Saturday morning 4-21-12

Good morning. I wandered around by the beach until after 11 pm last night. Completely safe. Giant hamburger and fries for dinner. Wasn’t back. A lot of people smoke here in Israel. I’ve attached a landscape photo of the beach just before sunset. It’s really pretty.

Took an ambien and slept like a baby. Got up at 7am and walked down to the beach to get a smoothie for breakfast and to take a long walk. I’ve added a photo of a building that looks completely thrown together with spare parts. It’s across the street from the beach.

I shot a early morning photo of the city from my hotel room. The buildings in the foreground give you a feel for how old they are. Most are deteriorating badly.

I walked a few miles along the beach today to shake off the inactivity of the fifteen hours of being in the air. Snapped a photo of myself with the beach in the background. I’m flying to Elat this afternoon, and tomorrow I cross into Jordan and head for Petra. More to come later. GO KINGS GO!

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Day 1 and 2 Combined

Day 1 and Day 2

 

LAX to NY on American Airline business class. The seat I got had food spilled on it, there was trash on the floor, and the bathroom smelled like they hadn’t emptied the tank since 1966. At least the seat reclines. Wait! The dame leg rest only comes three inches off the floor. The damn think is broken. I asked the flight attendant about it and he said, “It’s an old plane, but it’s a good one.” If ever there was a statement that illustrated “famous last words” that has to be it.

 

Got to NY JFK at 9 pm. Had to catch a shuttle outside to get to terminal 4 to catch my El Flight. Dying to catch a hockey game on TV. Checked in and was sent to the King David  Lounge. Hmmm. The lounges in this terminal are all outside the security zone. That means I can hang out in the lounge but I have to leave the lounge way ahead of time in order to clear security in time to get to my flight. They’ve got three TV’s in here, all on Fox news, but no sound and no controller to change the channels. So I pulled out the computer, but no WiFi in the lounge. Got my 4G iphone out and listened to the last five minutes of the Caps Bruins game… so it hasn’t been a total loss. Can’t believe I have to catch another plane with a 10.5 hour flight ahead of me.

 

What a difference between American Airlines and El Al. The plane was sparkling clean, and there were so many cabin attendants that they were falling all over themselves. The security on the flight should be emulated by all airlines. I counted at least six security officers in suits and I discovered at least two more in my cabin that were undercover. The plane has five cabins, so security is very heavy. Three of the officers in suits stood guard the entire night in my section which had about 28 passengers. Wish I could say I slept like a baby, but I didn’t. Kept wondering if I was going to get a blood clot for lack of movement. The guy sitting next to me on the aisle is a very big guy. Looks like a professional wrestler. He put his seat in full recline and slept like the dead. I was trapped. Finally, after five hours, I got up and jumped over his treetrunk legs. I stretched my legs for about a half hour next to one of the security guards until monster guy woke up. Only six more hours to go until we land. Long, long flight.

When we landed I learned that the security was for a government VIP who was sitting three rows behind me. Ah, ha! That explains everything. I should have guessed.

On the ground. Weather is beautiful. Made it through passport control very quickly. No stamp on the passport because I’m going to Dubai and some folks have had trouble being allowed to enter if their passport contains an Israeli stamp. What a world. The hotel is one block from the Tel Aviv beach. It’s nice, functional, not up to US standards, but clean and the people are nice. I arrived on Friday just before sunset, so 90% of the people are celebrating the Sabbath. A lot of restaurants are closed and the streets are empty. I checked in, then headed down to the beach to look around. There are restaurants along the water and I’ll go back there in another hour for dinner. Lots of surfers. Big waves, too.

Most of the buildings around the coast are dumpy. I saw lots of new developments inland, but they really need to knock a few of these older buildings down. I’ll take a photo tomorrow and will add beach photos then. Oh, an interesting fact. 1 our of every four people on the street is of Russian descent. I had no idea.

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Middle East Tour

Today is Sunday, 4-15-12, and aside from playoff hockey, I’m trying to get ready for this trip. I will be moving throughout the Middle East for almost the next month, so I’ll try to impart notes of interest, bizarre happenings, culinary misadventures, and stunning photography for those of you who might have an interest in what’s going on in this part of the world. So stay tuned…..

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