A Travellerspoint blog

Day 10


snow -15 °C

The plane landed to a little applause, after what was a three hour flight and a holding pattern so the Pilot said because of congestion but at 2.15 in the morning there didn’t seem to be too many people around. It was quite easy getting out of the airport and there was a driver waiting with my name on a sheet of paper, he pointed the way to late model Ford Mondeo which travelled very fast into town. The first thing he said was “No English!” which I interpreted as ‘No Talk’ so I didn’t. It was not a pretty 15 minute trip into town but I understand that it is the best time to travel as any other time it is gridlocked almost, but we passed all the usual suspects; McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza joints and of course IKEA, I almost felt at home.

We found the hotel and it really is not a hotel but a few rooms on the 3rd floor of a back street building that is really a hark back to a bohemian era and I am writing this in the cafe downstairs where, when I arrived earlier this morning, was thumping with Jazz and Swing music and I felt that I needed to get my rainbow gear on, grow and Pony Tail and I would fit right in. The room is small with a king size sleeping platform and a small area at the end near the door and a very small shower bathroom. However it is centrally heated and I slept like a log for quite a few hours.

This morning it was -15 but I was OK except I will need to put some ‘long johns’ on, and a better ‘beanie’ to keep my ears from falling off. Today I just looked around and took lots of Pictures in Red Square, Gum Department store and found an underground shopping centre that seems typical of the shopping culture that exists here in Moscow.

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I was amazed at the size of the buildings here in Moscow and every direction you look they are huge, and some are ornate in the extreme. I always like new experiences and I had a coffee at a very classy Coffee Shop. I asked for a large Latte and it was in a brandy balloon with more than the top half froth and you drank it with a straw. I have never done that in Australia.
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I spent a couple of hours in Red Square and decided that the scene that I saw in ‘The Russia House’ was not filmed here but it must have been another film. However I am here and took a picture of myself right here in Moscow so that I will always remember it. I even walked on an area where they had not cleared the snow and took a picture of my footprints; like I made my mark but when the warm weather comes, or more snow it will fade and no one will ever know I was here; almost philosophical really.

Posted by Fletch1 09:34 Archived in Russia Tagged moscow Comments (0)

Day 9

To Moscow

sunny 22 °C

I am sitting at the Istanbul Airport waiting for the flight to Moscow and although we still have about an hour to go the screen has just flashed up with the details of the flight and it also has one little detail about Moscow and at 21.52 on the 7th of February 2012 it is -12’C. Now that is cold! The sign also tells me that tomorrow will be sunny and that there is snow on the ground and I am sure that within the next few hours the sun will not be melting the snow; so I will be seeing Red Square in the snow in all its glory.

It was an early start and as soon as Lucy went to work it was into the packing and repacking to get as much stuff in the back pack as possible so that I am not carrying too much on my back in my carry-on luggage; however it seems to get heavier every time I pick it up. He train ride back to Ben Gurion Airport went as planned as far as the schedule I printed out from last night and then we had to get in line to go through security, and answer the same questions to each of the three people who were in the line. When I booked in and I came up with another young woman who looked up at me when she asked why was I going to Russia in the middle of this cold spell, and it seemed like the response always gets the raised eyebrows. All in all it was quite painless and far easier to get out of Israel than it was to get in.
The plane arrived and there were not all that many people on the flight and we had a nice meal and a delay while the pilot was told to go into a holding pattern for about 30 minutes. He landing was not as smooth as some, but we landed and there was no cheering this time.

The Israeli leg of my trip is now a memory, but what a memory; I had such a good time and learned so many things about the country and the people and the land, their history and their community. I could not help but be impressed.
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Posted by Fletch1 09:13 Archived in Turkey Comments (0)

Day 8


sunny 23 °C

DSCF0277.jpgIt was an early start to the day and as Lucy left for work I was determined to say farewell to this most valued among all of the colleagues I have ever worked with and I felt that it was appropriate that I use some form of ‘benediction’. Our meeting with the Jewish fundraisers of yesterday was a very enjoyable time and we did have a few laughs, none more so than when we were talking about bequests and Richard; the Chair of ESRA was reminded of someone else who talked about bequests, and while trying to bring to mind his name said “You know ... the retired Irish Rabbi from Cork who now lives in Netanya” It was so out of the norm that it sounded like the start of Monty Python sketch from a previous generation, but overnight I was reminded of ‘The Irish Blessing’ and shared it with Lucy before she went to work;

“May the road rise up before you;
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine softly on your face
And the rain fall softly on your fields

And until we meet again
May the God who loves us
Hold you gently in the palm of his hand.”

