Israel Diary Day 1: Tel Aviv (+photos)
March 16, 2013 6 Comments
As we stood outside LAX’s Bradley Terminal, Abby seemed to know something was up. Usually, she seems oblivious to what’s going on, but this time she held on to me, and even seemed hesitant to go back to mom.
She gave me a bunch of little hugs and squeezes.
We took our usual family picture, and I watched as they pulled away. I said a prayer for their safety and protection.
Arriving at the El Al check-in, there were at least a dozen people ahead of me. I wasn’t in line for more than one minute, when an El Al official came up to me.
“Sir, may I see your passport?” he asked. I handed it to him. “Sir, I’m going to need to ask you some questions,” he said, leading me towards the front of the line. He asked me where I was going, and what my plans were. After a few minutes he left, but returned with a young lady. She introduced herself, apologized, and said that she would need to learn more about my trip.
I nodded and smiled. In these types of situations, I enjoy experiencing the rush of adrenaline that comes from new situations. I know I’m weird, but I like practicing remaining calm while my brain goes into overdrive.
“Sir, who are you visiting?” she asked, watching my face as I collected my thoughts. I told her about the HP VIP event, my plans with Pageflex, and other objectives for the trip. She continued asking about where I was going, and what I planned to do each day. She asked who I would be with, and how I knew them.
After a few minutes, she excused herself. I lost sight of her as she mixed with a sea of El Al reps behind the counter. A moment later, she returned. “Did you buy your own ticket? Who made your travel arrangements?” she asked, peppering me with questions about how I arrived at LAX.
Then, to my surprise, she said, “Who is Moe?” Moe is my business partner, and has traveled to Israel in the past. “Where is Moe today? How come he’s not going?” she asked, as I wrestled to find the right way to respond. “Does he have family in Israel?” she asked, catching me off guard.
“I don’t think so, but I’m not entirely certain,” I said, suddenly feeling like I might be failing the test.
She nodded, and looked at her paperwork. She motioned to a colleague, and they spoke together. Not understanding what they were saying, I went back to checking my emails, erasing spam and clearing my inbox.
After about 10 minutes, they cleared me to proceed. The young lady introduced me to a tall colleague, maybe 6’4”, and said that he’d be waiting for me at the gate. “He’ll ask you some more questions,” she said, this time smiling and thanking me for my time.
OK, sure. More questions; not a problem. See you there, Tall Guy.
Arriving at my gate, I found a sandwich, grabbed a Gatorade, and sat down. I wolfed down my food (I wonder where Abby gets it), and just as I was about to call my wife, I saw the Tall Guy walking toward me.
“Sir, please come with me. I need to ask you some questions,” he said, guiding me through the gate’s entrance into a smaller room. He seemed calm, but I could sense he was watching me.
He motioned for me to sit, and introduced me to a colleague, who promptly dusted my shoes and carry-on bag. Then, the young lady I’d seen at check-in walked in, and brought me a cup of water. “Thank you for being so patient,” she said.
“No problem, I know you’re doing your job, and I really appreciate it,” I respond. It’s true. I’m glad they’re thorough, especially with sketchy looking guys like me.
After a few minutes, I was cleared for entry, and told to board the plane.
I ended up sitting in an aisle seat, at the very back of the plane, with no one else in my row. Definitely a good thing!
The flight was rather uneventful. I spent some time writing, and thinking about my meetings and objectives. I watched a few short comedy shows, and spoke a bit to the people around me (yah, I’m that guy), but since I was in an empty row, my options were limited.
At 4:30 local time, dinner was server, consisting of chicken, rice, salad, and some bread. It was actually quite good.
Around 6:30, I watched Planet of the Apes, and around 8:15 PM local time, decided to try and sleep. I was able to sleep until about 2:30 AM local time, at which point the lights came on and breakfast was served.
From time to time, I’d check the local time, and try to imagine what Sarah and Abby were up to, which at this point, was hopefully sound asleep.
At 2:30 Israel time, we landed.
HP made it easy to find my luggage, get a shuttle, and arrive at the David Intercontinental. After checking in, I made my way to my room (lucky 1313), and set about communicating with my wife to let her know all was OK.
After a bit, I left the hotel and made my way down the boardwalk. Sounds, smells, and colors all smashed together as families enjoyed the warm night. I continued walking, slowly absorbing what I was seeing and hearing.
After about an hour, I found a place to eat, and sat down facing the Mediterranean. As is not my habit, I tried to take my time eating and enjoy what I was seeing. As families strolled by, many with very small children, I missed my wife and baby. I heard familiar cooing sounds mixed with whining, which immediately brought an urge to hug Abby.
After eating, I slowly made my way back to the hotel, glancing at the time and noticing that 3.5 hours had passed. Rarely do I lose sense of the passing of time, but enveloped in the warmth of the evening’s atmosphere, I certainly did.
Not a bad first day in the Holy Land.
Here are some photos from Day 1. Click on them to see a caption describing the location.