Isreal, April 2007
By: William R. Cotton

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I got up at 4AM(0400) to get ready to meet the shuttle bus to DIA at 0530 since three weeks is too long to park my car. I checked in and realized I hadn’t reserved vege meals so I may not get much to eat on the way over. This was because the tickets were made by Tel-Aviv U travel agents and I forgot to cover that base. For lunch I brought along a container of yogurt but it was confiscated by security. Pretty stupid of me!

My trip to Athens went pretty well. I had nearly a 3 hour layover in Dulles and then 1.5h in Munich. On the plane to Munich I filled my water bottle as I was getting kind of dehydrated. Well guess what in Munich I went through security yet again and had my water bottle confiscated.

I arrived in Athens at nearly 1300h and caught a bus that stopped near my hotel. I had directions that is was 800m from the bus stop, but not which direction. After asking about 4 or 5 people showing the name of the hotel I finally encountered a taxi driver who gave me directions down the road. I started out when he called me back as he must have checked with another taxi cab driver and they sent me in the opposite direction. It was sunny and hot as I pulled by luggage along over sidewalk turning to gravel and sometimes hardly room to walk at all with heavy traffic going by. Finally the hotel appeared.

The hotel room is very nice, more a suite with a living area and separate bedroom with twin beds and a separate bath room. It also had a small balcony with table. It overlooks a pool area with a fake water fall and lots of shrubbery and trees. It looks better from the balcony than from below as the outside of the building is blotchy looking from being in the process of fresh painting.

I unpacked only to find out I had forgotten to pack any nice slacks. Basically I have a pair of jeans and two pairs of zipoff slacks I planned to use for shorts! That is the first time I have ever done that and here I am going to special talks, probably fancy dinners, and me without decent pants for nearly three weeks. I probably will have to buy some in Tel-Aviv. I mentioned it while chatting to the young woman working the hotel desk and the next morning as I went to the meeting in my jeans she said, “nice jeans”!

It is only 1\4 mile from the water so I went for a jog along a bike trail that parallels a light rail track. Eventually the trail and light rail track peters out and I jogged along a sidewalk paralleling the busy highway and the Mediterranean Sea. There were something like three marinas along that stretch.

I returned feeling hungry as I had not had lunch so I ordered room service for a sandwich which I ate on the balcony with a glass of red wine. I then read for a while and fell asleep for about an hour.

In the evening George Kallos came by and we went out for dinner. Zev Levin, S.T. Rao(now of NOAA/EPA formerly of SUNYA) and some others I had just met joined us. The food and wine were quite good and I held up without falling asleep.
I woke at 0600 and went for a run along the light rail bike path paralleling the coast but in the opposite direction from yesterday. It was pleasant hearing the birds singing and seeing yachts. I even found one cluster of bright red poppies.

I then attended the working group meeting on CIRCE RL8(Climate Change and Impact Research: The Mediterranean Environment—this is the working group on Air Quality and Climate). Their main objectives are links and feedbacks between air pollution transport and transformation processes, air quality and regional climate change in the Mediterranean basin. I made a brief presentation about our microphysics module in RAMS including aerosol activation and they are interested in using it. George’s group is using RAMS version 6.0 so they will implement it into version 6.

It is interesting that on the street and even indoors at the meeting locals are dressed with sweaters and outside with heavy winter jackets and I feel quite comfortable with a short sleeve shirt. I guess they are acclimatized to much warmer weather so it is cold for them when it is in the 60’s.

After the meeting broke up Zev and I took the tram until its end near the Acropolis. This is an area I know pretty well because I had stayed near it a few years ago while attending a GCSS meeting. So arriving about 1830 Zev and I toured the Acropolis before it closed at 1900. It was a rush job but we had the advantage of seeing the city as the sun was setting. We then found a restaurant at the northern foot of the Acropolis and sat on its roof top area where we had nice views of the Acropolis and a mountain that I had jogged up to the north. The restaurant was good but expensive. They started gas heaters to keep us warm. We then took the tram for its slow one hour ride back to our hotel.
The plan was to meet George Kallos as 1000 and he would put our bags in his car trunk and then drop off office in Athens. I slept in until 0830 and was dragging so I didn’t feel up to jogging. George picked us up and dropped us near the Acropolis again. From there we walked through old town and through the narrow streets of the flea market. It was very interesting to view. Then we walked through the old Roman ruins at the Foot of the Acropolis. It was a nice sunny day and we enjoyed a lazy walk through the grounds.

