Budapest, Hungary to Tel Aviv, Israel

06.21.2010

I got up at 5:30a this morning and was out the door waiting for the airport shuttle by 5:45a.  These early mornings are killing me!

I got to the airport way too early for my flight.  Three hours too early.  Check-in with Malev airlines was easy and the security checkpoint was pretty quick.  I had time to grab a croissant and a coffee.  I thought I might be able to get caught up with blogging and journaling, but instead I found out there was free wi-fi in the airport so I did some more research for my time in Israel and was able to kill an hour or so doing that.  The flight was running behind schedule (surprise, surprise) and I got in line anyways.  None of these European airlines have any order to getting on the plane.  It’s a free-for-all like the good ol’ days of flying in America!  I think it’s quicker to let people get on and fend for themselves.  I got settled into my window seat and the plane took off about thirty minutes late.

This flight actually had a meal service, which I did not realize, so I had breakfast #2, an egg dish with peppers and onions, a roll with butter and jam, and a cup of coffee.  It wasn’t bad for airline food.

We landed in Tel Aviv and I headed to baggage claim to get my bag.  Then the fun began.  It was another free-for-all to go through the passport checkpoint.  I made quick friends with some girls from Los Angeles who were spending a few weeks in Israel.  We chatted while the line continued to move.

It became my turn and I chickened out and got my passport stamped.  Oh well.  I guess I won’t be going to Lebanon or Syria anytime soon.  The girl asked me why I was visiting Israel and where I was planning to go.  I just played stupid and naïve and said something along the lines of, “Oh, I don’t know.  I’m just here to see the sights.  I’m planning to go to Jerusalem and maybe the Dead Sea.”  She just looked at me like I was another tourist.  I got my passport back and went to find an ATM to get some money.

I went out to the transportation area to find a shared taxi into Jerusalem.  My plan was to go to Rachel’s work.  Rachel was going to be my couchsurfing host for the first two nights in Israel.  Her husband and two sons were in Eilat for a few days, so she decided to host during the week, which is not normal for them.  I was really looking forward to meeting her.

I found the shared taxi area and showed the address of where I was trying to go and the guy didn’t want to take me there, but then one of the other drivers told him to take me so he did.  It was kind of comical.  I sat next to a couple from the U.S. and talked with them for a bit.

I made it to Rachel’s work without any problems.  I asked the guy how much it was.  It was 50NIS, so I handed him a 50NIS bill and he got all indignant about not getting a tip so I said, “Fine!  Here’s a 100NIS bill.”  He took a 10NIS tip for himself.  What a jerk.

I met Rachel and was given a visitor badge and hung out at her office until 6p.  She got me some coffee, which was really good.  I was able to get caught up on some of my journaling and listen to some music.  It was a nice break from all the traveling of the past two days.

We took a bus from her work to where her car was parked, then drove over to her parents who live close to her in a settlement called Ma’ale Adumim.  Her dog, Linda, was being watched by her Mom (Faith) and her Dad (Steven).  They were so sweet!  I really enjoyed talking with them and telling them about my travels.  They invited us to dinner, so we went over to Rachel’s place to get some food to contribute, then came back.  We had a nice meal and I really enjoyed myself.

After dinner, Rachel took me back to the house and I got settled in and we stayed up later than we should have talking.  I slept so well!