Over 24 hours of traveling. I have to say, I am not impressed with the airline industry. I took 3 flights to get me from Tampa to Tel Aviv, and every single one was late. Every one. The last one we just sat on the tarmac for almost 90 minutes. Ugh.
Anyway, my first flight was kind of last minute. I was going to drive to Miami and then leave from there, but weighing the costs of driving so far, I was able to hop on a cheap American Airlines flight. Pretty standard, though a tad delayed (I mean, the flight is only 40 minutes, sometimes shorter).
Nest, the big daddy. I have been to some pretty neat places around the world, but to get there, I always fly AA. The only other time I have flown a foreign carrier was December of 2008 when the University of Chicago swim team flew to San José, Costa Rica via Mexicana. I have always wanted to fly a European carrier (with the exception of BA) – the trip is part of the experience. From Miami International, I was booked on Alitalia, the Italian flag carrier, from to Rome and then to Tel Aviv two hours later. Naturally, we were delayed. Almost two hours. Come on, guys. Drink your cappuccino some other time and let’s get moving.
The flight itself made up for the rough start. I sat next to a rabbi also headed to Tel Aviv (Miami is little Israel). He told me when he was my age, he was fighting in the War of 1967 against Jordan and Egypt. Wow. That really put things in perspective.
Nine hours and five minutes later, we were in Leonarda da Vinci International. Alitalia groups all of there outgoing flight together by region in Rome, so it was a little odd to be in a big airside lobby with people going to Beirut and Algiers and Tunis. Maybe they should fix that.
The final leg from Rome to Tel Aviv was super delayed with us just sitting on the tarmac for reasons unknown, but the experience itself was really interesting. Many people prayed and a man in the back yelled “sheket! sheket!” calling for silence as the plane took off. During landing, the atmosphere was equally somber. People clapped and kissed each other when we touched down at Ben Gurion International in Tel Aviv.
First night in the Holy Land…soon