Entering the Holy Land.....we should have said a prayer!

Tel Aviv Travel Blog

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Arriving in Tel Aviv

Rob got up early and worked some before we had to leave.  When I got up it was all about getting the last few things done so we could get out of the house on time.  While I worked on getting ready Rob started the horrible job of cleaning out the refrigerator of food and washing the dishes.  He made sure everything was out and made us lunch so we would leave on a full stomach and to use up food.  With everything finished we were out in the cold weather of Amsterdam.

 

We were very fortunate and made our way to the train and airport with no issues at all.  It was so nice not to be racing for a train and running through the airport at the last minute.  Surprisingly the lines for security were short and we breezed right through.  Once we were on the plane, which was full Rob felt like he had folded his legs up around his shoulders.  Big guys and tight airline seats don’t work well together.  Even with a short delay in leaving Amsterdam and our layover in Riga (the hub of the world for Air Baltic) the trip was shaping up to be pretty quite and uneventful so far.  We were a little nervous at the bitter, biting cold and the snow in Riga. We patiently waited to board and watch the snow fall outside.  Once it was time to get on the plane we dashed across the slick ice and snow covered asphalt to the plane.  Patiently waiting in our seats we watch the menagerie of people getting on the plane.  In the row directly behind us was a nun.

 

As we assess the other passengers and waited patiently we saw he luggage being loaded and the plane being fueled.  It was amazing to see the liters add up.  If finally stopped at 11,727, WOW!! Once we everything was done and the plane was de-iced we were off, about 40 minutes late. 

 

The flight was uneventful.  Rob read articles on Lean Six Sigma and management until his head hurt and I started a new book and made it about half way through.  At one point Rob was getting us oranges from his backpack and gave the nun one.  He figured it couldn’t hurt to get extra points with a bride of God.

 

After landing safely in Tel Aviv we made our way to passport control.  The airport itself is beautiful and very modern.  It is all steel and glass with warm wood accents.  There was a distinctive smell of chlorine in the air from the water features.  We had read that they have to heavily chlorinate the water. 

 

Once we got to passport control and waited our turn is when the fun started.  The young woman helping us looked through my passport first and laid it down open to a special page.  Next she went through Rob’s.  She looked at him and asked if he had been to Lebanon too. He said he had and I assured her he had been with me.  She couldn’t find the stamps, even going through the passport three times.  Rob took the passport and found the stamps (pages stuck together).  Once she had confirmed both of us had been to Lebanon and Syria she said she was very sorry but the police needed to question us. Now at this point it was 1:00 AM.  I was shocked and figured my usual “adventure” mode was setting in now. 

 

We went to the waiting area while she held onto our passports.  There was another couple waiting there too.  They looked as tired and unexcited as us.  We just remained calm and waited,  what else could we do.  The other couple was taken back to a small room and then came back and sat down.  Apparently they were detained because they had been to Afghanistan.  The police came and gave them their passports and let them go.  We continued to sit there in the ragged looking waiting room and hope it would be over soon.  Rob suddenly had a thought about out luggage being on the carousel and us not getting it in time.  We really did need to have our clothing for the next few days.  Luckily we had the cameras and computers with us.

 

Finally a young woman came in and got us.  She took us to a small room and began questioning us about our visit, when and why we had been to Lebanon and Syria, did we have any connections in any of these places.  She was very nice about it and asked if we planned to protest any while we are here.  Rob was tired and feeling the need to be cute and said no and asked why we would.  She told us sometimes people like to come and throw rocks at their soldiers.  Rob responded that he didn’t know their soldiers well enough to throw stones at them and we really didn’t do that kind of thing.  Luckily she took it in a humorous manner and let it go.  She had to tell us about the horrible weather for the next few days and how cold it is in Jerusalem compared to other cities and that we had chosen to stay in the wrong place, but we should enjoy our trip.  When she finally let us go we were sent back to the waiting area.  They had to ask us three times if they could stamp our passports or we wanted a separate sheet of paper.  At long last we were released to go.  There was nobody in the passport control area. 

 

When we entered the baggage area it was also like a ghost town.  We found the carousel for our flight and our suitcase was sitting there all by itself waiting for us.  We opened to double check and it appeared everything was fine.  Now, on to the next challenge getting to the hotel.

 

After passing through the customs area we saw our taxi driver.  We let him know we needed to get money and headed to the ATMs.  Luckily there were three in a row next to the exchange service.  We assumed the ATMs would dispense US dollars, as other Middle Eastern countries do,  that was wrong! Since we had failed to check the exchange rates we had to ask the exchange service.  Thanks to the fact the hotel and taxi had quoted us in dollars we had to get that rate and the Euro rate because all of our accounts are in Euros.  I got a little confused by the different rates, but luckily Rob kept it straight in his head.  The only problem was the exchange service gave us their rates and not the market rates.  This would not become clear until we had to pay the taxi driver.

yadilitta says:
Fun and also helpful! Thanks for sharing!
Posted on: Feb 09, 2010
delsol67 says:
THanks so much. I've had and am still having trouble writing this blog. 6 days left to write. I'm co conflicted about the many experiences that we had. I hope to have it all up in a week,now. I was away doing a tour of the Alps; Innsbruck, Vaduz, Zurich, and Torino. It was an amazing journey....especially Liechtenstein...stunning!!!
Posted on: Jan 26, 2010
Africancrab says:
Amazing experiences you share as always Brian. Thanks for sharing
Posted on: Jan 24, 2010
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Arriving in Tel Aviv
Arriving in Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
photo by: JulieFrenchi