Results tagged “Sleep” from Eurasia 2012

Closed the blinds, had aircon that worked, a room that faced northwest, and sheets as well as a blanket. You'd think I'd have had the perfect sleep conditions. But alas, it still took me ages to get to sleep and felt like I was awake for ages early in the night. Sigh. But at least slept til after 7am which was good.

Had breakfast downstairs. There were no checks at all and the place is open to the airport terminal, so really anyone could just come in and eat breakfast there - bizarre!

Checked out and wandered across to the checkin gate for the planes. Turns out the JAL ticket I'd bought was already the boarding pass. Checked our bags, but didn't need to print anything else. Weird! Some confusion as we were trying to figure out how to get boarding passes, when in fact we already had them!

Flight was pretty dull. Clouds just after takeoff til just before landing, except for a small gap in the clouds looking down to the coastline at Sendai where the tsunami last year hit the worst. Sad..

Landed, got our bags, then had to face dragging my broken bag all the way across Tokyo :( The sweetie was the bestest sweetie ever and carried it and/or rolled it on top of his bag. I carried his carry-on bag.

So a monorail ride to Hamamatsucho then it was either a Yamonote line train or a Oedo subway to get to Shinjuku. We took the Yamonote line simply because we were super familiar with it.

Then the long painful walk to the hotel :(

We found the building ok, but walked around it trying to find the actual hotel :( Was quite blah by the time we found it upstairs. But you pay a premium for this hotel for a reason - there's pretty great service. They saw us coming and ran to grab our bags and help us check in, so that was nice. The sweetie thought we should get an upgrade to a corner room. Well we've already spent a fortune on this place, so why not heh.

Got to our room and it's super awesome :) Well the view is super awesome. And there's aircon that seems to work and a huge bed and a funky bathroom area. Hung out for a little while but decided to go out and find some food (it was mid-late afternoon but we still hadn't had lunch).

Wandered towards Shinjuku and ended up in the "geek" area with Yodobashi Camera and other such stores around. Decided to have dinner at a little place there - where you have to decide what you want before you go in, pay on the vending machine, and take the tickets inside for your food. And it turned out to be a super tasty chicken dish that I really really enjoyed. Who needs Michelin stars when you can find great food for under $10!

Stopped in at a Family Mart for some supplies, then came back to the hotel and enjoyed the view while using the internet :)

So after a drinks interlude, we went up to the New York Bar, a-la Lost in Translation. Had a couple of drinks and listened to the jazz band with front row seats.. a very pleasant evening :)


Distance covered on the GPS: 937.1 km
Steps walked: 10118
Photos on the Canon: 150
Photos on the Sony: 111
Videos: 0

Stoopid east facing windows and stoopid sun that gets up at 4am and stoopid blinds that do nothing to keep out the light or heat :( Blah. So it was very hot in our room. So didn't sleep all that well :(

Breakfast was at the hotel. We'd chosen "western" breakfasts the night before (fish and natto for breakfast? no, don't think so). But they brought out all this food. I couldn't get through it! Saved my bread roll and sweet roll for later.

Then we headed up into the mountains again.

Stopped first at the dam at Lake Chubetsu. Cause I like dams. Have I mentioned that? :)

Then into the national park and up to the Asahidake Ropeway.

But first, 500 yen for parking. WTF? When just down the road was a public car park that was free. Grunt. So already feeling ripped off. Then to go up the cable car it's 2800 yen. Each. !! WTF?? I was way pissed off at that point. But we went up anyway and I grumped the whole way :(

Still, it was a fairly nice place at the top. We went up for a wander up into the snow and mud around the walking tracks and saw the little lakes and the fumaroles. Stu definitely enjoyed it. I would have more if hadn't been so badly ripped off. *sigh*

Had some snacks while waiting for a cable car down.

Then we decided to just go to Asahikawa rather than try and do any more mountains.

So got into town and negotiated city streets and got to the hotel ok.

Had a bit of a relax for a little while.

Then we decided to head out to find some dinner. We were going to get ramen (which this place is famous for), but as we were getting ready Stu looked out the window and said "there's a festival" and I'm like "Japanese street food!!!!!" So that's where we went.

