Steve Watson


      Information: Travels: Israel: Diary







Came into Israel by bus across the Allenby Bridge. When we got to the Israeli side we were inspected and questioned again by security staff who all looked like pretty schoolgirls. In uniforms. With guns. It was quite bizarre. Outside the inspection building we - myself and some random others, that is - got another service (taxi) to Jerusalem. (30 NIS - NZ$13.20) We were deposited at the Damascus Gate. 


So here I am, in JERUSALEM


The Damascus Gate

Named because the Road to Damascus leaves from this gate. It and the Jaffa Gate are the main gates of the Old City, and a lot of the city's life is conducted around those gates. This is a characteristic focus of Near Eastern cities that we know goes back at least to the ka-gal of the Sumerian uru.  


The Old City

Within the ancient walls. (But not as ancient as you might think.) Note the 'diversity.' Celebrate it!

The road coming out of the Damascus gate towards the zigzag in the Via Dolorosa is the main street. My hotel was in a side street about halfway to that point. (Note that this map is an update. The tunnel is after my time there.) 


The Madaba Map

For interest's sake: a VIth C Byzantine map of the city; from the oldest surviving map of the Holy Land.

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre is at the centre, on the Cardo, the central road running from the Northern Gate (almost the Damascus Gate) to the Nea Church..


Wandered about the main streets until I found the Al Hashemi and booked in. US$20 per night. A bit expensive, but I think my budget can stand it. Did some more exploring while I was waiting for the floor to dry (it's just been cleaned,) looking for ancient monuments. Saw a few but they weren't really outstanding. After I got back I read for a while (and dozed a bit too) trying to figure out what was worth doing here.


Went out again to dine at the Jerusalem Star. Quite a good-sized portion and only 25 NIS; but when I left the restaurant everything seemed to be closing down, and it was only 5:30. By 6pm things were looking pretty dead and lights were going out everywhere. I walked out the Damascus Gate and up Ha-Neviim ('The Prophets') Street, then back around to Jaffa Gate, and down David St.; and then it just stopped where it should have crossed Khan ez-Zeit, soI backtracked a bit and still couldn't find it. Finally a kid said 'go this way,' which I did and thanked him, and then he said 'give me money,' and I said, after some attempts at politeness and as he became more and more insolently insistent, 'Just fuck off.' So that wasn't very pleasant.


Incidentally, I met Jamal at the border (my friend from the ferry to Aqaba.) He was coming in with his brother.







Went all over the place this morning. Did the Western Wall and the Haram ash-Sharif first of all. There's an amazing amount of security around here. There's a check before you get to the Wall, and another check when you pass through to the Mount. The Wall itself is a bit of a non-event (what do you expect? it's only a bit of a wall after all,) but it was interesting to see all of the oh so pious, head-bobbers knocking themselves out at the bottom. This being a 'Holy' place, I had to put a paper plate on my head. Doesn't this just demonstrate the triviality of the religious mind? At one stage I saw a wizened old crone telling off a group of tourist girls, apparently because one of them was in shorts. It occurs to me that trying to foist your own strictly local traditions of modesty upon all those to whom the site is sacred or even of interest is a pretty arrogant sort of thing to do. It might even be argued that making a fuss about it is putting your own interests before the interest of God in receiving pilgrims. But I'm sure that couldn't be right, could it.


The Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock

The wall forms one face of the Temple Mount, which is now occupied by the 'Noble Sanctuary.' 

The Muslims built their al Aqsa mosque etc. on top of the Jews' most sacred site.


Wailing Wall

Worshippers gather to bob their heads worshipfully.

This is the men's section. Women have to bob their heads elsewhere, otherwise all the men will just be thinking impure thoughts, and God will be ANGRY! Grrr!


Votive letters in the Wall's cracks

Note the characteristically Herodian style of the blocks.


The Haram was good. The al Aqsa mosque is a bit of a nullity, but the Dome of the Rock was truly impressive. Of course it's not in its original state, but the interior was nevertheless quite beautiful. In fact, apart from the M. Ali mosque in Cairo it's the only really impressive Islamic building that I've seen. One just has to ignore the story of the Rock which goes with it. The Rock is supposed to be that on which Abraham was going to sacrifice Isaac - or Yishmael, as Muhammad mistransmitted the story - and is also the place from which Muhammad leapt up to Heaven on his steed Buraq, (or was it by climbing a chain (silsilah) or ladder which hung from Heaven to the spot now honoured by the Dome of the Chain. [Ye Gods. And all of that is pure invention on the basis of a few lines that probably refer to Muhammad's night flight to Medina ahead of his Meccan enemies. There was no mosque, further or otherwise, here at the time of this supposed hijra' and mi'raj. Surely that's obvious.]


