Welcome to Israel! Arriving in Ben Gurion Airport no longer has that unique Israeli feel, with all passengers walking onto the tarmac and then into mini buses that drive you to arrivals and extremely long immigration lines. Now, its a fancy airport that seems eerily similar to those of New York, Minneapolis and Cologne (my most recent destinations). Too bad, I guess, although the airport now has dozens of beautiful shops and a prettier exterior.
The flight was pretty interesting. Upon arriving at the airport, I was immediately informed that Delta Medallion cardholders get no special privelages on El Al (even though the flight was a codeshare). Additionally, I was set to sit in the very last row of the plane, in the only middle seat available. Luckily, I was able to adjust that quickly and avoid that fate. The plane was an El Al 767, which is the only model that does not have personal entertainment units for all passengers. On top of that, I was sitting near the front, where a young child had brought a dog onboard. I have never seen this before, but apparently its legal... Finally, the flight was intended to leave NY at 8pm but ended up leaving nearly 2 hrs late. Needless to say, I was confused for much of the ~11 hour flight... Here's a photo of the plane in question (from Ben Gurion Airport - plane with Israeli flag next to a Sun D'or plane):
After landing in Israel, I took a Sheirut (Taxi) to my friend Farber's home in Ramat Aviv (neighborhood in Tel Aviv). It's a beautiful up and coming neighborhood that is steps from Tel Aviv beach, and Tel Aviv University. Here's a few photos:
We went out shopping for some food for a BBQ, and I realized that the mall next door to his apartment is actually one that I shopped in regularly when I was at Tel Aviv University for the summer on an Israel Advocacy program. In fact, the supermarket we went to was the place that Arie and I bought the infamous pony kegs of Heineken that were a big hit with people in our program.
OK then... It's roughly 7:20 in Israel now and I'm exhausted. Hope to enjoy a light evening, get some sleep and prepare for tomorrow's adventure in Haifa...