It was just in this little park near the river. All around the outer edge of the park, and through the middle were stalls setup selling food and toys. We had some *amazing* food, as well as some average food, and some pretty good food. Love love love Japanese street food :) Not really sure what the festival was for. We asked at the hotel, she said something about the transition between spring and summer. Couldn't find anything online about it, but not really sure what to look for! heh. We were probably the only gaijin there (we certainly didn't see any others).


Distance covered on the GPS: 128.2 km
Steps walked: 10696
Photos on the Canon: 143
Photos on the Sony: 39
Videos: 0

Pretty good day today (although still didn't sleep too well - too hot).

After breakfast had a bit of a slow start getting out the door. Had to plan what we were going to do first.

I waited outside the hotel with our bags (we didn't really feel like carrying my broken bag all the way to the car rental place). And then the sweetie arrived and off we went.

Fortunately this trip, not only do they drive on the correct side of the road, but we got an automatic, and the blinkers are on the correct side!! Yayy for Japanese cars :) (London in 2010 had the correct side of the road, but a manual and backwards blinkers).

So pretty much just headed straight out of Sapporo (after getting a coffee for the sweetie at a Scottish Restaurant we passed). Decided to go via quieter roads rather than expressways.

Except Hokkaido has ridiculously low speed limits. Roads that would be 60, 70, 80 in Australia were all 50, or maybe 40. It was impossibly slow, and we were pissing off the locals, who were all passing us any chance they could. After ages doing this we gave up and drove more to conditions (but still slower than the locals!). I suppose their limits are for when the conditions are bad, which is sure to be much of the year, or to reduce the number of wildlife accidents. But this was the middle of a clear sunny day. Whatevs.

So basically just drove slowly to Furano. Stopped at a dam on the way. Because I like dams.

Had more Scottish Restaurant for a late lunch, then went and checked into the hotel. Crazy design to the room. The bathroom has a big glass window next to the bed, with a blind on the outside! Weird as!

We headed straight out again, deciding to drive up into the mountains.

Drove up towards Tokachidake springs.

The "lavendar road" would sure be pretty in a month's time. But for now it was just green.

Saw a few foxes around the place. Nat would have loved them heh :)

At Tokachidake springs got out and walked up a trail a bit (I was a bit worried about getting eaten by a bear). There was still snow around!

Drove around a bit more, ending up at Bogakudai for a nice lookout (although looking straight into the late afternoon sun).

Then down the hill to the "Blue Pond" which is a famous tourist attaction in the area. The parking lot and one-way paths testify to that. But when I got there I was very disappointed. The "pond" appears to have been created by the damming of a creek, flooding the area and killing a bunch of trees. There's no flow through the pond so it's a stagnent pool full of dead trees. Yuk. OK so yes the water is a pretty blue (in the right light, sadly we were there a little too late in the day), so if you look at the right angle you can see live trees and not the stagnent muck, it's not too bad. If you want pretty blue lakes, go to Canada.

Then back to the hotel (and stopped at another dam).

Had dinner at the hotel. I had some wagyu beef which was *awesome* and the freshest, nicest asparagus I've ever had!

And finally we stayed up *very* late doing our washing (last load of the trip though - yayy!!)


Distance covered on the GPS: 205 km
Steps walked: 6936
Photos on the Canon: 278
Photos on the Sony: 15
Photos on the Video: ?
Videos: ?

Pretty quiet day today, as the step count will testify :)

Up, ready and out the door by 8:45. McGriddle for breakfast.

First train at 9:40 - shinkansen from Shin-Osaka to Tokyo. Slept a bit on the train (was so asleep I actually slept through the stop at Nagoya!). Couldn't see shiny at all :(

Short transfer at Tokyo, then took the next shinkansen to Shin-Aomori. Zoomed through Fukushima but stopped at Sendai. Dozed a little after Sendai. Lunch was bento boxes we picked up on Tokyo station.

Another very short transfer to the Super Hakucho to Hakodate. We left ten minutes late but got to the tunnel under the straight on time.

