Posts Tagged ‘travel’


Some years ago I took the train from Bavaria to Zurich. Impressed by the European trains and their efficient schedules, I enjoyed every minute of the trip. It was September and chilly, there was snow, but not enough to stop me from exploring Switzerland.

This link provides a view from Bavaria similar to what I saw.

Click here to watch a quick tour of Zurich.

For you history buffs, I found this bit of writing trivia interesting.

An important event in the early 14th century was the completion of the Manesse Codex, a key source of medieval German poetry. The famous illuminated manuscript – described as “the most beautifully illumined German manuscript in centuries; – was commissioned by the Manesse family of Zurich, copied and illustrated in the city at some time between 1304 and 1340. Producing such a work was a highly expensive prestige project, requiring several years work by highly skilled scribes and miniature painters, and it clearly testifies to the increasing wealth and pride of Zurich citizens in this period. Click here to learn more.

If you are planning a trip to Zurich, I hope the information in this post was helpful.

As a writer, I used Zurich as a setting for my character Lyza. Click here to learn more.

Read Full Post »

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets ... " (Matt. 23:37)

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets ... " (Matt. 23:37)

“…and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling…”(Exodus 16:7).

The airport shuttle drops us off at approximately 7:30 a.m. on May 6, 2009. The Delta agent checks our bags all the way to Tel Aviv. We won’t have to deal with the four bags (totaling 200 pounds) at JFK in New York. Our carry-on luggage includes David’s backpack and my forty-pound purse with computer. The flight to New York is pleasant. How could it not be? Delta provides us with personal TVs and snacks. The Lord furnishes good weather. I momentarily imagine how difficult travel used to be, centuries ago. Discarding that depressing thought, I push back in the soft leather seat, sigh deeply, and close my eyes.
We arrive at JFK thirty minutes early due to a 65-mph tail wind. The early arrival does us no good, though. The outgoing plane blocks our arrival gate, so we end up sitting on the tarmac waiting for our scheduled arrival! Anxiety sets in and I begin to get a little claustrophobic. Sometimes, not often, I get claustrophobic. Recently, I was stuck in an elevator by myself for forty minutes and I don’t think I quite recovered. Thank Heaven this time I’m not alone. David sits next to me and encourages me to grip his hand. As you read the following pages, it will become obvious David is my hero. He’s my good and perfect gift from God. Our love deepens and becomes more precious each year. Except when he works, we spend all our time together. A whole month with no work will be glorious.
David has been reading about Jerusalem for over a year now. He studied Biblical Hebrew before that, but it didn’t stick. The past couple of months he revisited the Pemsleur (Quick and Simple) Modern Hebrew lessons 1-8 and then 9-20. These are by far the best conversational Hebrew lessons I have ever heard. Repetition teaches. Much repetition makes it fun to play games with the narrator. After listening several times, I start trying to say the phrases, before the narrator gets to them. I have fun with them. David is still working on lessons 20-30. We both listen to each lesson two or three times. It still doesn’t always stick. In spite of that, the audio lessons help and our ear for Hebrew improves.
Once in the terminal, our four-hour layover at JFK flies by. David and I go directly to our gate and explore the area nearby. We read, people-watch (one of my favorite activities), and contemplate the eleven-hour flight to come. As the waiting area gradually fills with men in black suits, black top coats, black hats and curly long sideburns (called payos ), we realize many Orthodox Jews will be on our flight. It’s fun to hear Hebrew in the JFK waiting room. Neither of us understands conversations, but occasionally words sound familiar.
Nearly an hour before our boarding time, the PA system announces everyone on our flight will be required to go through security again. A second security area awaits, complete with metal detectors and carry-on baggage x-ray machines between the waiting area and the aircraft. This comes as a bit of a surprise. I just started my first Hebrew conversation with a young woman sitting next to me when the announcement was made. “Sli-cha, at mevina englit?” (Excuse me, do you understand English?)
“Yes,” she replies. The announcement blares over the PA system. Our group will be sub-ject to the additional screening. We visit while waiting.
She is from Israel and has been visiting the United States for the past six months, mostly on the coasts. She mentions a news story reported Israeli security has gone lax. Israeli security dropped from the most reliable airport security to #4! David and I are shocked! Israeli security has always been the gold standard in world security. Now, America is zealous about security, too. As the herd of passengers obediently files past guards to a room off to the side, I can’t help but notice the number of Orthodox Jews boarding. There are a lot on this flight. It occurs to me that over the centuries, Jews have been subject to special rules, rules much more demanding with much worse consequences than going through security checks a second time. Flashes of Hitler’s death camps invade my mind.
The aircraft is full. We hunker down for the long flight. I’m disappointed because this older plane lacks personal TV screens. As close as the TV screens are, we are subject to the airline’s movie choices. Some we’ve already seen; some we don’t want to see. We listen to our iPods and language lessons. David listens to lessons 20-30. I’m on lesson 8. For some reason, I seem to pick up Hebrew faster. That’s a joke. I had conversational Hebrew classes a couple of years ago. I didn’t think I learned much then, but words come back to me now and then. I love the language.
Soon we will be in Jerusalem! They feed us after a couple of hours. To get into the spirit of this trip, we pre-ordered kosher meals. All the negative comments about airline food must be pure propaganda. These meals are delicious! One trip through the cabin after dinner and the crew disappears for the next eight hours. We sit next to business class and hear flight attendants busily pampering them. We smell their coffee all night long. Those of us in coach deal with things like hunger, thirst, and trying to get around people blocking the aisles. Whenever possible, Orthodox Jews pray standing rather than sitting. “I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord” (Habakkuk 3:2). Their large black hats and long black coats with the beards and sideburn curls signify the traditional garb of a nineteenth century Jew. Many Jews in Israel today came from European countries. Sometimes, the dress suggests the country their country of origin. There are specific differences in the types of black garb worn for each Jewish sect . The Orthodox Jewish men who dress like this set themselves apart from the conventional Jewish and the Gentile population.
Where are the flight attendants? Bathrooms are out of toilet paper. Disgusting! The crew evaporated. I want attention. I want snacks. I want to watch something else on TV. I want something to drink. I want to put my feet up. I just want to be there. Me, me, me. Sometimes I get so sick of my own kvetching . The Captain repeatedly asks the aisles to be cleared. He warns of turbulence often and instructs everyone to sit down and fasten their seat belts. Little turbulence actually occurs. The Orthodox Jews ignore him. Jews understand prayer is important. The “standing prayer (Amidah) ,” which they say three times a day, must be prayed while standing.
Just before 9:00 a.m. Jerusalem time, the Orthodox Jews don tallit and phylacteries before beginning their morning prayers in earnest. There have been prayers throughout the flight, but when tallit and phylacteries come out, it inspires. God invites us to stop complaining and join the others praising Him. What an excellent idea. At any moment, in any situation, it is best to stop complaining and praise God. As Job reminds us, after he lost all his riches and his children, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. May the name of the Lord be praised”( Job 1:21).
The closer we get, the more we wake up, not that I ever actually slept. Anticipation invigorates us. Ninety minutes from Tel Aviv, the captain announces we are entering Israeli air space. He broadcasts that, according to Israeli law, everyone should be in his/her seat with seat belts fastened. In a much better mood now, David and I laugh. Think about it. Traveling at 600 mph, with a 90 mph tail wind, it will take us less than a minute to fly over Israel itself. Israel is 263 miles by 10 miles, about the size of New Jersey. It truly is funny! Israeli air space, indeed.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: