Day 1-2 - Saturday-Sunday 14-15 April - Sydney to Tel Aviv

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Not sure if this should be day 1, or day 1 and day 2. Because it certainly covers two full days. My entire weekend was spent getting to the other side of the planet.

It's 5pm here. Midnight in Canberra.

So I guess we should start from the beginning hey?

Got a reasonable chunk of what I had to do done before I left. A few things outstanding. An internet connection here would be kinda handy for that .. hrmm.

Got a lift to the airport (thanks Dave!). Checked in, and checked my bag all the way through (four flights - yipe!)

Qantas 737-800 VH-TJR at Canberra Airport
Qantas 737-800 VH-TJR at Canberra Airport

First flight (Canberra to Sydney) was pretty uneventful. Took off to the north so got a decent view of Canberra from my window seat. Flew over the Sutherland Shire coming into Sydney (so saw my parent's house and mine in the distance too), then swung out over the ocean before coming in on 34L.

Canberra from the plane
Canberra from the plane

Gungahlin from the plane
Gungahlin from the plane

Gunning from the plane
Gunning from the plane

Sutherland Shire from the plane
Sutherland Shire from the plane

Como from the plane - look mum I can see your house!
Como from the plane - look mum I can see your house!

Transferred over on the Qantas tarmac tour bus to the international terminal.

Then went and found the gate, and more importantly, power points to charge a few things.

Cathay Pacific A330-300 B-LAN at Sydney Airport
Cathay Pacific A330-300 B-LAN at Sydney Airport

Second flight (Sydney to Hong Kong) was on Cathay Pacific, on an A330, and this was a pretty decent flight. Except for one small glitch.

This.  This is why you can't trust travel agents to book seats.
This. This is why you can't trust travel agents to book seats.

But it was a nice modern plane with a really nice in-flight entertainment system with a good touch screen. Except for one small glitch. Finding the volume control took me ages and I ended up having to read the help to figure out how to do it. Turns out you have to press *outside* the screen for those functions. Yeah really intuitive design there guys. Not. The people in front of me were struggling with it too. I ended up watching three movies - The Artist, The Muppets and War Horse. Also a special on the Titanic (topical, since it was sailing to its doom exactly 100 years ago at that point).

Limited view of Sydney from the plane
Limited view of Sydney from the plane

This would have been so awesome with a *real* window seat
This would have been so awesome with a *real* window seat

Full zoom and you can *almost* forget the wing is there
Full zoom and you can *almost* forget the wing is there

Late lunch on the plane
Late lunch on the plane

Flew in around some pretty cool clouds around Hong Kong. Went through security (I always wonder why you have to do this when you've just come off a plane that's already been checked) then walked and walked and walked to my next gate. DaveO was not kidding when he said Hong Kong airport was huge! In the end only had about fifteen minutes at the gate before my flight was called. That's cutting it a bit fine!

Long neck of Hong Kong Airport.  Doc was right, this place is huge!
Long neck of Hong Kong Airport. Doc was right, this place is huge!

So the third flight (Hong Kong to Zurich) was twelve hours of pain. I was trying to sleep so didn't have dinner, and didn't watch anything. Didn't really sleep. Got hungry during the night and had to get some snacks. Gave up at one point and watched My Week with Marilyn. But really I just watched the flight track on the back of the seat. It was pretty tortuous.

While on the plane I heard these two girls talking to an American guy about where they were going, but wasn't really paying attention. And as we got off I found out they were going to Israel and were going to Tel Aviv on the same flight as me. So later when we were trying to find out what gate to go to next I said gate E. They were from Sydney and going to Tel Aviv for a Bar Mitzva (sp??). So we all hung out in Zurich airport together for the next two hours.

Lovely mother and daughter I met during the transfer of planes in Zurich
Lovely mother and daughter I met during the transfer of planes in Zurich

Me on the terminal train in Zurich
Me on the terminal train in Zurich

Needs more cowbell!
Needs more cowbell!

So the last flight was from Zurich to Tel Aviv. I couldn't even watch the GPS track this time as it was borked. So I attempted to doze (failed) and watched the Greek islands go by (after the clouds had cleared). The Mediterranean is very blue. So blue that clouds don't cast a shadow. That's what it seems like anyway heh.

