The Trip To Israel

April 9, 2017

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Before I headed out on that last day I was in Bremen, I grabbed lunch with the Vienna crew who were apparently also planning on leaving that day. I don't remember anything about the little luncheon other than talking about our destinations and them offering for me to ride the same train as them to the Hbf. They were headed to Frankfurt and I was headed to Hamburg, but it would be a nice 15 minutes together? Originally I wasn't going to, but then I realized I'm bored and have nothing better to do...so I went with them!

Once we separated, I went to my platform to wait for about 45 minutes by myself which was as boring as death, but I managed and got some fruit ring things to hold me over. They were rather delicious and have kind of become a staple of traveling for me. Eventually some gargled message gets yelled over the loudspeaker in the Hbf and I notice that the screen on the platform changes. From the announcement I could tell that the platform for the train had changed, but I couldn't tell which platform it had changed to. A guy who didn't speak German came over and asked me what had just happened and I shrugged and then, with 2 minutes or something left until departure, I start frantically running around checking signs. I had no idea what to do. Eventually, I run back to that same platform and realize that the train was boarding on the track just opposite of where it was supposed to be. Ugh, easy enough. I hop on the train and wait for what seems like 30 minutes before it leaves. It's a good thing that I don't really have anywhere to be except sleeping in the airport that night...

As the train starts moving, I realize very quickly that I had made a grave mistake in my seat choice. There was a crazy lady yelling about something (for the entire ride) and some kids jumping all over the seats even nearer to me. I still have one working earbud on my headphones, so I plug those in and proceed to play lots of Risk (which is incidentally what this trip and traveling was kind of defined by). I played all the way to Hamburg and think that at this point I have learned how the AI is programmed just via playing the game. I have the ultimate strategy that never fails. BOOM!

Anyway, I eventually get to the Hamburg Hbf, look around for a bit, and hop the S-Bahn on the way to the airport. My plane leaves at roughly 7am, so it's gonna be a rough night. I get to the airport, walk up to the main terminal, find a bench, lock up all the important things in my backpack in one pouch, and instantly pass out. I actually got decent sleep for about a half hour until a security guard approached and informed me and the gents atound me that sleeping in that section of the airport wasn't allowed and that I'd have to move to the arrivals area (where benches all had arm rests and the ground was cold and hard). Needless to say, after that move I didn't get very good sleep. I roll around on the ground for about an hour before deciding maybe a bench with armrests would be more interesting to finagle. Eventually I just give up and when 4am rolls around I board the plane. I'm beyond exhausted at this point and just want to sleep... I grab a chocolate croissant for breakfast and notice a German fellow having his first beer of the day rather early. What a strange country.

EVENTUALLY my departure time rolls around, I board the plane, and the 20 minute (or so it seemed) flight to Frankfurt was over before I knew it. As I exited the airplane I saw a lineup of Lufthansa A380s and big glass windows. I was excited to finally be in Frankfurt airport. Frankfurt was a large airport, but I slowly realized it wasn't the best airport. It wasn't extremely clean, it was kind of confusing, and the food in German airports kind of tends to suck. It's just a shitton of pretzels and beer (sorry if this comment offended you...if it did, you're probably a German or a college student...or both). Even though my layover was 8 hours long (yes, 8 hours...that is correct), I had no idea what to do with my life. I sped through the airport to find where I was going but I was so early that they wouldn't even let me in the gate. My first action of the morning was to feed my face. I went to a Starbucks and got a foofy drink and a muffin. It was expensive...typical Starbucks. Furthermore, the girl wrote Barbie on the cup instead of Bobby...I hate Starbucks employees and their social media ploy. I'm going to start giving them names that are actually difficult to spell.

"Uh, hi, can I get a vanilla latte please. Oh, my name? It's Hrothgar."

FIGURE THAT ONE OUT STARBUCKS EMPLOYEE! I ate my muffin and drank my strawberry creme garbage pretty quickly and then set out to charge my phone. I found a charging station and, quite literally, sat there for two hours just staring into space while my phone charged. It was exhilarating. I was so tired I didn't think anything of it at the time—now that I'm looking back, that was really weird. A bunch of really weird people walked by though, so I enjoyed people watching and trying to eavesdrop on German conversations (pretty unsuccessfully). I ate one more time before finally walking to the gate thinking I might get some sleep there. I get in and have to wait another 4 or 5 hours until the plane leaves. So, I go through the first bit of security and THEN the second bit of security just for people leaving for Tel Aviv since the security is so high. I get into the gate area, watch the people before me leave for Tel Aviv and sleep in an empty gate. This is until I am awoken by another security guard who told me they were clearing the gate area for the next flight to Tel Aviv. I told him I was on the next flight to Tel Aviv and he told me I'd have to leave and go through the security again. A-NNOY-ING.