We then sought our the “tower of the winds” where there is a octagonal stone tower in which it has quadrants of carved figures at its top in positions that correspond to quadrants of the wind(N, NE, E, ESE, S, SW, W, NW). The grounds with ruins were also pleasant and I particularly enjoyed someone playing a flute in the background just outside the park.

We then walked around the streets on the hillside on the northern side of the acropolis looking for a restaurant I had frequented in the past. After climbing many stairs, finding a museum of the U of Athens which we toured, walking along cobble stone streets, I finally found it. We had lunch in a window balcony with nice views and enjoyed the set menu price that included our choice of many dishes, plus a bottle of water, bread, and a half litre of wine for 24 EUs for two. After the lunch we walked to a large park which I had jogged through in the past and Zev and I both took a nap on the park benches.

From there we walked to the Athens history museum, stopping off at a smoky internet café on the way. The museum is huge! It has artifacts going back nearly 7000 years showing the evolution of culture in Greece. It has rooms and rooms of stone sculptures. It is most impressive. I was very tired after all that walking, galking, and standing. I found out from Zev that I had missed a 2nd floor!

George picked us up at 1830 or so and drove us north out of Athens to an island where there were many sea side restaurants. He took us to a Creten restaurant where we enjoyed many seafood dishes, Creten music, wine, and endured lots of smoke! At about 2300 he took us to the airport where we checked in for our 0220 flight to Tel-Aviv. The flight was only 1h40min but at that hour it was hard to take. Olympic Airlines even offered us a lunch but after that dinner and at that hour I was not interested.

We arrived about 0430 and after getting baggage and going through customs Zev put me in a cab for the Alexander hotel. The hotel resembles a dorm a bit but my room is like a small apartment with a kitchenette, large living/dining area, bedroom, walk-through closet, and bath. The view out the window is not great as it is a construction site but I can see the sea when I look out to the west. It looks like a jogging trail near the beach which I plan to explore later today. I think it is about a 30min or 1.5mile walk to the U of Tel-Aviv. I will try that out perhaps tomorrow.

I just got back from jogging the beach to the south. I passed lots of beach activities including sailing catamarans, wind surfaces, kites, paddling kayaks, families hanging around the beach with the braver ones taking a swim. Those sailing kites on boogey boards are really fun to watch. First they have to learn to control the kite and then standup and stay up on the board. The good ones really get cruising some leaping over waves and doing 180’s in the air.

After an apple for lunch I took a nap for an hour and then decided to see if I can walk to the University. I figure it is a little less than 2miles based on how long it took me. Close to the University there are many flowers out including hibiscus, bougainvillea, tulip trees, apple and plum trees. I noticed on the way over, a bicycle path that went along a river. It is more pleasant as it gets me away from the road noise. At one point it passes under the street that goes directly to the hotel. I decided to continue on it since I suspected it curved around along the coast to my hotel. It did that and became a board walk for a way but it must have added more than a half mile to the walk and moreover, there were stretches it was so crowded that I couldn’t walk more than a crawl pace.

I returned only to fall asleep again while attempting to read. I am definitely in jetleg-2 after the 220 flight from Athens to Tel-Aviv. In the evening Zev and Susie came by to take me to a restaurant in a city south of Tel-Aviv. It was located on a board walk next to the Mediterranean. The seafood was great and the salad at the beginning was a meal in itself.
The is a “taxing” day—ha! It is also Vollie’s birthday. It is a work day here in Israel. So I walked to the University where I had help getting my PC on their network. At 11:30 Zev took me to a bank to cash my per diem check. Then we spent several hours finding me a pair of dressy pants which I had forgotten to pack. Naturally they had to be shortened so we went to another little shop near Zev and Sussie’s condomium. While they were shortening them Zev had a falafel lunch while I drank some juice since I was fasting. It took most of the afternoon to get me set up with pants! We stopped by Zev and Susie’s place which I enjoyed seeing and taking in the views.

