Results tagged “Churches” from Eurasia 2012

So today marks the longest I've *ever* been away from home (previous record was USA in 2004 at 42 days).

Last night I thought I'd try and do a web check-in for my flight from Billund to Copenhagen. So I googled the airline to find it, and saw some articles about it going bankrupt. Uh-oh. Clicked on the airline's webpage, and there's a single page there in Dutch. Got Google to translate it, and sure enough, they went out of business a couple of weeks ago and all flights are cancelled. You're freaking kidding me right? No!! Fail!! Well at least I found out the night before and not in the morning!! And thanks heavens for http://www.rejseplanen.dk/ which is a brilliant site for working out transport around Denmark.

So this morning I had breakfast and checked out, then hopped on a bus to Vejen. 58 kr - not too bad.

At Vejen got to the platform and some Russians were also trying to get tickets to Copenhagen. They got themselves a family ticket. I just got an adult single. 346 kr. Fricken ouch!! Good thing the machines take credit cards! So the train came but it was a tiny little train of three carriages, one set aside for families and NO FRICKEN LUGGAGE RACKS!! (except overhead ones). So I had nowhere to put my bag. And all the seats are groups of four, not two. So me and my suitcase took up three seats! Denmark trains fail! Fortunately it didn't get full enough to need the extra seats, but it came very close! Was very stressed about it for most of the trip :( I also finished my book - sad making! (both the book itself and the fact that I've finished it).

Arrived in Copenhagen, tried to figure out how to get out of the station in the direction I wanted (getting grumpy at Denmark already). Got out and had to walk the long way round the station to get to my hotel. Checked in (yayy!!), dumped my stuff and headed out again. Found the entrance back into the station that I probably wanted on the way out. But there's no sign, just a small doorway. When in doubt, follow the crowds. I'll try and get a picture of it tomorrow.

Then to try and get a ticket on the metro. The ticket machines are very confusing and the signage is worse than Paris. Much worse. I asked a local what sort of ticket I needed (apparently a 2 zone, even though I was staying in the zone 1, 24kr) and managed to get on the right train.

So off to Osterport and a walk to find the Little Mermaid (I also walked around some of Kastellet which is this little star shaped fortress which is pretty cool).

I knew there'd probably be a few people, but I thought the statue would be a little bit further out of reach and you'd view it from the shore. Turns out you can go right up to it, as dozens of people from multiple tour buses were trying to do. hrmmm.

From there on it was a really long walk zigzagging my way back through Copenhagen.

Past our good friend Mary's house..

Into the Marmonkirken (just missed a dome visit)..

Up past the Rosenborg palace..

Down Kobmagergade and up into the round tower (I was almost not going to go into this one. It was only 25 kr but wasn't really in the mood. Luckily I decided to, it was pretty worth it)..

Down Ostergade to Nyhavn to see the Lego buildings..

Back past Christiansborg..

And Tivoli Gardens (oldest amusement park in the world, but you have to pay even to go into the place)..

And the Rathaus.

So a pretty good effort for about five hours of wandering.

Then I tried to find dinner. Prerequisites: had to have a Carlsberg, and had to be under 100 kr total (I'm rapidly running out of money and needed the rest for the train tomorrow). I couldn't find anything that met these requirements other than getting the beer at 7-Eleven and a burger from The Scottish Restaurant. Sadly (or happily) the beer was cheaper than Maccas!! So weird.

Something wierd happened to my phone when I got here. It's somehow got a time that is *very* wrong - not just a different time zone, but even wrong minutes. So it's nearly three hours out. Very strange.


Distance covered on the GPS: 315.6 km
Steps walked: 22251
Photos on the Canon: 120
Photos on the Sony: 111
Videos: 2
DKK Spent: ?

Had a nice slow start today. Breakfast at 7:15 then back up to the room to sort through all the paperwork I've accumulated since the beginning of the trip. Photographed and packed up everything from Australia to Amsterdam and was out the door a little later than I wanted to be. Checked out but left the bag at the hotel.

First stop was the post office. I packed up and sent home all the aforementioned paperwork, nearly 2kg of it! Partly to not have to lug around an extra two kilos for the rest of the trip, but also to reduce weight for my next flight which will be on something small and I don't want to get charged excess baggage!

Wanded up to the Rathaus which looked pretty spectacular in the morning sun.

Then down to St Nikolai's. This church was bombed during the second world war but the spire survived so they've left it as a monument. You can go up it for 3.70, so I did (I've done something Dave2 hasn't done! Yay me! hehe). Unfortunately they're doing restoration work on it at the moment so you can't see out to the west :( Came back down and went through the photo gallery of some of the photos taken of the destruction during the war.

Next up was St Michaelis, which is the church featured on Germany's two euro coin. This one you can also go up, for 4.00, and it has a much much better panoramic view. Unfortunately there was a big group of kids up there at the time which made it noisy and crowded :(

Kept wandering down to Landingsbrücke to see the piers and docklands.

And then hopped on a train back to the Hauptbahnhof. Grabbed my bag and went back to the station and picked up a roll for lunch while waiting for my train. Was slightly worried because I couldn't see Kolding on the station list, but the train number and time and even platform were correct so hoped for the best. On the train I did finally see it saying Kolding.

So train for next three hours. No GPS track. There must be something about the Germany express trains that causes grief with the GPS :( Had trouble getting mobile coverage too.

Got off at Kolding in Denmark, where I was going to need to buy another train ticket to get to Vejle. Why this country can't use Euros I have no idea. I went out and scanned all around for an ATM but none to be seen. So went and asked at the ticket office where I could find one. They said try one of the banks a hundred metres down the road in town. Like seriously guys? I know Kolding is nowheresville, but would it kill you to have an ATM at the station?? So I get back to the ticket office after getting some money and it's just after 5pm so they've closed. !?!?! Gah!! OK so the smallest money I had was a 100 dkk note, and the machines only take coins (I needed 48 dkk). So went into the 7-eleven to get some chips (lunch tomorrow - that's my excuse) and asked for some change as well. All sorted, ticket purchased, onto the train I go (good thing I had plenty of time and that there was a lift!)

So a short trip to Vejle where I got off to transfer to a bus. Thankfully that was pretty painless, although did confirm with a local that I'd be able to buy a ticket on the bus.

A little while later and I'm at the Legoland Hotel!!! Everything here is *hideously* expensive (I think dinner was going to cost me $60). But the hotel is awesomely cool. Lego everywhere and Lego-themed *everything*, including carpets, bed linen, decorations, soap, shoe shine, sewing kits (!!). Went for a wander after I checked in to have a look through the place.

Then had dinner at one of the restaurants, an all you can eat buffet for previously mentioned astronomical price. Still a bit full .. oops!


Distance covered on the GPS: 90.2 km (plus Hamburg to Kolding which I just couldn't get a signal for :( )
Steps walked: 15102
Photos on the Canon: 214
Photos on the Sony: 78
Videos: 0
EUR Spent: ?
DKK Spent: ? (too many!!)

Alarm went off just after 5am this morning. After a late night this was not welcome. I was barely functioning as I got ready. Headed off a bit before 6am, and hopped on a train to Brussels. I partly dozed but didn't get any sleep. Stoopidly (again) I got an aisle seat. But the train was mostly empty so I took the window seat next to me. Why even bother asking for preferences on seating if you're not going to pay any attention to them??

So got to Brussels Midi and went and dumped my suitcase in a locker (4 euro, but if I'd gone to the place across the way it'd have been 3.60 .. doh!). Then went to figure out how I'd be getting to Amsterdam. Then to go get a Metro ticket. You can get an all day pass for 6 euro which turned out to be really great value (since individual tickets are 2 euro each). Brussels' Metro is a lot smaller that Paris, and generally much better organised and user-friendly. So had no problems figuring out my way around. They have these funky indicator boards that show where all the trains on the line are at (forwards and backwards).

