Archive | August, 2011

Rainy Evening in Lisbon

31 Aug

We finally arrived at our hotel in Lisbon around 5 pm this evening. We had checked the weather reports before our departure and saw rain in the forecast. As we rode into town on the airport bus we saw ominous gray clouds hanging over the city. Fortunately we made it to our hotel before the rain began.

We rested up a bit in our very nice hotel (Tiara Park Atlantic). The rain began shortly before we headed out for dinner. We had a delicious dinner at a fabulously atmospheric restaurant on “Eating Lane” near Rossio Station. The restaurant, Casa do Alentejo, is housed in a huge Moorish building decorated with painted tiles on the interior. The food was as delcious as the decor was breathtaking.

It was raining even harder when we left the restaurant. We were still game for taking the metro but we found the metro station was locked up for the evening! So we hailed a cab and are ready for a goood night’s sleep after a long day.

Acordo Sopa

Delicious bread soup in a garlicky broth with egg.

Casa do Alentejo

Casa do Alentejo Restaurante

Entrance to Casa do Aljentejo

Entrance to Casa do Aljentejo


Long Layover in Frankfurt

31 Aug

B and I are on our way to Lisbon for a week’s R&R. Looking forward to knocking about in a European city again. We are here at Frankfurt airport for a long layover so I took a few snaps enroute and while wandering through concourse A.

Sunrise between Tel Aviv and Frankfurt

Sunrise between Tel Aviv and Frankfurt

Hon Lounge

Hey, hon! There's a lounge just for folks from Bawlmer!

Smoking Cages

Frankfurt airport features these glass cages for smokers. Regardless, you can still smell the smoke!

A Strange Coincidence Involving An Earthquake and an Unattended Bag

25 Aug

Ben-Gurion Airport Arrivals Hall

Escaped Balloons at Ben-Gurion Airport Arrivals Hall

I travel frequently and usually my journeys are uneventful. Not so, at least for the beginning of my journey back home last Tuesday from my sojourn in the States.

My flight was due to depart BWI airport at 2:36 p.m. I had arrived ridiculously early at the airport so sat down to have a bite to eat at a restaurant near my gate in concourse D. As I was getting ready to pay my bill I overheard someone say there had been a bomb threat. All the merchants in concourse D had been instructed to close shop and our waitresses rushed to get everyone to settle their bill. I expected to hear an announcement regarding the threat. At least an order to evacuate the building. Not a peep from the PA system so I made my way to my gate near the end of concourse D.

There were not many people at my gate and it was business as normal as far as I could tell. The airline employee at the gate gave no indication of any threat or imminent evacuation. I began to think someone had been mistaken about the bomb threat and sat down to read my book.

A little while later I noticed the bank of chairs on which I was sitting began to vibrate. I heard a roaring noise as if a large truck were passing nearby. Then the entire building began to shake violently. The walls were swaying as if they were made of cardboard and would collapse at any minute. The shaking was over in a matter of seconds. But then the bewilderment and began.

People began looking around with quizzical looks and we were asking each other, “What the heck just happened?” One man nearby declared it was an earthquake. I was inclined to agree with him but thoughts of the recent bomb threat were niggling at the back of my mind. Then, a crowd of people began streaming into our end of the concourse. The panic level had definitely risen. One woman declared, “We have to get out of this building. Something just hit the airport. We have to get outside!” Some people began banging at the doors trying to get outside. Meanwhile, ever since the first rumblings, the airline employee was trying to get some sort of report over the phone. No reports were forthcoming but she decided to open the doors anyhow and many people ran outside.

Eventually, there was an announcement over the PA system to evacuate the building. I stepped outside and tried unsuccessfully to reach my sisters on my cell phone. I was near a fellow who was online and delivering reports from his facebook page: “It was an earthquake!” “5.8 quake centered in Virginia” Many people were incredulous of his reports. It seemed they preferred to believe it was a bomb rather than an earthquake. But the facebook reporter persisted. “it was 5. 2…no, 5.9! They felt it in DC!”

About ten minutes later we were allowed to reenter the building and the gate personnel confirmed the earthquake report. It wasn’t until I arrived home that I found out there had indeed been a bomb scare over an unattended bag near the security gate in concourse D. The folks who had come kicking and screaming to our gate had already gone through security and were in an agitated state even before the earthquake struck. Those who hadn’t gone through security had been ordered to evacuate the building while a bomb squad had been sent in to inspect the unattended bag.