Zev dropped me off at the hotel and I took a jog along the beach to the south. I also had a chance to watch a beautiful sunset.
I walked in to UTA in about an hour so I now think the distance is almost 3 miles to the office since I walked a brisk 3mph pace. It is a pleasant walk with about half of it being along a bike path, the remainder along sidewalks with three stop light crossings. I have to have my backpack checked at the gate each time I enter. Security checks are common at all major shopping areas and restaurant areas as well as the University etc.

At 1100 I presented my first lecture. This was on “Impacts of Aerosols on Clouds and Precipitation: Layer and Boundary Layer Clouds”. Because the students are on strike and there was a ceremony scheduled for noon recognizing the holocaust, I expected a poor attendance, but the lecture hall was pretty much full. I think it went pretty well but had fewer questions than I have been getting in US presentations on this topic.

After that I viewed the holocaust ceremony and Zev and I walked about campus. Wherever I walk I notice a lot of feral cats. They are all over campus but I see them near my hotel as well. I am surprised but they don’t seem scrawny so must be very well fed, probably by handouts.

I walked back to the hotel and took a brief nap. Then I jogged along the beach for about 3mi. Remember this is after walking 6 miles commuting. I showered and then found a falafel shop in the middle of the street. Really, it is a street with a sort of park in the middle with traffic going opposite directions on each side. At an intersection, is what the hotel person called the “best falafel in the area”. I brought it back to my room where I had it along with some chips and a glass of red wine. It was good but was it really the best in the area? I then walked the beach and watched the sunset. So far no green flash probably because there is always a cloud layer on the horizon.
I took a jog to the north along the board walks before breakfast. After breakfast Zev picked me up and we drove to Jeruselum. There we toured the holocaust museum which was a completely new facility from when I visited it about 10 years ago. It is very impressive but depressing. After that we drove into old town Jerusalem where we walked old town. Near the wailing wall Zev had arranged a tour underground along the wall through old water works etc. This involved going through periods over 2000 years ago. We then had lunch at a restaurant outside in a nice garden setting. It was a nice Mediterranean type salad. On the way back we visited a radar facility for tracking birds.

That evening I walked to an Italian restaurant and had a good meal.

Conditions here were very hazy as we had a dust storm. Cars and bikes were covered in dust, no sunset to view, and I could even feel dust hitting my eyeballs even with glasses on.
After breakfast I walked to UTA. It was warm and humid but the dust at least had dissipated. I gave my second lecture this time on “Global Climate Change: From a skeptics perspective”. I think it went well and I had several questions at the end and several people came by and said they liked my lecture. I forgot to mention that I am really quite “green” in spite of the nature of the talk.

After that I had my apple for lunch and then met with Zev’s most recent PhD graduate(Amit) and his new MS student who hasn’t gotten started yet.

While I talked we had some showers and must have had a fropa as it has cooled down quite a bit.

I then prepared for my taped interview of Zev that I am supposed to do for NCAR. Then I walked the three miles back to the hotel. In the evening Zev came by and took me to an Arab restaurant in a village to the south. The fish was good but with the salad which is always a meal in itself it is too much.
I jogged along the beach several miles to the south. On the way back I passed a camera crew and a guy asked me to help him out. He dug a hole and asked my to bury his head while he did a head stand. So I did. He said it had something to do with peace?? So maybe I’ll be on TV tonight burying this guys head for peace.

Zev picked me up after breakfast and we went to the Weizmann Institute of Science. There I visited Vinon Rudich’s and Ilan Karen’s laboratories. Rudich is doing research on aerosol chemistry especially organics and Karen is working on interpretation of satellite observations of aerosol cloud interactions. I gave a brief version of my talk on aerosol interactions with deep convection to the groups. Orit who is in Karen’s group briefed us on her work. Tamir Reisin was also visiting there. He works at an electric power related institute about 15minutes from there.

Ilan Karen is studying what he called “twilight zone” where cloud related scattering is seen outside of clouds. It appears to be a region of detrained moist air where detrained haze particles deliquesce or swell as it is more evident in polluted than in clean air.

In the evening Zev and Susie took me to dinner at a vegetarian restaurant about 2 miles south down the beach. It was quite good. Then they took me to a show in Jaffe. Before the show we toured the old city of Jaffe which has stone buildings and narrow streets, a number of high-end restaurants, art studios etc. The buildings date back 700 years or so and the streets are all slick cobble stone.

