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The Flight Home

a long day

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It is now Thursday. We went to bed last night around 8:30 and got up this morning at 3:45am; that's 8:45pm on Wednesday at home. We were already packed, so we just had to clean up, dress, and put the last few things in our bags. We were downstairs waiting for our ride to the airport a little after 4:30. The hotel had a luggage scale at the bell hop (do they still call them that?) station out front, so we weighed our bags while we waited for our taxi.

As a Mercedes-Benz mini-van drove up, it was preceded by a taxi bearing the lady from Morning Star who managed our tour. That's dedication to show up at 4:45 am to make sure your clients' transportation goes smoothly. We were traveling to the airport with another couple from another bus, so we met for the first time in the limo as we were leaving. We went through a couple security check-points (these were permanent stations built on the road) between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. When we got to the airport entrance ramp, there was a set-up like a border-crossing checkpoint manned by both the police and the IDF (Israeli Defense Force - their military). The limo driver was told to pull over to the side, and the couple who sat in front of us had to present their passports. We were asked if we knew the driver (we didn't), and what our itinerary had been. I happened to have our itinerary memorized from writing this blog, so I rattled it off. That probably saved us 5 minutes of looking for paperwork we didn't plan on needing again. They asked a couple more questions and sent us on our way. We had been told we would be questioned a time or two at the airport, so it didn't bother us, much. ;)

A note about Tel Aviv: If you go looking for it on a Bible map, you will find it named Joppa or Jaffa. Actually, Tel Aviv is next to, but not on top of Joppa. Today it is the closest seaport and international airport to Jerusalem.

At the airport, we found our ticketing counter (on a different floor from the rest of the airlines). Just before we got to the security check point (their version of TSA), we realized the ticketing agent had made a mess of our boarding passes. We each got two, but I got one of Dan's boarding passes, and he got one of mine. After we got them straightened out, we realized we each had two boarding passes for our first flight, but none for our second flight, the one out of Istanbul. Dan took the boarding passes back and got them fixed.

After the security check point, we had to go through passport control; for those of us with RFID chipped passports, it was computerized and took less than 2 minutes each.

We went to the lounge (a nice added benefit for traveling business class) for about 45 minutes to wait for our plane to board. When we got to the gate, a couple minutes before boarding time, there was no plane! The plane was finally delivered to the gate and we left about 30 minutes late, but we had a long enough layover that we weren't concerned. The flight to Istanbul was mostly over the Mediterranean and lasted about 2.5 hours.

In Istanbul, we bought a couple gifts in the Unifree (dutyfree) shop and went on to the lounge there. We shared a couple bites of dessert - a baklava that was not as sweet as what we usually find in the US (I liked it better than the US baklava), and a pastry that had a flaky pastry layer top and bottom with a vanilla custard in the middle. It was very good, but the custard squished out when you bit it.

We then went to our gate and we had to go through another security check with separate lines for men and women; they looked in our bags, lightly patted us down, and swabbed our clothes and shoes with a chemical wipe which they tested for explosive residue. They also swabbed my computer tablet and wanted to see that it worked. We didn’t have to take our shoes off at any of the non-US airports.

The flight from Istanbul to Miami was uneventful, other than there being lots of “rocks in the road” (turbulence). It seemed like we spent at least a third of the flight with the seatbelt sign turned on. They fed us lunch after takeoff; it probably took 2 hours to go through it all, from the hot, steamed wash cloths, the warm salted nuts, the beverage, the appetizer, the main course, the dessert, the hot, steamed wash cloth. I’m not used to all that attention on an airplane any more, but it was nice! Then they made our seats into beds and the lights went out. Dan and I got about 3 hours of sleep, then we woke up and watched movies until the lights came back on and we were served supper (same type of routine as lunch).

We got into Miami at 7 pm, and in 90 minutes were done with passport control and customs, and had picked up our suitcases. We were at our hotel by 9 pm and were in bed shortly after that. We had been up for about 24 hours with only a 3 hour nap in the middle and we were beat!

Posted by dasafish 16:44 Archived in USA

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