Results tagged “Tourist Traps” from Eurasia 2012

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

Woke up a couple of times in the night, but eventually slept through til 6:45am.. w00t!

Today we headed south. Drove first through Tiberias, which was easy because it was the Sabbath so nothing was open and no traffic around.

The first stop was Yardenit, an area on the Jordan river just south of the Sea of Galilee. This area has been completely commercialised and is used to perform baptisms. So we get there and are told we can spend half an hour looking around. And I'm like.. you rush us through cool stuff but give us half an hour at a tourist trap? The river was cool and all, but hardly "authentic" (they think Jesus was baptised a lot closer to Jericho, but that whole area is sealed off by the military; plus, the river is completely surrounded by eucalypts which makes it seem like just any other Australian river, not a biblical one). Fortunately Bruce hated the commercialisation of it and got us out of there a little early.

People being baptised in the Jordan River<br>Photo by Dad
People being baptised in the Jordan River
Photo by Dad

Jordan River.  Looks like somewhere in New South Wales.
Jordan River. Looks like somewhere in New South Wales.

Next stop was Bet She'an, a cool old Roman city. We had a few talks at the beginning then we had half an hour to roam ourselves. Could have used a bit (lot) longer but did get to go up the hill so got a bunch of cool photos of the city.

End of the hippodrome in Bet She'an<br>Photo by Dad
End of the hippodrome in Bet She'an
Photo by Dad

Bet She'an park sign.  Notice the bushes of rosemary - this stuff was everywhere!
Bet She'an park sign. Notice the bushes of rosemary - this stuff was everywhere!

Bet She'an<br>Photo by Dad
Bet She'an
Photo by Dad

Bet She'an
Bet She'an

Roman bath house in Bet She'an
Roman bath house in Bet She'an

Toilet block in Bet She'an
Toilet block in Bet She'an

Tree stump on a hill next to the town.  This was put there for the movie Jesus Christ Superstar filmed there in 1973
Tree stump on a hill next to the town. This was put there for the movie Jesus Christ Superstar filmed there in 1973

Main street of Bet She'an
Main street of Bet She'an

Mosaic in Bet She'an
Mosaic in Bet She'an

Collanade in Bet She'an<br>Photo by Dad
Collanade in Bet She'an
Photo by Dad

At the top of Tel Bet She'an
At the top of Tel Bet She'an

Bet She'an from above
Bet She'an from above

Theatre and main street
Theatre and main street

Byzantine Sigma
Byzantine Sigma

Bet She'an<br>Photo by Dad
Bet She'an
Photo by Dad

Bet She'an<br>Photo by Dad
Bet She'an
Photo by Dad

Theatre
Theatre

Theatre
Theatre

Drove through a checkpoint and into the Palestinian territory of the West Bank. Was a little nervous about this actually.

By this point the landscape was a lot more arid, and a lot more like I imagined Israel would be like. By the time we got to Jericho it was *very* arid.

Arid hills in the Jordan valley<br>Photo by Dad
Arid hills in the Jordan valley
Photo by Dad

Looking up the monastery in Jericho
Looking up the monastery in Jericho

Monastery in Jericho
Monastery in Jericho

At Jericho we had lunch at the "Temptation" restaurant (supposedly this is where Jesus was tempted for 40 days in the desert). Really it's just a big tourist trap, with shops attached to the restaurant and kickbacks for the tour operators. Still, the food was pretty good, even if the toilets were a nightmare.

Glassware for sale in Jericho
Glassware for sale in Jericho

Cable car over ancient Jericho<br>Photo by Dad
Cable car over ancient Jericho
Photo by Dad

Elisha Spring Fountain
Elisha Spring Fountain

Peacock jump
Peacock jump

After lunch we took the cable car up the side of the mountain. Had a whole ten minutes at the top which by the time we went for a walk up to see if we could see the monastery gave us really no time at all to enjoy the view, I just got all hot and sweaty (good for the step count though I suppose).

Township from the cable car
Township from the cable car

Going up the cable car
Going up the cable car

Mountainside
Mountainside

Looking back down towards Jericho<br>Photo by Dad
Looking back down towards Jericho
Photo by Dad

Monastery in Jericho
Monastery in Jericho

Came back down and had a wander around the ruins of the old city. The place was made of mudbricks so there's nothing much left, but there is a tower that they think is one of the oldest human constructions still surviving on the planet.

Ancient tower in Jericho - one of the oldest man-made structures in existence
Ancient tower in Jericho - one of the oldest man-made structures in existence

Ancient Jericho
Ancient Jericho

Ancient Jericho
Ancient Jericho

Continued driving south through lots of desert and past the odd random camel just standing around.

Random camel
Random camel

Then it was driving past the Dead Sea on the left and cliffs and canyons of very loose looking rocks on the right. I was vaguely worried we'd be crushed in a rock slide. The Dead Sea sure was pretty though.

Dead Sea
Dead Sea

Dead Sea
Dead Sea

Canal entrance to the southern Dead Sea
Canal entrance to the southern Dead Sea

Dead Sea hotels
Dead Sea hotels

Got to our hotel on the Dead Sea (I was right - the "fancier" the hotel the less likely you are to get free internet - $15/day here. And "fancy" prices for drinks here too - about two and a half times the prices of the last hotel. I used the drink voucher we got, but didn't buy any more).

Our hotel room with nice big bed for me
Our hotel room with nice big bed for me

Of course the first thing we all had to do was go for a swim in the Dead Sea. Which was bizarre and cool and slimy and salty.

So yeah, you totally float much much higher than you do in regular water. It's really hard to describe what it was like. Crazy!

Floating in the Dead Sea<br>Photo by Dad
Floating in the Dead Sea
Photo by Dad

Floating in the Dead Sea<br>Photo by Dad
Floating in the Dead Sea
Photo by Dad

Floating in the Dead Sea
Floating in the Dead Sea

After we'd had enough we headed back to the hotel pools for a more regular swim (although they had a pool with Dead Sea water in it, so had another float there too).

Then washed my hair, had a drink with some of the others, had dinner, downloaded photos and suddenly it's 10pm.. hrmmm..

Hotel pool by night
Hotel pool by night


Distance covered on the GPS: 226.4km (didn't get above sea level all day!)
Steps walked: 15371
Photos on the Canon: 731
Photos on the Sony: 86
Videos: 22
NIS spent: 10