Thursday, November 26, 2009

Honolulu Part Duex

Below is the view of Waikiki Beach from the top of Diamond Head.

Diamond Head entrance sign

This job sharing stuff is unparallel to anything else I've experienced on the job thus far. I had a Honolulu on my line for the month of November and it is by far the coolest trip in the system. I'm glad that I had been there before and had a good idea of what I wanted to accomplish on my 24 hour layover. I wanted to go to daily mass and climb Diamond Head; and I did.

We got in about an hour late; I was up in my room by 9:30 or so and sound asleep within an hour. I slept through the night and woke up suddenly at 6:55 and rushed out the door to make it to mass at 7. St. Augustine's By the Sea in Waikiki is one of the most beautiful church's I've ever seen and well worth looking like the walk of shame to be there. I went back to the hotel, had some frosted flakes while getting ready for my trek up the crater and was out the door by 8. My mom had asked me not to go alone but none of the other crew members were interested.

The hike up was daunting but if you're remotely in shape (as in are able to walk) I think almost anyone can do it. There are a lot of stairs but I saw three year olds managing just fine. Across the street from the park is a community college and they were having a farmer's market so I stopped for lunch. I walked back down the mountain and was back in my room by 11:30, at the pool ten minutes later til 2. Nap, and then back on the plane to come home. It was amazing. Breath-takingly beautiful.

This is what the top of Diamond Head looks like, built by none other than the US Army Corps of Enginerds
NEERS.... I mean Engineers
760 ft above sea level

Being that we're crew, and therefore special, we have a flower guy that comes to our hotel just before we get on the van and the crew can purchase leis and arrangements. I brought this home for my mom for Thanksgiving. Not only was it a beautiful centerpiece, but I could see my sister on the other side of the table.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Best Friend Loves Me!

Just look at what J brought me home from Italia. I'm putting these two guys away for a rainy take away sushi night. And no, I'm not sharing so don't ask.

Who's excited??? I AM!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009


When swine flu first broke out, I was oblivious and didn't really care nor did I think it would personally impact me. I got the flu shot last year and didn't even get sick; I come into contact with the most disgusting things, both on the plane and in school, and continue to live to tell the tale. I suppose a part of it are those left over feelings of being invincible from my (seemingly endless) adolescence. I have recently learned that a dear friend of mine is deathly ill due to the swine. You can read more about Courtney here and as for you, Mary and Jerry, yous guys are most certainly in my prayers.

Monday, November 9, 2009

HNL for a PVG???

I am currently sharing someone else's line. A co-worker of mine, Lori, has so graciously given me half of her trips both this month and last. Without her, I'd still be on reserve and for her generosity, I am grateful. When it comes to what we fly, I really don't care: any destination, any position, as long as it's a real trip, it doesn't matter to me. I also want to make this as easy as possible for her. It's unfortunate, however, that I have a bad habit of making plans and commitments before I see what trips are on my line. October worked out great because Lori was willing to take the one trip I didn't want because I had a prior engagement. As for November, I had a general idea of things that I would like to do in the month; my challenge was I've never trip traded nor would I be home on trip trade day, and I have no high time trip connections. I had these two Honolulu's and both were not the ideal dates I wanted to fly; both three day trips, one left on a Monday and the other Tuesday, the last day of the bid month. I figured I could sacrifice the one weekend and just make sure I was home Sunday night and ask around to see if I could just move my other Honolulu to depart a day earlier. Easy enough considering I had a month to move it.

So J and I were on the elevator going down to the crew room about two weeks ago, we were leaving for Rome, and I was eavesdropping on the conversations around me. There was this guy going on and on about how he had this Honolulu line and I asked him if he had the trip that left the 30th, I was trying to trade mine which left on the 1st. (The look he gave me was priceless because you need as many years with the company as I am old to hold the trip). He snootily replied that he only knew it was whatever line number and didn't know what days his trips were. BUT the senior mama he was talking to was looking for a Honolulu. She had a Beijing line.

