Israel Trip: Getting There

Always be early, always be prepared! That is my motto in travel. The better the plan, the more thought out, the less that could go wrong, right?

We decided to head to Houston a day early. Be prepared! Even though our flight was at 8:55pm, I did not want to chance missing it. Jenn and I had waited to travel to Israel our whole lives, and we were going to make it. Be prepared, be early!

No sooner had we made it out of Alexandria did we get a traffic jam in Kinder. Yes, we hit a major hour long traffic jam in Kinder, Louisiana. A log truck had lost control and dumped its load across the road. I looked at my wife and said, aren’t you glad we left a day early!?!

We made it to our hotel in Houston by 3:00 pm and checked into our hotel. This hotel offered a sleep/park package which ended up cheaper than if we had parked at one of the local lots. At the front desk we were greeted by the kindest employee who informed me that the key machine was broken, so we were welcome to check in, but she could not say for sure whether we could get in our room at the moment.

After 3 trips to our room to check non working keys, we finally made it in. That said, once in we were able to get a great night’s sleep, enjoy a late wake up, and leisurely day.

On the day of our flight, our shuttle was not scheduled till 3:00pm. We decided to enjoy the day by getting lunch at one of our favorite Houston restaurants, Papasitos! What could go wrong on a 12 hour flight after eating chips, salsa, queso, fajitas covered in garlic butter, and beans?

After lunch we headed to the airport to get on our overnight flight. The shuttle dropped us off at terminal E, informing us that they did not have clearance to go to terminal D where our gate was located. No worries — we were 5 hours early.

Walking into terminal E we found one single elevator which would take us to terminal D. And there was a line. Over the course of 30 minutes we watched people enter this elevator stuffed to the gills with people and luggage. It was our turn: the elevator door opened, and we realized quickly that there was no room for us. I sucked in my gut, grabbed my bag, and jumped into a spot that was clearly too small for me. Oh, and Jenn jumped into that same spot as well.

After 45 minutes of waiting we made it to terminal D. Walking to the far end of the terminal we found a small unmanned booth marked Turkish Airlines. We made it?

After about 20 minutes of sitting next to our unmanned booth an employee shared with us that we were too early. With so few flights going out, the staff would not be there for another hour. Yes, sometimes the early bird had to sit and wait because he shows up so early that not even the employees are there.

After the employees arrived, we got in line and got our tickets, boarding passes, and checked our luggage to Israel. As the ticket agent was finishing up, I asked her if there was anything I needed to do because I was wearing an air cast. She offered her condolences and told me no. The air cast condolences became a theme. Every stop through security a new TSA agent informed me that they felt bad for me and shared their trepidation regarding me spending 12 hours in a cramped seat with an instrument of torture wrapped around my leg. The final agent sat me down, had me take off the cast to run it through security all the while giving me a nice leg massage, or pat down, before sending me on my way.

We got on the plane and flew and flew and flew. I wish I could tell you more about the flight, but the experience was a mix of half sleep and half watched movies.

Our stopover was in Istanbul where we enjoyed a delicious plate of baklava, a double shot of espresso, and a Turkish Coke.

We flew out a few hours later and made it to Tel Aviv around midnight. Getting into Israel we met about half our group and took a two hour bus ride to the Sea of Galilee. We checked into the hotel at 2:30am, and finally, after touching three days of travel, we went down for a good 4 hours of sleep.

Up next, some of the sites around the Sea of Galilee…

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