Wednesday, April 26, 2023
LA to Netanya (and more!)
I am sitting on my bed on the third floor of our hotel in Netanya, about half an hour north of Tel Aviv. I have not written anything down yet, even though I probably could have squeezed it in by now. I will do better (maybe).
Our flight left LAX only about 90 minutes late. I had arrived over 3 ½ hours before our scheduled departure, because we had no idea if we could change our seats. I had a middle seat and with the knee though I ought to go for an aisle. I thought we might be the first ones at the still-closed counter. Nope. We were outside the back-and-forth section and out in the middle. They opened the counter 10-15 minutes later and then the line began to move. Slowly. It wasn’t bad.
By 3:45 my little group was checked in with our desired seats. Sort of. I did get an aisle. Sweet. The Turkish Airlines website is basically garbage. People paid for seat selection, and it didn’t save the seat. That is a big ding against them. It could be the group ticket issue.
Oh well, with Fast Pass, security was a breeze. I am very glad I had that. Because then I can sit an extra half an hour in the terminal (it does beat standing in line).
The plane only left 90 minutes late. Slow boarding. Kicking people off the plane (strange). But we had a 2 ½ layover in Istanbul, so there was no reason to be nervous.
Seating on the plane was tight (not much legroom). I sat next to a lovely couple who live in Lebanon and were returning with 15 tubs of supplies for their friends. That was interesting. We encountered very rough weather over Wyoming. We bounced A LOT, with a few big drops. It was during dinner service, which made things interesting. They finally had to stop the service and start again later.
After that rough path, the flight smoothed out. The food was good. I was able to get a good few hour of sleep (at least three) and then naps off and on for the next few hours. I walked. Iced my knee twice (they brought me ice the first time because I had asked on the way to my seat if ice would be available). Bring your own zip lock (I did) and that was very important to the process.
We landed in Istanbul with about an hour to spare. I asked a flight attendant, she said we would not have a problem, the gate was close (and the airport is large). And she was right, we all made it easily to the next gate. There was a large group that boarded late, but we were only about 20 minutes late in leaving, I think. And he might have made up the time. We got to Tel Aviv around 10 pm. Whew.
Processes have change a bit. The electronic scanning of passports makes the process simpler. And the tour company can send a rep to the top of that long descent ramp (if you’ve been, you know what I mean). Then we walked passed the manned passport control and on to collelct our luggage. And it all made it perfectly.
Now, off the bus – a much longer walk than before.
We met our guide (Manhal, or Manny) and our driver (Ahmed, young and friendly). Off to the hotel with fireworks off in the distance here and there. It is the 75th anniversary of the founding of the nation, Independence Day.
Checked in. Carried our own luggage (bummer). They left “dinner” in the room. It was a cold BBQ hamburger (Independence Day). I might be the only one of us who ate it. Can’t let food go to waste. No microwave to warm it either. Had a phone call to take about the Fellowship Hall remodel. Showered. Bed. Beat.
My alarm went off at 7 am, but I was sort of awake. We weren’t leaving the hotel until 9 am so there was some time to rearrange from travel. Breakfast was amazing here. A nice start. Today is planned to be a bit of a slow, get-acclimated, day. And it was. The weather is amazingly beautiful. 73, sunny, with a lovely breeze. It can be very warm this time of year. The weather made our tour of Caesarea Maritima (by the sea) delightful. The site is the most popular National Park in Israel, and it kept up its reputation today (it’s a holiday, remember?). But we had a lovely visit. We had the theater to ourselves (shock, but we arrived after most other tour groups). We saw Herod’s Palace and some new excavations under that palace in what they are pretty sure are the prison. Therefore, it would have been his “home” for a couple of years while he waited transport and processing to Rome.
The rest was pretty normal, but lots of people. Found an area in the Crusader portion where they had put about 20-25 small tabletop games for the kids to play. What a great idea. I have pix.
Then, Dale wanted to swim, so we went back to the entrance for lunch and he and Johnson stayed behind so Dale could swim. That worked out very well. Lunch was just ok. Mediterranean, but not the best. Service was just ok. But….then we had gelato. And…it ws delicious. I should have taken a picture. Yummy.
Back to the bus and off to the aqueduct. Oh my. There weren’t any parking places (shocking). But Ahmed managed and we got out into the sand to explore the water source for the city. Lots of BBQ’s going (tho the sign said not to do that). People everywhere. But we got to see the site. Back onto our bus for the return trip to our hotel. Arrived about 2 pm with the afternoon off. Sweet.
For me, rest, iced the knee, and a shower. And…. journal. Dinner is at 7.
Back from dinner. I think I would speak for the group if I said that the company was better than the dinner. It was not bad; it was just good. The maître’ d saved an outside “room” for us. It had a lovely view and fresh air. It was lovely. And the wine was free. Wow. We stayed and talked for a while and decided to leave as the rest of the dining room had emptied.
So now it is back to work (actually, just beginning). Time to upload pictures. My sliding door is open, and I am enjoying the ocean breezes. There is a bit of traffic noise, but the Mediterranean breeze is my friend this evening.
It was a good day. I am ready for some sleep…a long sleep, let’s hope.