We have arrived, definitely a little jet lagged, but excited for our new adventure. We left Seattle on April 11th about mid day. Our British Airways flight on our first 777 took us near the North Pole. Most of the flight was pretty uneventful, but we did get a chance to see the sea ice stretching to the distant horizon across the Hudson Bay, before we attempted to get some sleep.
After a few hours sleep we landed at Heathrow at Terminal 5 (the newest of Heathrow’s giant terminals). It was just after dawn in London but only midnight in Seattle. We hoped to stay awake until our flight to Tel Aviv at 10:30 that night to adjust to our new time zone.
After asking for some directions to terminal 4 and our day room at the Hilton there, the Heathrow information helpers in their purple jackets directed us to a waiting line for a bus. The 15 minute bus ride took us through the usually hidden side of the airport with all the airport equipment and trucks. It was quite odd. As we learned later when we went through customs in Terminal 4, it was also a breach of security. But, no problem, just don’t do it again. This of course left us a bit concerned regarding the so called “security.” But c’est la vie.
On our way to the Hilton we went through a long walkway complete with time markers.
The day room at the Hilton at terminal 4 was the perfect place to grab a bite of breakfast and shower before resetting our clocks with a day in London. The weather was unusually warm and sunny. The sun truly is a magic elixir for jet lag. The train took us to Piccidilly Circus and we wandered around through the nearby public market towards the Lycium Theater to see the Lion King. We thought a show would be a fun way to stay awake for the afternoon. This was the first mistake of our trip (if you don’t count the security breach, which really wasn’t our fault).
The Lycium theater is beautiful,
the show enchanting, but the darkness was deadly for staying awake. By intermission we were losing our battle. And the couple in the seats next to us, who probably had the same idea as us, had completely succumbed to exhaustion and were both fast asleep. Seeing our future In their sleep, we decided to head back to our day room for a quick nap so we would be able to stay awake long enough to make our flight.
Remarkably revived by our 1 hour nap, we headed to our flight for Tel Aviv. It turns out terminal 5 is much prettier in the front than the back. We watched the sunset in the big windows and made our way easily through security. No breaches this time. After a yummy dinner at the Asian fusion restaurant we went to our gate. The boarding was a little late but no other issues. We were still awake!
When we scanned our phone boarding pass the red light went on and we thought “”oh no, the security breach has caught up with us”. But, to our surprise we were told that we had been upgraded to first class! The agent said don’t ask any questions just sit down and wait for the take off. WOW. Yippy. The idea of a fully reclining chair and some sleep sounded devine. And it was.
We both fell asleep shortly after take off.
WIth another 3 hours sleep under our belts we were ready to experience our first day in Tel Aviv. We were met immediately after leaving the plane by a special escort coordinated by the travel agent and were driven to customs in a minivan instead of taking the airport bus so we were one of the first people there & were quickly cleared to get our luggage.
Our luggage was among the last to arrive on the carrousel, but after that we simply left the airport — there really isn’t any customs check of your luggage or at least there wasn’t for us. We were taken to a taxi & taken to the appropriately named Hotel Shalom in western Tel Aviv, across the street from the big Hilton hotel, Independence Park and the Mediterranean. This lovely little boutique hotel will be our home base for the next week. We have some free time the next few days to explore the city on our own and catch up on sleep before we meet up with our guide.
Our hotel is small but it our room has big floor-to-ceiling windows facing east and we look over a sea of small 3 story apartment buildings that were built to house the over 600,000 WW2 Holocaust survivors that fled to Israel for safety and a new life in the late 40’s. The apartments lead to the modern high rises further inland.
After settling into our sunny room we ate our first yummy and bountiful Israeli breakfast and then went for a nice walk along the beach promenade.
It’s colder and windier than usual. No sunbathers, but lots of surfers.
By noon we had reached our sleep deprivation limit. The birds were having a great time playing in the wind. I caught one landing briefly on the giant seabird sculpture. Interestingly, we haven’t seen any seagulls.
I really felt my brain shutting off so we headed back to get some shut eye. We slept until about 5 and as I write this we are enjoying the roof-top, ocean-view deck, yummy afternoon snacks and the sunset.
We had planned to head to the port area for a taste of the night life but, before heading out, we fell asleep again. We woke at 9PM and rallied for a late night meal at a restaurant named Shila (“Sheila”). The meal was delicious and all the restaurants just one block east of us were alive and hopping from when we arrived about 10 until we left at midnight.
Today, April 14th the weather is warmer and the winds are calmer. I’m ready to ditch my down coat! We are off to explore the Tel Aviv port area & the nearby river park.