Hopped on a train and headed up to the Atomium! Except for some reason I thought it opened at 9am, when it actually opened at 10am. Doh!

Didn't want to wait an hour there so headed to the Koekelberg basilica. Something like the fifth biggest church in the world or something. This area was completely devoid of any tourists which was a little scary. Walked up to the basilica which was supposed to open at 9am, but there were no signs anywhere. Eventually I found an open door and went in, but it looked like they were about to have a service, so I just took a picture or two and walked out again. I didn't bother going up the dome because it was too hazy.

From there walked down to the "Don't Trip!" sculpture. http://www.neatorama.com/2011/11/30/dont-trip/ The walk down had even less people around, and lots of guys just standing around by themselves. So that was a lot scary. But made it safely through.

Then on another train back up to the Atomium. This thing was built for the 1958 World Expo, and it was so popular they kept it. The view from the top would have been great on a clear day, but as it was it was a bit of a waste. But walking and escalating up and down through the spheres for the exhibitions was pretty cool.

Back into town again and straight out to Jubelpark to see the arch. You can actually go up the arch (and it's free!) via the military museum next to it (you just need to cloak your bags). On the way back out, I went and had a look at the hall of planes which was pretty cool.

Finally into the old town. Got off at Centraal and walked down. Saw a sign for Manneken Pis (translated: little man peeing) and then it was just a matter of following the crowds.

All up and down the alleys here are chocolate shops and waffle shops, as well as the souvenir shops. I got a waffle with brown sugar for 1.80. I have to say I preferred the paris waffle better - this one was quite a bit *heavier*. Also bought some Belgian chocolates .. oops :)

Continued on to the Market Square which was surrounded by beautiful buildings.

And down to Delirium Cafe, which I'd read online had a decent range of Belgian beers. Had an Affligem and a Trapistes Rochefort. Yum.

So headed back to the Midi station feeling slightly merry, and off I went again to Amsterdam.

Three hour train trip, I don't think I slept either :/

Got to Amsterdam and walked down to the hotel. After all the TripAdvisor reviews I'd read I was terrified it was going to be awful. But I ended up getting a room with a shower (I'd paid for a shared one). Yes it's super tiny, but seems relatively clean. And got some help with the suitcase on the super steep steps. Only main problem so far - the window doesn't actually lock :/

Headed out again to find some dinner. There's a laundromat directly opposite the hotel which is super awesome. And a fries and mayo place next door. But I wanted something with salad for dinner, so went for a wander. Walked down a lane that was full of south american grill cafes. Found something there (had chicken schnitzel though not steak).

And then kept wandering. There's such a lot of life going on here. Be better if the sweetie was here ....

And now it's 11pm. How does that work? Will attempt to sleep in... maybe... I was orignally planning to go see Anne Frank's house which opens at 9. Will see how I go. As for the rest of the day, I need some suggestions. What are *must dos* ?


Distance covered on the GPS: 581.1 km
Steps walked: 26891
Photos on the Canon: 207
Photos on the Sony: 67
Videos: 0
EUR Spent: ?

Well I can say I've done Paris. And have no burning desire ever to return. It's big and noisy and overcrowded and full of rude tourists.

And the metro system is painful. From line changes requiring walks of hundreds of metres to lack of signage.. give me London any day. Today I entered a station only to find that that was the entry for one platform only. To go to the other platform would have meant leaving the station and using another ticket. In the end I just got on a train and swapped directions at the next station down. And several times I've come to an intersection in the maze of tunnels only to find no Sortie (exit) sign anywhere. At one point the only way I could figure out how to get out of the station was way off in the distance there was the little green man for your standard fire exit sign. And just for fun the little carnet of tickets you buy don't get "eaten" by the machines when you're done. So you end up with these things that you can't tell if you've used or not. Some of the machines print a date/time on the ticket, but others just a bit of purple.

But mostly it's the crowds and people that turned me off. Rude people that push in, push past or just stop in the middle of narrow footpaths. Queues for everything. Blah. Having said that I did meet some nice people too, like the group from Sao Paulo Brazil, or the lovely couple from Brisbane (the only other Australians I heard in the whole city were at D'Orsay today).

So where was I?
hrmmm

Yeah so had an easy day today. Only 24000 steps, down 14000 from yesterday's 38000 ..

Was hoping to have a bit of a sleepin, but got an SMS at 7am which woke me up.

Up, blogged yesterday, got ready, breakfast at the Scottish Restaurant.

First item on the agenda was St Chappelle. Probably about a fifteen minute wait to get through the security check, then fast track into the church. I was in a weird mood, a bit over Paris, so yes it was very pretty and all, but didn't fully take it all in. Didn't spend much time there, and they were restoring some of it anyway so a quarter of it was covered off.

It was blue skies and sunshine at this point, so I wandered around the back of Notre Dame to get it in the morning light, then trained it over to the Eiffel Tower. Sat in the park and had some chocolate and pondered the tower for a while.

Then trained it back to Concorde.

First up, the Orangerie. Eight big Monets in two rooms upstairs, and a bunch of stuff downstairs.

Then over to the Musée d'Orsay. I wandered through the majority of the museum and saw about three paintings I recognised. Call me uncultured but I'm just not an art person.

So both museums do visual bag searches, but then force you to cloak backpacks (so why even bother searching them??). Both have next to no descriptions in English. Both are relatively quick to enter with the museum pass. Both I was pretty meh about.

So on another train up to Pigalle then a short walk (I could have switched trains and gone to Blanche but switching trains is always a pain) past all the sex shops to the Moulin Rouge. On the way I walked down the middle of the street which is a tree-lined walk way. Would have been nice except for all the creepy guys just sitting there watching, waiting. Yuck.

Got a couple of photos, then walked back the way I came, and continued on to Sacre Coeur. I was tired and initially didn't think I'd bother going up. But decided to anyway. One of the most crowded places so far. Decided to go into the basilica. Not too long to get in (it's free entry). Like Notre Dame you kinda just go in and around in a loop then come out. But no photos allowed in this one. Afterwards decided to go climb the dome (6 euro). More steps, I must be mad. But the view was pretty spectacular (aside from it being hazy and grey) and it was remarkably uncrowded. So very glad I did it.

Came back down, then walked back to the hotel.

Read some news feeds while it rained (the rain sounded lovely outside the window). When it let up I went for a wander to find some dinner. Wanted french fries since I hadn't actually had any since I got here. So got a steak and fries. Well the steak was nice, but the fries were these soggy things that I wouldn't have called fries. Oh well, frites avec mayo await me in Brussels and Amsterdam.

Back to do photos, blog, and figure out what I'm doing tomorrow. The dodgy hotel I got in Amsterdam charges 4 euro/hour for internet, but I think that is by the minute, so might get away with just one hour for the whole three nights.


Distance covered on the GPS: 23.2 km
Steps walked: 24364
Photos on the Canon: 135
Photos on the Sony: 83
Videos: ?
EUR Spent: ?

Wasn't the best sleep ever - bed was a bit too soft and saggy in the middle.

Got ready early and headed out.

Stopped first at The Scottish Restaurant for a bacon and egg McMuffin (they don't do hash browns though).

Then into Gare du Nord to pick up a museum pass.

Then to the Eiffel Tower. I decided to go early, arriving there about a quarter to nine (ticket office opens at 9:30). Best. Idea. Ever. The line for the lifts stretched across the square, but the line for the stairs was only about 20-30 metres long. So when they opened the office I had my ticket within about ten minutes.

So through another bag check and xray (there's a bag check before the ticket office) and up the stairs. All six hundred odd of them to the second level. Probably quicker than the lift too, which doesn't really take all that many people.

