Up, up and away! – Day One: Tuesday 14th May 2013

Originally we were to fly out on an afternoon flight with El Al, but for some reason this flight was cancelled and so we were transferred to flight BA165, Heathrow to Tel Aviv.  Snag was that this flight left at 08.10, which meant that we had to be at Heathrow by five in the morning, which in turn meant leaving Ely at 2.00am!  Fortunately there were sufficient of us for a coach to be arranged, and in order to ensure that we were at the pick up on time we booked a taxi to take us to the pick up point.  We carefully built in some time in case the taxi was delayed – or forgot us! – so of course it arrived early and Yvonne and I and our suitcases were therefore the first arrivals in a cold, dark Ely car park with more than a suspicion of damp in the air.  Even our coach hadn’t arrived yet!

All was well, however, and eventually other members of the party arrived as did the coach, and our journey properly began.  Next problem, on arrival at Heathrow,was to find Maureen and the other members of the party and find the check-in.  That accomplished there was time for a very early breakfast whilst we waited to find out what our departure gate was.  And yes, it was one of the further gates at Terminal 1 so a longish walk ensued

If this part of the journey is so memorable what is Israel going to be like!?

I confess that I’m not madly keen on flying but our Airbus seemed to be slightly more roomy than I remember from 747s in the past, and the screen built in to the back of the seat ahead is a great improvement on the old drop down screen on a far away bulkhead.  Not that this time I was worried about the in-flight movie; it was more a case of trying to doze comfortably.  I opted to follow our journey on the live map.  Great fun!

We had breakfast and lunch on the plane before arriving at Ben Gurion airport at 15.10 local, ten minutes later than scheduled, but since we had taken off 24 minutes late I thought that wasn’t too bad.  Once again there were long walks before we passed immigration, were reunited with our baggage and each other and found our guide and coach to Jerusalem.

One of the benefits of an afternoon arrival rather than an evening one was that we were able to have an orientation tour of Jerusalem before going to the hotel. Featured were Mount Scopus, the Kidron Valley and the Mount of Olives, where we stopped and got out of the coach so that various landmarks could be pointed out.

Finally at the Hotel we found our rooms, the baggage retrieved a wash-and-brush-up then it was time for our first meal in Israel – an open buffet.Image

And so, some 18 hours after our journey began (and with no sleep on Monday night) to bed!

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