Monday, June 25, 2007


The most remarkable thing about the start of the trip is how unremarkable its been.

No one missed their connections. Almost all the luggage arrived. There was no chaos at the airports.

We gave ourselves 2 1/2 hours to check in and get through security, given that this was an international flight. We were at the gate with 2 hours to spare.

Even the Continental Airlines security check in Newark before we boarded the plane for the Israel leg was routine -- even casual, one might even say sloppy. I almost missed the interrogation we used to get from the agents when we flew El Al.

The flight was uneventful... I even managed to sleep for 5 or 6 hours, although in 1/2 hour chunks.

Even the experience at Ben Gurion was uneventful, almost pleasant. With the new terminal, it seems that most of the challenging elements of arriving in Israel were eliminated. No more walking down the steps from the plane onto the tarmac and being hit in the face with the rush of desert heat and blinding light. No more shlepping from the place to customs packed like sardines into a shuttle bus. No more bedlam at the baggage claim.

Everything went smoothly. Walking from the plane through the attractive, new terminal was actually pleasant -- a chance to stretch the legs after the long trip. Going through Israeli customs was quick and efficient. We were met by the tour rep, gathered up our bags, got on the bus to the hotel.... and there we were. At which point, one of the veteran Israel travelers in the group asked: "When does the unpleasant part of arriving in Israel begin?"

An uneventful trip.

An unremarkable arrival.

And yet it is still Israel. Another member of the group, a first time visitor remarked in astonishment: "Everything's in Hebrew!"

And now the first full day is about to begin. More later...

Richard (writing on Sander's computer)