Arrived in Tel Aviv – Thursday, October 5, 2017
I don’t know when Wednesday ended and Thursday began. All I know is that we landed in Tel Aviv at 4:15 pm on Thursday, Israel time. After 2 months of planning, 20 hours of traveling and 1 day before the Feast of Sukkot this family of 4 arrived half way around the world from our little log cabin in North Idaho to explore Yahweh’s land.
There was a small clapping from everyone in the plane when we landed and then relief. After pausing to catch our breath in the concourse we stopped by a glass wall that circled a central area of the Tel Aviv airport. It was beautiful. A huge rainfall shower in the center of the pavilion and dozens of round tables where people were eating. All this under a huge skylight in the ceiling. We never found our way back there again. It wasn’t part of the exiting process.
Funny that the hallways we initially walked through were lined with beer bottles in glass cases. There were huge advertisements (it seems for sunglasses and glasses) on the walls. I was disappointed. I was hoping to see lots of Holy day (Sukkot) acknowledgment with decorations and something more deep and spiritual. Welcome to rebellion.
We totally look like tourists. But that’s ok. Everyone has to start somewhere!
We made our way through the “funnel” with everyone else to immigration. We stood in line for literally two minutes before it was our turn. When called, the four of us walked up to the little booth with an Israeli man sitting in it. There was glass between him and us with a place to slide our passports through and hear him. While I had been waiting in line I opened all four passports to the right page, stacked them so I could pass them through a space under the glass towards the man quickly. I didn’t want him to wait on me (I was watching what other people more experienced than I were doing).
He took the stack of passports and one by one looked at them and looked at our faces, called us out by name and did something on the computer behind the counter. The only questions he asked was “which flight did you come in on? ” and “how long are you staying?” He asked nothing else. I told him I wished they stamped passports and he laughed and said “no, we can’t!”
After hearing lots of different concerning and not-so-concerning stories, for us it probably took us 5 to 8 minutes to get through immigration total. It wasn’t a big deal because we had our paperwork in order.
He handed us four little very small pieces of paper. One for each of us. On it was our photo, a barcode and a little bit of text in Hebrew. I found out later these are our six-month no-work visas allowing us to be here as tourists and spend lots of money. I tucked them safely into my purse in a zippered inside compartment. Don’t want to lose these!
We made our way to baggage claim. Because we got a Delta SkyMiles Gold card before we left we were able to check up to 4 bags for free as well as getting us priority boarding. Even without purchasing the tickets with the card. Pretty cool! Priority boarding was a small blessing for this novice family. For when it comes to flying together we have no experience. I used to travel snd fly a lot when I was single, but add a family to that and it’s very different. Ask uthd Garvin’s how to chop wood, make bread and live off grid…we know what we are doing. Ask us to travel half way across the world to a middle eastern country for vacation and we only have one clue….Papa Yahweh is calling, so we have to do our best and follow his roar.
Baggage claim was a huge terminal with very high ceilings where we found a cart that we could rent for $10 or was it 10 shekels… I’m not sure. I just released the cart with my credit card because we needed it! Piling our luggage onto it and dragging a roller bags behind us we made our way out into the main area where everyone was waiting for their friends. There was just one more sign to try to read and figure out. It was customs. There are 2 arrows. One to Customs and one to Nothing to Declare. They seemed to go to the same place. Funneling everyone through the wide doors into the exit area. There was a huge tour that was going through at that very moment so after I asked the 2 men sitting in the side looking bored what the signs meant we just followed with the tour right out into the open and exit. No big deal.
Maggie was getting claustrophobic so we went outside as fast as we good. I personally don’t think that was any better because it was dirty and near the taxis. But she needed some fresh air. Not sure how fresh it was. When we were flying in we could see this huge bank of smog over Tel Aviv. Ends up that there’s smog over much of the land.