The show was quite interesting. There was a lead singer in his early 50’s I’d say, who played classical guitar. He was very good singing and playing. The music was very lively with varying styles. He was backed up by two violinists, a base guitar, and standard percussion at times. Many times they used oil drums, garbage cans like we roll out on the street including flapping the tops, paper roll tubes, boxes, you name it as part of the percussion. The choreography was excellent and lively and ranged from rock styles, to belly dancing, country and western, hip hop, again you name it accompanied to very lively music and sometimes African style percussion. I didn’t fall asleep with that and often felt like dancing myself! All the players were multitalented with all singing at times, dancing at times, and playing instruments or contributing to the weird percussion.
Today is a non-work day like our Saturday and tomorrow is the Sabbath like our Sunday and Sunday is back to work. I am on my own to explore etc until the afternoon when I go to Zev and Susie’s tonight overnighting there and then they have a trip planned north toward Haifa.

After a couple of hours taking care of things at the office via internet I had breakfast and then began walking south. I first headed to the open market which was quite colorful. It had a lot of arts and crafts type displays, some musicians playing all sorts of music including a classical string quartet. I even bought a small oil painting. It is what I would call “representative” style in which a realistic landscape along the coast is painted but people and boats are painted in simple brush strokes instead of trying to make a detailed photographic type of reproduction. The artist who lives above his stall said he works full time on painting and doesn’t have a wife or girl friend to distract him. He has painted something like 1500 of the paintings of the size I bought!

I then continued south and went to Old Jaffa where Zev and Susie took me last night. Because it was daylight, I took many photos of the area. I then walked along the beach back to my hotel. I estimated I walked between 8 and 9 miles. When I got back to my room, I was surprised to find a bottle of white wine, compliments of the hotel management. I gather it is traditional for families to get together on Friday night and have dinner with white wine. So I plan to take it to Zev and Susie’s tonight. I then walked a few blocks to an old English style pub that I have been passing to and from the university. There I had a Guiness beer and some shrimp fried in garlic oil. I was surprised to find a lot of pinion nuts in it as I thought of it as a southwest US feature. It was very good.

In the evening I had a taxi take me to Zev and Susie’s. I first had a hard time getting the taxi driver to accept the UTA voucher and then he had difficulty finding the place. Eventually I got there. We had a very nice dinner with lots of vege’s and fish and had an enjoyable evening talking.
In the morning we drove southeast to BET SHE’AN which is a ruin dating back thousands of years with multiple layers of civilizations. The Romans developed it the most with an amphitheater, lots of stone columns, streets, latrines, and a Roman bath. Much of it lies in ruins from an earthquake something like 700 years ago, but quite a bit was either reconstructed or survived.

We then drove on to the Sea of Galilee and had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the sea. It was quite a beautiful setting. From there we went to Hiafa. Coming into Hiafa from the east is not very impressive because we passed a massive oil refinery section. More stacks than I have seen anywhere. But once in town which is very hilly and San Francisco-like, it is a beautiful city with many view points overlooking the Mediterranean. Driving back toward Tel-Aviv along the coastal road we saw literally hundreds of kite sailors on their boards. In some places the kite density is so great that I don’t know how they keep from getting entangled.

Zev heard on the radio that there was a sailplane accident. It sounded like the pilot released on tow and based on later news paper reports that I didn’t read landed straight into the ground. It sounds like from what I could gather indirectly from Zev that there probably was a control problem possibly improper hookup during preflight.

Returning to the hotel traffic was very congested and I don’t know how long it took Zev and Susie to get home.

I prepared a spaghetti dinner in the kitchenette tonight. It was a little challenging but it came out well.
I began the day with a jog to the north and then walked to campus. There I did some work on the computer and then I interviewed Zev on the tape recorder for NCAR. It came out well.

At noon there was a ceremony outside on campus honoring the soldiers who had gone to UTA that had died. As you can imagine it was a solemn occasion which included singing and calling out the names of the fallen.