The Dome and the Mosque of the Chain


The Dome of the Rock


Al Aqsa and its fawwara


Walked about in the Jewish Quarter for a while. Eventually managed to see the sights in the Herodian Area after tracking down a ticket seller in the Wohl Museum. Could they possibly make this any less convenient? The Archaeological sites were truly strange. Way underground, and under all the buildings still being used, are chambers which show the mansions and city walls, etc. of the old Old City. 


Pretty neat actually.


An archaeological museum in a basement


Retraced the Via Dolorosa and the Stations of the Cross, until they disappeared in the vicinity the Church of the Holy Sepulchre - the entrance to which I was quite unable to locate. Walking in circles around where it obviously had to be and not being able to see it was very frustrating. 


Via Dolorosa

The street name is actually carved in the wall under the arch.

The carpets are just part of a stall-holder's display of wares.


St. Anne's House 

God's grandmother immaculately conceived Mary here


The Site of St. Anne's Accouchement

Presumably not the original decoration - in fact, in what way can this possibly be meant to be the original site? A most odd claim.


I gave up on that quest for the time being and tried to go back to the bank I saw earlier. It is supposed to be open at 16:30 but it's not, so I came back to my room for a rest and will try to change a few dollars here before I go out for a look at Jaffa Street. ... Just did it. $US20 = 80 NIS. That's a pretty good rate I think.


I walked out to the claimed centre of West Jerusalem (the new city that the Israelis built;) but there was really not much happening. I suppose I could have walked up into the Russian Compound and sampled the pub scene, but I didn't. Had a couple of Pizza hut slices (17.5 ש) and then walked back eating a tub of strawberry ice cream (6 ש).







Had a shower without any fuss and bother this morning then headed off in search of the elusive Church of the Holy Sepulchre - which this time I found with no bother at all. For such a hugely important site the entrance is oddly inconspicuous; merely a doorway in a corner of an alleyway. The neighbouring Lutheran church is much more eye-catching


Church of the Holy Sepulchre


Inside, it is less organized than several buildings I've seen being built or restored. It is, nevertheless, a strangely affecting place; which effect is possibly due to the darkness, the odd nooks and crannies and doors left ajar revealing new vistas, and especially the way one switches from one community to another as one goes around the various chapels. What it actually reminds me of is one of those illustrated adventure books that takes you from episode to episode by directing you to different pages. It's a sort of miniature of a 3-dimensional labyrinth where each node is a new culture. I thought it was really quite neat. 


Took a few photos of what I considered to be interesting stuff. I liked the Armenian chapel which led to a raw rock cavern below 'Calvary.' I think Sue will enjoy seeing these photos.


The Franciscan chapel in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre


The Holy Sepulchre itself and in person

Worshippers and pilgrims enter the sepulchre itself to observe the actual tomb of Christ


Armenian Grotto

There are small crosses carved in the walls of the descending passage. As you go down you run your hand over these crosses, A band on the wall has been worn smooth by thousands of hands.

A fissure opened in the rock at the crucifixion (und die felsen zeriss!) allowed Christ's blood to drip upon the remains of Adam below him - so they say. 


Later in the day I did the tour of Migdal David. Very interesting, but too many people, too much emphasis on Judaism (understandable, but ...,) and rather too long without being really informative. This is not to criticise the guides who had no opportunity to do anything deeper.


On the other hand, I was surprised to hear general incredulity expressed in the group when explanation was given for the sanctity of Jerusalem to the Muslims. How ridiculous that they should believe that Muhammad rode to Heaven on a chimerical beast. As a non-religious, I can agree with that, but these were not non-religious people making the comments. I refrained from making the obvious comment that before you remove the mote of impossibility from your brother's eye you should remove the beam of nonsense from your own. Was it the idea of an ascent to Heaven that was absurd? - see Jesus, Ezekiel, Enoch; was it the strange beast? - see Ezekiel, Revelations; was it the ladder to Heaven? - see Jacob.


Anyway, following that tour I walked round the ramparts from Jaffa to Dung. This was pretty uninteresting since there are no sights to see and the ramparts are so high that you mostly only get glimpses out anyway.


