Yes, actually, the security was shit. I went through a new machine, one of the ones that blows puffs of air at you and analyzes them for explosives. Do those actually work? And then there were the usual metal detectors and so on, and then yet MORE security at Heathrow airport. Nothing was open, which was major suck. I wanted a postcard then. Or several.
Spectacular. Absolutely. Would fly it again in a second. Food's good, people are nice, they actually give you drinks at unscheduled times, and oh my god the british accents just make me melt into gooey little puddles of Dani every time I hear them.
One way was not so bad. There was fast-- we got off the plane, took a shuttle, went through security, showed our passports, got grilled and got on the other plane. The other way was pure hell, though. We got off and then we had like two hours to kill and the airport was JAMMED and the airconditioner was BROKEN and it was horrible because my cousin WOULD NOT STOP COMPLAINING.
Small factoid. I have, at last count (five years ago) ninty first cousins. Since a whoooole bunch more have been born, let's go with one hundred. I think I saw most of them. I was ready to rip my eyes out. Most of 'em don't speak English well, and they struggle to translate, so half the time I just smile and nod and wave it off, and say they don't have to, it's okay, etc.
-Isle of Dead Jellyfish
Okay. We went to the beach the second day we got to Bat Yam (Where my aunt Liza lives, basically our home base for 75% of the trip) we went to the beach near there-- and it was flooded with jellyfish. Literally. And there was this awesome little thing where the sand dipped around this island of sand, about ten feet square, and there were all these dying jellyfish trapped on it. It was the saddest thing ever. And there was this one guy who kept going into the water for the sole purpose of catching the jellyfish.
We got there on Tuesdayish, or maybe Wednesday. My cousin was gone that night. (seriously. Thank god.) We left Bat Yam on Saturday night, Motzei Shabbos (After Shabbos, which is like.. 9:30 or so), in a taxi that took us to Beit Zeit, a very rich moshav right near Jerusalem. We stayed there for a week, with our own room and airconditioning, an English Bulldog named Muffin, and a garden that would not have been out of place surrounding a manor in England, complete with lawn statuary of giant lions (some with wings).
Susan is the one who's house we stayed in at Beit Zeit. She and my mother were roommates in College (The American College In Jerusalem, to be exact). They're still friends, but Susan is.. shallow. Or rather, very rich and meant to be that way. She's got five kids and loves her bulldogs, and is very much the rich woman. I don't know how else to say it. She has prada bags and dolce and gabbana sunglasses and louis vitton and every other name bag you can think of. For real. She's got an entire little CLOSET of them. It's crazy. Oh, and her house is four stories, has marble floors, and is cleaned every day by a staff of cleaning people.
Zvat is an artist's city. It's built on a mountain, sort of haphazardly now, and is old. It reminds me sort of of what London must have been in the time of Shakespeare. Narrow streets, a channel in the middle for god-knows-what, and houses built right up against each other. Except instead of wood, it's stone, and every house is a store, and every store is selling beautiful things, and everything is crowded. My mom got a print there-- Microcalligraphy by Moshe Doron. She got the one with the entire book of Psalms. It's really beautiful.
Caesaria was the first Roman port in Israel. It was named after Caesar (duh), and was a bustling city-port with a nifty little ampitheater carved out of the nearby cliffs. Then it was sacked by muslims, and then by crusaders, and then by muslims, and then by crusaders, and then it was left to rot alone. Except in Israel, nothing ever really rots, per se. So it just sort of sat there, and three years ago I went and it was spectacular and eerie and left me feeling that sense of awe that everyone should associate with their distant historical ancestors. And then I went this time and it's so touristy. I na bad way. Everything's being rebuilt and there are SHOPS and art galleries and the whole place has LOST something. I can't even explain it more than that, but that trip left a bad taste in my mouth.
We visited the dead sea for all of an hour. Saw Masada, but the view is kind of ruined by high tension wires. The Dead Sea has been dammed, and it's incredibly sad.
I went with one of my cousins, but thankfully saw her for all of like, three days. Hallelujah.
There was this funeral, the day my dad got to Israel, for my father's mother's brother. He died the day before. (No more than 24 hours between death and burial unless Shabbos intervenes.) So we go to this cemetary-- and the entire courtyard is FILLED with my cousins. All of them. All SIX HUNDRED of these people I had never seen before and who were related to me. Somehow. Disturbingly. It was like the Israeli Mafia, I swear.