Friday, November 19, 2010

First Impressions

Two planes, 13 in-flight hours, not so much sleep, and we've arrived in Tel Aviv. There are always funny stories along the way but my favorite today was when I asked the woman next to us if she was going to Israel for fun. She said, "No, unfortunately not. I'm coming to visit my mom and sister." Apparently they aren't all that entertaining.

Tel Aviv has a beautiful HUGE airport. Getting through passport control went quickly but then we went to get our bags and apparently all flights that had just come in were using the same baggage carousel. You see all the people in this picture?

When we got our bags, there were just five people left waiting! It was like having a huge cruise ship of people all getting off the boat at one time. But, on the bright side, there was no lost luggage.

O.K., it's been a long day so I'm going to give you a quick overview of my first impression of Tel Aviv. As we drove to our hotel we saw palm trees, bougainvillea trees (or are they bushes?), a freeway, a metropolitan skyline and smog. And suddenly, I thought I was in Los Angeles!

Today is Friday and the Israelis are celebrating Shabbot. It's a huge family night and as we were walking around town we saw families at the park, having a fabulous time at 9:00 at night. Everyone seemed to be having fun and it was great to see families spending some quality time together.

We had dinner at our hotel. It's all part of the package deal. It was fine, Nothing I'd consider outstanding. I decided to be brave and taste this little delicacy wrapped in grape leaves. I'd had something similar to that when we were in Armenia that wasn't too bad so I was living on the edge. Welll, it just about put me over the edge. It tasted as though it had been pickled and if you've ever been out to eat with me you know I DON'T LIKE PICKLES. Let's just say it wasn't pretty.

But, after dinner we took a walk down by the Mediterranean Sea to a lovely little restaurant called Max Brenner. Max Brenner specializes in all things chocolate. We'd heard about it before leaving home. Here's just a sample of someone's dessert.

It's probably best that we're leaving here in the morning so that we can't go back there. The poor waiter. We hadn't stopped for local currency yet, and let's just say, he was incredibly patient with us as we figured out how to pay. You can't put your tip on the credit card so one of our team member had some change. We showed him the change and asked if it was something like 40 shekels. It was more like 40 cents. Good thing we asked or he might have thought of us as cheap!

Well, time for bed. Hopefully more tomorrow.

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