And then we were on Hokkaido. We've now been to three of the four main islands of Japan. Stu has been on the shinkansen as far north as you can go and as far south as you can go :)

Got to the hotel - it was super easy to find, being right next to the station.

They gave us a free cocktail voucher when we checked in, so went up and got that, then had a bit of fun with some Japanese whisky tasting. First up we tried a Suntory Yamazaki 12 (very smooth, a bit sweet) and a Nikka Yoichi 12 (a bit smokey, I liked this one). Then we had a Suntory Hakushu 12 (a bit bitier, not as sweet as the other Suntory) and another Yoichi. Expensive but very nice and with a great view over the city from the thirteenth floor.

Then we went looking for dinner. We were in the morning seafood market so not much was open for dinner, but did find one place and had some tempura squid and tempura seafood mix. Was good, but the fish gasping for air in the tanks made me a bit sad.

Washed hair and crashed.


Distance covered on the GPS: 1342.8 km
Steps walked: 5617
Photos on the Canon: 75
Photos on the Sony: 43
Videos: 1

Pretty quiet day today.

Slept in (til 9:18! gah!!). Had a slow start, then wandered up to the station. Got some breakfast at Lotteria, and activated Stu's JR pass.

Then we headed up to Kyoto. It was actually about midday by this point. On the way we looked out the window and it was *pouring* down rain. Great, we didn't bring wet weather gear because the weather forecast was for 10% chance of rain. hrmmmmm.

At Kyoto we actually had trouble finding the right station exit, which is a first, we've never had problems before. Then we needed to find a toiley. Then it was raining some more so we stopped for more coffee for the sweetie. After 1pm now.

At this point the sweetie thought we should catch a taxi to Kiyomizu-dera, rather than walk or (heaven forbid) negotiate the buses (the sweetie hates buses, and Kyoto buses are a special form of hell). Wasn't too bad, only ~1100 yen.

So Kiyomizu-dera. The rain had stopped so was a relatively pleasant, although slightly humid, wander around the place. Queued to have a drink from Otowa spring.

Then wandered back down the hill.

Walked up to Gion and by this point it was about to start raining again. We went looking for somewhere to eat but most things (that we saw) were closed, it being nearly 3:30pm. That and they hide restaurants in this place so they're not easy to find. After walking all the way through we gave up and walked all the way back to Starbucks and had a sandwich. Oh well.

We were tired so caught another taxi back to the station, and back to Osaka.

Rested for a while. I went out and got some random food from the place we got some food from in 2009 which is just a kitchen with a counter at the front.


Distance covered on the GPS: 91.9 km
Steps walked: 12534
Photos on the Canon: 56
Photos on the Sony: 26
Videos: 0

Well that was a long day. Starting like three days ago (it's 9:24am Tuesday local time by the time I'm blogging this).

So woke up quite early (as you do) and got myself ready. Was down at breakfast slightly before it started at 7am, but they let me in anyway. Fairly simple breakfast and was done by about 7:20. Went and grabbed my stuff and checked out and headed for the station. Thought I'd make the 7:40 train, but actually things went smoothly at the station and I got the 7:32. Very short trip to the airport, went on a longish walk to the terminal, checked in quickly, then sat around bored for nearly an hour. Oh well :)

First flight was on an A319. Back row on the right, row of three seats to myself. Nice view of Denmark before it got a bit cloudy over Europe.

At Zurich had a short gap between flights - enough to download the GPS and give it a bit of a quick charge.

Second flight on an A330, second back row on the right, two seats to myself. Nearly twelve hour flight, but probably one of the least stressful long haul flights I've ever been on. Having room to spread out, being able to get up whenever I pleased, being able to fidget in peace.. was just awesome. Plus it never got dark. We left at 1pm but it never got night. When it was supposed to be night we were so far north that the sun was coming over the north pole :) Very very cool. I watched four movies - I Heart Huckabees, The Bridges of Madison County, I Robot and The Vow.