Then another short queue to get the lift to the top. Getting there early certainly paid off, as you could actually move around fairly freely at the top. So that's another thing ticked off my bucket list :) It was getting pretty crowded by the time I left, and I went to the toilet at the top of the tower to add to my collection of cool places I've been to the toilet :)

Got the lift back down to the second level but didn't really stay there, as got my photos as the top. So got a lift to the first level (if you walk up the stairs you're allowed to get the lift down). Walked around there and looked down the hole in the middle at the queues snaking their way around the square. I wondered if those people would be there all day. (I got off the tower around 11:30).

Next up tried to have waffles at a Dave2 recommended place but looking at my photos and the location, I don't think it's there anymore. The satellite picture shows a building that's been replaced by something else. But I didn't realise this at the time and went down and found some at another place that I actually thought was it. It was a very yummy waffle though.

Walked all the way down Champ de Mars, and then got on a train over to the Pantheon. Walked in the wrong direction from the station for a block or two because various other attractions had signposts but not the Pantheon, and I didn't want to get my map out and look like a tourist. But found it eventually.

Another place that needs better queue control. The queue was out the door, but museum pass holders can walk straight in. But you don't know that til you're there because of the queue being out the door and all. This city is hopeless at queue control.

But it was pretty cool inside with a huge pendulum clock and the crypt had the likes of Victor Hugo and the Curies and Louie Braille in it.

Had a bit of a walk through the Luxembourg Gardens.

Walked to St Sulpice next to see the "Rose Line" as seen in the Da Vinci Code. There's a pretty funny note on the wall next to it -

Contrary to fanciful allegations in a recent best-selling novel, this is not a vestige of a pagan temple. No such temple ever existed in this place. It was never called a "Rose Line". It does not coincide with the meridian traced through the middle of the Paris Observatory which serves as a reference for maps where longitudes are measured in degrees East or West of Paris. No mystical notion can be derived from this instrument of astronomy except to acknowledge that God the Creator is the master of time.

There was a bit more to it too.

Continued on.

Was going to go into St Chappelle, but the queue was too long and no quick entry for museum pass. So went next door to the Conciergerie. I think I may have accidently cut in, it was all a little confusing as a bunch of people with passes were also being shown in through an earlier door. I did skip the bag check.. oops. Oh well.

Next up, Notre Dame. It's free entry, but the queue was all the way across the square again (going in a different direction today). It moved fairly quickly though, although that didn't stop a few people pushing in. Bastards.

So Notre Dame was big and all, but you kind of just walk through it with the masses, and there's nothing particularly spectacular about it. There was a choir singing though which was lovely.

Continued on trying to find somewhere to have dinner. I wanted something reasonably priced with English subtitles. Not too much to ask right? hrmm. Eventually found a place near the Louvre which had two cassoulets. Decided to have one of them. It was basically just a cheesy potato bake, but was pretty yummy.

And so the Louvre. It was about 6:45 by this point (it opens late on Fridays). There was still a fairly long queue, but as it turns out, that queue is for people without tickets. If you have a ticket or museum pass you can jump the queue and go straight to the security check. Win! So walked straight in :)

Got a guide and headed for Venus de Milo and the Mona Lisa. I was actually surprised how uncrowded it was. I was expecting to have to queue for like an hour to see the Mona Lisa, but while the room was fairly full of people, they were only about four deep in front of the painting itself. So got a photo and ducked out again.

Walked all over the museum finding different things. This place is *enormous*. I tried also to find the boat that had been taken from the temple in Edfu that our guide said was there but couldn't find it. It was kind of weird seeing all the Egyptian stuff in a museum, and I'm like, meh, I've seen the original locations .. heh.

I stayed til the museum closed at 9pm then waited for like half an hour outside waiting for the sun to set and it to get dark enough for them to turn the lights on. But they still hadn't by 9:35 so abandoned that idea and headed for the Eiffel Tower again.

It was 10pm by the time I arrived and the tower was already sparkling. So raced into a good position and saw the last couple of minutes. It was pretty awesome :)

And then trained it back to the hotel.

I found an electrical adapter today (yayyy) so got that working first up (it took a bit of poking). Then I had to book a hotel in Amsterdam, because I forgot to do it in London :( Amsterdam is crazy expensive. Eventually found one that was reasonably priced and not too dodgy, but it has a shared bathroom, and I don't even know about internet. Oh well.

So bed after midnight.


Distance covered on the GPS: 39.9 km
Steps walked: 38450
Photos on the Canon: 370
Photos on the Sony: 115
Videos: ?
EUR Spent: 83.10

I'm still after someone to come and give me a foot massage.. I've done just over 100000 steps in the past four days!

First stop this morning was a short walk to Garden Lodge - Freddie Mercury's old home (and current home of Mary Austin) in Kensington. There's a bunch of written notes to Freddie stuck to the walls (behind some plexiglass heh).

Then the tube into town to go to St Paul's cathedral. I arrived at the opening time of 8:30 and ended up spending three hours there! The audio tour there was actually an audio/video things on an iPod! Climbed all the way to the top of the domes for some great views of London.

Then walked across the Millennium Bridge to go to the Globe Theatre. Got to see some Argentinians rehearsing for their show tonight - they were doing Henry IV Part 2 as part of the Globe to Globe festival (which sadly doesn't appear to have Hamlet in the original Klingon).

Back across the bridge and tubed over to Leicester Square to meet Campbell for lunch. We had some nice dumplings, and was good to catch up with him again.

Then we walked up the road a bit so I could get some more USB and SD memory at a pretty decent price too. Should do me until I get to Japan, then can use Stu's computer for the rest of the trip as the non-platter backup.

And finally to the British Museum. I was hoping to have most of the afternoon there, but with the late lunch and shopping, I ended up only having an hour and a half there :( Hoping to get some more time there tomorrow afternoon, but that's all a bit up in the air at the moment.

Stopped in at M&S on the way back to the hotel for some reasonably decent salads for dinner.


Distance covered on the GPS: 27.8 km
Steps walked: 25438
Photos on the Canon: 188
Photos on the Sony: 65+?
Videos: 0
GBP Spent: 35.36

So today started beautiful and sunny. I thought I might do a Thames River cruise first up, but it had already clouded over by the time I was going out, and it was raining by 9am :(

So my first stop was Aldgate so I could get a photo of Whitechapel Road for the Monopoly collection.

From there I was going to tube it over to Angel, but after looking for a "you are here" on a bus stop I realised there was a direct bus. I'd never been on a London red double decker bus before, so decided to do that. It took ages because it went through city peak hour traffic, but was still fun.

It was freezing cold and raining by this point. Blah.

Actually left Angel and went and found 12 Grimmauld Place (Claremont Square). Highlight of the morning heh.

Then back to Angel to get a photo of the station, and signs that said Angel Islington.

Considered walking to Kings Cross to get more photos of the platforms, but decided against it and went to Marylebone station instead. So my collection of Monopoly streets is complete. Except for the electric and water utilities.

Walked back to Baker Street to take photos of the Sherlock Holmes museum.

Then into Regents Park. The maps were a bit crap and didn't show you that the garden in the middle is one big dead end. So more walking there than necessary.

And onto the zoo. The whole experience was pretty meh. Certainly not helped by it raining the entire time I was there. So most of the animals were hiding from the rain. And they were doing all sorts of constructions all over the place so there were dead ends everywhere which meant lots of unnecessary walking :( So got my Harry Potter pics of the reptile house (although they're doing rennovations and I think they've blocked off the exact tank that was used. I'd have to see the movie again to check. Went into the butterfly room at one point but had to leave again pretty quickly because it was so hot and humid that my glasses and camera fogged up instantly :( Dread to think of how much condensation got in and stayed in. Pity too because it looked like there were heaps of cool butterflies. The penguins were very cool, but didn't stay for feeding time as really needed to get away. On the way to the part of the zoo on the other side of the road I noticed there was a canal boat ride to Camden. I tried to go for it later but it had either gone early or didn't come at all. So ended up having to walk.

