Israel Trip - Our adventure begins!
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Brad and I left Raleigh at 10 a.m. and flew to Dulles in DC. Our flight from Dulles departed at 4 p.m. We arrived in Frankfort, Germany about eight hours later. After another lengthy layover, we finally boarded the final flight for Tel Aviv.
Exhausted, I finally got some sleep on the final leg of the flight. Little did I know I would NEED that nap to handle what was coming: Lost Luggage!
At Tel Aviv, my baggage did not arrive. It was a mad house! It seemed as if there where hundreds of people and thousands of bags. After standing hopelessly at the rotating luggage dump-o-rama for almost an hour, I finally went to the "I'm a loser desk." My lost bag was filled with brand new clothes and I was about to start the two-week vacation of a lifetime.
I filled out the paperwork, convinced seeing my bag again was a lost cause. Color? Black. Size? Average. Great... just like two million other bags in the airline system.
I turned in the paperwork at the desk and started to walk away, thinking all my spending money for the trip would be squeezed into trying to buy awful looking cheap clothing. Suddenly I heard my name: "Oh yes. Mr. Turbyfill, we found your bag."
"Great, I need to catch the tour bus. Where is it?" I asked.
Basically what followed was a "Good News/Bad News" routine that could have been best performed by Abbott and Costello. The short version is this:
My bag was in Frankfort, but it would arrive tomorrow. They couldn't be sure it would arrive tomorrow. But they were sure they had it. They didn't know what flight it would come on, but they would send it to whatever hotel I was at at the time.
"And here's 300 Shekels for your trouble Mr. Turbyfill".
Woo-hoo! Thank you Lufthansa! I grabbed my booty and was "speed escorted" outside by the airline staff. I bee bopped out onto the bus, suddenly realizing a boatload of eyes were on me as I entered the vehicle. I wiped off my happy face and made a beeline for a seat. I looked around and made a few explanations. I kept these folks waiting for a long time. No one was angry. No one rolled their eyes impatiently.
"Maybe this is a good group." I thought. Little did I know.
We made our way through the city to the Mediterranean coast and our hotel for the evening. It was a little old, and a little run down -- but it was reasonably clean and they were serving a buffet for dinner. I was game.
However, I also had a mission. I needed to get some clean underwear and a shirt. We had just spent an entire day traveling and I didn't think that funny smell was coming from the carpet in the hotel. Brad and I grabbed a taxi and headed to the mall.
We had our first lesson of the trip to Israel: Driving requires lots of hand gestures, mumbling, and above all else, constant horn blowing. What a ride! At one point, the taxi driver made me lean back so he roll down the window and yell at a guy for some unknown driving faux-paus. They yelled back and forth in Hebrew for a bit before we could proceed.
I looked back at Brad sitting in the back seat. The look on his face was indescribable.
We finally arrived at the mall. We went through security, being patted down and whisked with a hand-held metal detector. I gave Brad a thumbs up and mentioned we were doing what the travel folks tell you not to do here: go into large crowded public areas.
"Am I pal or what?" I quipped.
"It's an adventure." I suggested.
Brad seemed cool with it all. I felt a little better.
"Well, we just won't tell your wife." I said, all the while planning to e-mail her with tales of our adventure at the earliest possible opportunity.
We walked around the mall. We went around again. Hmmm... I was looking for a "Sears" or "Wal-Mart" kind of store. Not going to happen. It was filled with small shops. We started asking for help. Finally, we were pointed to a men's store with clothing: Polgat.
We popped in and asked the clerk for men's shirts, underwear, and socks. "Sure, no problem", he said. I quickly picked out a shirt and the clerk went to the counter and picked out one for me to try on. Perfect fit! Great!
Now underwear. "What kind?" he asked.
"Jockey style briefs... I like a little security." I said sheepishly.
He whipped out something that looked like a speedo bathing suit for an Italian male model.
"Not that brief." I pleaded.
"It's all we have in briefs." he said.
Hoo boy. No way could I wear those. I could just see that thong looking thing crawling all up me while trying to walk around Israel on a tour.
"Ok, let's try the boxers." I replied.
He pulled out a pair of boxers. Well, the label said "boxers", but they fit more like some kind of spandex swim trunk. "Hmm... at least they won't won't travel," I thought. "Ok." I gave him a big thumbs up. They fit tighter than any jockey style briefs I own. Leave it to the Israelis to overdo it on security! I was all set.
The T-shirt and socks were no problem. We paid for our stuff and headed out the door.
Hey! What do you know? An Internet Cafe across the street! We immediately e-mailed Brad's wife about our adventure. What a pal, eh?
Afterwards, we headed back to the hotel to have an open buffet style supper. This consisted of mostly fresh vegetable dishes and breads. After dinner, I walked around the area near the hotel, talking to people and looking at the shops. I found a toothbrush in a small shop and headed back to the hotel.
The area of Tel Aviv we were in was crowded. Most of the buildings were made out of a type of concrete looking material, and most looked very old -- probably built in the 40's or 50's. Most buildings were in rough shape, showing the signs of not only of age, but certainly of harsh conditions of weather as well as the salt air from the Mediterranean. I ended the day standing on small beach on the Mediterranean. I was pooped. Back at the hotel, we turned in early, exhausted from the trip and the days activities.
I guess I owe you some pictures and video...
Well, sorry. It was a busy day, and I just didn't have the time. The best I can do is a a few pictures from around the hotel and my Polgat receipt. There are also a couple of videos from early the next morning down on the beach before the tour bus left. Oh, and I'll throw in a picture of my new Israeli "boxers" too.
I promise the following days will be of actual tour events and lots and lots of photos and videos. Honest!
Copyright (c) 2004, Keith Turbyfill. All Rights Reserved.