The first day in Tel Aviv has been simply amazing. I woke up early this morning, had breakfast with family and friends at the hotel, tagged along with the parents for lunch and a bit of shopping, and then spent the afternoon and evening at an Israeli airforce base for Israel's Day of Remembrance.
Visiting the base was a great experience. We even got to play around in an F15 Eagle and I got permission to post some of the pictures, which I'm in the process of uploading into my Flickr photostream. At the end of the trip, I'll drop them into a set, tag them, and possibly add some descriptions.
We saw an amazing film about the Israeli airforce's visit and flight over the Aushwitz concentration camp in Poland. It was incredibly powerful and tear-jerking, and my father was given a photo of Israeli fighter jets flying high above the remains of the site.
In the evening, we remained at the base for a Remembrance Day ceremony for Israel's fallen soldiers, which was again, quite tear-jerking.
Finally, we returned to the hotel in Tel Aviv, and I lent my father my laptop for about an hour and a half during which he wrote his first blog post ever (Yes! I succeeded! Muahahah!). As soon as he's made a couple more posts and is comfortable with it, I'll cough up the link. He writes slower and significantly more in-depth than I, and will probably have many more interesting words to share on our experiences here.
It's about 2am and I've gotta kick this jetlag at some point, so I best hit the sack now. Before I do, here's a list of random thoughts I had on the flight over:
1. No white earbuds (except mine) in sight. How refreshing.
2. KLM still gives out real metal knives with in-flight meals. Plastic knives are a knee-jerk, useless reaction to a very serious problem, and only make it difficult to cut into my hamburger at the airport Chilis restaurants.
3. The security profiler we spoke to before getting on the flight to Tel Aviv was intense. Now that's real security.
4. No cream or sugar for coffee on the AMS-TLV flight. I guess real men drink their coffee black. It wasn't half bad, actually.
5. KLM flight attendants (and the dutch in general) are all tall, blonde and gorgeous.
6. Israelis are all tall, tan, and gorgeous (okay, I'll stop).
7. Amsterdam Schipol airport has real manual water faucets in their restrooms and remain spotless, whereas in the US we need automatic sensors to stop morons from tossing paper towels into sinks, leaving the water running, and just generally trashing the place. Hmmm...
8. The Israeli travel visa form now asks for an email address. Cool, but I wonder what for?
9. The new Tel Aviv airport terminal is absolutely beautiful, and finally has brand spankin' new jetways. However, I think I'm actually going to miss walking immediately into fresh air and down the outdoor stairs onto the tarmac upon arriving.