I’m Back

November 30, 2009

Whew. I’m back from Israel, and I just don’t know where to begin. There is so much to be downloaded. I supposed I’ll start posting the entries I wrote while I was there, but couldn’t share until I got home. Keep checking back for updates. They’ll be coming over the next few days.

I thought the trip to Szeged was bad. Ha! That was child’s play! This trip to Nazareth has separated the men from the boys. You know how I posted there was quite an experience before even getting to Nazareth? Well, here ya go.

It all started at 4:30 in the morning when I go to up to catch a train to the Budapest airport…the airport the hotel front desk told me to go to, mind you. I get to the airport and think “Wow this looks a little different and much smaller than I remember, but I suppose I did arrive after being up for 24 hours.” So I go in looking for El Al – um, yeah. Wrong airport. The intelligent front desk sent me, the American, to the domestic airport. Who knew Budapest had 2? So I grab a cab and head off to the other one.
Upon arrival, I make my way into the terminal and look around a bit to find El Al, which turned out to require some detective work (hey, 2 1/2 hours sleep without coffee = useless, brainless Sarah). I find the check in desk and see just a mob of people standing around and since I am in Hungary and everyone stands in a mob (that communist group-think thing left over), I, the freedom-loving capitalist, join them (What was I thinking? Oh yeah…I remember, no sleep and no coffee. Notice a trend?). I see no signs as to where to stand, and only 6 security people slowly taking one passenger at a time and grilling them as to their reason for going to Israel. After awhile, someone in the group realizes that I don’t belong (kinda like Sesame Street “which one is not like the other? Which one just doesn’t belong?” Everyone sing! All together now! oh sorry. Continuing…) and tells me I have to stand in another spot. So I move and wait more. No one seems to take notice, so I ask a security person, and they say to stay put. So I do. At this point, I have been “in line” (aka in the mob) for 20 minutes. After going round about with 2 other security people, one of them finally asks me to come into the check in area and they begin grilling me (30 minutes after I have arrived and stood around).

This is when it got real fun (note: for my new readers, this is meant as sarcasm)

The regular questions began. Where are you going? Why? Who are you going with? Did you pack your stuff yourself? Etc…. Then they got curious. Why are you a single American woman flying from Hungary to Tel Aviv? Do you have any pamphlets about this competition you were in? Did you win? What show did you do? What day did you arrive? So you were with one group and are meeting another? Why? Why not travel with them? Who are you meeting in Israel? Do you have family? Are you taking any letters or correspondence or food to anyone? Are you sure? Many of these questions they asked multiple times, trying to catch me in some lie I wasn’t telling. I learned later that my single state, my one way ticket and my destination of Nazareth were all very bad things to El Al Airlines. I told them I could pull out my computer and show them itineraries etc…but that was unacceptable.

Finally, after about 10 minutes of this, they decide I am a security threat and tell me that I and my bags are to be searched. Now, before I continue, I must tell you, in defense of El Al, that these El Al security people were very professional and courteous. At no time was I unaware of what was going to happen. Everything was explained to me, and they did treat me with respect. (Take note TSA)

But I was taken to the dreaded room with a female security agent and completely searched – minus checking body cavities for drugs. I could hear my bags being searched by 5 people in the other room. They searched everything. They even grilled me about my old, crappy computer with the missing delete key (which broke off when the DVD would not release from the drive and I had to hit my computer to jostle it free:) Seriously, this thing is beat up).

All in all, I was in that room for 1 1/2 hours. It was all I could do to keep from losing it a few times. I mean, you feel completely violated. You have not control over anything that is happening to you and your stuff. My journal to Tim was in my bag, and I know they read through parts of it to make sure I wasn’t carrying a message to anyone. It was very unnerving. I turned on my camera this morning and my date and time had been reset, so I know they looked through the pictures. I guess after seeing that and all my opera music, they decided I wasn’t lying to anyone. 10 minutes before the flight took off, I was personally escorted directly to the plane and was not allowed to veer off course. I was not allowed any carry on baggage except my purse with my wallet, ipod and book.

And in the end, they decided my curling iron and straight iron were too dangerous to accompany me on the plane (this after they unscrewed them and put them back together). Therefore, these items were to be shipped to me at my hotel. I told them to just throw them in the trash, but they would have none of that.

Side note: the curling iron and straight iron never showed up. El Al, you owe me.

But in El Al’s defense, they don’t have terror attacks on their airplanes.

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One Response to “I’m Back”

  1. Marianna Says:

    HOLY COW! I probably would have cried. And then cried some more when they kept me in Budapest forever.
    Once again, another “awesome” travel story. You are never at a loss for them.

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