Next stop - Westminster Abbey. I was worried about long queues, but only had to wait a couple of minutes. There's an audio guide (read by Jeremy Irons - yum!) which is reasonably decent, but certainly doesn't cover everything. Missed out on seeing the chapter house because they were setting up for a jubilee exhibition. You can take photos in the cloister area, but not in the abbey itself :( but did sneak one through the front door as I was leaving.

Then next door to the Jewel Tower. This was part of the old old Westminster Palace built around 1365 to house Edward III’s treasures and one of only two buildings from the medieval Palace of Westminster to survive the fire of 1834. The first floor has an exhibition about the history of the British Parliament, and the top floor has a bit more history on the building itself. I'd never heard of this building, and only went there because it was "free" with the London Pass and right next to the abbey. Apparently a lot of Londoners don't know about it either.

So now it's 5pm and the sun is starting to poke through the clouds :/ I thought I didn't want to go back to the hotel just yet if the sun was coming out. So went and found somewhere to get some food to wait a little longer.

Then went down to the river to see about a river cruise. Decided I'd do it, but just missed one. So wandered up to Cleopatra's Needle.

Then back for the last ferry of the day to Tower Bridge. Quite a nice little ride even if the sun wasn't really out. But it did shine on Tower Bridge right at the end which was pretty special.

And hotel, photos, blog, bed!


Distance covered on the GPS: 39 km
Steps walked: 29077
Photos on the Canon: 261
Photos on the Sony: 62
Videos: 3
GBP Spent: 15.40

Urrrgh. I hate drama. Hate stress. Blah.

Breakfast at this hotel was ok - the nicest thing was meats at breakfast!! Haven't had meat at breakfast this whole trip (except for some tuna on the first day).

Loaded up in the coach and got driven through the most affluent part of Amman, with the tour guide doing a whole PR spiel for the country. It certainly was nicer that the first impression we got of the country.

Our first stop was the "Memorial of Moses" on Mount Nebo - possibly the place that Moses came up to see into the Promised Land before he died. There were a couple of nice mosaics there and you could just barely see Jerusalem through the haze.

Came down from there and stopped at a mosaic-making workshop where they make some stunning mosaics from cut stone. They can take months to complete, depending on the size of stones and intricacy.

Then into Madaba. Traffic was a little crazy as traffic lights were out, and did I mention they don't really have road rules here?

We parked and walked up to see St George's Church and the amazing mosaic they have of the middle east something like 1500 years ago. But the buttheads decided to build a church on top of it, and stuck a supporting pillar *right in the middle of the mosaic* !?!?!? Idiots.

And then back to the bus back through the market street.

For some reason this town had a nice feel to it. Maybe because the shops looked more familiar (a lot of English and selling more western products), maybe because the locals were friendly and waving, maybe because the vendors weren't aggressive. Who knows.

Headed a way out of town to a new restaurant for lunch and it was really nice (with nice clean free toilets - a major bonus in this country!). They even had this camel milk custard dessert!

Next up - another one of Herod's palaces at Mukawer, traditionally the location that they beheaded John the Baptist. A good little climb up and a great view.

This country is amazingly water poor, but we did see a couple of interesting things. One thing was temporary water tanks with tubing to irrigate roadside trees they're trying to grow. At another point we saw a burst water pipe on the side of a mountain gushing water in a huge geyser half way down the side of the mountain.

Then to the "Grand Canyon of Jordan" - Wadi Mujib.

Then headed south. The landscape changed dramatically from farmland to semi-arid.

Had a pitsop along the way, but had to pay for the toilets here.

Continued south (then west) to Petra (Wadi Musa), arriving just on sunset (behind the clouds anyway).

Navigating this hotel is a drama. You have to take two separate lifts, but there's only two at each site, and they only hold six people at a very tight squeeze. Found some stairs and decided they were much easier and faster.

Dinner was a total drama. First the parents arguing about which way up or down the table to move to not leave odd seats, so abanonded them. But then getting food was a *massive* drama because of a bunch of rude Europeans (Italian I think but could have been French - both are in the building) pushing in and making everything take longer. Hate.

Internet is $5 for the whole stay, but another couple gave me a couple of dollars to use it briefly. But it's so slow I may not be able to get my blog entries online anyway. Plus the only place you can use it is in the lobby, and that's where all the Europeans come to smoke :( *sigh*

Now it's stoopidly late because we got here late and have to get up stoopidly early. Which means my chances of getting any decent sleep tonight are about zero..


Distance covered on the GPS: 351.5
Steps walked: 16414, but I'm taking off 5000 due to bumpy roads screwing up the count
Photos on the Canon: 335
Photos on the Sony: 49
Videos: 11
USD Spent: 5-2
JD Spent: 0.5+2

Only five more nights. I have to keep telling myself that. Only five more nights. Then I get my own room. Saving $1400, I guess I can put up with it.

Moving on.

So had a slight disaster last night - my lovely 64gb USB stick that Stu got me for Christmas died. It had one of the backups of all my photos. It was also the one I was going to send home with the parents later. Not happy. It detects it briefly when you plug it in, but then it drops out of windows again, and the led flashes non-stop on it for as long as you leave it plugged in :(

We had an early start today - on the bus at 7:30. This is so we could queue to go through security to get onto the temple mount. Queued for about three quarters of an hour. They did a visual inspection of bags (probably looking for Bibles which are forbidden), and then an xray. At one point there was a sign, obviously posted by Jews, saying that entry to the temple mount is forbidden according to Torah law. It's kind of weird that us Aussies can get in whereas most Jews can't I don't think (or possibly choose not to in case they step on where the holy of holies was). In fact the whole city is this weird and very delicate balance of Jews and Muslims.

Sign warning people to stay off the Temple Mount
Sign warning people to stay off the Temple Mount

Security entrance to the Temple Mount
Security entrance to the Temple Mount

So got go up the ramp next to the wailing wall (rubbing it in much?) and onto the temple mount. Of course the most spectacular thing there is the gold-leaf Dome of the Rock. Only muslims are allowed inside though.

The Wailing Wall
The Wailing Wall

Temple Mount<br>Photo by Dad
Temple Mount
Photo by Dad

Dome of the Rock<br>Photo by Dad
Dome of the Rock
Photo by Dad

Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock
Dome of the Rock

Dome of the Rock<br>Photo by Mum
Dome of the Rock
Photo by Mum

Walked past the Golden Gate and then out of the temple mount.

Golden Gate from the inside
Golden Gate from the inside

Just inside the walls of the Temple Mount<br>Photo by Dad
Just inside the walls of the Temple Mount
Photo by Dad

Just outside the walls of the Temple Mount
Just outside the walls of the Temple Mount

Tour group just outside the Temple Mount
Tour group just outside the Temple Mount

Continued walking to the pool of Bethesda and had a look in St Anne's Basilica.

Pool of Bethesda
Pool of Bethesda

Pool of Bethesda
Pool of Bethesda

Poppies
Poppies

Arch
Arch

St Anne's Basilica<br>Photo by Dad
St Anne's Basilica
Photo by Dad

Then into another church - Sisters of Notre Dame of Zion I think - on the site of the Antonia Fortress to look at old cisterns and also an excavated street of Roman vintage.

Drain pipe
Drain pipe

Streets of Jerusalem<br>Photo by Dad
Streets of Jerusalem
Photo by Dad

Struthion Pool
Struthion Pool

Antonia Fortress<br>Photo by Mum
Antonia Fortress
Photo by Mum

Mosaic in Sisters of Notre Dame of Zion
Mosaic in Sisters of Notre Dame of Zion

And then it was to follow the path of some of the Stations of the Cross. This was a pretty cool walk through narrow alleys of shops.

Via Dolorosa
Via Dolorosa

IV Station of the Cross
IV Station of the Cross

III Station of the Cross
III Station of the Cross

V Station of the Cross
V Station of the Cross

Did you mean Palestine?
Did you mean Palestine?

