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Tel Aviv

First Impressions

sunny 20 °C
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We landed on time. Flight was uneventful, I think I might have even slept a bit.
I was sitting beside a couple who live in the Golan Heights and she told me they have a two hour drive after getting off the plane. They had just gone to Barcelona for the weekend! It was a nice day, a little overcast, but that was not a factor while flying above the clouds ... and I got some good pictures as we were leaving Barcelona, and then before landing in Israel. I was feeling a bit nervous ... with anticipation I think, as we disembarked.

I had no problem going through passport control. When I got to the front of the line and then to the wicket, the young woman inside was pointing at something, looking a bit distracted and a little frantic. I thought she was motioning for me to look into a camera or something, but actually she was pointing at a flying bug climbing up the glass on the outside of her cubicle (where I was standing!). She spoke English fairly well, so I asked her if she wanted me to kill it. She smiled and sort of nodded her head yes, so I gently smacked the bug against the glass (it was a harmless flying spider sort of thing). It fell down on the ledge, so I smacked it again and it was done! A big smile came across her face, along with visible relief, and that was that! She thanked me very much, we both laughed and I was on my way! Easy!
Unfortunately, the taxi business to the hotel was not as pleasant. I mean, the ride itself was fine, I saw lots of Tel Aviv — during rush hour — and we got to the hotel safely ... but I believe I got charged much more than I should have. I’m still trying to get my head around that. It was my own fault for picking the wrong one I guess. Grrr.

When I got to the hotel, around 5:20 pm, it looked very nice. Gordon Matties our tour leader and his wife Lori were sitting the lobby with our tour guide discussing things. I had never met him before, but he mentioned in an earlier email what he would likely be wearing, and that he had red glasses. I noticed that this fellow had red glasses, so I went over and introduced myself. It was indeed him. He knew Helen, my roommate, had already arrived a few hours earlier and checked in. He also mentioned that we were all meeting in the lobby before dinner. I checked in and went up to the room. There was a Do Not Disturb sign on the doorknob ... for a moment I thought about going back down to the lobby, but decided I would go in instead. The room was dark and Helen was obviously in bed asleep. I tried to be quiet, but then I heard her stir and she sat up in her bed, held out her hand and said, “I’m Helen”. We laughed about this later ... probably the strangest way we’ve each ever met someone! Long story short, she lives and works in Winnipeg, although is originally from England. We got along great, right from the word go. We talked for hours that first evening, and night, both awake and suffering terribly from jet lag or just extreme travel fatigue!

Dinner, a buffet, was fabulous! So many choices of hot fresh food and salads. Just wonderful! If this first dinner is any indication ... we’re certainly not going to suffer in the food department! After dinner there was a meet ‘n greet where we sat around in a circle, introduced ourselves and said a little bit about why we were there and/or what we hoped to get out of this trip. I honestly don’t remember much of what I said ... I was extremely tired. I do, however, remember what a few of the others said. We are each here for different reasons, but there are a lot of similar threads.

There are 18 in our group, which is a perfect size! There are six couples and six single people, the latter having either been paired up or who came on this trip together. Everyone is friendly, fun and cooperative. I’m so pleased about this ... doesn’t appear to be a bad apple in the bunch!
After our meeting, we were given instructions about tomorrow’s breakfast, departure time (we’re on a bus travelling from here (Tel Aviv) to Nazareth), and activities.

Although our alarms were set for later ... Helen and I were both awake around 4:30 am! We had a bit of a chat then ... and went back to sleep for an hour or so. Tuesday would be an exhausting day, having had so little sleep! After breakfast, we will be heading up to Nazareth, visiting Caesarea Maritima on the way, as well as an amphitheatre for Roman games, and the city of Akko (or Acre).

Posted by Laura Walking 12:39 Archived in Israel

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