Results tagged “Museums” from Eurasia 2012


Had a bit of a sleepin this morning. Sort of. Really it was just a slow start. I'd originally been planning to go find this bridge - http://www.neatorama.com/2011/12/03/the-twist-bridge/ - but it was all going to be too much effort.

So instead I talked to the sweetie and read news feeds and eventually headed off to go to The Hague.

2.50 for a tram from The Hague HS to the MC Escher museum! This museum/gallery is housed in an old royal palace! Which is very beautiful all by itself, including a whole heap of newer chandeliers in various shapes. The ground floor had some of MC Escher's early work, the middle floor his later work, and the upper floor some fun with optical illusions.

Then I decided to see if I could make to Rotterdam to catch the 14:15 Kinderdijk cruise. It was about 12:40. hmm.

Firstly I walked by the little lake in the middle of the Hague. Then hopped on a tram, but made a mistake with the numbers, and assumed it went to the station. But it didn't. So got off after one stop and had to wait for a tram that *did* go to the station. The long way :/ Gah. So got to the station and didn't have to wait too long for a train. Got into Rotterdam and then had to go find the Metro. But they're doing all these station works and signs for the Metro dried up :( Gah. Finally found it and then was trying to figure out tickets. But the machines were all in Dutch. So went to the info desk and they said probably just catch a tram, they're upstairs. So up I went, but they were doing work on the tram lines so there were no trams. Just a sign in Dutch saying something about where they were going from. But I couldn't read it and didn't know really where I was or where they were talking about. Gah. So went back down and said halp, and he told me how much it would be for a two hour disposable chip card (3.50). So went to the machines and figured out they had a touch screen which could be chosen in English. Yay! So got my ticket and raced down to the train. Two minute wait so not so bad. Got to Leuvehaven and then had to race down to the river. It was 14:03 at this point. Saw a sign for the cruise so was racing down and saw the boat so headed for that. But then I had to go back to buy a ticket! Gah! But it all worked out in the end and made it with a couple of minutes to spare! Phew!

So the cruise was very peaceful and relaxing. Met a couple from Australia (Debbie and Gary) who were living in England. So sat with them and chatted the whole way.

When we got to Kinderdijk we went up to the shop and they had bikes for hire! 2.50/hour! So we all hired a bike! Best. Idea. Ever. So we biked up the canals and looked at the windmills and all the gooses. Very very cool.

Got back to the boat quite hot from lots of cycling.

Continued chatting all the way back to Rotterdam. A lovely afternoon.

Got off and walked up to see the "cube" houses. They were pretty cool.

Then I thought I walk through the markets. But everything was being dismantled. In fact apart from cafes nothing was open, it being after 6pm. So kept walking, following the crowds and eventually the signs to the Centraal station.

And back to Amsterdam.

Got back and did my washing - it takes *forever* to wash and dry. Got some falafel and salad from the place downstairs and ate it in my room. This hotel/laundry are certainly conveniently placed! A very late night again :(


Distance covered on the GPS: 211.3 km
Steps walked: 15594
Photos on the Canon: 194
Photos on the Sony: 122
Videos: 3
EUR Spent: ?

Well something from yesterday didn't agree with me and I woke up in the middle of the night feeling completely nauseated. After a while I decided I needed to go be sick if I wanted any more sleep. So did that. Why is it the only night I really need a toilet it in my room I don't have one?

Got up and decided to use the fact that Europeans don't believe in mornings to go early to the Anne Frank House. Got there at 8:35 for a 9:00 opening and there was already a bit of a line (Australians and Americans either side of me). Got in at 9:10. It was very cool to be able to see the place Anne and her family and the others actually lived in. No photos allowed anywhere though. Not a huge amount of content so you can move through it relatively quickly (I spent a bit over an hour there). Funnily enough I've never actually read the book, so bought a copy on the way out. Also tried to get into the courtyard in the middle of the block, but couldn't find an entrance, so couldn't see the annex from behind.

Came back to the hotel to drop off the stuff I'd gotten, then headed out again to try and get a Holland Pass. Eventually found the place that sells them downstairs from the main tourist office outside the Centraal station. But I think any Tours and Tickets place will sell them.

First item on the agenda: a canal cruise! It was an hour long cruise that went out into the large area of water on the other side of the station, then back through a series of canals. So that was very pleasant (except when there was no breeze - it was actually quite hot in the sun today!).