Had a felafel and nes at a cafe in the Jewish Quarter, then walked down and along and through the Kidron Valley and up the Mount of Olives through (accidentally) the Jewish Cemetery. 


View from the Mount of Olives

The Mount has a rather tacky restaurant right at the top. I wish they wouldn't do that.


From the top of the Mount I walked down the path and saw lots of not very interesting sights. The one church that I would have liked a closer look at, the Russian one, was closed. A final uninteresting excursion was made to the Rockefeller Museum. I made the mistake of trying to follow the street signs; but they were worse than useless. They actually pointed away from the museum, as I eventually discovered after retracing my steps and determining to return to the Damascus gate and start again - and there it was! This was given a recommendation by the guidebook, but I wouldn't have agreed. The exhibits are mostly unlabelled and not intrinsically very interesting. I was worried that I might not have enough time to do the museum justice - only 55 minutes - but I'd seen all there was to see in 35 minutes.


Returned to al Wad for a 'hamburger'; i.e. a make-your-own felafel plate with a thin piece of meat rather than meat balls. Odd, but ok. I tried to tip the guy with a 5 agorot piece, which surprised him, and when I realised the worthlessness of the coin I'd offered we both had a laugh. Bloody tourists, eh?


Back to the Hostel and lights out about 7 pm to wake up at 2:30 am for my night excursion.







Wasn't able to get any sleep for some ridiculous reason, and was awake-ish at 2:30 when my alarm went and the guy knocked on my door. At 3:15 the night clerk came to say he was locking the doors and I had to go out now. As I was leaving there were other people, the Canadians, waiting in the lobby, so I guess he wasn't locking up quite immediately. I walked off anyway but he called me back saying 'you pay now' which I thought was both rude and stupid. I didn't pay. I told him that I was coming back, that I was trying to keep an appointment, and that it would be a big nuisance. I should actually have told him not to be a bloody idiot, and I wasn't going to be paying any hotel bills at 3:20 am. If he wanted daily payment he could have said so at any other time but never had. I think he was just being a rude dork, as usual.


It turned out that the Canadians were also coming on the same tour, and so were a couple of Kiwis from near VUW, and a bunch of Germans whom we had nothing to do with. We found that we were to be a convoy of two vehicles when we got properly started, but only one vehicle was leaving from our Damascus Gate.


Drove to Masada and strode to the top, once again outstripping the strollers. It was good to be there, but Masada is the sort of site which appears to its best from aerial photos.. There's not really a lot to see and the topography does not lend itself to vistas which can really capture the essential majesty of the location. I wonder what I would have thought of the place if it and its story hadn't captured my imagination as a child reading Yigael Yadin's book on the archaeology of the site. As it was, it did seem very impressive to my imagination. A most enjoyable experience. The walk back down was much easier.


Map of Masada

Note the Roman siege ramp to the East. Now judge from the photos what a piece of engineering that must have been. Think how annoyed the Romans must have been to get to the top and find no one who'd waited around to be slaughtered by them. Spoilsports.


Northern Palace


View of the Dead Sea

Which seems to be disappearing.


We were then delivered to the Ein Gedi 'beach' where we rather reluctantly dipped into the Dead Sea itself.  I say reluctantly because it was still only about 8:15 am and still pretty damn cold. There was also a strong wind and the sea was a bit rough. We ignored the 5 NIS changing rooms and stripped off on the 'beach' of mud and rock and all got in for the obligatory floating high experience. While I was in the water, one of the Canadian girls, the dark haired one, called out to ask where my camera was. She took a photo for me. Completely her own idea. I thought that was very nice of her. (All Canadians are nice. It's a law.) See, here's me:


Me in the Sea

Thanks Lin..


Had a couple of filled rolls on a park bench nearby and chatted with a couple more of the friendly Canucks. One of them had been around a bit. He was especially interesting to talk to. 


To Ein Gedi nature reserve and walked up a river to a fairly nice spot; then Keith and I started up the hill but gave up when we learned it would take about 2 hours. The end of this walk was a waterfall which fell from a ledge which almost overhung the sitting place. Here I took a bunch of photos of the Canadians for their records. (I also suspect I double clicked one of them accidentally.) An ice block after this was most welcome.


Ein Gedi


Drove back past Jericho and Qumran but didn't go into either site. At the time that suited me fine, since I was starting to get a bit tired, but looking back it would have been better to have insisted against the general consensus and made the effort to have a look. (On the other hand, I know from photos that there really wasn't anything for a non-archaeologist to see. Particularly not at Jericho.)


