Steeeeee-rike!

Nothing much to do today apart from pack, get picked up by the ever-helpful Noa, and drive to the airport. I was told to get there three hours before departure time by the travel agent and by Hen, who used to work there. But, we decided that was too soon and stopped for lunch on the way there. As you do.

Noa had forgotten to grab the tickets for the flight from her boyfriend (after I booked, ISSTA decided that I had to have two printouts otherwise they’d charge me an additional £25 reprint fee) so we had to get them redone at the ISSTA office at the airport.

Then the fun began. I’ve never been given so many questions on leaving a country before. I got all the usual. All of them. And more. They even made Noa go and get her ID card from the car so they could check she was… well.. I don’t know.

Did I pack my own bags?
Had anyone given me anything to carry for them?
Had my bags been secure since I packed them?
Had I stayed with Noa?
How long had I known her?
Where did I meet her?
How much time did we spend together in my two weeks and where did we go?
What did I do in Dubai when I was there?
Did I learn to read, write or speak any Hebrew while I was in Israel?

Excuse me? What the… Did I learn any Hebrew?! Is there an embargo on taking knowledge of a language out of a country now? Good grief.

My baggage was then completely dumped out, scanned, searched, swiped and repacked (badly so I couldn’t find half of my stuff) while I was metal-detected and rushed through the gates. Hen showed up at the last minute and was allowed to hand me a Hebrew copy of Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, so I managed to smuggle out some Hebrew! Bwahahaah! Take that, authority figures! And thank you for the book, Hen! Another for my collection.

All that to get to the gate which didn’t open until half an hour after the advertised time. At least Ben Gurion Airport has free wireless. Unfortunately, we sat on the tarmac for over ninety further minutes. As a result, a very nice person at the distant end who’d offered to collect me from the airport and put me up had to back out, as it would be far too late for him. Dave, I fully understand and thank you regardless for your offer.

Our 1755 flight started to taxi down the runway some time after 2000 and took off maybe ten minutes after that. It turned out that their was a partial strike underway whereby strikers were blocking transmissions between the aircraft and tower so that flights couldn’t make their “windows”. Thanks for that. I hate people who strike and disrupt my plans – how not to get my sympathy.

Another coincidence of note: the gentleman who was doing bizarre things with glass and pointy bits of metal in Tel Aviv was sat around four rows in front of me. I managed to chat to him for a few minutes and it turns out he just found out he would be performing at the Download Festival campsite the next night. The delay was causing him nightmares as he had to arrange collection of broken glass, a bed of nails, breeze blocks, a sledgehammer and a lawnmower (!?) from places around London before driving north.

Landing was a lot swifter except for passport control which took an age. And then I slept. On a concrete floor, due to my late arrival and Dave’s (fully understandable) inability to pick me up. Somehow I managed to sleep quite well. I guess I was more tired than I thought.

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