Dropped back into the hotel again, and got some fries with mayo from Manneken Pis downstairs. After the glowing reviews about Amsterdam fries, I have to say I was a little underwhelmed. These were big and chunky and just average really. Give me McDonalds fries any day. Mayo was nice enough but the best mayonnaise ever is still Kewpie mayonnaise. I asked for a small but Europe doesn't seem to believe in small anymore either, so I couldn't even finish them.

Next up, got on the Tours and Tickets bus tour. But it was pretty average. Not helped by the fact that my headphones didn't work so the whole first half of the trip didn't have any commentary. Part way through they stop at a diamond factory (Gassan) for an infomercial. Still, it was cool seeing some *very* nice diamonds.

Then had to try and figure out the tram system here. The terminal at the Centraal station is pretty pathetic. The only maps they have up are regional ones, none for just the city. So unless you know which tram you needed to catch you were screwed. Fortunately I did know which tram I needed, having researched that beforehand. You can buy tickets on the trams. They recommend these chip cards (you can get a daily for 7.00). But I just wanted one or two trips (2.70 each) so just got a single. It's valid for one hour, but it's paper so didn't look like it had anything electronic in it. But it also didn't have any printing on it to say what time you got it, and the driver didn't say anything about authenticating it. As I got off I waved it front of the reader and it did actually do something. So no idea if I checked on or off. But it didn't matter cause I wasn't going to need it again.

My destination in fact was the Heineken Experience. It wasn't crowded when I arrived, but as I was walking through the history section there was this big group that made it all a bit unpleasant. Fortunately they moved off a bit faster than me. After the museum bit, you go into the rooms where the big old copper tanks are. Then past the horses that are still employed there. Then you walk through all these rooms of silliness really. Things like a "be the brew" "ride", make your own bottle label, rooms of just various videos playing, a wall of bottles with lights behind it etc. You get two free drinks (250mL) on the tour, so had those, but wasn't much fun drinking alone. Just used their free wifi and read news feeds. And finally through the shop. But didn't look around because I wanted to go catch the shuttle canal boat, which takes you to the "Heineken Brand Shop". But really I just wanted the canal ride. They even served beer on the boat which was a bit of fun.

Got to the shop but it was all *way* overpriced for what is essentially advertising for the brand. And the "free gift" was a branded photo of yourself. The idea was you take the token from the brewery and get a coin to use in the photo machine. Some others said they were going to just keep the coin, so that's what I did too.

Got outside and asked someone which way to Dam. So started walking. After the three beers I'd had I decided this was the way to appreciate Amsterdam heh.

Finally got back to the hotel then went out for dinner. Found a place that had what looked to be reasonably priced food. But the "teaser" menu was different to the menu you they give you at the tables :( So when I thought I was ordering something small, like I'd seen on the teaser menu, I actually got something much bigger. So I couldn't finish it and was charged 5 euros more for it. I was pretty pissed off. Enough to get on TripAdvisor and rate it poorly. And not blog last night. Grunt.


Distance covered on the GPS: 36.8 km
Steps walked: 15674
Photos on the Canon: 240
Photos on the Sony: 73
Videos: 4
EUR Spent: ?

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

Let me start by saying that if you are any kind of Harry Potter fan at all, you HAVE TO do the Making of Harry Potter tour at Leavesden Studios. It's that awesome!!

So after breakfast I trotted out to Watford Junction (express train from Euston). Outside the station on the left there was a small bus interchange, so walked down there and the first bay had a sign saying Harry Potter shuttle bus. Waited for the first shuttle of the day (9:20) to arrive.

Arrived at the studio a bit early (I was paranoid about getting there late and missing out entirely), but that gave me plenty of time to get some photos, get my guide book and have a look through it, sign into the free wifi etc.

My ticket was for 10:30 so in I went.

First up is a bit of an introductory film.

Then into another room for a big screen introductory film.

Then they lift the screen and there are the doors to the main hall! Which they open to great effect and in you go. So fricken awesome!!

As it turns out, they actually moved the entire set from its original location in an old hangar to the current location in a purpose built building for the tour. Same with all the other sets they have there.

After wandering around the great hall, you go off into the "interior sets" room, which has several sets and *heaps* of props and costumes. There's the Gryffindor boys dormitory, Gryffindor common room, potions, Dumbledore's office, Hagrid's hut, the Burrow and the Ministry of Magic in this room. The place is packed with stuff from the movie, and have to make sure to LOOK UP! Because there's all sorts of things way up high. I think I spent probably two hours in this room. And it was surprisingly uncrowded - I was expecting it to be like it was in Sydney. Which incidently had some of the same things that were here now, like Hermione's Yule ball dress. There's multiples of costumes. I know in Sydney Snape's vest was actually purple, but it was black in all the ones here.

Next you go outside to the "backlot", which has an outdoor area where they've gathered a few things, including one of the Ford Anglia's and one of the motorcycles, both of which you can sit in, Tom Riddle's grave, a Knight Bus, the Privet Drive buildings (two of them), the Potter Cottage, the covered bridge, and some chess pieces.

Then it's back inside for some displays showcasing the work of the art and effects teams.

First up is the creature shop, with some videos hosted by Warwick Davis.

Then you get to walk through Diagon Alley.

Then you get to see some of the concept art and models. Amazing stuff. I loved the paper models. You get to walk by a whole heap of these.

And then the finale - the 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts Castle. It's spec-fricking-tacular! Absolutely enormous and intricately detailed, including hundreds of lights. The room cycles between night time and day time so you can see both. Amazing, just amazing.

Lastly you walk through some of the boxes of wands. Apparently they made and labelled something like 17000 boxes of wands, and they're labelled with the cast and crew.

Out through the shop of course. Everything was crazy expensive though (like £24.95 for a scarf or £24.95 for a wand or £7.95 for a chocolate frog - I don't think so!!). T-shirts were reasonably priced (£14.95) but I didn't really find one I liked.

And so I left. I was there for three and a half hours after 10:30, but could have stayed longer if I'd spent more time in the effects rooms. Hopped on a shuttle bus back to the station and straight on a train back to Euston.

From there I walked down to the museum and spent the rest of the afternoon there. There is SO MUCH STUFF in that museum it's ridiculous. I walked through the majority of rooms, but you could easily spend an hour or two in each room alone. I think if I lived in London I'd spend like an hour a week just exploring one room at a time (it's free entry so it'd be easy/cheap to do).

At this point I have £2 left in my purse. Which probably would have seen me through, however then I remembered I needed to do washing tonight. So went looking for an ATM. Now I've walked past like a thousand ATMs in this city, but the moment you start looking for one they all disappear (the exact same thing happened to Campbell yesterday). Ridiculous. Walked for like a kilometre around a few blocks trying to find one. Stumbled across Covent Garden at one point, but was super hungry and tired and grumpy, so when I eventually did find an ATM I just got money and went back to Earl's Court. Picked up a Subway and a beer and chilled out for a while. Headed out again to do the load of washing then back here to blog.


Distance covered on the GPS: 51.2 km (plus the trip out to Watford Junction that didn't record)
Steps walked: 16323
Photos on the Canon: 586
Photos on the Sony: 20
Videos: 12
GBP Spent: 35.36

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

Slept in til the alarm went off at 6am so that was pretty good.

Another pretty good breakfast although no beef bacon today :(

Drove through Tahrir Square (nothing much happening at the moment there).

Our first stop was Salah Al Din Citadel, a big old fortress that apparently was never attacked, so is in remarkably good condition.

Didn't really see anything much of the fortress except the outer walls, but instead went to the Mosque of Mohammed Ali.

There were a whole group of very scantily clad girls in front of us, so they were given robes to cover up. They were also the ones throwing their shoes down soles-down on the carpets inside the mosque. hrmm.

There's a pretty good view from outside. Should have been able to see the pyramids but it was too hazy today.

Next stop was a shopping area with narrow alleys and bazaars. But apart from some stuff near the entrance square, nothing much was open, and I wasn't really interested in anything anyway.

Met up at the meeting place in this nice cafe, which was a little reminscent of something out of a movie. All it needed was ceiling fans!

Back through the CBD and back through Tahrir Square.

To the Egyptian Museum.

Security here is pretty strict here as well - xrays at the courtyard entrance. You can take photos in the courtyard but not inside. So if you want to take your cameras in to photograph the building, you then have to leave your camera at the checkpoint at the outer entrance, where you get a token for retrieval.

So into the building, another xray bag check.

We had the guide for a while and he took us round and showed us a few things. Then he gave us an hour to explore, but we asked for an hour and a half. Of course you could see maybe 5% of the museum in that time. hrmm. So we went in to see Tutenkamen. Spectacular! And all the stuff in his tomb - amazing! Then went and saw the royal mummies (100LE extra). Then some aimless wandering. There was this creepy guy in the animal mummy room who kept staring at me wherever I went, so really couldn't concentrate on the room until he eventually left :(:( So did our wandering then left, then came back to the hotel.

Had to fight the internet connection (it's ~$18 for 24 hours :( ) but the connection in my room was stuffed so had to get onto tech support for them to fix it. Blah.

At 6:30 we got picked up to go to a Nile dinner cruise.

Getting food was quite chaotic, but was nice enough (they carved up a *massive* turkey! - or maybe it wasn't massive to American standards, but looked pretty big to me!).

There was a belly dancer, and a whirling dirvish, and some singer. But after dinner we all headed up on deck to watch the lights. The boat mostly went round in circles in a little section of the Nile, so didn't get it to see all that much.

After two hours we got back and headed back to the hotel.

Radio silence for a few days after this - not even mobile phones or credit cards work anywhere south of Aswan.


Distance covered on the GPS: 50.2 km
Steps walked: 11720
Photos on the Canon:
Photos on the Sony:
Videos:
EGP Spent:

Pretty good day in Egypt today. For us at least.

Woke up a little after 5am and got up a bit before six.

Breakfast at this hotel was pretty awesome, they even had beef bacon :)

So we headed out at 7:30 and headed straight for Giza.

Pyramids!!

We got there early enough to get tickets to go into the Great Pyramid (100LE) - apparently they only sell 150 per day. So you get off the bus and go through security, and then the bus goes around to the parking area on the other side.

!?

Yes, security is completely redundant, because you could leave whatever contraband on the bus when it goes around. Whatever.

You aren't allowed to take cameras into the Great Pyramid (they do bag checks), so we dumped the cameras on the bus and went in. It was super awesome! My favourite part is the huge corridor leading up to the burial chamber with its high ceilings. I was also very impressed with the stonework in the burial chamber - it was so precise! There's nothing left in the burial chamber except the sarcophagus, which was too big to get out, so it remains.

Came back out again, went and got our cameras, then wandered round for a while.

Unfortunately you can't stand still anywhere in Egypt (at the tourist destinations) because otherwise the flies swarm around you buzzing in your ears and won't leave you alone. You just have to keep walking with your head down. Which is really no way to enjoy the sights :(

Then we drove up to the "panorama" view of the pyramids.

And then down to the Sphynx. A lot of it is badly eroded, so they've been doing a lot of work restoring it.

Oh and I might have had this bit of Joseph stuck in my head all day:

So back in Canaan the future looked rough Jacob's family were finding it tough

For the famine has caught us unprepared
We are thin
We are ill
We are getting scared
It's enough to make anyone weep
We are down to our very last sheep

We will starve if we hang around here

But in Egypt there's food going spare

They've got corn
They've got meat
They've got fruit and drinks

And if we have the time
We could see the Sphinx

So they finally decided to go
Off to Egypt to see brother Jo

Next we headed to Saqqara to see the step pyramid and other ruins there. And had a pretty clear view down to the "bent" pyramid, about fifteen kilometres away. This place was a lot quieter and far less tourists, so the flies were a bit more persistent because there were less targets.

Finally we went to a small museum which houses a pretty impressive statue of Rameses II and a few other smaller statues as well.

Got back to the hotel pretty early (a bit after three). I started doing photo stuff and was going to blog, but decided I really needed to wash everything and have a shower.

A bit before five the parents and I headed out to dinner. We went back to Maison Thomas where we went last night, and this time shared a beef salami pizza. It was so yumm! Really enjoyed it.

Then hopped on the bus again to go back to the pyramids to see the 7:30 sound and light show at the Sphynx. It was a dramatisation of snippets of some of the Pharoahs' lives and deaths but was a little disjointed and I'm not sure it really had a plot or not. Still, the light show was pretty awesome, and was great to see the pyramids and sphynx lit up in all different colours.

And finally back to the hotel for the evening.


Distance covered on the GPS: 137.2 km
Steps walked: 16741
Photos on the Canon: 261
Photos on the Sony: 18
Videos: 0
EGP Spent: 137
USD Spent: 194

So the wakeup call this morning came at 5am.

*groan*

Got ready and picked up our "breakfast boxes" and headed for the bus.

There were a pair of Canadians and a pair of Americans who were on a different Insights tour along for the day as well.

So off we all headed to Alexandria.