I turned my Tuesday Honolulu into a Monday Beijing.

My schedule for this month: Honolulu on the 16th, Beijing on the 30th.

Still in shock.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Tel Aviv and Jerusalem: I was there. You were not.

I went to Tel Aviv. I walked where Jesus walked. In the course of 56 hours, I ate two shwarmas and had three Fantas. Those two shots are of the view out of my hotel window. It was a rainy, miserable day in Tel Aviv, but not in Jerusalem!

I picked up this particular trip because my fellow cohort in crime's father was the captain and I knew he loved the city and had been going for many years. We got in late afternoon on Sunday, and just Mark and I went to dinner at this bar next to the American embassy. I'm slightly
embarrassed to say we went to a place called Mikes, ate pizza and
wings, drank Sam Adams, and watched the Eagles game. However, it was one the best played games this season by my birds and everyone else in the bar was an Eagles fan too.

The next morning we woke up at 7, had breakfast at 7:30, and left the hotel by 8. We took a taxi to the central bus station and took the bus to Jerusalem, an hour away. The bus ride was 19 shekels, or less than $5. Got to the bus station and took another cab to the Damascus gate of the Old City. Across from the gate is the Garden Tomb, which is what Jesus' tomb might have looked like. The property is owned by British ex-pats and the grounds are well kept in such a manner that its almost as if it doesn't belong.

Then we walked through the Damascus Gate; you could see where the streets had been built up. I don't know what I was expecting when I entered the city, but there were street vendors selling everything everywhere. It was like an ancient open air Canal Street almost. We walked down the Via Dolorosa (Latin for way of grief or suffering) to the spot where Christ was condemned and beaten and then followed the stations to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. There were a lot of different tour groups walking along with us; there was an Eastern European group (they were so fabulously well dressed!), a southern Baptist American group of true tourists that were not dressed climatically appropriate, and a group being led by a priest who were praying the stations. Everyone kept talking about how on every Friday at 3 the Franciscans do the stations in their entirety, and what a zoo the city is during Christmas and Easter. What really took away from the experience for me were all the Islamic and Armenian street vendors desperately trying to get you into their stores. However, as we were charging through the streets on our way to the next station, an ancient man selling cloth offered the captain 6 donkeys and a camel for me. Captain shot back with two camels, it was declined. It was nice to know that I do catch a nice dowry.


After lunch we wondered down to the Western Wall, the holiest place for Jews to go and pray. I saw a bar mitzvah; the men were on their side and the women were standing on chairs leaning over the dividing wall throwing candy. It was such a celebration, the smiles that this family were wearing were so joyous; it was beautiful. I stood before the Wailing Wall in awe, watching these women deep in prayer, writing their prayers and sticking them between the ancient stones, reading books of Hebrew; some wept. I felt like a warrior praying silently the Our Father, the words Jesus taught us, amongst God's chosen people. Glorious.

By then it was after 12, and I found myself standing on top of the Mount of Olives looking down
onto Jesus' Jerusalem... plus two thousand years. The golden temple is the Dome of the Rock; it is where the second Jewish temple originally stood, as in the one that was destroyed in 70 AD.
It is the oldest standing Islamic building. In the right hand corner of this particular shot you can see a gate that's been sealed shut, and before it are hundreds of graves. This is the Beautiful Gate where Jesus entered the city on Palm Sunday, and where the Messiah shall enter when he comes again.

From where this shot is taken, is the Mount of Olives, and on the mountain face are buried Jews and the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus sweat drops of blood and was betrayed by a kiss. It's also closed between 12-2 each day.

We were back in Tel Aviv by 2:30, took a big nap, and then back on the plane for the 12 hour ride back to Newark. (I had the second shawarma in the airport, with a Fanta). We landed at 5:15 in the morning and to say I felt like I had been hit by a bus is no exaggeration. Well worth it.