I do as they please while some other lady yells at them for the same thing because it's inconsiderate and BLAH BLAH BLAH. Learn to pick your fights lady. I get some gummy bears in the meantime, eat enough to make myself sick, and sit around waiting for my flight to leave.

EVENTUALLY, the plane boards and we are off to Tel Aviv. I'm in a 3 seat row but with only me and some other guy. He seems pretty chill and kind of looks like a tan Vin Diesel. I never caught his name, so I'll just call him Vin from this point on. Remember that. This is my first time flying Lufthansa, so that was a fun experience. I ordered all of my food and stuff in German like a boss and tried to blend in as much as possible. The only thing annoying about the flight was some like 12 year old kid in front of me that kept standing up on his seat and looking at me...I didn't quite know what to do about that.

Eventually Vin and I got to talking. He asked if it was my first time in Israel and we talked about what it was like. He seemed to really be passionate about Tel Aviv and the community of Israel. We then talked about other things. I mentioned the Silicon Wadi, Tel Aviv's version of the Silicon Valley, and Vin had actually founded some tech company around the dotcom bubble and it was a good time? He was now some big-wig that was in charge of like 40 countries for something, and I was impressed and jealous of all the places he got to travel. He was telling me about how he lived and worked in New York, Dusseldorf, and Dublin. But when I got to talking to him about the US and New York, he didn't seem to know much despite living there for 5 years. I suppose that is proof enough that you shouldn't let work take over your life. You should enjoy work and let it be part of your life—enhance your life even—but don't let your work consume your family time, your free time, and your time to actually explore the places you're going.

You should enjoy work and let it be part of your life—enhance your life even—but don't let your work consume your family time, your free time, and your time to actually explore the places you're going.

Eventually my conversation with Vin waned and we continued to do our own separate thing. I had been listening to podcasts and he was reading some book about stocks or something. Psht, noob.

The views from the plane were absolutely stunning. We flew over the Alps and we flew over the Mediterranean. There were points when we were over land and you still couldn't see a light for miles. It was stunning and humbling. It really makes me want to travel through Greece and Turkey and Bulgaria to experience the beauty. Eventually, lights became more common. Their frequency grew and grew and eventually it was difficult to ignore. The captain made an announcement that we were about to land in Tel Aviv...

The plane touched down, a bunch of little kids in the plane (including the one in front of me) started clapping (weird). I texted Molly to ensure her that I wasn't dead, and I made my way into the crisp, warm air of Israel. Goodness it felt nice to be in warm weather. I made my way through Ben Gurion to the passport check and it took forever. What made things worse is that it seemed like all of the lines around me were moving super quickly. I made my way through the line until the people in front of me went for their check. There were all sorts of questions and their check took just as long as the rest of them combined. Ugh. The lady at the passport check actually thought the two people (mother and son) were boyfriend and girlfriend and was super confused about the whole thing. Dumb. Dumb dumb dumb. Guh.

My turn came and I stepped up to the desk. I gave the lady a smile and received nothing but a grimace. Ok. She asked me all sorts of questions, made me feel bad about traveling alone, and then proceeded to let me go through. Jesus (ha, a religion joke). I got to an ATM, withdrew 400 NIS (I finally got to use a currency called Shekels wooooooo) and looked for a cab. Because it was the first night of Passover, public transit wasn't running so I had to hop a cab to the city.

"How much?"

I asked the taxi driver guy.

"About 160 NIS,"

he said. I was so tired that I didn't even care that I was paying 40$ to get to Tel Aviv, so off we went into the Israeli night!

We got stuck in traffic, but I remember noticing just how smooth and clear the highways were. It must be great not having snow and ice screw up your infrastructure. We eventually arrived to the address, I thanked the driver, and I looked for my hostel. I had trouble getting in but once I did I talked with the person at the desk, got my keys, and passed out. I was so tired, and I needed to prepare to experience Israel.