Archive for May, 2010

Tel Aviv and Old Jaffa


2010
05.30

I worked from the hotel business lounge on Wednesday morning, because they wanted to charge $6+/hr for internet access in the guest rooms.  I was on my own for lunch, so I took a stroll after eating The Jerusalem Humus.

The beach was pretty quiet on a weekday at lunch.

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3 Hour Rule


2010
05.28

In late April, the FAA instituted a new rule, affectionately known as the “3 Hour Rule”.  There have been some bad situations where passengers were stranded on planes for long periods of time, sometimes without being given food or water, sometimes without working bathrooms, etc.  There are clearly some horror stories, but they are exceedingly rare.  Unfortunately our government hates to waste an opportunity to regulate our lives.  So in an attempt to prevent a few rough flights, they’ve instituted a 3 hour rule that basically says the airline has to go back to the gate and allow people to leave the flight if they can’t get off the ground in 3 hours.

I got hosed by the new rule Thursday night.  There were storms in the northeast, which means flights out of Newark were a disaster.  First they delayed the flight from 4:50 to 6:10, but gave me a few hours notice of that…so no biggie.  They were still late for the 6:10 schedule, but we backed away from the gate at 6:35.  They immediately parked us on the tarmac.  We were not in a taxiway line; just sitting in a holding area.  We waited for over two hours as the storms rolled through and the airport was completely closed during much of that time.  I think they should have just waited; not let the flight board.  I mean, if you know the weather’s bad and you can’t leave, why put the people on the plane and make them sit there?  The reality is there are at least two reasons.  1) The airlines have to report their on-time performance, so they don’t want to be any more late leaving the gate than they have to, and 2) Delta only has a few gates in Newark, so they may have needed that same gate for another aircraft.

When things opened-up, we were something like #15 in line.  But then at 9:00 they said we were going back to the gate.  Apparently the 3-hour clock starts ticking when cabin doors close, and they have to be back at the gate with the door open before the 3 hour mark.  We were in the taxi line, and were probably only about 15 minutes from the runway.  But Delta wasn’t confident that we would be off the ground before we’d hit the 3 hour mark, and they weren’t going to risk getting hit with fees of “up to” $27,500 per passenger under the new rule.

So back to the gate we went. We lost our spot in line.  They decided to refuel.  Some people chose to leave the flight, which meant digging their bag out from the belly.  We sat there for an hour without a clue when we’d be able to leave.  They said we could get off the plane if we wanted to, but they wouldn’t wait for anybody once they got clearance to leave…so most folks stayed.  A few folks joined the flight and were given a good natured ribbing about needing to be properly initiated before joining the flight.  :)  At 10:10 we finally backed away again, and went airborne at 10:30 (four hours after initial push-back).  I was back on the ground at 00:20, 5 hours behind schedule.

This new rule, which is supposed to prevent passengers from being “held hostage” on delayed flights ended-up costing me an extra hour and a half.  It cost the nice couple next to me a night in a hotel, since they missed their connection, which they would have made if we hadn’t gone back to the gate.

To be fair, the cabin crew was spectacular.  They were very quick to roam the aisles with water, and they opened bags of snacks in the galley.   The captain kept us as well informed as he could.  No complaints with Delta at all.  The FAA, on the other hand…needs to provide some flexibility.  This 3-hour rule is about as ridiculous as “zero tolerance” policies.   When you’re as close to take-off as we were, it’s stupid to have to turn around.

9 Beach Café


2010
05.06

There’s a great cafe on the beach in Hertzilya, Israel.  It’s called 9 Beach (don’t know why), and it’s just a great place to hang-out.  There are quotes on the walls from Led Zeplin, Oasis, Linkin Park, Alanis Moriset, Sex Pistols, etc. and great rock-n-roll playing.  Every table has a view of the beach, and the entire wall facing west is made of glass panels that they slide open to allow the sea breeze to roll in.  The food is pretty much what you’d expect at a bar, but not bad.  The beer selection was rather modest.   But what really makes this place a winner is the location.  I went here every day after work to wind down a bit.  Highly recommended!