Maggie collapsed underneath the huge menorah. I didn’t want her sitting on the ground right there so just a little further was a public Sukkah that I moved the family to. Hadassah went right in and put her head down on the table. It was very dirty so I made her lay her head on my coat. Maggie would not go in it so her and Isaac sat on a short wall outside the Sukkah while I went back into the airport and got a Sim card for Isaac’s phone at a bookstore and found out where the car rental place was. I went back and gathered the family and brought them back into the airport again to get a rental car. Maggie did not want to go back in, but she had no choice. I couldn’t rent the car by myself. I needed Isaac because the credit card was I his name and he was going to be the main driver. So much to Maggie’s dismay I had to take her up an elevator and she had to stand around and wait a little longer. She hadn’t eaten hardly anything in two days, hardly had any water and was motion sick. Her blood sugar was way off. I think she was still feeling the plane moving even though her feet were know actually on the ground. She waited as best she could for us to get done. I could do nothing to help at this moment.
So far no one’s been real friendly at the airport. Crazy that we did not see one IDF. Just a few police or security we really don’t know here and there. The girl at the counter was strong but then warmed up to us after I just humbly admitted we were tourists and didn’t understand the language — then she started smiling and helping us. We paid for me to be a second driver. I think that was $25. We both showed her our passports, visa’s and drivers license’s. I had printed out the voucher when I rented the car online and the Credit card proof of insurance. She was quick to tell us that we had to buy their insurance anyway because Israel requires liability. It’s the law. So I think that’s going to run us an extra $12 a day. She told us about the tollroads and how they worked. We’ll get charged if we used a toll road when we return the car. They take a pic of your license as you drive them and mail you the bill. For rental cars you pay upon return.
After this we realized we needed data on the plan for the Sim card. This is so we could navigate using a navigation program in the phone. So I had to go back to the bookstore and return the Sim card I bought and get a new plan. Even though the girl didn’t speak too much English she understood what I needed.
I tried several times to make a phone call out to Shuki to let them know we were on our way but I couldn’t figure it out. I went back to the rental car lady and asked her how to make a call with my new SIM card (an Israeli number). it was very easy, I didn’t realize that you have to dial zero first.
We made our way down to the parking garage and found our rental car. I think it looked like the haven Maggie needed. I quickly got both girls into the car and we turned on the air conditioning hoping to revive them. Isaac and I loaded our stuff, checked out the car for dings and then returned the cart. There were more dings then on the diagram from the car rental place so we took pictures of the new dings. She said just keep the pictures, “there’s dings all over it!”
It was wonderful to get in the car except I’m sure we would’ve rather have laid down in our own beds. I put Maggie in the passengers front seat so that she would not get more car sick in the back. I liked sitting in the back with Hadassah.
We were a little confused as to how to get out of the airport. We had downloaded the app Waze, but we’re still trying to figure out how to use it when we came to exiting the airport. We went through a place that made you take a ticket and then the gate opened. But then we came to another place where the same sort of situation confronted us. No one to pay, just a big yellow button and a rail we need lifted so we could continue on. Maggie figured out you had to put the ticket we had just gotten into this gate in order to exit the airport. Ok, whatever. Pretty strange. Don’t get it. Oh well. I think they’ll be a lot we don’t get.
Driving from the airport to Caesarea in the evening watching the full moon rise was amazing! Windows rolled down, warm wind, city lights and then finally no city lights as we kept driving past Tel Aviv knowing the Mediterranean was on our left was very healing from such a long trip. It was detoxing and calming for Isaac.
We drove to Czarina Cabin that I had booked through booking.com. Our host, Shuki was waiting for us. He helped us in with our bags and got us settled in his cute little nautical cabin in his backyard.
He was very excited to have us there. He talked a lot about the cabin and stuff. But he knew we were tired so he was apologetic and said he could talk for hours. He said good night and we finally laid down about 8:30 pm Israel time, but it was literally 1:30 am or so our time.
Lights out, closing our eyes and laying flat was a beautiful thing! Tomorrow we would think about the fact that we are in Israel!