Via Dolorosa
Via Dolorosa

VII Station of the Cross
VII Station of the Cross

At the end was The Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Christian quarter that houses seven denominations (mostly various orthodoxes) in the one building. This church is on one of the proposed locations of Golgotha, and houses a stone slab said to have been used for the treatment of Jesus' body after the crucifixion. hrmmm.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre<br>Photo by Dad
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Photo by Dad

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Church of the Holy Sepulchre<br>Photo by Dad
Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Photo by Dad

Tombs in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Tombs in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Supposedly where Jesus body was treated after his crucifixion
Supposedly where Jesus body was treated after his crucifixion

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Continued walking to an Armenian restaurant for lunch. This was sooo much better than yesterday - no crowds, food was brought out to us, and a very relaxed setting.

Jaffa Gate
Jaffa Gate

Finally back to the bus to battle crazy heavy holiday traffic out to the holocaust museum. Very sad place. They only gave us an hour and a half there, but could easily have spent a *lot* more time there. In fact, our next stop had to be cancelled because we were so late because of the traffic. So we just headed back to the hotel. So not sure why we had to be so rushed. They could have given us more time there :(

Holocaust History Museum
Holocaust History Museum

Holocaust History Museum
Holocaust History Museum

Holocaust History Museum
Holocaust History Museum

Holocaust History Museum
Holocaust History Museum

When we got back to the hotel we headed straight out again in search of somewhere that sold USB memory sticks. Eventually found a place and bought two 16gb sticks for 149 and 159 shekels.

Old city from near our hotel
Old city from near our hotel

Looking across to Palestinian territory from near our hotel
Looking across to Palestinian territory from near our hotel

Then had to do battle with parents over "laundry" space. Only five more nights, only five more nights.

Can hear fireworks going off. Can't see anything from here though..


Distance covered on the GPS: 28.4 km
Steps walked: 14905
Photos on the Canon: 232
Photos on the Sony: 36
Videos: 3

Urrghh. Patience with the parents is wearing pretty thin. Slept mostly ok. Woke up a couple of times in the night but otherwise slept from 10pm to 6am.

This morning the mother did more washing and stubbornly refused to close the bathroom window. *sigh*.

Our first stop was "The City of David" which is a region to the south of Jerusalem which was the old city of David (obviously!). There's a lot of archaeological stuff happening there at the moment.

Southern wall of the Temple Mount<br>Photo by Dad
Southern wall of the Temple Mount
Photo by Dad

The City of David entrance<br>Photo by Dad
The City of David entrance
Photo by Dad

Looking across the Kidron Valley from The City of David
Looking across the Kidron Valley from The City of David

Houses on the other side of the Kidron Valley built atop ancient tombs
Houses on the other side of the Kidron Valley built atop ancient tombs

Al-Aqsa Mosque from The City of David
Al-Aqsa Mosque from The City of David

Old City from The City of David
Old City from The City of David

We watched a little 3D film on some of the history of Jerusalem and the water tunnel that Hezekiah built. The screens weren't lined up properly though so it was a little hard to watch. I found it easier to just cover one eye.

Tour group in the 3D film theatre
Tour group in the 3D film theatre

Then we headed down down down past the Warren Shaft and down to Hezekiah's Tunnel. This was super cool! The water was thigh height at the beginning, but for most of the tunnel it flowed at mid calf height. There were some Swiss people in front of us and they were singing most of the way through and every so often they sang a hymn we knew so they were singing in German and we were singing in English, it was great fun :)

Heading down into Hezekiah's Tunnel
Heading down into Hezekiah's Tunnel

Hezekiah's Tunnel<br>Photo by Dad
Hezekiah's Tunnel
Photo by Dad

Hezekiah's Tunnel<br>Photo by Mum
Hezekiah's Tunnel
Photo by Mum

The tunnel opened out into the pool of Siloam.

Exit of Hezekiah's Tunnel
Exit of Hezekiah's Tunnel

Pool of Siloam
Pool of Siloam

Then we headed back up the hill. Starting with some recently excavated steps that turned into a tunnel that was at first lit then not lit at all and we had to pull out our torches again. I'm not sure how open it was to the public, but it seemed like we were intruding on an archaelogical dig and that's what we actually found at the end.

Tunnel leading back up the hill
Tunnel leading back up the hill

Archaelogical site just under the south wall of the Old City
Archaelogical site just under the south wall of the Old City

Archaelogical site<br>Photo by Dad
Archaelogical site
Photo by Dad

Archaelogical site<br>Photo by Mum
Archaelogical site
Photo by Mum

Next we headed up to the Zion Gate and into the Jewish Quarter of the old city. This area started off with just a massive parking lot and then lots of modern buildings.

Zion Gate, complete with bullet holes from various conflicts
Zion Gate, complete with bullet holes from various conflicts

Inside of the Zion Gate
Inside of the Zion Gate

After wandering through a bit we came to the "Burnt House" which is a house, probably of a temple priest, that they'd excavated which showed evidence of destruction by fire, possibly by the Romans. There was a little dramatisation film they'd made showing a possible scenario.

Burnt House Museum
Burnt House Museum

Burnt House Museum<br>Photo by Dad
Burnt House Museum
Photo by Dad

Cardo Maximus - ancient Roman street
Cardo Maximus - ancient Roman street

Dormition Abbey
Dormition Abbey

Dormition Abbey<br>Photo by Dad
Dormition Abbey
Photo by Dad

Walked some more to the room that "traditionally" was the room of the Last Supper. Yah, sure.

Room where the last supper was held.  Uh huh.
Room where the last supper was held. Uh huh.

Courtyard outside
Courtyard outside

King David's Tomb
King David's Tomb

Then down to the "rooster" church (because of the rooster crowing when Peter denied knowing Jesus) which supposedly was Caiphus' house, which did in fact have a real prison and/or dungeon under the house which could theoretically have held Jesus the night he was arrested.

Rooster church sign
Rooster church sign

Rooster church (St. Peter in Gallicantu)
Rooster church (St. Peter in Gallicantu)

St. Peter in Gallicantu<br>Photo by Dad
St. Peter in Gallicantu
Photo by Dad

St. Peter in Gallicantu<br>Photo by Dad
St. Peter in Gallicantu
Photo by Dad

Looking down into the dungeon in the house
Looking down into the dungeon in the house

Dungeon in the house
Dungeon in the house

Looking across to Palestinian territory
Looking across to Palestinian territory

Lunch was at the Ramat Rachel Hotel, but it was super crowded and pretty unorganised. It was so bad that there were no free tables to sit at and the only tables were piled high with used plates and trays. It was a complete shambles. At one point one of the waiting staff that was cleaning up dropped some wine glasses which left shattered glass all over the floor. But instead of cleaning it up he just walked away and left it. When we all left at least twenty minutes later it was all still there. The only bonus was that previous tables had left bottles of wine behind, that obviously had to be drunk, and even an unopened bottle that the waiting staff said we could have! Go figure!

Next we went to a lookout at the south end of Jerusalem to see the view of the city from the south.

Jerusalem
Jerusalem

Jerusalem
Jerusalem

Mount of Olives
Mount of Olives

Then it was back to the hotel for an early finish.

Little did we know but the original building of this hotel used to be an eye hospital, and just before the War of Independence they'd strung up a cable car across to the old city for transporting wounded. This cable car operated for a good six months without detection! The cable and operating mechanism are still there. Very cool!