Had a super long wait in immigration in Tokyo. They must have had a few planes come in at once because the hall was completely full and we had to wait an hour to get through :( Fortunately I was with this nice Danish guy (who had been diagonally in front of me on both flights!) so we were chatting about stuff while we waited. He travels to Japan a lot because he has a Japanese girlfriend.

Went downstairs to get my JR pass then hopped on the NEX into Shinagawa then a shinkansen to Osaka. Shiny wasn't being very shiny. Dozed a little but didn't really sleep.

At Osaka station, after a little bit of fuss, found the sweetie!!!!!!!!!!!!! Epic awesome :):):):)

Grabbed a McPork for lunch and ate it as we walked down to the hotel, getting there a bit after 2pm.

So yeah, shower, resting, "catching up", beer from the hotel vending machines, it was a lovely afternoon.

Headed out to get some dinner - went to the little ramen place we went to during the heatwave last time we were here.

Turns out this hotel does have a laundry (yayy!) so put our washing on. But it took over two hours and it was already late. I was falling alseep and completely non-functional, so the sweetie very nicely collected the washing when it was done.


Distance covered on the GPS: 10494 km
Steps walked: 10453
Photos on the Canon: 56
Photos on the Sony: 201
Videos: 0
DKK Spent: ?
Yen Spent: 150 plus whatever the sweetie 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

Dear Travel Agents,

When people ask for a window seat on aeroplanes, it's because they want a view of the ground, NOT THE FRICKEN WING!!!!

Not happy.


So anyway.

Up at stoopid o'clock (4:40am, although I'd been awake since 4:00). Breakfast, checkout, and off to the airport.

The other couples all went their separate ways, although did run into a couple of them in my wanderings. Made use of Cairo airport's free wifi (thanks Cairo!).

And then off we went. I was depressed about my seat, so put on some movies. The EgyptAir 777's entertainment systems are pretty good. Nice touch screen, and several options for the GPS maps. Even between-seat dialling (which I didn't use because I didn't know anyone on the plane heh).

I watched Midnight in Paris first up. Knew absolutely nothing about it, so quite enjoyed it, even if it was all a bit silly and extreme coincidences.

Then watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, which I also really enjoyed seeing a second time. Still a few things about the movie I disagree with (having just reread the book didn't help).

The alps looked stunning. Have I mentioned how much wing seats suck?

Our approach to London was "interesting". I swear air traffic controllers are just playing Flight Control on their phones, and our planes follow their paths..

So after reading an article DC sent me about the queues at Heathrow, I was fully expecting to have to wait hours to get through immigration. But when I walked into the hall it was practically deserted! Win! So getting through the airport was a breeze. Changed my leftover shekels into pounds (noone in Egypt would do it), although could probably have gotten a better deal in a bank. Then did the long walk to the tube station.

Got to my hotel and checked in. Perfectly adequate hotel, although no safe, and breakfast doesn't start til 7am, 8am on Sundays. And a little too warm. But I have a lovely view of the gardens opposite, and it has free wifi!! Seriously why can't fancy hotels do this??

Pretty much headed straight out again to go pickup my London Pass before the office closed. That was in Leicester Square, so wandered up to Piccadilly Circus, which we'd somehow missed out on doing last time.

Then down to Trafalgar Square (Nelson's column was in sunlight!!).

Past the visitor's entrance to the Ministry of Magic (they were doing construction work last time we were here - turns out they've put in all these bollards along the footpath).

A quick look at the Household Cavalry museum from the courtyard, that we'd also missed seeing last time.

A walkby 10 Downing Street, because last time for some reason I thought the Prime Minister's house was on the other side of the road.

And ended up at Westminster station, where I think I found the escalator used in Order of the Phoenix (there's a *lot* of escalators at Westminster station!) as well as taking another pic of the entrance gates used in the movie.

I really only came back early because I didn't know what time the laundromat closed. Otherwise I would have kept wandering! It was so much fun with such nice weather and lots of people about being Friday night.