My monitor was broken, no video for me
My monitor was broken, no video for me

Lunch? on the plane
Lunch? on the plane

Looking across to Dirfi mountain in Greece
Looking across to Dirfi mountain in Greece

Athens
Athens

Athens International Airport
Athens International Airport

Gyaros
Gyaros

Rineia, Delos and Mikonos
Rineia, Delos and Mikonos

The clouds didn't cast any shadow it was all so blue
The clouds didn't cast any shadow it was all so blue

Chocolate on the plane
Chocolate on the plane

Tel Aviv (our hotel was the one on the right of the three in the bottom right)
Tel Aviv (our hotel was the one on the right of the three in the bottom right)

Tel Aviv, including City Hall
Tel Aviv, including City Hall

Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv

Tel Aviv Airport
Tel Aviv Airport

After an eternity we finally landed, but they parked us off in a corner of the airport and said they'd be processing our passports at the old terminal. Seems there's been some sort of festival here and they were worried about demonstrations.. or something.

So I asked that my passport/visa be stamped on a loose sheet, as they say you should do that if you're ever likely to be going to any islam countries, including Malaysia and Indonesia. So that was all cool, and then we got onto more busses to go to the other terminal to pickup our bags.

But at this point they took my loose sheet. And I'm going .. hang on a sec.. don't I need that? But so many people were coming through and they were being taken from all of them. I'd read a horror story about this on the web where this happened to someone and they had all sorts of dramas trying to sort it out. So I just *know* it's going to happen to me. Probably when I try to go to Jordan they'll freak out that there's no evidence I entered the country. hrmmmmmmmm

But then I saw my name on a card, so went over. It was an airport worker who was sorting out my hotel transfer. So I asked her about the stamp, but she said it should be ok. But she wasn't terribly confident about that. So I quickly went to an ATM then went through customs. I asked her if it was true that you needed to declare cameras and laptops etc, but she didn't think you did. Again, not too confidently :( What's the bet that I'm going to have dramas leaving the country because of *that* too?? :(

So had the shuttle to myself to the hotel. The guy might have been fishing for a tip but I'm like.. I've got no money.. (unless you have change of 100 shekels..hrmm). Checked in ok but there were guys insisting on bringing my bag up. And I'm like.. I've dragged this suitcase all over the world. I can take it up an elevator by myself. And guess what, the place has internet, with a fee (don't know how much). So it seems the fancier the hotel, the more nonsense you have to deal with, and the more likely you are to have to pay for internet. Grunt.

High rise offices in Tel Aviv
High rise offices in Tel Aviv

It's very hot here. I was going to go on a mission to see a few things, but it's too late and it's too much effort. So might just go outside and watch the sun set. Well, if I could see the sun through the clouds..

Hotel room at the Renaissance (I had a cot bed)
Hotel room at the Renaissance (I had a cot bed)

View from our hotel room
View from our hotel room

So seven hours later.

I did go for a little walk down on the beach. Touched the Mediterranean Sea. Then had a shower and went downstairs for dinner. All by myself. I must have looked like a bit of a loser.

On the beach
On the beach

Beach frontage
Beach frontage

Sunset over the Mediterranean Sea
Sunset over the Mediterranean Sea

Looking towards Old Jaffa
Looking towards Old Jaffa

I tried to stay awake as long as possible after dinner, as that would be the best way to reset the body clock, but I was simply not functioning. So after repacking my bags and rearranging everything, I collapsed into bed around 9:30.

The parents are due here any time now along with the rest of the group. But I'm up now because waiters came to do the door with plates of food for dinner (since they were meant to get dinner but the restaurant is only open til 9:30pm). I wasn't quite functioning, so let them in, where they saw the laptop setup. Hope they don't try and come back for it tomorrow....

Oh well, might do some photos stuff. I really don't know that I'll be able to get photos up as I go this trip .. we'll see...

Distance covered on the GPS: 20439 km
Steps walked: 6008+8113
Photos on the Canon: 266+66
Photos on the Sony: 286+30
Videos: 0

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