Cable car used during the War of Independence
Cable car used during the War of Independence

View out the window where the cable car ran
View out the window where the cable car ran

Pulley system for the cable car
Pulley system for the cable car

After this I found a table in the lobby with a view and an electrical socket to do photo stuff, but didn't get too much done before some other people came down and bought me beer for copying their photos.. oops! So was a very pleasant evening with some beer, and the leftover bottle of wine from lunch and then a couple of drinks after dinner with everyone in the lobby :)

Coca Cola in Hebrew
Coca Cola in Hebrew

Me in a very big chair
Me in a very big chair

Distance covered on the GPS: 20.5 km
Steps walked: 11253+?? (left the pedometer in my bag so not sure of a final count, calling it 15000)
Photos on the Canon: 257
Photos on the Sony: 19
Videos: 2

Urrrghhh.
Today started off pretty crap. Woke up at 3:45 and really didn't get back to sleep. Have one of those stoopied mattresses that moulds to your body shape. Which is fine until you roll over and it's all lumpy in odd places :(

Breakfast was a bit average. Although that's probably coloured by my mood with this place. Someone having their phone stolen within a minute or two of her leaving it on one of the service benches also made me lose confidence in the security of the place. I was paranoid about leaving the window wide open all day after that, but of course then mum had a whinge because the washing hadn't dried by this afternoon (majority of stuff not even needed until tomorrow anyway). *sigh*

So headed out at the usual time (8:30).

First stop was the Israel Museum. Had a look at the 1:50 scale model of ancient Jerusalem which was pretty cool. Also went into the Shrine of the Book which was a little museum about the Dead Sea Scrolls, which even had a fragment from Isaiah on display which was also pretty cool.

Entrance to The Israel Museum
Entrance to The Israel Museum

Model of Jerusalem
Model of Jerusalem

Model of the temple
Model of the temple

Model of Jerusalem
Model of Jerusalem

Model of the temple
Model of the temple

Model of lower Jerusalem
Model of lower Jerusalem

The Shrine of the Book, containing the Dead Sea Scrolls<br>Photo by Dad
The Shrine of the Book, containing the Dead Sea Scrolls
Photo by Dad

Black basalt wall next to the Shrine of the Book<br>Photo by Mum
Black basalt wall next to the Shrine of the Book
Photo by Mum

Next we headed back into Palestinian territory to Bethlehem. Security on this place was a bit more serious including massive concrete walls all the way around. Our regular guide didn't come with us as he's a Jew, and didn't want to make anything tense. Got a different guide instead for the day.

Berlin wall style wall separating Palestinian territories
Berlin wall style wall separating Palestinian territories

Our first stop was a shop, The Three Arches, where they strongly encouraged us to support the local Christian business. I did end up buying something (against my better judgement - I hate buying things at "tour recommended" stores because they mark everything up enormously; I saw the same thing I bought at a street store a little while later - I was tempted to ask how much but knew I'd get hounded mercilessly by the vendor unless I bought it).

Beautiful wood carvings for sale in the Three Arches in Bethlehem
Beautiful wood carvings for sale in the Three Arches in Bethlehem

Some of the town of Bethlehem
Some of the town of Bethlehem

Next up was the Church of the Nativity, or the Church of the Sepulchre or something. This church's claim to fame is that it is built on the traditional birthplace of Jesus.

Yah.

So they had the great idea that we should queue for nearly an hour and a half to see a silver star marking the birthplace and a marble manger. Yeah we were all pretty cynical about it by the end of it.

Church of the Nativity
Church of the Nativity

Entrance to the Church of the Nativity
Entrance to the Church of the Nativity

Church of the Nativity
Church of the Nativity

Mosaics in the Church of the Nativity
Mosaics in the Church of the Nativity

Church of the Nativity
Church of the Nativity

I loved these Christmas decorations on the chandeliers
I loved these Christmas decorations on the chandeliers

Church of the Nativity
Church of the Nativity

Crowding into a tiny entrance
Crowding into a tiny entrance

Our tour group waiting to get in
Our tour group waiting to get in

All to see this.  Supposedly the location of the birth of Jesus<br>Photo by Dad
All to see this. Supposedly the location of the birth of Jesus
Photo by Dad

And Jesus really had a marble manger, didn't you know?<br>Photo by Dad
And Jesus really had a marble manger, didn't you know?
Photo by Dad

Church of St. Catherine
Church of St. Catherine

Church of St. Catherine<br>Photo by Dad
Church of St. Catherine
Photo by Dad

Then to lunch. They served us this time, with bread and dips to start, and kebabs and fries following. Too much food as usual :/

Stars & Bucks Cafe
Stars & Bucks Cafe

The funny thing about Bethlehem is that it's Christmas every day there. It'd be cool to go there at night to see all the Christmas lights up in the streets.

Next stop was "The Shepherd's Field" - more churches, more vendors trying to sell stuff. But what was nice about this place is that we went and found somewhere to sit down and had a little Church service ourselves. It was good to just stop and get away from all the crazy crowds and just reflect. Plus it was overlooking another hill still used by shepherds, and who's to say it wasn't on that hill that angels appeared to the shepherds. Building churches and saying "this is the spot" seems a tad ridiculous to me.

Hillside in Bethlehem<br>Photo by Mum
Hillside in Bethlehem
Photo by Mum

Our final stop of the day was Herodium, which is a big hill where Herod the great had built a fortress, and they've only just recently discovered his tomb. There were no other tourists here so quite enjoyed the little time we had there.

Herodium
Herodium

Herodium
Herodium

Herodium
Herodium

Herodium
Herodium

Herodium
Herodium

Herodium
Herodium

Tunnels in Herodium
Tunnels in Herodium

Cistern in Herodium
Cistern in Herodium

Tunnels in Herodium
Tunnels in Herodium

Herodium
Herodium

Rocks used to roll down the hills on enemies
Rocks used to roll down the hills on enemies

Then back to the hotel. Did all my photo stuff then got completely bored waiting to go down to dinner. Stoopid lack of internet :( Didn't eat much at dinner - was still full from lunch.

Our hotel
Our hotel

View towards the cemetery from near our hotel
View towards the cemetery from near our hotel

Flowers on a roundabout near our hotel
Flowers on a roundabout near our hotel

Oh, this hotel failed again. When we checked in there were only two towels so we had to ask for another one. Tonight there was only one towel. At that rate there won't be any tomorrow.

There was a wedding downstairs tonight. It was super loud before but is a bit quieter now. Be quieter if I was allowed to close the window.. hrmmm..


Distance covered on the GPS: 50.5 km
Steps walked: 10320
Photos on the Canon: 334
Photos on the Sony: 40
Videos: 11
USD spent: 32

Urrrgghhhh. Today was not a good day. We did see some pretty cool stuff, but lots of stresses too :(

To start with I slept like crap. It was just too hot in the room (and Israel, like Europe, doesn't believe in layers (sheets). It's all or nothing with a blanket). There might have been air conditioning but I didn't feel like fussing about with it in the middle of the night. Woke up at 5:30 to go the toilet and the parents took this as their cue to turn the lights on >:( I think I might have gotten a little bit more sleep.

Then I got rejected at breakfast. Most of the tables only sat four people so I couldn't easily join people. In the end I went and sat by myself on a bigger table, and felt like a nigel, and only got joined near the end.

Went for a little walk after breakfast to photograph the beach and the hotel.

Daniel Hotel, Dead Sea
Daniel Hotel, Dead Sea

View from someone else's room (we got crappy rooms pretty much the entire trip)
View from someone else's room (we got crappy rooms pretty much the entire trip)

Checked out, then headed north back up the shores of the Dead Sea, this time with the light on the canyons.

Our first stop was Masada, which is this super cool fortress built by Herod atop a rocky mountain, and accessed by cable car. It finally fell to the Romans after a lengthy seige. It was another case of hurry up and wait and not enough time to really explore the place. So that was a bit frustrating, but I think we saw the majority of it.