Jerusalem Humus


2010
05.06

Well, it took me 2 1/2 days, but I found it.  The Jerusalem Humus is a restaurant just around the corner from my hotel, the Sharon Hotel in Herzliya (just north of Tel Aviv, Israel).  I went wandering for lunch and found this small shop, which clearly served humus, and had a nice open-air patio.  I decided to go with the shops namesake dish.  The Jerusalem Humus is a bowl of traditional humus, with a well made in the center filled with grilled chicken and grilled onions.  The bowl was drizzled with olive oil, and garnished with paprika and parsley.  You ate everything on pita, and there were some hot sauces, too.  One had a nice kick to it, but the other looked and tasted exactly like Pace picante sauce.  With a coke & tip it came to 53 shekels (about $14).  On the way back to the hotel I grabbed a candy bar at the convenience store.  It was 6 shekels ($1.60).  I don’t know if this is from a weak US$, or if thing are just expensive here, but both those seemed quite high to me.  To put this in perspective, the 12 oz can of Coke at lunch was $2.40, where I’d expect to pay no more then $1.50 in a US restaurant for a can.   This probably has something to do with me eating two blocks from a beautiful beach, too.

In any case…great hummus, interesting new candy, and a walk along the beach made for a great lunch!

humus with chicken & onions, pita, Coke, hot sauce, pickles & lettuce

The Jerusalem Humus

Coca Cola - nectar of the Gods

Candy

I can’t make this map plug-in go straight to the satellite view, so switch to the satellite view and you can see my hotel (the pool SW of the marker).

Israel – Day 1


2010
05.05

Tuesday was my first full day in Israel.  I woke-up early to a beautiful morning and decided to take a walk on the beach.  I walked from my hotel most of the way down to the marina; about 45 minutes round-trip.  I’m not really a morning person, but this was a really nice way to start the day!

View from my room

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Tel Aviv – Day 0


2010
05.03

I left on Sunday evening, headed to Tel Aviv, Israel. I’ll be here for a few days on business, and will have most of Friday to play before heading back late Friday night.

The flight over was uneventful.   I flew direct on Delta, and was able to upgrade to Business Class.   Maybe I’m just becoming jaded….but it was a pretty disappointing experience.   We had two meals, and the food for both was way over cooked.    No photos of food this time.  The flight was bumpy almost the whole way, so the shots are horrible.  I watched Hurt Locker, which won 6 Oscars.  I thought it was fairly well done, but wasn’t nearly as impressed as The Academy.  What always strikes me about movies like this is just how dedicated our soldiers are.  While they may or not be quite as animated as they’re portrayed, I feel certain that they’re that dedicated to the mission.

I sat next to a Delta 777 pilot (that’s the plane we were on, too) that was on vacation.  As we were beginning our descent, he asked me how well I slept, and that got us talking about what the “crew rest” area is like on the plane.  After we landed, he was kind enough to show me the space.  It was very cool!  Up near the galley there’s a door that swings open to reveal a very tight set of stairs; almost a ladder, really.  You climb up this into an area above the Business Class over-head luggage bins.  There were two business class type seats, and two full beds situated behind the seats.  There was a sink, but no toilet.   Apparently the cabin crew has a similar space, but it has only beds, no seats.  While it’s not exactly luxurious, it seemed rather adequite.  And it’s quiet up there; no cabin announcements, no passengers talking, no toilets flushing, etc.

Here’s a shot of the seats.  I’m linking this from Boeing.  You can see the floor just below the phone in the center; it’s not very tall.  This was shot from the stairs, so you’re seeing all there is.

777 Crew Rest

Our sales rep picked me up at the airport and drove the 30 minutes from Ben Gurion airport to my hotel on the coast, just north of Tel Aviv.   After freshening up a bit, we headed to dinner at a cafe on the beach at sunset.  The location and weather were perfect, but alas the food…well, I’ll be more specific in my request tomorrow.  :)   The whole menu was in Hebrew.  My rep asked if I wanted chicken or beef.  I asked for the chicken, and it turned-out to be fried chicken fingers, with french fries.  Ugh.  Tomorrow I’ll eat better, and have pictures.

Shalom!