Bruchim ha'Baim l'Israel

Trip Start Feb 10, 2001
Trip End Feb 22, 2001

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Flag of Israel  ,
Monday, February 12, 2001

We arrived at Ben Gurion airport at 7am.  Some of the people in the group who had never been to Israel before leaned over to kiss the ground.  I've always found that custom a little strange, but on an El Al flight, there's always a handful of people who will do it.

When we arrived inside the terminal, that's the first time I really noticed how much of a hit the country's tourism industry had taken due to the situation.  The arrivals lounge was nearly empty; we were practically the only ones there.  The customs officials all looked bored, and the tourist office people all looked a little sad.  Normally, it would be jam-packed with tourists.  What had happened in only six short months?

Seeing the big "Welcome to Israel" sign was really something.  I think that's when it really hit me that I was actually back in Israel, after four long years.  We all took pictures in front of the sign, and then boarded the big buses - our "homes" for the next 10 days - for the drive to Jerusalem.
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