Masada<br>Photo by Dad
Masada
Photo by Dad

Cistern in Masada
Cistern in Masada

Water collection trenches
Water collection trenches

Top of the cable car at Masada
Top of the cable car at Masada

Top of Masada
Top of Masada

Room in Masada.  The black line was the height of the wall when they found it.  They then rebuilt the walls on top<br>Photo by Dad
Room in Masada. The black line was the height of the wall when they found it. They then rebuilt the walls on top
Photo by Dad

Store rooms in Masada
Store rooms in Masada

Tristram's starlings at Masada
Tristram's starlings at Masada

Dead Sea from Masada
Dead Sea from Masada

Top view of Herod's Palace
Top view of Herod's Palace

Roman seige camp
Roman seige camp

Herod's Palace
Herod's Palace

Herod's Palace
Herod's Palace

Herod's Palace
Herod's Palace

Masada<br>Photo by Dad
Masada
Photo by Dad

Dude writing the torah, wrote a blessing for Bruce
Dude writing the torah, wrote a blessing for Bruce

Pigeon roosts
Pigeon roosts

Where the romans attacked from
Where the romans attacked from

Dead Sea from Masada
Dead Sea from Masada

Continued north, back into Palestinian territory to Qumran (unless it was Masada in Palestinian territory, can't remember) where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found in 1947. I didn't realise there was an ancient town excavated there as well. But can you guess what happened? That's right, rushed from one point to another with little time to take it in. Fortunately after lunch they gave everyone an hour to go shopping, so Dad and I went back in. This was sooo much better just wandering around at my own pace and exploring stuff.

Hills on the west side of the Dead Sea
Hills on the west side of the Dead Sea

Location of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Location of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Cave where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found
Cave where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found

Location of the Dead Sea Scrolls
Location of the Dead Sea Scrolls

Yeah so lunch at Qumran. Worst experience of the trip so far. Had to battle your way through the shop then hundreds of people all jostling each other to get to the food and the tables. When we found a free table we got told to move. Then as I was trying to take a seat and dump my crap people kept telling me to move up and down the table to let people come or go as they changed their minds and then a heap of others were all trying to push past. I basically lost it. I *hate* crowds like that :(:(:( And the food was pretty average, probably the worst of the trip so far as well. Maybe just because I was too stressed/depressed, although someone else commented as well.

So left there and headed for Jerusalem. And we were there in like half an hour. Bizarre. Especially since everywhere east of Jerusalem is completely arid, but Jerusalem itself is relatively green.

Headed up to the Mount of Olives first up for a nice view of the old city.

Temple mount from the Mount of Olives
Temple mount from the Mount of Olives

The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock

Eastern (Golden) Gate
Eastern (Golden) Gate

Then started walking down the hill.

Cemetery opposite the city
Cemetery opposite the city

Cemetery opposite the city
Cemetery opposite the city

First stopping in at Dominus Flevit, or the Jesus wept church.

Dominus Flevit
Dominus Flevit

Temple mount from Dominus Flevit
Temple mount from Dominus Flevit

Then at the bottom of the hill in the Garden of Gethsemane to the basilica there.

Ancient olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane<br>Photo by Dad
Ancient olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane
Photo by Dad

Church of All Nations
Church of All Nations

Church of All Nations
Church of All Nations

Church of All Nations
Church of All Nations

East side of the Temple Mount
East side of the Temple Mount

Then we got taken in the coach up to the old temple walls.

Mount of Olives from the east side of the Temple Mount
Mount of Olives from the east side of the Temple Mount

Cemetery opposite the Temple Mount
Cemetery opposite the Temple Mount

South west corner of the Temple Mount showing the remnants of Robinson's Arch
South west corner of the Temple Mount showing the remnants of Robinson's Arch

Went in and through the security check (and apparently there was a bit of a scene because some of the girls went through the men's line).

And there was the Wailing Wall. Went and touched it. And probably got dirty looks from the Jews who apparently resent us gentiles being there.

The Wailing Wall<br>Photo by Dad
The Wailing Wall
Photo by Dad

Prayers in the Wailing Wall<br>Photo by Dad
Prayers in the Wailing Wall
Photo by Dad

Then we got to go underneath the walls through a bunch of tunnels which was way cool.

Western wall tunnels
Western wall tunnels

These massive Herodian ashlar stones support the western wall of the temple<br>Photo by Mum
These massive Herodian ashlar stones support the western wall of the temple
Photo by Mum

Western wall tunnels
Western wall tunnels

Struthion Pool
Struthion Pool

And then to the hotel. Have I ever mentioned how much I *hate* fancy hotels? Internet: $15/day. Laundry facilities: non-existent (except for a massive fee). Sink plug: none. Power points: none spare, had to disconnect lamps and kettles stuck behind a cabinet. Table to work on laptop: none really, but can use one on the side of the room with no electricity nearby. We have a wonderful view .. of the lobby. No elevator to our floor. I'm sleeping on a cot taking up most of the free space in the room. The waiting staff at dinner were pretty useless. I don't know about the food, I was too depressed to even feel like eating much. And I forgot to even document my food, that's how bad a day I was having.

Our hotel - the Mount Zion Hotel
Our hotel - the Mount Zion Hotel

Our hotel room - I got a cot bed
Our hotel room - I got a cot bed

So now I have the aircon trying to cool the room down so I can sleep tonight, and then the parents come in and complain its freezing.

Can I go home now?

Distance covered on the GPS: 128.1km
Steps walked: 17373
Photos on the Canon: 512
Photos on the Sony: 31
Videos: 17
NIS spent: 2

So my day started at 4:50am when the parents switched their lights on.

!?!?!

Fortunately I think I got a little more sleep, but got up at 6am.

Our first stop was actually at the hotel - the "Jesus Boat" museum - which houses a two thousand year old boat they found buried in the mud on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

Jesus Boat Museum
Jesus Boat Museum

Two thousand year old boat found in the mud
Two thousand year old boat found in the mud

Model of what they thought the boat might look like
Model of what they thought the boat might look like

Gate at the Jesus Boat Museum
Gate at the Jesus Boat Museum

Next up we headed north and went to the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter. From wikipedia: "According to tradition this is the spot where Jesus is said to have laid out a breakfast of bread and fish for the Apostles, and told Peter to "Feed my sheep" after the miraculous catch, the third time he appeared to them after his resurrection." Whether these were the exact locations or not who knows, but we were defintely close. Pretty awesome.

Beach on the Sea of Galilee - Jesus probably walked on this beach at some point!
Beach on the Sea of Galilee - Jesus probably walked on this beach at some point!

Bruce talking about the sea and the feeding of the five thousand just across the water
Bruce talking about the sea and the feeding of the five thousand just across the water

Church of the Primacy of St Peter
Church of the Primacy of St Peter

Inside the Church of the Primacy of St Peter
Inside the Church of the Primacy of St Peter

Then we went a little further north and hopped on a boat for a little cruise on the lake. Was a lovely experience and great to be on the lake and see some of the sights from a different perspective.

At Kfar Nahum heading down to catch a boat
At Kfar Nahum heading down to catch a boat

Capernaum from the boat
Capernaum from the boat

Capernaum from the boat
Capernaum from the boat

Mount Arbel and western side of the sea
Mount Arbel and western side of the sea

Looking towards the Church of the Primacy of St Peter
Looking towards the Church of the Primacy of St Peter

Potential location of the sermon on the mount
Potential location of "the sermon on the mount"

Me and Cutie on the Sea of Galilee
Me and Cutie on the Sea of Galilee
Photo by Mum

Another tour boat on the Sea of Galilee
Another tour boat on the Sea of Galilee

The boat we took
The boat we took

Next it was time to battle hoardes of tourists to see Capernaum. I was totally surprised that Capernaum is a ruin town. I somehow imagined it would be like Nazareth and a big town by now. Turns out it was destroyed by an earthquake in 746 and never rebuilt. But this made it cooler, because you could actually see some of the original streets and buildings. The synagogue there was dated quite a bit later, but even so, there's a good chance it was built on the same location, which meant we walked where Jesus once walked! Unfortunately there were too many crowds to ponder the significance of this, and we didn't spend much time there :(

Capernaum
Capernaum

Capernaum
Capernaum

Capernaum
Capernaum

Synagogue in Capernaum
Synagogue in Capernaum

Synagogue Capernaum
Synagogue Capernaum

Lunch was at "St Peter's Restaurant" a short distance away, and we sat on the deck with a great view of the lake. Had some yummy fish and the place had tonnes of salads. I'm still amazed by all the fresh food and salads in this country. It's awesome! I'm probably eating too much, but I'm certainly eating very healthily!