Our physical paths may never cross again but this ‘former colleague’ will always be a significant part of the multitude of people who have made me who I am, and I have been so grateful for the Hospitality that Allan and Lucy have shown to me in their home. I have benefitted much by being a very small part of their shared commitment to their Faith and their homeland.


Posted by Fletch1 20:33 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

Day 8

Fundraisers, Tel Aviv Beach and The Ancient Port of Jaffa

sunny 23 °C

We started out early for a meeting with some fundraising people who run a Charity called ESRA (www.esra.org.il) It was only a short distance to the meeting place but it took nearly 2 hours because today was the start of the Israeli working week and so all the people were setting off early to go to work and there were literally hundreds of the young people who have a two year commitment to the Israeli Defense force and they were all going back to their barracks, with their uniforms, duffle/kit bags and some were carrying their weapons. Hear it is normal and even though it was unusual to my experience I did not see it as out of place in this culture, possibly even comforted by it as many Israeli's feel.
Our visit to ESRA was just a chance for me to in part celebrate our international philanthropic community. We chatted for about 90 minutes about all things that fundraisers do and all I was wanting to do was encourage and support them. They were welcoming and encouraging and together we did just celebrate all the things we do to make the world a better place. Of course we had a coffee; how else can you chat about Fundraising and share the important things that we do. It is an organisation that is run mainly by volunteers, and has no 'professional' fundraiser but my thinking is that often it is the volunteers who hold the passion for the organisation and who make the most effective fundraisers.

DSCF0259.jpgWe then took another seemingly endless bus ride towards Tel Aviv. It was a lovely day and so we arrived at the bus station and had a short walk to the beach, where I think someone used to make hair beads for the tourists. Israel's beaches do seem to be a strongly guarded secret and although it is winter there were people sunning themselves and paddling in the water. There was a couple of people out on Paddle boards and one paddle board even had a young girl on a plastic chair being ferried around like she was Queen Cleopatra on the Nile. There were lots of groups of high school girls studying on some of the grassy areas and even a group sitting on the rocks singing with a guitar. It was all very nice and peaceful.

We then walked round to the ancient port of Jaffa, one of the oldest ports in the world. There are lots of restored buildings and displays I wondered why there was a Nepoleon Restaurant and found out that he was one of the first people to suggest that the Jews should have their own homeland; not sure of his motivations but I guess history will have it recorded somewhere.
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We had lunch in the shade at a small restaurant that could have been anywhere in the Mediterranean, which in fact was where we were, we crossed the wishing bridge and found a monument to a group of Christians who on September 22 1866 landed at Jaffa with wooden houses aboard the 'Nellie Chapin' to establish 'an American Colony in Yafo'. There was a museum of the start of some of the early settlers and their struggles and a fantastic view of the City of Tel Aviv.DSCF0274.jpg

It was a spectacular day and yet tomorrow another adventure awaits in a lot colder climate;
However I am looking forward to it with great anticipation, but to get there I will need to do the packing thing again and experience the train travel from Netanya, where I have had a brilliant time with Allan and Lucy who I continue to be impressed with and will always value their generous hospitality, to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport to get on a Turkish Airlines for a short hop to Istanbul and then to Moscow. This leg of the adventure might have to be without Turkish Coffee which some of the locals call here simply 'Mud'

Posted by Fletch1 11:38 Archived in Israel Tagged aviv tell jaffa fundraisers Comments (0)

Day 7


sunny 23 °C

DSCF0156.jpgThe day started before dawn when the coach picked me up and then there were quite a few other people to pick up so it was going to be a long day. Netanya is towards the north of Israel and where we were going is to the south. We passed through Tel Aviv and it really is a busy place, we went through Jerusalem and we were able to see some of the very special sights, although by the time we were told what side of the bus they were there they had passed and we missed them. However it is a special place and the sights and sounds are always special when they are new.
We left the very heavily built up areas and the countryside became quite desolate but all the time there was something interesting to see. The guide was keen to tell us about the camels and the goats and the number of Bedouins who inhabit the Wadi’s but not on the hilltops; however I was fascinated by the Kibuttz that were turning the desolate countryside into productive land. Just absolutely amazing.DSCF0209.jpg

We arrived at the foot of Masada after passing some names like Qumran and Jericho in the distance, but nothing can prepare you for this imposing mountain. The Snake Path was closed so it was simply a trip to the top in the cable car which is licensed to carry 80 passengers and all of a sudden Masada comes to life, with all the information and archaeological reconstruction that has taken place. This is still a marvel of construction and engineering but far more significant is the power of the people who made it famous.

DSCF0175.jpgBeing on the top of Masada is something that has been a dream for so long and to be there was something I will always be grateful for the opportunity, however now I have been there and have the pictures to prove it and tomorrow is another adventure

Posted by Fletch1 13:25 Archived in Israel Tagged masada Comments (1)

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