At Mar Saba and the monastery of St George we stopped for photo sessions (see below) and then we stopped for lunch.  That was quite amusing since we stopped outside an expensive restaurant whose owner welcomed us all and tried to get us to come in, but the others had been warned already about this and told about the good, cheap place next door, to which we went. I had two excellent felafels and a sprite for just 11 NIS. 


Mar Saba

An old monastery in the Judean desert. An impressive desolation surrounds it.


Our last stop was a panorama opportunity on the Mount of Olives, but since I'd been here yesterday that didn't interest me much. (I've been to Panorama too, as it happens.) By the time we got back, at about 2 pm, we were all exhausted and I just went back to my room and flopped down onto my bed. After a little while, however, I decided that I had to get up and make a move if I was going to get to the Israel Museum at a reasonable time. As I was going out the door, Lin, the Dark Canadian, told me that today was Friday - which hadn't really registered with me before - and that the museum was closed after 2pm on Fridays. They were going to watch the Franciscans do the Stations of the Cross, she said, and I was welcome to join them. Lacking anything better to do I agreed to go along. It turned out to be ok.


The procession involved several large crowds following different priests at the same time through the same routines, which made everything very hard to follow. Confusion was added by the attempts of worshippers of other faiths to make their presence felt. The Muslims decided they had to start calling out to prayer at the same time. And then there were little groups of the Haredi (or, at least, weird-hairy) Jews stumbling through the crowds as if in a daze. And, of course, there's the everyday chaos of the standard Arab street, because the Via Dolorosa is a shopping street in the Muslim Quarter. But everything seriously fell apart about the VIIth Station, where they raced through the office(s) before most of the crowd (which was a large one) had arrived. The best part, when I skipped ahead to where the action now was, was doing the Stations in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I really do like that place; it has such a mysterious atmosphere about it - but it's actually more of a Gothic horror castle atmosphere than a Delphic sibylline spiritual atmosphere. You just know there are hidden passages and dungeons. It's very cool.


They all went back for a bit of a nap and I went off looking for a GTIO, which I did not find in the place my guide said it would be. Nor could I find a Strudel's internet cafe. I found another brand of cafe but they were closed until 20:00 tomorrow. Sabbath got me again. I rested for a bit and then paid off my hotel bill and joined the others at Tabisco's Tea Rooms. This was a kind of dance club really. It was ok for one of those I guess, but not my sort of thing. The music was far too loud for conversation, and I don't do the spastic seizure thing. I bugged out and came home to my room at about 10pm. Pretty early really.







Felt awful this morning. Hot - and not from the weather. Shivering. And I spent a lot of time on the toilet. I felt a bit better later in the morning, and the headache gradually disappeared, but last night I was worried that I was coming down with something serious just as I needed to be active.


The day was a bit of a mess all round, actually. Apart from feeling not at all the fully healthy traveller, I had (see yesterday's notes) miscalculated the days. (I never look at the day notes in the diary I keep.) Today was the Sabbath and there seemed to be no buses running. In fact, there were some Arab buses but they weren't going anywhere useful to me. I struck out for the Central Bus Station, which was quite a march up Jaffa Street, and found it quite empty, with no notices indicating that they'd be starting to run again any time today. Therefore I consulted my guidebook - a lot - and headed back to pick up a sherut to Tel Aviv. 20 NIS and about an hour later the sherut arrived


and now I'm in TEL AVIV


Tel Aviv

My place is above the 'G' on Gordon Street (look for the Continental Hotel on the sea and go inland.)


The driver put me on a number 4 service/sherut (?) donwtown (4.2 NIS.) Looked at a few places but booked into Gordon's Inn, which is quite hotel-like, with a bar and soap and towels and toilet paper (which I really needed.) Breakfast was included and there was a complimentary lemon juice. But I didn't quite know what to make of breakfast; it was a self-serve of a salad, a bowl of cottage cheese, a bowl of honey, rolls, and orange juice. It was quite nice when I figured out what it all was.


Went to the beach, which was pretty crowded, and lay in the sun and swam (once) for three hours from 11:45. After that I wandered along to a cafe and had a bit of expensive lunch. I miss the cheap felafel places already. This cost me 61 NIS! I'm just glad that I didn't immediately expel it: that would have been very annoying.


Back to the hotel. Lay down for a little while, trying not to think of my bowels. Then had a shower. A very pleasant hot shower.


