Part two begins in line for security at the airport in Israel. Now this is real airport security. Before I describe how it went, I first want to complement the people who operate the security there. Unlike the TSA people I deal with on a regular basis at US airports, Israel’s security team is professional, careful, respectful, methodical and thorough. They actually seem interested in making your flight safe.
If I had a dollar for every time I have seen the TSA act like jerks to me or others, I could afford a new shop. I remember a few months after 911 being in the US and having the misfortune of having a beard. An airport security jerk said to me,”Hey Osama, we need to search you over there” while pointing to a screened area. Now I am not by any means an “Osama” … I am a white guy from Ohio.. and if I were of middle eastern descent I would have been even more offended. Well, since then I travel without a beard and nobody bothers me.
Anyhow, to leave Israel you need 3 hours. First you get in line to be asked 20 questions. I had been in Saudi prior to Israel so I got the 50 question version. The questions were a bit intrusive, but respectfully asked. Next, all of my luggage was x-rayed and my laptop was opened and scanned separately. After this, I was led to a counter where my luggage was opened. The guy had two computer screens showing the x-rays of my bags. They went through the bag using the photos as a guide and swiped all of my items with a special pad that later was put in a machine to look for explosive residue and who knows what else. More questions were asked and obviously compared to the results from the first questioning.
Next I was given back my luggage and allowed to go to the counter to check in. They took my checked bags and I was off… no wait, one more carry on check and I was able to stand in line to have my passport checked. Because I also go to Arab countries, I ask Israel not to stamp my passport. They agree since they know the reality of the region. An Israel stamp would make my future entries into Saudi and other nations complicated. I had only 20 minutes to wait at the gate and I was off to Amsterdam.
Amsterdam is a paradise. I love this city. I don’t drink alcohol, smoke dope, do drugs, and I am happily married so the hookers mean nothing to me. I do see that Amsterdam does in fact prove all of the right wing self declared moralists wrong though. This is a city were all of this is legal and they have an extremely low crime rate. They have low cocaine and heroin addictions, almost a non-existent murder rate, low burglary rate, and hospitals that provide real care without putting its citizens into the poor house.
I won’t go on a political rant since it will stir up too much fodder on the site. If you disagree with what I say, remember that I do have a first amendment right to free speech, and the greatest freedom in being an American is to be able to express yourself freely without fear of retribution. I am tired of being told that my opinions make me less patriotic than I truly am. I travel the world and know the true advantages of being American. I also know that there are other places that get many things better than we do.
That said, Holland is a paradise. Great people, great food, Great things to see and do. No need for a car or even a taxi. You can rent a bike to get anywhere or take public transportation that is clean, efficient and easy to use. One thing that I note is how people devour a newspaper there. Everywhere you look, you see people reading. People in Holland see the value of being aware of the world. When was the last time you had a meaningful conversation with a hotel clerk or convenient store worker?
An interesting new law went into play in Holland when I was there. I got to see the first day of their tobacco ban. I say tobacco ban since the smoke free law does not include marijuana. It is still fully legal in coffee houses. What I did not know is that outside the US, people who roll a joint put tobacco in to slow the burn. A coffee houses where they sell weed and people smoke it with their coffee and friends. It is like a bar in the states but no drunks looking for a fight or vomiting on my shoes. So in coffee houses now, people who mix tobacco with reefer need to go outside to smoke since it is illegal to smoke tobacco indoors. Kind of ironic…… Now the fun guys that work in those places have become the tobacco police.
Enough weed talk. I saw an actual saw mill that runs 100% on wind energy. It was really cool. Imagine gang ripping full logs with no electricity. It was slow, but the cost was low. They even use the wind energy to pull the logs from outside into the mill. I also traveled to the south of Holland where I saw an old wall the Romans build in the late 1200s. I didn’t have much time to screw around since I was there to work, but I can’t think of a better place to pass my time.
If you have never been to Europe for a vacation, this is the place. You can get around easily, get around with English, and have a great time.
-- making sawdust....