Yay! I'm back from my trip to Israel.Actually, got back Sunday afternoon. I'm still a little jet-lagged and sick.Got sick like the day I left. Everybody apparently got sick. (We dubbed it the Jew Flu.It's not the flu, by the way.) Just starting to feel more normal.
Had a horrendous start to the trip.But, for the most part, the rest of it was amazing. First, my flight that would have taken me directly to JFK airport was cancelled. So, I rescheduled a flight that would take me to Chicago and then to La Guardia airport. It was the last plane that was headed to NYC. I didn't realize how bad the weather was going to be over there.So, I told one of our American staff about the change, and we thought I could get a taxi or someone can pick me up, etc. after I landed in that airport. So, it was mildly annoying, but seemed doable. I was a little late in arriving to La Guardia. And, as soon as I got my luggage, was told that I couldn't go on the trip and they were already getting on the plane.They proceeded to tell me I'd have first priority for the next trip.
I panicked for a minute, and then broke down in tears.But, I called my mother about the whole thing. I was not going to give up on such an important trip to me.She talked to a guy I was in contact with through Birthright named Jesse. And, Jesse talked to the organization. There was a lot of going back and forth. Finally, Jesse told me Birthright's willing to work something out, I would just have to call Delta to figure out the planes. I called, and they said I couldn't re-book over the phone. Then, I tried searching for the Delta ticket counter. Meanwhile, it's getting really late, and no one's around. I finally noticed it wasn't even in that terminal.So, I caught the last bus, and found the right terminal. (They were about to cancel bus service, because of the weather. It was that bad.)
I went to the ticket counter, and no one was there. Just a couple of janitors, 1 security guard, 1 guy working a cafe, and 2 or 3 people sleeping next to the counter.I was told that they probably wouldn't open it until 6:15AM. So, I stayed the night. (Didn't get much sleep.)
The counter was actually open at 4AM. So, that was a plus for me. I booked the flight, but she said it would leave from JFK. La Guardia's apparently not an international airport. There's only one flight a day that leaves for Israel through Delta. And, that's at 9PM. So, I thought, ok I have to find my way over somehow and I can leisurely wait for it.
They had stopped all taxi service to the terminal, and most of the shuttles. I luckily found a shuttle about an hour after waiting for one. Went to the main terminal, and then grabbed something for breakfast. Luckily, taxi service wasn't shut down at the main terminal, and I hailed one. It apparently was the only way out of there.
When I got to the ticket counter at JFK, they told me I couldn't get my luggage checked and/or get my ticket earlier than 6 hours before my flight. So, I waited. It was a little boring, but at least I was there.
The plane to Israel was actually very nice. Had a huge flat screen TV, big chairs (well, big in comparison with other flights), more leg space, blankets and pillows, complimentary meals, only half the seats were filled up, and larger overhead bins. I guess it has to be nice, since it's about an 11 or 12 hour flight.The food wasn't too bad. I had their kosher meals. There was a nice lady in front of me, who said if I had any questions about Israel, I should ask her. Her friend only knew Hebrew, so whatever I said she would translate to her friend. It was interesting.
Once I landed, I was supposed to find a place called Smiily for my taxi driver that will take me to the hotel where the group was staying. I couldn't find it, so I did what most people would do. Ask the info center.They apparently called them for me, and said my driver will pick me up shortly from the info center. So, I waited for 45 minutes. Finally, I made them call again, and told them the group number again. They said someone will be down soon. 2 people come down, ask who I am, check me off their list, and brought me to my driver about a half hour later. Who was sitting on the other side of the airport, holding up his sign the entire time.I felt so bad, but he understood after I told him. Said it wasn't a big deal.
He tried to improve his English while we were heading over to the hotel. Had a very nice and interesting conversation. He gave me half an orange, because he felt sorry for me. (Which was really tasty!) Then, his wife called, and he put her on speakerphone. She sounded so angry.He later told me, that he was going to be late for Shabbat at home. I felt even worse, because with the time change and everything, I didn't realize it was Shabbat in only a couple of hours.
When I got to the hotel, I grabbed my room key and waited in the room until everyone from the group got back. Apparently, they already had Shabbat services.So, I went to dinner and an icebreaker activity with them. I missed going to the Western Wall. It was one of the places I really wanted to go to.
