Ah Paris. What a way to spend an anniversary -- and then to top it all off with a romantic plane ride...this is what I signed up twenty-four.
Did I mention the flight from Paris was delayed? Maybe it was the rain and thunder, maybe standard inefficiency or something more interesting but bottom line, sit and wait. And wait. CDG is a lovely airport at which to pay too much for water, play solitaire or charge an iPhone. They also kept making announcements about people being asked to come over to gate A40-something, and though the announcements were in 3 languages, I wasn't sure what they were saying. Incomprehensible is a universal concept. Eventually, when I worked up the courage, I asked Julie to find out what was going on and she said we should report to A40-something for additional security screening. Cool, I like screens.
Our little meeting with the good folks at El Al was interesting. Julie and I share many things, but not a last name, so they had some trouble wrapping their heads around why I never took her last name or why we would leave the airport for 2 hours. They also were concerned that we left our carry-ons in the possession of the guys at the local "leave your luggage here" place so they had to be hand searched. The luggage, not the guys at the place. But how would the El Al guys know if something not ours was slipped in there? They wouldn't, so they watched us as WE searched our own luggage. I was hoping they wouldn't ask me to give myself a cavity search. I can be pretty rough.
We found some questionable nail polish but that's about it.
On this flight, I also paid extra for the leg room (an exit row). I requested an aisle seat for Julie. Our tickets actually said "exit row" and on Julie's, "Aisle." But here's the thing, Ralph -- even though her ticket said "aisle" her seat was a window seat. This is the joy of a 747-400. And right in front of her was the airplane door which jutted out actually giving her LESS leg space. I had the middle seat which did give me the leg space but there are trade offs. The video screens flip out and up from under the seats and have no remotes. That didn't prove to be a problem because they didn't work, anyway. The tray tables are a bit wider but snugger on one's lap. Also, no overhead bins or lights or seatback with magazines in it. But legroom. Legroom good. Other stuff, not good. Verdict? A weak win, but I'll pay for the ability to stand up without climbing on people any day of the week.
Julie spent much of the rest of our anniversary on the flight professing her love for the cheesecake from Korcarz. I suggested a fromage a trois but was roundly (and rightly) ignored. My humor is oppressive, but it's a dry humor.
By 4:05 (though I don't know what day or time zone) we hadn't left (2:40 ETD) I was feeling punchy because according to my circadian rhythm it was actually half-past-I-should-have-been-asleep-yesterday-ago-o'clock. By punchy I mean I had no filter left and wanted to punch that kid who kept crying a few rows back. We finally took off at 5:15 local time. We should have taken an express. See? Punchy.
I ate a meal (I have lost track how many meals I have eaten recently. I would certainly pay less for a 4 hour flight with no meal service). What is nice about El Al is that I can eat the food everyone eats and not struggle with layers of plastic and aluminum foil. Sure, the food is still pretty bad, but it is the same "bad" as most everyone else's. I realize one of the reasons for this -- in an effort to avoid bad people with bad intentions' being able to do anything evil, only plastic cutlery is issued so the main course has to be edible with a dull spoon. Therefore, there can be nothing in the way of chicken in the chicken nuggets and the nuggets must be the most tender and succulent collections of bread meal and eggs. Also, no spices as they might be used to blind the flight crew I guess. And for some reason, properly cooked green beans are a no-no according to the TSA. I had the chicken and Julie had the wine. Her meal was better.
On my iPad, I watched "Fist Fight." Don't. Save yourself the hundreds of dollars it would cost to get a plane ticket, get an iPad and watch this. It wasn't very good. You're welcome. Julie then watched "A Dog's Purpose." Now I thought Sparky's purpose involved fertilizing my lawn and biting people but according to this movie, the reincarnation of the soul has more to do with a spiritual need to meet Dennis Quaid. Who knew? I wonder what Sparky is up to.
We landed at Ben Gurion airport at 10:15 Israel time, I think. Someone's time, that's for sure. Last off after we got our stuff and made the rounds apologizing to the flight crew. Because we didn't check any luggage we assumed that things would move quickly. We made the mistake, though, of lining up at booth 23 for the Passport Control. Friends, please, don't use line 23. The guy wasn't just asking people questions before he let them into the country, I believe he was writing biographies for each person. Except us. He was a bit confused by why we had different last names and yet still insisted we were married, but then he shrugged his shoulders and let us go. Senja and Steve had set up a car for us so we contacted the driver and made it to Efrat by a bit after midnight. Julie used the shower and I availed myself of the pillows.
So now (for those of you keeping score at home) it is almost 11AM. I am sitting at the computer while Julie sleeps. We traveled thousands of miles (and, if my calculations are correct, and why wouldn't they be, billions of kilometers) for an experience like this. To our various hosts, drivers, family and friends (Steve and Senja, Jeff and Sharon, Marci, Nomi and David and anyone else) a sincere and hearty THANK YOU for making this all possible.
More events as updates warrant.