All of this only amounted to a half hour delay in my flight departure. The rest of my journey was, well, uneventful. Two more flight changes and nearly 24 hours later I was back in Ben-Gurion airport ready for the ride home with hubby. When I walked in the door I had to laugh when little Lulu’s jelly belly swayed from side to side as she ran to greet me.

My Long Day’s Journey into Night

15 Aug

Ben Gurion Airport

Vintage posters for Keren Hayesod decorated one wall at Ben Gurion Airport.

View from Business Class

My view from business class of the approach to Philadelphia

I arrived at BWI airport last Thursday night after a long and tiring journey from Tel Aviv. My flight left Tel Aviv at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. I left the house at the ungodlier hour of 1:30 a.m., allowing plenty of time for travel to the airport and getting through security at Ben-Gurion. Going through security was not as bad as I’d anticipated but I didn’t mind getting there early. If I’d left the house later I’d’ve fretted away with worry about getting checked in on time.

Little did I know that a minor panic attack was just around the corner. When I went through security, I’d been so concerned about tucking my laptop securely away in my backpack, that I walked away without having retrieved the pouch I was using to carry my passport and boarding pass. I realized my mistake when I’d taken only a few steps away, but when I returned to the security carousel my pouch was nowhere in sight. Yikes!! After a few anxious moments while I tried to explain my dilemma to a seemingly unconcerned security worker I was overwhelmed with relief when another security worker reached down and nonchalantly retrieved a bin from under the belt with my pouch lying in it.

That crisis over, I proceeded to my gate for the first leg of my trip, Tel Aviv to Frankfurt, a 4-1/2 hour flight with a 4-1/2 layover in Frankfurt. I was so tired by the time I boarded the plane I actually managed to grab a bit of sleep. The next leg of my journey, Frankfurt to Philadelphia, was the longest—a nine-hour flight. It started out as a typical flight but ended up with a wonderful surprise and two firsts for me.

About halfway into the flight I discovered that my video monitor was not working; and because the flight attendants were unable to get the monitor to work I was compensated for this inconvenience with a seat in business class. This was my first ever time in business class. And I had the whole section to myself. My own bathroom! A comfy blanket and pillow. A chair that could be moved electronically into different positions…and with a massage option. If only I’d noticed the problem earlier; my tenure in business class lasted only three hours.

The other first came when we deplaned at Philly. I was the first passenger to step off the plane! In rapid succession I went through immigration, retrieved my checked bag, went through customs, rechecked my bag for the final leg of my trip; the flight from Philly to Baltimore.

That flight was almost a joke. As soon as we’d finished our ascent from Philly we began our descent to Balmer. Retrieving my luggage took nearly as long as the flight from Philly to Baltimore. As soon as I did retreive my bag, I flagged down the shuttle to the rental car facility just before it began to drive away. I was a fastbreak member of Budget Rent a Car, so breezed on into the garage to select one of the four cars available in the category I had booked. I chose a sporty red Ford Focus; drove on out of the garage and within minutes I was staggering up the steps to my sister’s apartment.

It was going on 8 p.m. Baltimore time meaning I’d been on the road for about 24 hours. What a long strange trip it was.

Invasion of the Mantids

6 Aug

Last night before going to bed I was browsing through Flickr and came across some stunning macro shots of insects by Scott Cromwell. I spent quite a bit of time marveling over his images of mantises and was actually creeped out a bit by their bizarre appearance. As I was browsing the images I realized I hadn’t seen any praying mantises since our arrival to Israel last December and I wondered if they existed here.

Mantis Tries To Scare Dog

Mantis Tries To Scare Dog by Scott Cromwell

The Poser by Scott Cromwell

The Poser by Scott Cromwell

This morning when I went to check my email I saw a praying mantis perched outside on the shutter of my studio window. He swiveled his head around to look at me as I sat down at my computer. I am not making this up. Did I just conjure the mantis up by musing over them or was it just a freaky coincidence?

My images aren’t nearly as spectacular as Scott’s but I think I get extra credit for going outside in my pajamas to get this shot.

Praying Mantis on Window Shutter

Unexpected Visitor

And yet the story continues. After breakfast I went outside to do some weeding in our front yard. Just as I was ready to pull out a weed I spotted a miniscule recently-hatched mantis on the weed. I ran in to get my camera and managed to get a couple of shots of the little guy before he hopped away.

Baby Praying Mantis

I wonder if he ate the critter that chewed the clover?

Baby Praying Mantis

In this shot he has swiveled his head around to inspect me.