Hi again everyone! Sorry these posts really aren’t getting any more frequent… I actually have some kind of a title so I’m feeling pretty confident this post is going to blow your mind…
So from where we left off the last post it was mid last week. I’m pretty sure it was Wednesday (one of my less busy days) and I had finally worked out that I have Skype-ing abilities. It was an awesome day of just being able to relax and being able to talk to people back home! I was able to catch up with Tamika and Jez and as I’m sure most of you are all aware, 2011’s year 12’s have mostly all finished their HSC exams now. I’m very much missing the very regular BBQ’s at Jez’s place and the (sadly) irregular Friday afternoon hangouts with Tamika!
I caught Dad after he had just finished his long work day and we had a lot of things to catch up on and work out. I have an amazing father who is incredibly supportive and he has been such a blessing to me especially in regards to this trip (Thanks dad!). I also got to catch up with the rest of the family all at once and it was so nice to see all of their lovely faces. It really made me realise how much I miss them! At the moment it looks like the plan once I get back will be to do my best to find a job somewhere and start uni in march.
Oh and I realised that I told people I’d send them an update of my flights but I can’t remember everyone I told so maybe if you guys could send me an email and I’ll send you a copy? But basically, I fly out of Tel Aviv (Israel) on the 30th of November. I arrive in Nepal, after close to 40 hours of travelling on the 1st of December. I fly out of Nepal on the 3rd of February and am in Thailand from the 4th to the 18th. Then back home! However, the last bit of this could possibly change a little depending on Dad. But yeah that’s basically it.
I also caught up with Steve on Skype which was excellent : )
Friday Joel and I left the flat some crazily early hour (8ish) to catch the bus to Jerusalem! After two buses and something like 3 hours we arrived at the central bus stop in Jerusalem. It actually took a while to sink in that we were actually there and probably sometime the next day did I actually realise the significance of where we were.
It was heaps different to being there the first time with Christina. This time it was just Joel and I free to go where we wanted and to explore where ever we felt like. We eventually found our way to the free tram that runs through the middle Jerusalem. After getting on and off a few times and doing a fairly large amount of walking we arrived at the old city. http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/jerusalem-map has a pretty good map, try clicking on the different options in the top right. My first impressions of the old town was pretty awesome. It was filled with all these narrow little winding streets and it was only due to Joel’s previous experience that we were able to find the Hostel so quickly. The whole atmosphere was pretty crazy, the old town even still has its walls surrounding the area. Sadly I feel like it’s something you’d really need to experience for yourself though.
Once we arrived at the Hostel Joel strangely asked the guy at reception if there was any space on the roof to sleep. This really surprised me, however in hindsight I am so so glad he asked it. The roof of the Hostel was amazing. Here is a very basic photo I found using google images http://www.flickr.com/photos/agroffman/4917976322/. The hostel was maybe 4-5 stories high and had some amazing views of the city from the roof (you can try google searching for other people’s photos, I searched “citadel hostel Jerusalem roof view” and it came up with some pretty good ones further down the page. Sorry I can’t really upload mine). The hostel also provided us with mattresses and there was some kind of cloth roof to “protect” us from the rain. Plenty of people gave us crazy looks because it is also so cold here at the moment but both of us had brought our huge and extremely warm sleeping bags. We were really blessed by clear blue skies the whole time that we were there.
The first day we spent just looking around the old city with the highlights of seeing the Western (Wailing) Wall and going to the mount of Olives. I particularly enjoyed the mount of Olives because of all the history of it and it also has amazing views of the city. As we started to walk around and explore it started to become apparent to me just how much the history of the city really is its history. All of the major sites have really just become places for tourists covered with all kinds of buildings. It was so different to the grassy hills and preserved history that I had imagined. Due to the huge amounts of war in the city and all the diverse cultures, things just couldn’t stay the same as they were 2000 years ago.
Later that night we saw the Western wall at the start of Shabbat. Oh that reminds me, here in Israel Saturday is Shabbat, which is the Sabbath. Also the next day also starts at sundown rather than at midnight. But yeah so Friday at sundown was the start of the Sabbath so a huge amount of the religious Jews living in Jerusalem will all flock to the wall and pray for several hours. It was amazing to see, but apparently it is nothing compared to being there during some of the major Jewish holidays (according to Joel).
Sleeping on the roof was awesome! I love hostels because of all the interesting people who you meet and they are REALLY cheap! I paid $20 Australian to be right in the middle of one of the most amazing cities in the world, and this was for two nights!
The next morning we went on my third “Neweurope” tour. These tours are seriously amazing, I recommend them so highly. The tour showed us around all the different districts of the old city while giving us stacks of interesting information. The tours are also awesome because it gives you a great chance to meet other people travelling while walking to the different locations. I started talking to a Dutch girl because I noticed she was on the tour by herself and didn’t seem to know anyone else. At the end of the tour the three of us went out to lunch and ended up sitting around talking for almost 3 hours. We then didn’t really have much else to do, being the Sabbath almost everything everywhere was closed. However the other thing that we really wanted to do was to go to the Suq. Even though it was closed we walked for what seemed like hours to find it closed. We eventually said good-bye to our new friend, headed back to the Hostel and enjoyed an incredibly windy, yet fantastic night on the roof.
The next morning we woke up early and headed back to Haifa due to Joel’s need to study. The bus trip back seemed to fly by probably because of my array of “fun” bus games. Animal, Mineral, Vegetable or 20 questions is normally the first game I go for. However Joel completely ruined this game because he choose some ridiculous scientific word that actually turned out to be a type of complex pattern rather than an actual object. After heatedly explaining how he wasn’t actually allowed to use something like this he finally admitted he was wrong after we used google to prove I was right. I did however get my revenge by using “Polka Dots” for my next turn to “Illustrate my point”
It was so nice to get back to Haifa. It was weird but it was definitely like coming home after being away for a few days. It really has become my home after only a couple of weeks.
The team flat here has a bicycle, as I mentioned a couple of posts ago. I’ve loved using it to get around Haifa and am really enjoying just going for rides around town. Almost every second day I ride back and forth to the local shops to buy small things for people just as an excuse to get on the bike. I am very much missing my Skateboard though!
The weather is getting pretty cold here but I am loving the complete change to Australia and I am expecting this to be nothing compared to Nepal.
I think that’s pretty much all for now. Sorry there wasn’t really any funny stories this post… Oh, if you’d like to Skype with me it’d be easiest for me if you tell me a good time for you and I can try work around that. Normally good times I can work around are from 6:00pm till 12ish/late (Australian time) most days of the week.