Saturday, August 11, 2007

Israel, Arrival

By the time I got to JFK, I already hadn't slept in almost 24 hours. For those of you who don't live in New York, the real estate market here is about as horrific as you can imagine, and probably more than that. We started looking for an apartment a full month before my departure, and after several false starts, including one in which the broker tabled our application in order to rent it to someone else for a higher fee, we FINALLY found our place: a huge 3-bedroom on the Upper West Side, right by the northwest corner of Central Park. I'll post a separate entry on the apartment soon.

We finished our paperwork for the place at 1:30AM on flight day, and I hadn't even begun to pack. I got home at 3AM, packed until 5AM, then left for the airport. So you can imagine, when I saw this, that I was pretty damn excited:

Hebrew! That's right, folks, my first exposure to modern, Israeli Hebrew was a notification about my flotation device.

I had been up for about 28 hours at this point, and I was pretty darned tired. But part of going on a Birthright trip is that you travel with about 40 people who spend every single second of every day with you, so I was also really excited to meet my new friends. So, naturally, I didn't sleep on the plane, either.

You can imagine how delirious with excitement--and, well, delirium--I was when I saw this:

Los Angeles?! Fear not, friends, I did get on the right plane. (This is actually Ben-Gurion International Airport, just outside Tel Aviv)

One of the perks of traveling on the Israeli government's coin is that you get to stand in the much, much shorter Israeli passports line.

Andrew is tall. Jeremy is not. Andrew and Jeremy are in Israel, and are pretty excited about it. Awake clock: 40 hours (Eastern standard time).

Hey, Dad! A holy Volvo! This was our group's bus for 10 days. You will be seeing a lot of the inside of it, but, thankfully, not smelling it. 40 20-somethings do not smell nice after a hike in the desert. Or riding camels.

This is what Israel looks like just east of Tel Aviv.

With the exchange rate at 4.3 to 1, 100 Israeli shekels equal about $23. Why does every country have prettier money than we do? Cool note: if you look really, really closely, the pixels on the money are actually Hebrew letters.

Next post in Jerusalem!

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