Had some of the breakfast box on the bus (but I forgot to document the contents!). There were several rolls (two large - one cheese, one meat, and two small), a croissant, yoghurt, juice, jam, butter, a banana and an apple. Enough for breakfast *and* lunch! Although far too much bread for my liking (and my bowels aren't thanking me either).

Took a little over three hours to get to Alexandria. Apparently today was a public holiday so the traffic was considered to be fairly light.

Our first stop was the Alexandria Museum. The tour guide said "leave your cameras on the bus" so I immediately started stressing out :(:( Took the memory sticks out and brought them with me. The museum does xray bag checks as well as metal detectors. Apparently the rationale is that when it's crowded, people taking photos makes everything take too long. And when they say no flash people would still use flash anyway. So now they ban cameras completely. Which just makes it stressful for people like me who need to be with their cameras at all times :(:(:( Had an hour to wander around the museum, which is relatively small.

Second stop was the catacombs. Again the guide said no cameras. Manual bag searches here and metal detectors. Around the top of the area they have a whole heap of sarcophagi that they've brought up. So you go down this spiral staircase which is where they used to lower sarcophagi down. Then there's chambers off to the sides - a big super fancy one with amazing stone carvings, and then around lots of passages around the sides are the "commercial" areas which were just plain empty holes (the sarcophagi were upstairs, and apparently they only found a very few mummies there as most had been taken, probably for fertiliser).

Third stop was Pompey's Pillar, which apparently is famous..

Fourth stop was the roman theatre and collonaded street.

And the final stop was the Qaitbay Citadel which is a pretty cool castle (although it does look somewhat restored as it looks in a little too perfect condition).

Traffic through some of the small streets in Alexandria was pretty insane. Actually it wasn't even so much that the streets were small, it's just that in recent times illegal street vendors have gathered, taking up lanes and causing traffic chaos. If we thought Jordan was bad it's even crazier here! Road rules and parking rules are non-existent. Whoever's in front (mostly) has right of way. Most of the cars have scrapes from obviously very frequent crashes.

Got to do lots of people watching while negotiating the traffic. One thing I don't like is how many idle men there seem to be. They just stand or sit around either by themselves or in groups and just *stare* at us. Not very pleasant at all. Much fewer women around and almost never with men. When we got to the coast there was a bit more mixing.

So left Alexandria just after 2pm and got back to the hotel just before 6pm.

Went straight out to look for some snackages and also get some dinner.

Then back here to do photos and blog.

I'm almost delirious tonight I'm that tired. I'm forgetting things and everything is that much harder and taking that much longer to do :(:( Need to collapse into bed but need to do washing even more - as tomorrow we don't get back to the hotel til like 9:30pm :(:(:(


Distance covered on the GPS: 460.8 km
Steps walked: 10026
Photos on the Canon: 193
Photos on the Sony: 20
Photos on the iPhone: 4, if my computer would read it
Videos: 10
EGP Spent: 71.50


Have I ever mentioned that I should become an alcoholic? Seriously, I'm so much more relaxed about *stuff* including the parents :)

Celebrating my wedding anniversary - without the sweetie :(<br>Photo by Mum
Celebrating my wedding anniversary - without the sweetie :(
Photo by Mum

Today was our "off" day, a day entirely to ourselves.

Except because of the traffic yesterday what they did is reschedule our visit to the Garden Tomb til today at 9am. So at 8:15 we all met and trundled up the hill, almost getting lost but finding it in the end and getting there right on time.

Jaffa Gate
Jaffa Gate

Jaffa Gate
Jaffa Gate

Tram just outside the city walls
Tram just outside the city walls

And it turned out to be one of the coolest places on the trip. Firstly there were no churches on top. But also because while this *could* have been the place of Jesus crucifixion and burial, the guides (who were volunteers from the UK on two or three month trips here) were strongly pointing out that we don't *know* this, but what does it really matter, the fact is Jesus died, was buried and was raised *somewhere* around here, and this *may* be the place but it doesn't really matter. I really liked this and it was a really nice experience.

The Garden Tomb entrance sign<br>Photo by Dad
The Garden Tomb entrance sign
Photo by Dad

Possible location of Golgotha
Possible location of Golgotha

Jesus was buried in a tomb probably like this one
Jesus was buried in a tomb probably like this one

The sort of stone that could have sealed the entrance to his tomb
The sort of stone that could have sealed the entrance to his tomb

Wine press in the garden<br>Photo by Dad
Wine press in the garden
Photo by Dad

Mum, Dad and me outside the garden tomb
Mum, Dad and me outside the garden tomb

The garden tomb
The garden tomb

After this, everyone scattered in all different directions.