Sea of Galilee from our lunch spot - St Peter's Restaurant
Sea of Galilee from our lunch spot - St Peter's Restaurant

Kingfisher fishing in the Sea of Galilee
Kingfisher fishing in the Sea of Galilee

Next stop was another ruin town - Korazim - with another cool synagogue and buildings. In contrast to everywhere else, we had this place entirely to ourselves which was nice.

Northern edge of the sea on the road to Korazim
Northern edge of the sea on the road to Korazim

Korazim
Korazim

Korazim
Korazim

Korazim
Korazim

Korazim
Korazim

Korazim
Korazim

Korazim
Korazim

Korazim
Korazim

Korazim
Korazim

Lizard at Korazim
Lizard at Korazim

Then up to the Church of the Beatitudes. This is a possible location of "the sermon on the mount", also a location that Jesus was likely to have been at some point in his life. Very cool. Although us Aussies are taking over - eucalypt trees are everywhere in Israel and this location was no different.

Church of the Beatitudes
Church of the Beatitudes

Church of the Beatitudes
Church of the Beatitudes

Possible location of the Sermon on the Mount.  Complete with gum tree.
Possible location of the Sermon on the Mount. Complete with gum tree.

Possible location of the Sermon on the Mount
Possible location of the Sermon on the Mount

Looking across to Jordan from the Church of the Beatitudes
Looking across to Jordan from the Church of the Beatitudes

Our tour was joined by the tour guide's brother and his wife for a couple of days
Our tour was joined by the tour guide's brother and his wife for a couple of days

It was back to the hotel at this point, but we didn't stay long, we headed out again shortly after to walk around the kibbutz this place is part of. Was quite surprised to see a small dairy farm with a bunch of calves. So cute!

Entrance to a bunker at the kibbutz where we stayed
Entrance to a bunker at the kibbutz where we stayed

Calf on the kibbutz
Calf on the kibbutz

Cattle shed on the kibbutz
Cattle shed on the kibbutz

Did a bit more washing before using the internet for a while.

Kebab meat for dinner with more salad. I'm going to miss all the wonderful salads here when we leave.

Distance covered on the GPS: 49.9km
Steps walked: 13774
Photos on the Canon: 495
Photos on the Sony: 21
Videos: 20

Well my day started at 6am when I had a light suddenly shone in my face. Woke up to see dad walking out the door.

?!?!?

As it turns out he'd accidently knocked the switch with his shoulder on his way out and didn't notice. But still. #grunt

Got up around 6:30.

Snuck in a little internet before breakfast (huge as always).

Drove through Cana but didn't stop there.

Heading south from Ginosar, looking towards Mount Arbel
Heading south from Ginosar, looking towards Mount Arbel (on the left)

Cana
Cana

Our first stop of the day was Zippori, which is a roman town they've been excavating over the past few years. It was a pretty awesome place with some stunning mosaics. Did get frustrated again at the pace. Spent the first half an hour there basically just listening to talks, which don't get me wrong are interesting and all, but I want to *see* stuff as well. They were initially talking about only spending half an hour there and not seeing the theatre and crusade fortress, but fortunately we did get to see all those as well.

Main street in Zippori
Main street in Zippori

Excavations in Zippori
Excavations in Zippori

Mosaics<br>Photo by Dad
Mosaics
Photo by Dad

Mosaics
Mosaics

Mosaics
Mosaics

Mosaics
Mosaics

Mosaics
Mosaics

Mosaics
Mosaics

Zippori
Zippori

Zippori
Zippori

Theatre in Zippori
Theatre in Zippori

Crusades fortress in Zippori
Crusades fortress in Zippori

They recycled stone wherever possible - here's a sarcophagus built into the foundations of the fortress
They recycled stone wherever possible - here's a sarcophagus built into the foundations of the fortress

View of excavations from the fortress
View of excavations from the fortress

Looking towards Nazareth from the fortress
Looking towards Nazareth from the fortress

Mosaic in the fortress
Mosaic in the fortress

Mosaic in the fortress
Mosaic in the fortress

Just down the hill from there was the Zippori water system, which was a reservoir attached to a spring, with some tunnels as well. Walked through the reservoir and then the tunnel which was completely dark (good thing I took my torch) so that was a lot of fun.

Zippori water reservoirs and plumbing
Zippori water reservoirs and plumbing

Inside the Zippori water system
Inside the Zippori water system

Me in the Zippori water system
Me in the Zippori water system
Photo by Mum

Next stop was Nazareth. Drove past Mary's Well, but didn't stop.

Mary's Well
Mary's Well

Had lunch at "Holy Land Restaurant". Again, good but altogether too much food.

Manhole cover
Manhole cover

Inside the Holy Land Restaurant where we had lunch<br>Photo by Dad
Inside the Holy Land Restaurant where we had lunch
Photo by Dad

Then walked to Custodia Di Terra Santa/Basilica of the Annunciation, which is this big modern church built atop of what has traditionally been known as "Mary's House".

Basilica of The Annunciation
Basilica of The Annunciation

Basilica of The Annunciation<br>Photo by Dad
Basilica of The Annunciation
Photo by Dad

Inside the Basilica of The Annunciation<br>Photo by Dad
Inside the Basilica of The Annunciation
Photo by Dad

Basilica of The Annunciation
Basilica of The Annunciation

Basilica of The Annunciation
Basilica of The Annunciation

Roof of the Basilica of The Annunciation
Roof of the Basilica of The Annunciation

Basilica of The Annunciation
Basilica of The Annunciation

Basilica of The Annunciation
Basilica of The Annunciation

Ancient street excavations under the basilica
Ancient street excavations under the basilica

More walking, this time to "The Synagogue Church" which, according to tradition (hmmm), was where Jesus preached in Luke 4. Whether it actually was or not, it was pretty awesome being in the town that Jesus grew up, and seeing the hills around that he was nearly pushed off.

Walking through street markets in Nazareth
Walking through street markets in Nazareth

The Synagogue Church<br>Photo by Dad
The Synagogue Church
Photo by Dad

The last stop of the day was to the top of Mount Arbel which has some pretty cool cliffs and some awesome views of the Sea of Galilee. We'd only just made it to the top when very suddenly a change came through and we were nearly blown off the top! It suddenly made very real the story of the storm on the Sea. We'll be going on the sea tomorrow, hope the weather is better!

View off Mount Arbel
View off Mount Arbel

Cliffs of Mount Arbel
Cliffs of Mount Arbel

Ginosar from Mount Arbel
Ginosar from Mount Arbel

Mum and tree on top of Mount Arbel
Mum and tree on top of Mount Arbel

Coming down Mount Arbel
Coming down Mount Arbel

Passing Sea Level in Tiberias
Passing Sea Level in Tiberias

Sea of Galilee
Sea of Galilee

Washed a few tshirts (it seems I only have five tshirts, I could have sworn I had a few more, that'll learn me to listen to people that told me to take stuff out #grunt) then did computery stuff before dinner. Apparently there was goat as one of the dishes - go figure!

From 6pm tonight til 6pm tomorrow is Holocaust Remembrance Day here.

Distance covered on the GPS: 115.8km
Steps walked: 15173
Photos on the Canon: 505
Photos on the Sony: 55
Videos: 21
USD spent: 1
NIS spent: 23