Saturday, July 23, 2016

Midwest Meets Mideast #2: The Saga Begins

We drove to Chicago last Tuesday (July 6), left our car at a long term hotel parking lot, and took the shuttle to Ohare. Other than the typical 45-minute flight delay so typical of ORD, we made it onto the American Airlines flight to London Heathrow. Our security transition in London was blessedly short, considering that we had to navigate our way to the El Al section of the airport, and considering that Morticia had to explain to the security guard that Pugsley's toothpaste, which was indeed 4 oz, not 3 oz, was in fact a prescription product that he needed on the trip.

Our 10:30 pm arrival at Ben Gurion Airport was also thankfully uneventful other than walking around the upper level once or twice until a nice lady pointed us to the stairs. But with my very broken Hebrew and the entire country's knowledge of English, we picked up some shekels from the Kaspomat (ATM), got through Customs, and found a sherut (shuttle bus) to Jerusalem.

It did not take long before we got to see the real Israel. A very helpful passenger on the shuttle gave us information on how to get to our hotel, even calling our hotel for us to confirm its location and telling the driver where to drop us off. He then proceeded to get into a discussion (what Westerner's would call an argument) with another passenger on which hotel we SHOULD have been staying at.

We arrived at The New Imperial Hotel around 11:45 pm. This hotel, built in the late 1800s, is the oldest operational hotel in Jerusalem. The hotel, which is just inside the Jaffa Gate of the Old City, is run by the Greek Orthodox Christians and was once a luxury hotel used by Kaiser Wilhelm II in the early 1900s. Personally, I loved its old world charm, decorative beauty, and exceedingly polite staff. However, being an old hotel, the first obstacle we were greeted with upon arriving with all our luggage was two steep staircases and no elevator.

Breakfast was included in our reservation, which was a very Lebanese breakfast of chopped salads, hummus, fresh fruit, plain white cheese, hard boiled eggs, and, of course, cold cereal for the fussy American tourists. We were also introduced to Israeli lemonade which is far, far superior to anything we can find in the States. I may never be able to drink American lemonade again.

DW loved the bed, which was the most comfortable mattress she had ever slept upon, including our own. The boys were less enamored with the amenities. They did not like the tiny shower nor the substandard plumbing that required all our used toilet tissue to be tossed into a separate garbage bag in the bathroom. However, I think all was forgiven on the last day when Pugsley got to play with 2 kittens on the roof who found his shoelaces highly fascinating. Thankfully Customs will not allow the transport of live animals or we may have ended up with a couple of pets. And remember what Ogden Nash said about kittens...

The problem with a kitten is that
Eventually it becomes a cat

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