Monday, August 6, 2012

Okay, okay - try this. First Day of our Holiday

12/13 June  HOME - JERUSALEM
The longest day of my life.  I'm not entirely certain when one finished and the next one started.  We started on the lunchtime bus to Brisbane, followed by a transfer to a bus going to the airport.  One young asian traveller hadn’t been told to change buses for Toowoomba at the Transit Centre, and was rather confused to end up back at the airport where he came from.
Ran into Ken at the airport, then met some others near the check-in.  Greg made it at the time he’d said, but most of us had checked in by then.
Planes are cramped, and sleeping with little ability to recline isn't conducive to actual sleep.  Watched half of Downton Abbey in between drinking and looking at any lights that came up as we passed over Indonesia, Singapore, India, etc. Possibly slept for 3 or 4 hours, but not much.  Of course, chasing the sun (or rather the dark) meant that it was 15 hours through the night, we arrived in the dark at Dubai, then were in Amman by about 9.30 am. 
We were met by a lovely guide, Gehan, who gave us lots of information, possibly too much for our tired minds, but we kept asking questions.  It was really hard to get photos in the bus, desert hills with no planning.  House, desert, house, new road, tents and camels, irrigation business.  Stupid digital cameras take too long to switch on and be ready. I would never try to keep a herd (what is the collective noun?) of camels on a town block not much bigger than ours.
We descended into the Jordan valley.  The country changed a lot, more irrigation for one thing. You can see the hills of Israel in the distance, and our first glimpse of the Dead Sea as we came across. It was very blue and doesn't really look dead at all.  There is a constant haze in the distance, whether pollution or simply dust, or a combination of the two.
Crossing the border from Jordan into Israel took some doing.  I'm not certain which of the checkpoints were Jordanian to get out, which were Israeli and which we're Palestinian authority, but there were lots of them, most with guard houses, razor wire and concrete defensive structures. We came over King Hussein bridge. No water, tiny stream. Not much work in crossing it today, I think the Bible is making a big fuss about nothing - I'd be more worried about snakes in the long grass than the depth of the water.  And I definitely wouldn't be trying to dig around for 12 stones to build a cairn to celebrate the event.  Then again, if God's telling your illustrious leader to do something, it probably makes sense to just do it.
One of the crossing places we got VIP treatment, waiting in comfortable seats in airconditioning, with continual offers of drinks while they scanned our luggage and did something with our passports.
The Ecce Homo Convent is interesting, with many stages of building within it. This means lots of stairs. It's also within the old city, which means a tractor comes to take your luggage, and you walk up and through the Lion Gate to get here.  Most of this part of the city is made up of buildings that have been pulled down and then re-erected many times. Arches that were once impressive become much smaller as the ground level rises within them as each occupation layer is built upon the last.
By this time I'd lost my ankles entirely.  A short lie down with legs on Mum’s port on a table at the end of my bed, then a shower before going our for an orientation walking tour.  The architecture is amazing. A very old city that has been destroyed and resurrected many times, some stone re-used so that you get a price of decorated pediment in the middle of a wall.  Other places an arched opening is "bricked in".  Some stones are so old that you can hardly see the decoration any more.
Dinner started with a cool cucumber soup, which sounds a bit weird, but was really refreshing. Then salad and stewed "granny" meat, with a very light chocolate cake for desert.
Early to bed was essential.  Dinner at seven was about 2 am our time with only a few hours sleep the night before.

**For some reason, blogger won't let me upload photos from my computer.  I haven't tried since this new layout existed.  I have no idea how to get my photos on any of the media that it will permit me to upload to.  So the chance that I'll be sharing scores of photos on my blog?   ....Hmmm.

****Got the photos to work!  So there you go!


gartcott aka Penny Hannah said...

I felt hot, dusty and tired just reading that! Sounds like the start of an amazing journey all the same. I'm hanging out for a time when I can be whooshed up to a space 'holding station' where intercontinental travellers can wait in comfort until the earth turns to wherever one wants to get off and then be whooshed back to earth again - no jet lag!

Persevere with the photos though. A travel blog without pictures is a bit like a roast dinner without the veggies.

Givinya De Elba said...

Thanks for posting Jen, sounds so exciting! Sorry Blogger is saying No to you. I've had my struggles.

Hippomanic Jen said...

Absolutely waiting for the space 'holding station'. Great idea!