if I can think of it.
Tomorrow should be interesting… as I attempt to get to the West Bank. Stay tuned, as hopefully I will have an apartment and internet tomorrow night to update everyone!
Miss everyone dearly.