As we touched down at Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv, my fellow passengers broke into applause. What might have been a pro forma exercise repeated countless times was enlivened by the many children on board. Exuberance rang through. The entire flight — just about 4 hours from Geneva and right on time — was lively, like a flying souk for the 21st Century. Given EasyJet’s free seating policy, families were scattered in a window seat here, a middle and aisle seat there; this necessitated much visiting. In fact, the moment the buckle-your-seatbelts light went dark, there was such a communal shifting of position, I thought I must have missed a command from the pilot. Hebrew and French intermingled around me as I tried to settle in with a book (Gordon Woods’ The Americanization of Benjamin Franklin — more on that later). Reading did not happen. Too much to overhear, even if not a word penetrated.
Adding to the marketplace atmosphere, was EasyJet’s Duty Free Boutique in the sky. After coming through with their “Bistro” offerings — Starbuck’s coffee, muffins, croque monsieur and the like — the flight attendants offered their more precious wares: duty free liquor and cigarettes. The euros and Swiss francs were readily surrendered for the Johnnie Walkers and the Marlboro Lights. Who says budget airlines don’t give good customer service?
At the moment, I am enjoying the ceiling fan in my impossibly beautiful room at the impossibly old and gracious Jerusalem Hotel. A quick shower is in order, and then it’s down to the terrace for a meal. I hear a lively crowd below my window. Shall I bring my book — or not?