Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Heathrow

That's right folks I'm no longer in Israel. I'm currently sitting in the departures area at Heathrow International Airport just outside of London England. Today was an eventful day to say the least.

Lets begin the story with yesterday evening, when I made one of the most colosal mistakes of my life (at least regarding travel.) I mistook a 1AM flight for the wrong day and completely missed my flight to Chicago. In any other airport in the world I would have been screwed. In Israel, the free Wifi access in the whole airport saved me. I mangaged to skype my way to Orbitz's customer service and cash out my ticket for the full amount (minus an 'airline fee' of $100.) Then using Orbitz website I booked a new flight imediately but this one was through London with an 11 hour layover. Hence why I'm writing from England.

Anyway with all of that taken care of at the airport I headed to Tel-Aviv in the hopes that I could stay with friends. That didn't pan out so I instead headed back to Jerusalem. Luckily the busses still run at 12am from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem.

Anyway I ended up back at Ben Gurion Airport at around 3pm this afternoon. Through security and the rediculously large duty free shopping I finally got on a plane bound for London.

On the flight I met a very nice Israeli man who spoke no English. What Luck! I ended up translating every cabin annoucment and word spoken by the flight attendants. It was amazing and a fun way to flex my Hebrew skills. Turns out his son lives here in London and works in Security at the Airport. (Yeah I know it seems so typical, but its often true.) His son just had a baby boy and my new traveling companion was on his way to meet his first grandson for his brit. The flight was largely uneventful other than that.

When I arrived in Heathrow I found the airport to be almost completely deserted. The shops are all closed and most of the services aren't working. When I spoke to the hotel booking agent at the airport he explained to me that all available beds at the airport hotel were taken. Even if I could get one they cost 360 GBP per night! (Multiply that by 2 to get the USD amount!)

Anyway I took the underground to my terminal for tomorrow morning's flight and found a vaguely comfortable place to spend the next 6 or so hours before I can check in. While sitting here I've met another Israeli. Turns out speaking Hebrew is a great asset when traveling around the world. He and I have been talking about life in general for the last hour.

He's quite an interesting fellow. He was born in Haifa, but lives in Omaha now. Both of his children are 'American' and are going to college at Indiana and Illinois. Crazy to meet another Hebrew speaker so randomly.

This is essentially my first shot at backpacking in Europe. Yeah its been largely unsuccessful as I haven't even left the airport, but at least I have a stamp from England on my passport. That makes three foreign stamps: England, Israel, and Jordan. (Quick side note: Jordan's visa takes up a whole page and I was only there fora bout 10 hours!)

Anyway I'll be getting this posted after I land in the USA.

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