I walked back to the hotel in what must have been mid-80’s temperature. Because it was my fast day I drank my supper of juice and then walked south to watch the sailboats and sailboards. Boy those guys on the boards really go at times they must be doing over 25kts.
Because it is Memorial Day I stayed at the apartment and worked. Around 10:15 the cleaning ladies kicked me out so I decided to take a run along the beach heading south. But the winds were probably 20kts out of the northwest which made a heavy surf providing no place to run. So I ran along the hard bike paths that parallel the beach. At precisely 1100 the sirens began to blow, and everyone stopped. Cars on the streets stopped and the people in them got out and stood by the cars for a moment of silence in respect for those that had died in the wars. It is something to see as everyone stops what they are doing. The sirens stop and everyone gets doing what ever they were doing and the cars get moving with horns blowing as usual.

As I jogged south I saw what I think were lifeguards paddling these long flat-decked boards with something like kayak paddles but in the stand-up position. There was one with two guys and single person on one. They would paddle out against the breaking waves somehow managing to stay upright and then ride the surf back.

Later from my hotel room I watched the sailboards heading out into the surf. These guys are probably very experienced but all of them got flattened at times by the breaking waves. Once down I could see with my binoculars that they were having a hard time getting going again as the waves broke over their boards as they tried to right them. They sure have more balls than I do!

The winds lulled a bit but now are up over 20kts. Only windsurfers and surfers out today, no catamarans or monohull boats at all.

At 8:15PM Zev and Susie picked me up and we went to dinner at an Italian restaurant in a town some distance to the north. We were joined with another couple where the woman is a retired physics high school teacher and the man is a lawyer. The food was very good and I enjoyed the company.
Today is another holiday this time Independence Day. It is purposely set the day after Memorial Day. Before breakfast I took a jog and about 0930 Zev and Susie picked me up and took me to the university athletic center. It is an impressive facility with three swimming pools, weight rooms, squash courts, you name it. I worked on some of the upper body machines. Then we went for lunch at an Arab restaurant where we had salad which is a number of dishes all of which are very tasty. After that we went to their apartment where we rested and then took in a movie. The movie I watched is called something like Beufort which is a mountain in Lebanon which was occupied for 17years following 1982. It is about life on the mountain living in underground barracks and being bombarded by mortars and missiles. It ends with the Israelis leaving Lebanon and of course the mountain. It is very well done and sends the message about the futility of war.
After breakfast I walked the three miles to the University. I gave my final lecture today on “Aerosol influences on deep convection and tropical cyclones”. The crowd was smaller but Danny Rosenfeld and Alex Khain came down from Jerusalem. The discussion was lively, I think more so than in my previous lectures.

After that I visited with Colin Price who is one of the faculty members who works on lightning and sprites. He actually worked with Walt Lyons a bit and even worked at Yucca Ridge. He remembers that they had some problem with dreams about Indian ghosts at their house and while he was there they brought in an Indian shaman to clean the spirits out. I guess it worked.

After lunch I met with Pinhas Alpert where we talked about his use of cellular telephone data to estimate rainfall and a study he and Zev are doing examining Danny Rosenfeld’s analysis of pollution affects on orographic precipitation. They are finding results in contradiction to Danny’s. Moreover, Pinhas points out that if you have the same precipitation enhancement upwind and downwind of a polluted area, the result will be a decrease in the ratio which has nothing to do with aerosol pollution just the mathematics.

I walked the 3 miles back to the hotel and then took a 2 mile jog along the beach to get some aerobic exercise. The Zev came by and we walked along the boardwalk and had supper of salads. Now when I say salad this is nothing like in the US. There must have been a dozen dishes put out as part of this salad.
After a before breakfast jog along the beach I walked to campus for my last time. After doing some work on the computer I took a tour of the museum on campus which takes you through time following various groups of Jews spread around the world. It took you on the circuitous route which felt a bit like a maze when I tried to find the way out. Then Zev, Pinhas, and Collin took me to the Faculty club for a fancy lunch. It was very nice there and we had a nice chat as well. I took a few more pictures around campus including a feral cat and the campus synagogue. Its architecture is quite interesting. I then walked back to the hotel and began the process of packing. After that I walked along the coast and toured the marina viewing all the sail boats. I returned to prepare support with the left over food I still had in the refrigerator.

I am looking forward to getting home but not the flights getting there.