So grabbed my washing and loaded it up. Only twenty minutes for a cycle which is pretty good. So I wandered up and down Earl's Court Road looking for somewhere to have dinner. Did the drying, and went to a Chinese place. Had something I haven't had in a month - pork!! It was pretty good, but too much meat and not enough veggies. My bowels *won't* thank me for that!

Then back here to blog and do photos.


Distance covered on the GPS: 3712.5 km
Steps walked: 15005
Photos on the Canon: 19
Photos on the Sony: 163
Videos: 2
EGP Spent: 10
GBP Spent: 18.40

A day of tombs and temples today. And a 4:30am start :(

First stop, after a forty minute coach ride, was the Valley of the Kings. No cameras allowed in there (xray bag checks) so left them on the bus. The ticket gives you entry to three tombs of your choice (except for Tutenkamen which is extra). Our tour guide recommended doing Ramses III, IX and IV, so that's what we did. They were pretty awesome, although someone said they'd been restoring the paintwork on them to make them look shinier. Will need to see if that is true.

Next stop, round the side of the mountain, was the temple of Hatshepsut. This temple is a very unusual design with ramps and terraces. Unfortunately not much is original - about eighty percent has been restored by a Polish team. Quickly explored that one.

A short hop to our next temple - Habu Temple. This one had some very deep heiroglyphics, and some beautiful paintwork.

A very quick stop at a couple of statues, that I must look up the significance of (one of them was cracked in an earthquake and the wind passing through it made it sound like it was whistling).

Back across the Nile to Karnak Temple. This was by far the most crowded place we have been to on this trip. An avenue of rams head sphynxes, a one hundred and thirty four column room, and two whole obelisks were the highlights of this huge temple complex. At one point one of the armed guards of the place beckoned to Dad and me to follow him to see a part of the temple that was normally fenced off. We tried to tell him we had no change (well I had enough change for two more toilet trips in the country so was saving that) but he said come anyway. Of course he wanted a tip anyway didn't he, so I gave him and the other dude a few of the pens that I brought along.

Just before twelve we drove to the airport and off we went back to Cairo. Sadly on the wrong side of the plane to see anything in Luxor or Cairo (and the plane was pretty much completely full except for the seat next to me), but could see the Red Sea and the Gulf of Suez off in the distance.

Got back to the hotel mid-late afternoon and did some photo backups for the parents. Also got all my videos and all my resized photos onto memory sticks that the parents will take home as a backup (my masters take up far too much space..hrmm).

Went with Jan and Howard to dinner at Thomas' again.

Then back here to blog and bed. Was going to wash my hair but think will leave that til London.


Distance covered on the GPS: 650.3 km
Steps walked: 17216
Photos on the Canon: 253
Photos on the Sony: 59
Videos: 3
EGP Spent: 17
USD Spent: 50

5:30 wake up today, although I preempted that and woke up at 5:00.

Last of the Prince Abbas breakfasts today, then we headed out to the Temple of Kalabsha, and the other temples that had also been rescued from rising lake waters and put there.

Came back and then left the Prince Abbas for good.

Got a minivan over the Aswan High Dam and stopped on top for some photos.

Then down to through Aswan to the Nile where we had a felucca boat ride down the Nile. That was pretty amazing and very peaceful.

This brought us to our new ship, the Giselle, a couple of kilometres down the river.

Checked in and had lunch. This ship does buffet style meals instead of off a menu, but the buffets looked amazing. Also a lot more people on this boat (forty - seems a lot to us after the last boat of twenty one, but till nowhere near the boat's full capacity).

After lunch I lay down for a little while and attempted to sleep.

Then we headed out again to see a "Nubian Village". Actually the boat trip up the Nile I enjoyed more, getting to see some sights and lots of different birds. The village itself is a mudbrick village on an island in the Nile made up of people that were displaced by the filling of the dam. We were with some other groups, so it was like taking all these rich white people to see how the poor people lived, which made me feel a bit weird. Lots of little kids coming up with their hands out too asking for "baksheesh". At this point I was kicking myself that I'd forgotten the little bundle of pens that I brought for just this purpose. We stopped in one of the houses and went upstairs for some tea, which was nice.

