20 hours of (fairly) smooth travel found six teachers and one spouse in Jerusalem. Yep, Jerusalem. The one way over on that continent called Europe. See, every year Hillel has a generous donor who sends a group of teachers to Israel. This year, I got to be a part of the (lucky) group going!
I'll admit it, I was (and still am) highly anxious about the trip. Long travel days, lots of long rides in vans (not fun when you get motion sickness), tons of new and unusual foods (kinda stressful when you have food allergies) and truthfully, cleanliness standards that don't meet my OCD expectations.
And yet, despite all the anxiety inducing thoughts pinging through my brain, I am, finally, very excited to be here. This is definitely the trip of a lifetime and I get to share it with an incredible group of people! Icing on the cake? I'll get to see my sister while we're here! Not as much as would be nice, since this is a group experience, (no worries sissy, this is just the first of many Israeli adventures- day one and even I already know that!)
So. Details. The trip was really fairly smooth. The food in the Pairs airport was (safe for me to eat with the support of gluten-ease) quite delicious. We arrived in Tel Aviv and being the camera junkie I am, I think we took like six group shots before we even left the airport! It was kinda neat being greeted by a woman holding a sign stating "Hillel Teachers" once we came through (an interrogation-less) stroll through customs. After a (slightly jostling) van ride to the hotel we checked in and went up to our rooms. In the smallest elevator ever. I mean, I think with luggage, two people could fit!
Like I said before, the rooms.... They are not my (OCD's) idea of nice, but when in Rome..... We walked a few blocks to a great little "gourmet street food" restaurant called Tommy's and while they didn't have Shwarma, they had really yummy food that was actually Marnie friendly! I had an amazing chicken sandwich on a gluten free bun with basil pesto, grilled portobellos, and caramelized onions and a side of sweet potato fries. I think everyone else ordered the meat roll and they were equally as satisfied with their meals. (Dude, we're Jewish, you know there is gonna be a lot of food talk on this trip!
I think everyone pretty much passed out once we got back to the hotel, and we're meeting up shortly to head to the breakfast Buffett and begin day one of our Incredible Isralei Adventure!