In the evening I tootled off to an internet cafe (somewhere along Dizengoff I think) and replied to Justine's email. She was very impressed that the last email was from Amman. Walked up and down the Promenade along the beach. Quite a lot of people there and some expensive restaurants. I thought I'd be wasting time and money having a big meal, so I just had a tub of ice cream. I noticed that Israeli girls are keen on mini skirts. Which is a Good Thing.







Bus to Tel Aviv Central; bus to Haifa; bus to Akko; walk to Akko Old City. I have to remark on two things: first, that almost everyone in Tel Aviv central was military - and mostly very young; and second, that public transport here is completely populated by the surly and uninterested types who tend, I think, to gravitate towards these jobs everywhere.


Anyway. In AKKO.


Map of Akko


Walked around Akko for about 30 minutes trying to find the hostels which were not well marked. After finally doing this I had a meal at a restaurant. I was feeling extremely tired and hungry and had a headache - possibly from dehydration. The meal was 4 very fatty lamb cutlets with greasy fries, and I don't think it did me any good at all.


Visited the underground city, which was quite impressive when I eventually managed to find it.


Castles under the city

The Arab city was just built on top of the crusader city. Very odd.



An Italian lady ran away from this room covering her hair and screaming something in Italian. 

My assumption is that she was saying 'Look out! There are bats.' Note that the room is completely black. I couldn't see these critters, but I guessed they were there and caught them with the camera flash.


Visited the Citadel and the Museum of the Underground. This I found also interesting. The martyrs who are commemorated in this 'shrine' include a guy who shot up an Arab bus, and another one who was a policeman who, upon hearing that his friends had been killed by Arabs, returned to his tent and shot his Arab bunkmate. Others were perhaps more legitimate soldiers (though I wouldn't bet on it) but those two are just murderers whose veneration devalues all the talk of heroism and insults the real heroes of the independence struggle. It amazed me that the presentations couldn't see the difference between the various cases. I took a photo of the noose. It's left there apparently as a sobering symbol of the injustice of the British rule; but I couldn't help but think that at least some of those guys really needed hanging.


The gallows in Akko Citadel


Walked about the wall for a bit, but had to return to go to the toilet and ... so on. This was really starting to burn my wick. I went to bed about 7 pm.


The sea shelf of Akko







Walked out to the bus station. I must have gone out the wrong gate because I didn't recognise any of the streets; and I eventually worked my way around to the bus station mostly by good luck. My guide, as so often, is sadly lacking in maps for this part of the trip.


Bus to Haifa. 




Map of Tiberias


Didn't have much dificulty finding a place to stay; but, again, it seems quite expensive. Visited the Citadel - but it was closed and the observation tower couldn't be reached. 


Visited the tomb of Maimonides, or, as he is actually called, Rambam, an acronym of Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimun. It's under a rather nasty piece of ironmongery and it's full of orthodox types standing over the tomb and doing their little dipping duck prayer dances. I find all these public shows of religiosity, like the muslims rolling out a carpet in the street to pray in public, quite nauseating.


Rambam's tomb


Walked along the 'promenade' a few times. It's a poor excuse for a promenade. I thought I might go for a cruise about the lake but I lost enthusiasm when I enquired about it: you pay 25 NIS and you don't go anywhere or do anything except sit on the sea. It would just be a way of spending a few hours.


A boat on the Sea of Galilee


Had another go at doing washing in a hand basin. I've already decided that the clothesline I bought is quite useless for anything larger than socks; the T-shirts won't be held at all. That shirt was looking ominously grey too, and I considered using my hairbrush to scrub the rest. I discovered that if the shirt touches the floor at all it has to be cleaned again - it's filthy. I wiped the floor down with one of the grey blankets. It'd be nice if anyone cleaned in these places - they're not that cheap. The scrubbing worked ok and the shirt looked pretty good at the end of it. Had fun trying to dry it though: I stretched the line too tight at one point and it snapped. Eventually I upended a bed and looped the line around the legs to make a clothesline. There was a fan I directed at them too so that they could get dry reasonably quickly. This was all far more work than I'd expected. It's taken almost 1.5 hours to clean 1 T-shirt, 2 underpants, and 3 pairs of socks. Still, I wasn't doing anything else so what's the diff? And I've saved several precious, precious shekels.


Went for a browse downtown. Stopped at a few places and had a felafel, a sprite, and a coffee (all at different places.) I now realise this was the wrong order, but that's how the urges came upon me. Popped into a tiny grocery store and got some munchies.