Hopped on the boat again to go further down the same island to the Movenpick hotel for high tea at the top. The little restaurant area has three sixty degree views of Aswan and the river so had some nibblies and some yummy lemon drink and watched the sunset.

Back on another boat to get back to our big boat. They said we could sit on the roof if we wanted so I jumped at the chance (since the sun had set). There wasn't actually any seats so I stood there, but it was really pretty cruising down the Nile in the twilight.

Dinner was spectacular, but then we've come to expect that ;) But I actually ate very little (been eating far too much!).

Then to blog and bed.


Distance covered on the GPS: 51.2 km
Steps walked: 9584
Photos on the Canon: 317
Photos on the Sony: 36
Videos: 8
EGP Spent: 245

Very quiet day today.

Started early (up at 5:30). Buffet breakfast, then off the boat at 7:00 to head over to the Sebua temples.

Firstly the Sebua temple. I'm guessing this is where they got the inspiration for the city in The Ten Commandments with its gate and sphinx-lined entrance. (edit: probably not - see a later entry)

Then the Dakka temple.

And finally the Maharraqa temple.

So we were all hot and sweaty but back on the boat by 9am.

I didn't do much all morning. Attempted to sleep (given that it seems I've finally succumbed to the colds my parents have had for the past couple of week - epic grunt), but mostly failed. Did a bit of computer stuff and sorted out paperwork for the past few weeks and tidied that part of my suitcase. And fixed the strap on the little bag I bought a few days ago.

Lunch was pretty huge considering we were doing nothing all afternoon.

After lunch we circumnavigated all the floors on the boat to try and get our step count up.

Then I just vegged out and backed up photos and attempted to sleep (failed again :( ). I was going to have a go at getting some photos ready to blog, but I left my perl scripts that I use to make the process easier at home and couldn't be bothered rewriting them.

Went up to watch the sunset (not as good as last night). And then hung around to watch the moonrise. And could see Aswan in the distance.

We arrived at Aswan just on 7:30pm, so a bunch of us watched the mooring and were a bit late for dinner.

Dinner was lovely as always.

And then it's photos, blog, and bed.


Distance covered on the GPS: 158.5 km
Steps walked: 7782
Photos on the Canon: 196
Photos on the Sony: 22
Videos: 2
EGP Spent: 28

So I did something today that I think I've only ever done once before in my life - watch the sunrise and the sunset on the same day!

So our wakeup call this morning was at 4:15am.

!!

Yes, apparently there *is* a 4:15 in the morning.. who knew!

We were off the boat at 4:45 to walk around to the temples of Abu Simbel.

This was the best idea ever (the orginal itinerary has you going there at like three in the afternoon - when it's crazy hot and the lighting is all wrong). So we were sitting in front of the temples as the sun rose which was way cool. Had a look inside both temples. It's just amazing the amount of work that went into not only the original creation of the monuments, but also to move them to higher ground when the lake started filling up behind Aswan High Dam. The larger temple has not only the main passage, but also a series of little side rooms. We had the place almost entirely to ourselves. There was just one other couple that came and went.

So we had a couple of hours there, and were back on the boat a little before seven.

Cast off from our mooring and motored around to see the temples from the lake which was great as well. People on coach trips from Aswan were arriving as we left. They had to get up at like 2am or something silly to make it down for the early morning. Craziness!

Then we had breakfast - buffet style.

And then I attempted to get a little more sleep. Not sure how successful I was.

Our next stop was Qasr Ibrim. Although we didn't actually get off the boat, just had a look at the fortress and then moved on.

Lunch was off a menu again. Very swishy.

After lunch I washed three tshirts, then we stopped at Amada to see the temples. It was *hot* here! Got to the beach on lighters and saw the Amada temple. This temple they brought up the hill in one piece by reinforcing it and separating it from the bedrock and dragging the whole thing up the hill on railway tracks.

Also saw the smaller Derr temple and Pennut's tomb. Sadly a good chunk of the wall carvings in the tomb had been stolen in the 1960s after it was moved so there's great gouges in the walls where the carvings had been taken :(

Did a bit of computer stuff before afternoon tea, then I had a swim in the pool on the top deck. It's a bit of a silly shaped pool, either too deep or too shallow, but it was certainly refreshing!

