Wednesday, October 10, 2012

the royal treatment

This post was written on October 9.

Shalom, salaam, peace to you from Nazareth! It has been a long road to get here, but the journey was worth it. As most know, even the best laid plans can go awry when traveling, and while we did miss our connecting flight to Tel Aviv (due to a mechanical problem with our first flight), this little mishap resulted in an upgrade to Business First on our later flight.

Our obvious giddiness upon seeing our seats (huge, fully reclinable, fancy menu for the multiple course meal, etc.) made it quickly apparent to any other first class-ers that we clearly didn't belong. As I watched the other common folk shuffling past to Economy, I exclaimed, "Marietta, we don't belong here!!" She chided me for acting as if my chair were made of gold, and seeing that she was, unlike me, naturally first class material, I proceeded to address her as Queen Marietta for the duration of the flight.

All good things must come to an end, but the Queen and I were equally excited to finally be on the ground in Israel. We met up with the rest of our group in the Tel Aviv airport and boarded the bus to Nazareth. We arrived to our hotel fairly late and have spent the evening settling in. Tomorrow will be a full day of sightseeing, including Tel Meggido, the Church of the Annunciation, and more. 

The security measures we have encountered throughout our journey have been interesting. In the Newark airport, after we had already gone through regular airport security, there was an additional security checkpoint in order to get into the waiting area for the Tel Aviv flight. We were individually searched, and our carry ons were manually searched, as well. Throughout the whole process, our boarding documents and identification were checked at least three different times. Once on the plane, however, things were relaxed. Nine hours later, we were notified that 45 minutes before entering Israeli airspace, the bathrooms would be locked and no one would be allowed to get out of their seat for the remainder of the flight. 

Somewhat surprising in light of these measures, it was relatively easy to get through passport control/customs in the Tel Aviv airport (although I have heard that getting out of the country is a different story).

So here we are, at the end of day 1! My favorite part about our short time in Nazareth thus far has been hearing the Muslim call to prayer sounding out over the city. It took me back to India :) We also went on a really nice after-dinner walk with some of the ladies from our group. The air was cool, the night quiet, and we found a lovely outcropping overlooking the many lights of the city of Nazareth by night. 

Peace be with you!

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