I’m sitting along the Mediterranean coast in central Netanya. That’s north of Tel Aviv, the second largest city in Israel, but the home to 70% of the population. It’s dark (of course) and I guess they’ve had a bit of rain today. I could barely see the coastline when we landed – so it was that cloudy.
We have all made it safely – and together. That didn’t always seem to be the assumed outcome. On my way to the airport (Christie and I left home really early….and made an impromptu stop at Chick Fil-A across from the Galleria). The farther I went away from home the hungrier I got. So at 11:30, it was time to eat. It was delightful, actually. No fries or soda for those keeping track.
We got to LAX in plenty of time, but there were a few exchanges of texts on the way. One of our tour members was still on the tarmac in Phoenix for some reason (and had been for an hour). That sort of tweaks things a bit.
Check in was simple (tho they did weigh my carry-on which was woefully overweight). But I had discreetly mentioned earlier that I was the tour leader – so that was good for something. My bag was fine (which is why my carry-on wasn’t, just to be honest). Some had gone thru security, the rest I hadn’t seen yet. And, of course, one was on the tarmac in Phoenix. Yikes.
I decided to go ahead an go thru security – the line looked a bit on the longer side. They had marked TSA Precheck on my boarding pass, but hey, that doesn’t help at Bradley. Or does it? They sent me to the opposite end for security….where low and behold, there is a TSA Precheck line. Wow. There were a whole three people in front of me. Well, and a crew from a plane going thru the actual security procedure. So, I had to wait a whole five minutes and then was whisked thru security (I passed). It was amazing!!! So not to everyone, Precheck is now good for international departures (it has been for a month I guess). It’s sweet.
So I just want it to be noted that I made it thru check in and security without leaving anything, dropping anything, or causing any sort of delay or scene. Why isn’t someone around to witness the moment?
Back at the gate I got the news that the plane had left Phoenix (and I think even by now it was at LAX). I got to meet some of the travelers for the first time (all first impressions were amazingly positive). We all made it to the gate in plenty of time. No worries. No hassles. Great group. They really are, btw.
Boarding was longer than usual (what happened to this German precision on Lufthansa). They were testing a new system of facial recognition to board. You didn’t need your boarding pass or your passport. I assume they scanned it in down at the counter and then just matched your face to the image on your passport. When it worked, it was great. But it was a bit finnicky. Oh well.
I made it to my seat. Think sardines in a can. I was on an aisle (usually a good thing). But without someone I knew next to me, I didn’t have armrest space – and EVERYONE bumps me as they went down the aisle. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep a wink all the way to Frankfurt. It was not my best flight. But, in the matters that really counted – the flight was on time AND smooth as silk just about all the way. The food was just ok. It was just long. Really long.
I did watch a movie – Victoria and Abdul. It was interesting. Had to be more fiction that reality. Right? And I watched some downloaded Netflix on my phone (“Lost in Space”). That killed some time. The restrooms were downstairs – so walking down to them was sort of nice (others didn’t like it). I didn’t mind.
In Frankfurt we walked A LOT between gates – and got to ride a tram. It was probably half an hour in all to make the change of gates. And we had special security since we were flying to Tel Aviv. They just opened after we arrived so we were in the front of that line (which grew long).
That flight was a bit late leaving (our plan was late in arriving from some other place). I switched my aisle for a window (I like to lean). And after the door closed I had an empty seat next to me. Oh….this was going to be sweet. “Going to be” is the operative phrase. After I thought everyone was settled, someone came up and took the seat. They weren’t petite either. But I nestled against the wall and window and watched some Netflix. Of course, without sleep and getting sleepy – I think I dropped my phone on the floor at least four times. And it was not easy to grab with the limited space and neighbor. Oh well. At least the kids weren’t around – but Danny would have gotten in for me.
Food was fair. Well, I got the pasta this time and it was good. It was Macaroni and Cheese. Nice.
We were about half an hour late in landing. We couldn’t see anything of Israel while landing and it was pretty cloudy. And then we had to take buses to the terminal (I guess the gates were full). That just adds time to the journey and creates an opportunity to sardine again – and this time ripe with the smells of travel.
The passport control line was not too long. Maybe 10 minutes or so. Luggage was all ready to go and a few of us were able to collect it all (the green yarn was amazing). It moves things along.
Soon we were outside on the hunt for Andre (our guide). He was of course waiting for us. And then comes the big reveal – what kind of bus?? Well, folks, I’ve graduated. At least so it feels. We got a regular-sized bus, not one of those big mini-vans. That’s a perk of 17. We get to sit high up and have plenty of seats and luggage space. Sweet.
Too about 45 minutes to get up the coast to Netanya. It was dark the whole way, so we didn’t get to see much of the land. Lots of skyscrapers through Tel Aviv, tho. The hotel (Leonardo) is lovely. We were too late for dinner in the dining room, so they had prepared plates and delivered them to our rooms). Lots of veggies and rolled roast beef, olives, tomatoes…the usual. Oh, and lots of delicious pickles. I enjoyed them most. Well, those and the olives.
I have my modem up and running so I can post. I didn’t take very many pictures today, but a few. Tomorrow we are on the bus at 8:15. There is another group already leaving at 8, so we will wait for them. Earlier is not an option after our long day today.
So now it is off to bed (after a shower).