I joined the parents and Leslie and Jill and we meandered through the Damascus gate to go find the Tower of David museum.

Damascus Gate - outside
Damascus Gate - outside

Damascus Gate - inside
Damascus Gate - inside

OK meandered is not the right word. The parents charged through the bazaars and Jill and I were drifting behind thinking "dudes, chill, we're in no rush". Whatevs.

So we got to the museum and it was actually pretty cool. We didn't really spend any time looking at the exhibits, but it was cool walking around the ramparts, and we got to see several flyovers of various military aircraft (it's their Independence Day here).

Tower of David Museum entrance
Tower of David Museum entrance

Phasael Tower - built as part of Herod's Palace
Phasael Tower - built as part of Herod's Palace

Dale Chihuly glass in the entrance of the museum
Dale Chihuly glass in the entrance of the museum

Tower of David citadel
Tower of David citadel

View towards the Temple Mount from the Phaseal tower
View towards the Temple Mount from the Phaseal tower

The Dome of the Rock
The Dome of the Rock

Tower of David citadel<br>Photo by Dad
Tower of David citadel
Photo by Dad

Church of the Holy Sepulchre
Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Top of the tower
Top of the tower

Tower of David citadel<br>Photo by Dad
Tower of David citadel
Photo by Dad

Tower of David citadel
Tower of David citadel

City walls
City walls

Tower of David citadel<br>Photo by Dad
Tower of David citadel
Photo by Dad

C-130 Hercules flyby
C-130 Hercules flyby

Military flyby
Military flyby

Corridor in the citadel
Corridor in the citadel

The Dome of the Rock - a cutaway model
The Dome of the Rock - a cutaway model

Mosque in the citadel<br>Photo by Mum
Mosque in the citadel
Photo by Mum

After that we found a place to have lunch which was actually a lot like other places we've had lunch in terms of setup with getting food and dessert. One of the staff brought a Melbournian staff member to our table to say hello - he was a volunteer staying here for *six* months!

After lunch we thought we might do the ramparts walk but two different signs said 1 shekel or 16 shekels but there was a big group ahead of us trying to convince the guys they'd paid with another ticket so we decided it was all too hard and left. On the way back to the Jaffa gate we heard all this noise and looked over the side and there was this *huge* parade of young people coming down the road. They were on a peace march and were from all over the world. It was a pretty cool thing to watch and wave to the guys and shout Aussie Aussie Aussie to the people carrying Australian flags :)

Jaffa Gate
Jaffa Gate

Tower of David
Tower of David

Youth march
Youth march

Youth march<br>Photo by Dad
Youth march
Photo by Dad

Next Mum and Leslie decided to go back to the hotel, and Jill and Dad and I decided to wander through the city again. We thought we might head for the Zion Gate or the Dung Gate but really weren't sure how to get to either, so just wandered. When we got to the south-western part of the city we found a sign that said Wailing Wall lookout so went to that and all the people from the march were there! It was pretty cool.

Walking through the old streets of Jerusalem
Walking through the old streets of Jerusalem

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

From here Dad decided to go off and find Absolom's Pinnacle while Jill and I decided to go back to the hotel. We went out the Dung Gate and even found a herd of goats and their shepherd which was pretty cool. But the road we wanted to walk on didn't have a footpath so we decided to head back up to the Zion Gate, walked around the outside of the city wall, then headed back down when we found a path.

Dung Gate
Dung Gate

Just some goats crossing the road (out hotel in the background)
Just some goats crossing the road (out hotel in the background)

South-west corner of the city walls
South-west corner of the city walls

South-west corner of the city walls
South-west corner of the city walls

So got back to the hotel and bought myself an hour of internet, but a miscommunication meant I kept the sweetie up a lot later than he was planning... sorry sweetie! but it was nice to see him and blogged about five blog entries. Then people came down to the lobby as well and were talking to me and buying me beer and I was copying files for them.

Dinner, chatting, blogging, bed!!


Distance covered on the GPS: 15.9 km (all walking!)
Steps walked: 17989
Photos on the Canon: 164
Photos on the Sony: 50
Videos: 2
NIS Spent: 65

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

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

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