I should note that I knew I was over whatever illness I had had for the last 2 - 3 days as soon as I woke up. I had lost my temperature and my fatigue, I wasn't sweating, and the stomach pains which I then felt were just hunger from lack of food for so long. I am most relieved, so to speak.







I have to amend that last comment. I spent quite a bit of this morning inconvenienced. For a day trip 


I went to SAFED


Map of Safed

The town is built around a mountain, as the roads indicate. Much of one's walking is up


It's a very pleasant, quiet little town up in the mountains. There's not really much to see there, of course, and I couldn't get into any of the synagogues to take a look around either. The mountain air put me in mind of Delphi; it seemed like a good place for happy, outdoorsy gods, so it's a little odd that it should be known as a centre for Kabbalistic mysticism and Lubavitscher Apocalypticism! But then, how could one imagine Tiberias as a place for scholarship and the creation of a Talmud? Surely it's just a seaside resort, a bit like Taupo. Well, it would be in any sane sort of a country. Went bookshopping here too. Fun.


From the Citadel of Safed


Beit Midrash ha-Ari

Where Isaac Luria developed his own form of 'Lurianic' Kabbalism in the XVIth C.







Back to JERUSALEM by bus.


Went to the Israel Museum. OK. Nothing too special. Mind you, I think that I might just be a bit tired of all the history stuff and need a rest. Even the Shrine of the Book, where there are parts of the actual Dead Sea Scrolls on display didn't grab my interest. That's not a normal reaction from me. 


Bomb scare on the Jaffa Road

Adventure! Excitement!







Got up nice and early to have a shower and, what a surprise!, there's no bloody hot water. I specifically asked about this before I booked in and they just lied to me apparently. They also lied when they said the doors would be open before 7 so that I could leave before then. I was joined by a Polish chap who also, it turned out, was going to Cairo. We and a British guy eventually climbed out a window and over the fence to escape.


This turned out, of course, not to be really necessary, as there was no sign of anyone at the bus stop at 7. In fact the bus didn't turn up until 7:45, at which point the driver and a chum began to check our tickets and passports. The Polish guy said they did things better in Poland. I wouldn't doubt it.


We crossed the Suez Canal in some sort of ferry arrangement, which I only realised was happening just before we got over. We stopped there for some reason and I tried to get a photo, but it was pitch black and nothing could be seen  on it. I finally got to see 'Titanic' too. It was showing on the bus with Arabic subtitles. I think we may have missed the last scene however - did she really throw the jewel into the water. I'm on the edge of my seat. Really.


Arrived back in CAIRO


The bus dropped us all of at the Sheraton in the evening, and I walked up Tahrir and across bridges and up to Claridges, where I got a room quite easily.







Waited half an hour before my breakfast finally arrived, and after I'd asked for it 3 times. How hard can it be to boil water? Walked out to al Azhar on the remote chance of recognising Mohammed's ahwa, but no such luck. I also looked around for dresses such as Justine might appreciate, or any sort of knick-knackery that I could take back, but it was all just such trash. They have shop after shop selling the most awful anodized tin lanterns. Who buys them? I never saw anyone even express an interest in any item in one of these shops. Then there are the clothes shops. But none of them had any of the decent clothes that you do occasionally see Egyptians wearing. Where do they do their shopping? Certainly they had none of the pretty dresses such as I saw in Luxor. Oh well, I'll just have to do boring Christmas shopping in New Zealand. Bad luck everyone.


Had lunch at the Fu Shing. As always, good value.


Got a taxi to the airport. Agreed with the driver on a fare of about 25+, then, when we arrived at the airport, he wouldn't give me 20 change for a 50. He was still gibbering on when I accepted about 15 from him. Once again he was trying the old 'I must pay the toll' routine. Since he has a voucher of some sort I don't doubt he gets it refunded; and anyway, he knew about that when he accepted the fare. The worst part was that Terminal 1 was not the terminal I was supposed to be at, though how anyone should know this I can't see. 'Information' (ha!) directed me to Terminal 2. There's a subway they said. Well, not that I could bloody find; so I had to wander all over the desert trying to find Terminal 2. Surely they do this better in Poland too.


I eventually found my way to the terminal and had a minimally filled roll, a chocolate cake slice, and a cup of coffee, which cost me L17.5. One last chance to screw the tourist, eh? I won't regret leaving Egypt.