Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It has been a crazy 3 days, but we made it!

Good Evening!

We have been in Jerusalem for a night and almost a full day is so wonderful to finally be here!!

Monday- our day of travel.

Meg, a seminary classmate drove us to the Dulles airport in D.C. We left at 230 and arrived around 3ish.

We go to the United airlines ticket counter- 'all destinations.' The woman prints out our tickets and says to go in another line. We wait, and a man tells us to step on up to the counter.

Immediately, he turns incredibly cruel and rude! We were both shocked and taken aback, we didn't know what we did wrong! Well, he told us that we were in the domestic line and the 'last time he knew, Tel Aviv was not a domestic flight!' After more rude comments and stabs at us (meanwhile, we are being polite, just taking it), he leaves and comes back. I say, 'I'm sorry, did we do something wrong?"

And right there, I think he realized what a jerk he was being. He informed us that there was an international line on the other side of this kiosk (there were no signs!). He then got us our seats, asked us if we had our visas (we don't need them) and we said, 'no' and he said, 'good, you don't need them.' Then he made some joke on the way out about whether Alan wanted to sit next to me or not. Um, too late buddy, joke was lost!

So, we get through, he puts our luggage through (meanwhile we're worried our luggage will be lost because of that guy hahaha) and we go to the other side of the kiosk. Sure enough, it was packed and looked like an hour/hour and a half wait. So, we made a mistake, but it was a good mistake to make hahaha.

So, we get through to luggage and my bag gets flagged for explosives. The only thing we can think of is that I had two flashlights in there (that we got on black Friday at Home Depot). So, maybe they set it off. After a thorough check of the ole bag, we were off to find our seats.

The flight to Zurich, Switzerland was fine. It was full- a 2-3-2 row seating. After making it to Switzerland, we rushed through another bag screening (even though we didn't leave the airport) and got our tickets. We were next to each other again! Yay! Online ticketing worked this time!

Then, we had the best flying experience ever and I never wanted to leave this Swiss airplane! Swiss air is the best company! It was a 4 hour flight. They had multiple snacks, constant drink service, and the flight was 2/3 full so when we were up in the air, everyone spread out and relaxed. And! They had wine, champagne, hard liquors for FREE! Bah! So, Alan and I tried some Swiss wine :) He got the red and I got the white. Then, the meal was salad, brie cheese (!), home-made looking cake, and hot roll (!)

But sadly, after that rich feast and 16 hours of flying, it did not sit well with neither Alan or I. Oh well, it was worth it :)

Ah, Jerusalem. My happy home. We arrived Tuesday at 230pm (730am Eastern time). We get to the Immigration 'checkpoint.' I go up. The woman barely speaks English- does not know what St. George's College, couldn't understand me when I said I was studying, asked me Dad's name, and after all that, I finally got through.

Alan on the other hand, I never thought I'd see him again :(

The woman asked him to step aside. I was waiting for him about 50 feet away and an agent action asked me to go through the 'no return zone' to wait for him. So, I said, it's my fiance, and that didn't matter. So there I was was, waiting helplessly, envisioning Alan being hauled off into some secret room being harassed, kidnapped, and killed. Dramatic? Yes; but we were exhausted! and these are the thoughts that go through one's head. Hahaha.

So FINALLY, after 15 min (it felt like hours), Alan showed up! Thank GOD! Here's the story, apparently, Alan's last name, Adzima, showed up in the Israeli database! They claimed Alan's grandfather and father were from Israel. They also were making claims that Alan was lying when he said he was 5/6/7th generation American. They also claimed that Alan's Dad was still alive and living in Israel. As nice as it would to have Alan's dad alive, it is false. And I think when he got the message across that his Dad died in August, they finally let him through.

So, we're through the gates. We made plans to meet my friend Grant. We got our baggage. Wait around for an hour. No Grant. His flight in an hour previously. So, we find a taxi driver. (Grant's story is that he also got cloistered and had to wait for two hours!!!! Trapped! He arrived at the college at 830 that night.

On to the Taxi. You can take this mini bus called a Sherut for 15 dollars. We were worried about that because it's one of those ones you throw your stuff in the back and as they let people off, they get their stuff out. We didn't want to get to Jerusalem and not have luggage haha. So, we were tired and just wanted to get to the college. A taxi driver, a bit obnoxious, approached us and was very aggressive.

We heard 70 dollars was standard. He proposed 90. Heck no! I proposed 60. He proposed 65. Ok. Deal.

We asked him, do you know where St. George's College is? He said Yes, OVER AND OVER AND OVER and OVER again. He said YES! However, he did NOT. And we could tell he didn't. He was calling all his buddies. When we got to Jerusalem, he was yelling out the window at people. It was awful.

45 min later. We arrive in Jerusalem. He gets us to the street. He's yelling out. He takes us to a hotel. Here you go, this is where you wanted to go. NO this is not it!

Thank God for Dad and Mom and wonderful Christmas presents! We had the map of Jerusalem and the Old City and St. George's was on it!!!!!! :) :) :) So, we were pointing it out to him and he would not look! He did not need it! Although he clearly did not know! So we're out of the car, and we go, we want our stuff. Now. (We knew we were close.) We get it. Alan gives him 60. The guy is arguing, give me that 5, give me that 5. Us: you didn't even get us to the spot! So here we are, arguing with a crazy taxi driver (that got up to 90 mph while texting/gpsing and calling his buddies) in the middle of street. So I say to Alan, give him the 5 and we trekked off. (Not to mention, they say negotiate the price before you get in the cab. We did that. About a mile in, he wanted to make us pay 75. Um NO! We're sticking at 65.)

SOOOOOOOOOO. Here we are, dragging our luggage in a country where we do not know the language (Biblical Hebrew doesn't help so much haha) Thank God for Maps :) It was about 10 min away from the place we got out of the cab. And at around 530, we arrive at St. George's College!!

We got our rooms. Alan is staying with Grant (30 year old VTS student) and I'm staying with Jennifer (40; also a VTS student).

We went to Evening Prayer at 6; Reception at 630 (we opted for water and Sprite after earlier wine indulgences haha); Dinner at 7. Dinner was a tomato salad; cucumbers in a Greek style yogurt; yellow rice; chicken; some weird gross almond cake.

Annnnnnnd; even though we were exhausted, we had a get to know you 'hour'. Barf. So after that torture was done, we were finally freed.

We both unpacked and I took a shower and went to bed around 1030.

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