Sunday, March 23, 2008

Israel Day One

It’s 10:03 p.m. now, it 3 a.m. back at home. I’m now in the Tel Aviv Hilton. It has yet to sink in that I’m in Asia, much less Israel. The view from our 11th story room looks out over the city and the Mediterranean Sea. It is so stunning.

Getting to Tel Aviv was interesting to say the least. When we started to Taxi out of Atlanta, the pilot came over the intercom and announced we would be returning due to a passenger incident. Two men were making jokes they found funny about being terrorist and bombing the plane. Yeah, so not funny. That is about as smart as sneaking up and scaring a skunk.

The pilot came back the cabin arrested the two guys on the spot, and escorted them off the plane while everyone clapped. Most of us, however, didn’t know what was going on. We were delayed about an hour as they ran background checks all the way up to the FBI level. They removed their luggage, and sent in dogs. But it was amazing how thorough they were, in such a short amount of time. And nothing suspicious was found.

The guys were drunk, and it was probably just a joke. And they pleaded crying to be let to stay. However, they had said these comments several times, even to the stewardess. But you just can’t do those things. Now they have Federal charges on them-for a joke.

When we finally got in the air, our plane was quite the party plane. I have never seen so much talking, laughing, and walking around. (Though this could be due to the free alcoholic drinks we were served because of the delay). Even though it was an all night flight no one really slept. There were even a couple ballroom dancing in the galley of the plane! Someone would be walking down this aisle and see someone they knew and shot their name, “Ollie!” Even the stewardess looked amazing saying, “I guess the natives are restless!”

We got into Tel Aviv 12 hours later, and hailed a cab. Tel Aviv literally means “Old Spring.” New stuff built in an old city. It is high tech and yet still beautiful. It’s weird to see signs to places you’ve heard about in the Bible like Bee’s Eva, Damascus, and Jerusalem! All the signs are in Israel’s three languages English, Arab, and Hebrew.

Our taxi cab driver was kind. Although he drove with, “Mediterranean Creativity.” He talked and talked about Israel. And how much he loved Americans, how much they all do. But it’s nice, and refreshing to be in a country where everywhere we go we are adored, and share the same beliefs.

Our room is as nice and extravagant as you would imagine a Hilton to be. And I spend so much time out on the balcony. I’m just amazed by it all. All the pictures are on my flickr!

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