Got out and watched the sunset. And then walked across to the other side of the boat and saw the moonrise! (well it had already risen) I think it's a perigee full moon tomorrow night. Must remember to try and see it.

Before dinner there were cocktails - there was a tequila sunrise, and a whiskey sour (I had that one - it was really nice), and a couple of non-alcoholic ones.

Dinner was a buffet of Egyptian food, which was pretty good.

Then back to the room to do photo and blog stuff.


Distance covered on the GPS: 149 km
Steps walked: 12333 (6000 before 7am!)
Photos on the Canon: 220
Photos on the Sony: 20
Videos: 11
EGP Spent: 23

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


Pretty quiet day today.

Breakfast was no more inspiring than yesterday. Checked out and was not sorry to see the back of that hotel.

We stopped briefly at the rest stop we stopped at on the way down. Then continued onto Karak Castle, built by the Crusaders.

I wasn't in the best of moods (lack of sleep and annoyance with hotel and hitting my head on the bus didn't help), so didn't take many photos.

Had lunch in a little restaurant in Karak, I think that belonged to a relative of our tour guide.

Our guide said he hated coming to Karak because of the traffic, and we could see why. We had to walk a couple of hundred metres up the hill because someone had just parked in the road so there wasn't enough room for the bus to get past. Then after lunch we had to get around this tiny corner with cars parked all around it. It took a miracle and some pretty skillful driving for the driver to get us out of that one! On the way down the hill we were going slow enough through all the traffic to actually watch the people going about their business, and looking at all the stores. It was actually pretty cool.

Then continued to Amman airport.

First step is security getting into the airport itself - everything is xrayed, metal detector and brief frisk search.

Getting through immigration was relatively painless, and then had two hours to kill. We were in a spot that was close enough to the Royal Jordanian lounge to pick up their wifi, so sat and read news feeds on my phone.

They didn't open the gate itself until just before boarding, when it was security again to get to the gate.

Had a little Embraer 195 jet that was only about 1/2 to 2/3 full. And it conveniently has a small hook on the seat in front for hanging GPSes :)

Had a grumpy flight attendant who made us all put our backpacks in the overhead lockers, which is a first for me - every other flight I've ever taken I've been able to keep it under my seat.

It was pretty hazy and cloudy and the aeroplane windows were filthy so didn't see much, but did fly into Cairo from the south east, then looped around to fly across the city and land. We saw several pyramids and our hotel so that was pretty cool.

Getting through immigration at Cairo was also relatively painless. Withdrew some money and paid 95EGP for a Visa (cash only, not credit card - lame).

Then the tour bus to our hotel which took at least an hour.

This hotel is pretty damned fancy, but at least lives up to its price tag (which incidentally I have no idea what that is). This is the nicest of the "fancy" hotels we've stayed in. Haven't figured out how much the internet is here, it wouldn't connect me properly.

I am *exhausted*. Didn't get to bed til after 11pm, then woke up at 5am. But this afternoon I came down with the cold that's been going around the group (Dad's had it pretty bad the last couple of days). There's a 5am wakeup call to go to Alexandria tomorrow. I debated skipping it, but at least there'll be five hours on the bus to snooze.


Distance covered on the GPS: 1013 km
Steps walked: 13690, but I'm taking off 5500 due to bumpy roads screwing up the count
Photos on the Canon: 107
Photos on the Sony: 173
Videos: 1
JD Spent: 0.9
EGP Spent: 97.5

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

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

For the first time in days the parents didn't wake me up!! Although did wake up at 4:51 (which sadly I couldn't partake in last night due to the Holocaust Memorial day), but got back to sleep and woke up again at 6am.

Drove north and crossed the Jordan river (looking at the photos you'd think it was a river somewhere in Australia).

Crossing the Jordan River
Crossing the Jordan River

Stopped first at Bethsaida, which is a ruin town on the northern edge of the Sea of Galilee (at least it *used* to be on the edge - it's silted up since biblical times, so the edge is a few kilometres away now).

