Continued from the Europe forum:
Combining a sightseeing trip with visiting family is always a challenge, especially when the family has small kids. So we had several things we wanted to try to do on the Israel portion of the trip, but couldn’t count on many of them happening. Planning was quite a challenge, and we tossed around several itineraries before settling on this one. I kept telling Jessie that no matter what we do she’ll get a flavor of the country, and we just have to count on going back (and back again) to cover the things we miss. As it turned out, we did miss some things I was really hoping to get to (Dead Sea, Tzvat, etc.), and had minimal time in other places (only a couple of hours in Tel Aviv, only a couple of hours in Haifa), but all in all we had an excellent trip.
4/6 continued: Our flight to Israel was very nice, and the service was excellent, especially considering how there were only 4 of us in the first class cabin.
The tears started to well up as the shore of Tel Aviv approached. I’ll never forget my first flight to Israel, in 1977, when the whole plane broke out in song as the plane touched Israeli soil. But even in a quiet first class cabin the emotions are strong, even for someone like me who isn’t very religious.
While we were standing at the door waiting for it to open, the purser said that there’s a power outage at the airport and they can’t get the dock to the plane. While waiting for them to wheel a stairway up, we notice that the power was restored and finally were able to exit.
Ah, back in Israel.
I can’t explain why, but part of what I love about this country is the chaos/order paradox, and our entry was no exception. Being waved to the Israeli-passports-only window only to find that the computer is down and we have to wait even longer than if we stayed in the foreign passport line. Getting to the Sixt rental car booth, waiting 15 minutes while they figure out why there’s no car assigned to me even though they have a record of my reservation. Being told “of course” when asking for a car with a trunk instead of a hatchback by 3 different people, only to end up with a hatchback. Finally getting a car with a trunk after persevering. Waiting another 15 minutes to get out of the garage while a car and a truck face off, refusing to back up to let the other pass.
Instead of being frustrated, we were bemused, and I felt like Jessie was getting an appropriate introduction to Israel.
We arrived in Jerusalem, and had a general idea how to get to the Dan Panorama hotel. Despite the fact that both of the maps we had had little to no relation to the few street signs that we saw, we somehow managed to find our way there through force of will.
We were pleased to have an old city view from our window, and the room was very nice. Also, although I had just joined the e-Dan club, we loved that they left us a complementary fruit basket, box of chocolates, bottle of water, and free bathroom kit bag.
We decided to head out for dinner, not being sure where we were going to go. We didn’t have the energy to venture out beyond the neighborhood, so we just walked up the hill. We saw the “Cup ‘o Joe” near the Great Synagogue, and I remembered reading about it on TA so we went in. When we sat down at a largish table, I tried out my minimal Hebrew and asked the host “ze beseder?” He asked us if we were only two, and when I said “ken” he pointed to a corner table and asked if that was ok. I responded “beseder.” I was amused when they brought us Hebrew menus, as I had mentioned to Jessie before we left for the trip that if you only learn two words in Hebrew, “Ze Beseder” should suffice.
The restaurant/café seemed like the perfect first night spot for us. The customers were all Israelis as far as I could tell, with a lively atmosphere and friendly staff, and the food was simple but excellent (I had onion soup and cheese toast).
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Continued from the Europe forum: