A Travellerspoint blog

It's decided. I'm going to Israel.

Opportunity comes in the form of unemployment and crazy friends

sunny 0 °C

So here I am at the Newark airport with a 6 hour layover. Why not be productive and start my blog, right? This whole trip was a grand twist of chance. For those that don't know, I have a friend Steve Holzer who can't seem to stay in one place. This time he ended up in Israel. After moving there a few months ago, he's been pestering me to come over for a visit.

I kept thinking..."one day I'll make it"..."I'll need to think this through, when to go, what to see, etc."
Well, that one day came quick. After losing my job, which I dearly loved *choke, gag* {insert sarcasm here} Steve points out I now have plenty of time to visit Israel. No money coming in, but plenty of time. So I said, why not? But it was easier said than done. There were plenty of issues with timing.

First was my job searching. I was thinking of coming for Hanukah, but that would be in November/December timeframe. What do I tell my future employer if I get a job? "Thanks for the job. I'll be taking my vacation now." So maybe I would push it back to October. It's a great time to go, perfect weather, it's a cheap time to fly and there would be plenty of time to plan and get a flight.

One major problem...Steve was coming to the US in October for training. OK, so November and December might be too late and October doesn't work either. That leaves September. But wait...It's ALREADY September!!! What now?!? Maybe sometime like Jan or Feb of 2011 would be better. However, (referring to paragraph one of this entry:) "I have a friend Steve Holzer who can't seem to stay in one place." Chances are that he would be somewhere else if I waited until then. September it is.

So, on September 3rd I start planning. The dates are set, the Fodor’s Guide is bought and I an ready to see it all. Easy right? Well, I still had to buy a ticket. I figured this would be the easy part. Apparently lots of people fly to Israel on days with a "y" in them. I look at the major airlines going into Tel Aviv: Delta, Continental, El Al, Turkish Air and others. Best seat available is row 35 in a middle seat. NO THANKS! Crap! Am I going to have to fly for 11 hours in a middle seat?

Chaos and panic ensues. I call travel agents who all say "you need to fly when?" No help. Then I call the airlines. "We have several middle seats available (and space in our cargo hold) or one first class seat for $5,200" I relook at Continental who has a few aisle seats left, but only for elite rewards members. On September 9th, I resort to reasoning with Continental. "Do you really think that you can sell all those seats in the next four days? All I need is one."

Holy shamoley it worked!!! They sold me an isle seat 3 rows behind first class for the same price as the middle seat in row 59. The flight from Tampa left at 7am which meant I had to wake up at 3am. But who cares? I'm going to Israel!!!

After getting to the Tampa airport, I needed coffee. Who else but me wants coffee at 4:30 in the morning? Apparently nobody, because everything's closed! Finally at 5:30 Sam Sneads opens for breakfast and it was totally worth the wait. I had to post the pic because it's really the only one I have so far.


After a wonderful breakfast, I left Tampa at 7:25 and landed in in Newark. So, here I am with only 4 more hours of layover. Thank you for reading episode one of Todd's Israel Adventure. Stay tuned for previews of tomorrows episode…

Announcer voice: Stay tuned as Todd lands in Tel Aviv, tries to rent a cell phone, navigates the Israeli train system, gets a cab and meets up with Steve and his girlfriend Reut.

Posted by thetodd 08:22 Archived in Israel Tagged planning continental airlines

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