Bethsaida
Bethsaida

Bethsaida<br>Photo by Mum
Bethsaida
Photo by Mum

This used to be the edge of the Sea of Galilee
This used to be the edge of the Sea of Galilee

Then we headed north, going to the top of Mt Bental, which overlooks Syria. There were some foxholes and bunkers you would walk around so that was pretty cool, and the view was spectacular.

White Storks
White Storks

Mount Bental
Mount Bental

View north from Mount Bental<br>Photo by Dad
View north from Mount Bental
Photo by Dad

Dinosaur sculpture (there were heaps of these)
Dinosaur sculpture (there were heaps of these)

Soldier cutouts
Soldier cutouts

Mount Bental
Mount Bental

View into Syria
View into Syria

Bunkers and foxholes on the top of Mount Bental
Bunkers and foxholes on the top of Mount Bental

Looking north towards Mount Hermon
Looking north towards Mount Hermon

Battlements on Mount Bental<br>Photo by Dad
Battlements on Mount Bental
Photo by Dad

Bunker corridor on Mount Bental
Bunker corridor on Mount Bental

Looking out towards Syria
Looking out towards Syria

Barbed wire on Mount Bental<br>Photo by Mum
Barbed wire on Mount Bental
Photo by Mum

Continued north west over some mountains.

Looking towards Ein Kinya in northern Israel<br>Photo by Dad
Looking towards Ein Kinya in northern Israel
Photo by Dad

Next stop was Caesarea Philippi which had some springs that are some of the starts of the Jordan river, as well as the remnants of a bunch of old temples.

Caesarea Philippi<br>Photo by Dad
Caesarea Philippi
Photo by Dad

Springs at Caesarea Philippi
Springs at Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi
Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi
Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi<br>Photo by Dad
Caesarea Philippi
Photo by Dad

Caesarea Philippi<br>Photo by Dad
Caesarea Philippi
Photo by Dad

Caesarea Philippi
Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi
Caesarea Philippi

Caesarea Philippi
Caesarea Philippi

Continued on, coming very close to the border with Lebanon and driving past minefields.

Minefield in northern Israel
Minefield in northern Israel

Defence lines in northern Israel
Defence lines in northern Israel

Had lunch in a restaurant near Dafna. Their specialty was trout, which was nice once you could get past all the bones, but too much food, a lot of which got wasted because there was too much for us all to eat. :(

Trout at the restaurant
Trout at the restaurant

Then back to Tel Dan, another ruin city and another Jordan spring (which was a raging torrent of water due to the heavy winter they've had here). The old city wall was pretty cool and there was even the remnants of a chair in the city gate that the king would likely have sat in. A little way around from this was a city gate made out of mudbricks, which is something like 3500 years old!

Dan Stream in Tel Dan Reserve
Dan Stream in Tel Dan Reserve

Pool in Tel Dan Reserve<br>Photo by Dad
Pool in Tel Dan Reserve
Photo by Dad

Tel Dan
Tel Dan

Tel Dan
Tel Dan

Tel Dan
Tel Dan

Lizard at Tel Dan
Lizard at Tel Dan

Dad sitting at the entrance square of Tel Dan
Dad sitting at the entrance square of Tel Dan

Mum at Tel Dan<br>Photo by Dad
Mum at Tel Dan
Photo by Dad

Tel Dan<br>Photo by Mum
Tel Dan
Photo by Mum

Ancient mud brick city gate at Tel Dan
Ancient mud brick city gate at Tel Dan

And then back to the hotel. Went down to the lake to document it because the water was so blue. Then got caught up on news feeds (or at least to the point that if I don't have internet again before I get to London Google won't delete them on me).

Sailing boats on the Sea of Galilee (sorry my head wasn't on straight)
Sailing boats on the Sea of Galilee (sorry my head wasn't on straight)

Tiberias
Tiberias

Distance covered on the GPS: 163.7km
Steps walked: 13080
Photos on the Canon: 444
Photos on the Sony: 15
Videos: 26
NIS Spent: 15