I was ripped off the next night when I tried to buy something in downtown Jerusalem. But, that was pretty much the last really horrible bit to the trip. I really would have liked it if there had been more of a 'religious' feel to the group.Most people didn't know very much about Judaism, and it opened their eyes. Which is great, but I needed something more.Most people were smokers, drinkers, had lots of tattoos, and bitchy.There was only a few who seemed 'normal' to me. (Although, I did make friends with others, that stuff just isn't my thing.) Kind of disappointing on that front too.
Also, Gill, our tour guide, kept rushing us everywhere we went. It felt like he was a drill sergeant or something.We barely had time to take pics. Now, I do realize they're trying to show most of the country in only 10 days. But, it seemed pretty ridiculous at times. I think we could have cut half the things out, and enjoyed things a bit more.
I loved seeing the Bedouins.We rode the camels, went to their Hospitality thing, and ate an awesome dinner. The tent we stayed in wasn't too bad. The only problem I had was, it was a little hard to change when there were guys sleeping scattered throughout the group. Maybe nicer if we had like guys on one side, girls on the other, and a giant curtain separating us. Just a thought.It would've been more comfortable.
The views on top of Masada were great. Getting there, was not so great.I loved the town of Tsfat. (Safed, Tzfat, Zefat, etc. Many ways to spell it in English.) It was awesome.The architecture, people, shops, artists' colony, the birthplace of Kabbalah, food, and other stuff. I got a Havdalah candle from an awesome candle shop.
Also liked visiting an olive press on a kibbutz. Got to try their olive soap scrub. It's made from the stuff that's left over after making olive oil. (Like the pits, skins, etc.) Felt and looked nasty at first. Then, once washed off, it felt and smelled amazing. My hands were so soft.Then, they let us taste-test 6 different olive oils. 3 were aged differently. 3 were different flavors. (Like garlic, kumquat, and lemon.) All were very good.Then, we got a chance to look around. I got a black olive tapenade. Tried it a couple of days ago. It was good, but probably better after we chill it.
There were many other awesome things we went to/did. I'm thinking of making an online trip journal.It will have all the places I went to, what I ate, what I did, maybe map the route, etc. I can't possibly put everything on here. So, when I have it up, I'll put up a link on here so people can see. I'll put some pics up on there too. But, I'll put most of those on FB and dA.
There's apparently lots of stuff that I can go to, now that I've gone on the trip. Lots of socials mainly. There's some in Seattle. If I go to those it won't have anybody from my group, but I'll get to share stories and meet some more Jews my age. Sounds cool.
Yesterday, I went to my therapist appointment. She was fascinated by the trip. Found out that she's expecting a grandchild soon. So, I'm not exactly sure how 'with it' she was. But, it was nice to get things out there.
Rosie has turned into a real mouser. She killed one (or maybe 2?), but apparently dragged it all over the house.There was blood everywhere. The biggest pool of blood was on the dining room table. Another couple of pools were on my bathtub. And, another on the middle section of the banister. There's a little blood on the wall underneath that area too. And, apparently there was some blood on the first step of our stairs leading up to the second floor. She may have finally dug a mouse out of that stair. They hear them all the time, but never actually got one from there. We think the pool on the banister was her trying to give the mouse as a gift to Tasha. Kind of like a peace offering.But, I don't think that worked. They're still fighting.
deviantART faves: Chocolate Chip Truffle Bunny SushiDo World x Costumes x Hetalia Cookie and Cream Truffle Bunny High Definition Scribble 6 Cherry Chocolate Truffle Bunny Strawberry and Cream Bunny Character Reference Sheet APH: America and Mochimerica APH: Latvia Strawberry Kefir PLZ Account MEME -Blank- Features Meme New ID I did not make these! First, fourth, sixth, and seventh, are all the truffle bunnies an artist I watch made sort of like a countdown to the Chinese New Year. Second, a pic of donuts shaped into various sushi. This was at a donut shop in Thailand. Kind of funny, but looks good at the same time. Third, countries (from Hetalia) represented by their traditional costumes, supposedly inspired by the World Cup. Kind of interesting. Fifth, a cute drawing by an artist I watch. I've always liked his style. Eighth, eleventh, and twelfth, are some really good looking memes that will help me improve my oc's. Ninth, a cute drawing of chibi America, sitting on his mochi form. The colors are interesting too. Tenth, cute drawing of Latvia, from Hetalia, about to fall into one of his national drinks. Apparently inspired by that same drink meme I saw a while back. Interesting to see what people do with it. Thirteenth, a nicely drawn ID by another artist I watch.