In May 2006 we headed off for a trip to Israel and Turkey.

Below is our travelogue.

Our photo albums of Israel & Turkey are right here.


Travel Bug Bites Segals...again!

16/05/2006

Date line - May 2006... from somewhere in the biggest metropolis in the South East corner of the huge pointy state on that great Island that holds apart the Indian and Pacific Oceans.

Always willing to try something new, I have decided to "Blog" this travelogue, and create a travelblog, as I like to call it. I'll try to keep it short and sweet and will endeavour not to stretch the truth too much. (Though I reserve the right of poetic license to embellish where necessary to make an otherwise bland tale interesting)

On 29 May, long-suffering-hubby and I depart from Brisbane; first stop Singapore for two days then onto Istanbul (only for a few hours) before continuing onto Tel Aviv especially to attend the wedding of our niece, Idit Segal on June 6th. We will spend two weeks tripping around Israel visiting old friends and the places of our misbegotten youth before heading back to Istanbul.

We have planned a two weeks tour around Turkey and then we spend a week in Istanbul staying at the Romance Hotel (....one can but dream.) Around mid July we head back to Singapore and finally return to Brisbane and all this in a whisker under 6 weeks.

Each of you will have received a link to this, our travelblog. Those of you who need to get a life can faithfully track our path around the globe; the rest of you can feign an interest and pretend to have read all my ramblings. (Just beware; there will be a quiz when I get back.)

As I am a "virgin" blogger, I welcome any hints any of you might have in the land of Blog.

ELVEDA (farewell in Turkish)
With love from the Wandering Segals


Sweltering Segals sipping Singapore Sling

31/05/2006


Ahhh, Singapore!

What a great place...it would be perfect if only it were 10 degrees cooler with 30% less humidity.
We found our accommodation, at the Furama City Centre Hotel in the heart if Chinatown, both clean and comfortable.
Our dear friends Ron and Tove went out of their way to make our stay here interesting. Taking us to see things not ususally on the tourist map. Today we witnessed a Buddhist cremation at Bright Hill and found their concept of mourning (or more to the point, not mourning) both enlightening and unusual.

Singapore, as always, is a great place to eat. Dining out is almost an institute here. And at $3 to $4 a meal it is hard to understand why anyone would bother cooking at home.
Last night we dined in Chinatown at hawker stalls, I chose the fish ball soup with noodles. I did ask if they served any other portion of the fish; but no!
To tell you the truth I would not like to meet one of these fish while scuba diving; the balls were as big as ping pong balls.
To eleviate the heat stress we found the singapore slings a very sofisticated escape mechanism. Though it doesn't take many for them to turn into Shingapore Shings.

We are now at the airport - Free internet - how convienient.
We now wing our way westward towards Istanbul with a touch down in Dubai...let's hope we don't have to get off the aeroplane. We are praying that we get movies on demand again on this flight. On our flight here we managed to see three movies each. I finally got to see movies I missed in Brisbane; Memoirs of a Geisha (close to the book), Mrs Henderson Presents...very humorous and a desturbing little thriller; Match Point...or some other tennis term. Hubby enjoyed King Kong...maybe I'll see it on this leg, though the Cronicles of Nania looked entertaining; it's the child in me.
This free internet only gives me 15 minutes and I am about to be booted

off....so till next time;
love from the wandering segals


Shalom from Israel

03/06/2006


Well, here we are in sunny Israel. The weather is hot and dry....but we can't expect anything else in Israel in summer.

When I first came to Israel it took me by surprise to find that instead of searching my bags when I left a shop they searched when I entered; but after a while I got used to it. This time I find they also search you when entering a cafe, a restaurant, museum, gallery, post office ...you name it. I won't be surprised if next time I enter a public toilet someone will ask to search my handbag. I just hope I don't make any loud noises and alarm anyone into crashing down the door, Uzi in hand.

Unfortunately my back has not improved much. (I suffered a slipped disk 3 months ago) I received about 70% relief immediately from Physio but since then the last 30% won't budge. I've tried this doctor, that doctor, witch doctor, bone scan, cat scan, oesteopath, magnesium, voltaren, valium...you name it - I've tried it. The only thing that brings any relief is to lay on my back with my legs in the air.....though some may say this is what caused the problem in the first place.

Apart from that we are having a ball over here. All our relatives are taking such great care of us and showing us a really good time. We don't have time to scratch ourselves....it's wonderful. Since we arrived we have been staying on Kibbutz Negba (near Ashkelon). Our niece's wedding is on Tuesday and from then on we will be staying on Kibbutz Maabarot (Near Natanya).

On Saturday we enjoyed a family lunch at the home of Yaacov and Eti on Kibbutz Maabarot and met up with all the other brothers, half brothers and half sister, even Sy is here from New York. It was an all-you -can-eat affair, but we all ate much more than that. There was so much great food we need not eat again for a week.

We visited our niece, Shir, (shown here with her mum and dad and uncle Haim). She is doing her army service at a top secret army base somewhere in Israel. I could tell you where but then I would have to kill you. They once ordered pizzas to the base but then had to kill the pizza delivery boy.


This is just a small section of the memorial wall at Latrun for the fallen members of the Armoured Corp of the Israeli Defence Force.

Tomorrow we hit Jerusalem and have a very full schedule, including Yad Veshem (Holocaust memorial), the wailing Wall (including the archeaological digs under it) and much, much more.

Le-hit-ra-ot (see you later in Hebrew)
The ever-Wandering Segals


Segals swoop on Jerusalem

06/06/2006

On Monday we took a day trip up to Mount Moriah. First stop was Ein Karem, and old Israeli Arab Village on the outskirts of Jerusalem, full of old churches including the very quaintly named church of St. John ba Harim ("St. John in the Mountains" in Hebrew), also known as the Church of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. The church is run by Spanish Franciscan friars, and many of the interior fixtures are gifts from the Spanish people, such as the blue-glazed tiles. Off to the left of the sanctuary is a small staircase that leads down into a cave that is believed to have been part of the home of Elizabeth and Zachary - or so we are told, we actually couldn't see a thing due to a power cut the third we have experienced in Israel in as many days.

Then we continued on just a hop, skip and a jump to the new Yad Vashem Museum. http://www1.yadvashem.org/new_museum/overview.html The old memorial pales to insignificance by comparison. Particularly moving was the "Hall of Names" and the "Children's Memorial" which is set into the side of a hill. Walking inside the memorial from the brilliant afternoon sun, I was all but completely blinded, as the interior is only barely lit: just enough to allow you, once your eyes have adjusted, to see the pathway to follow through the exhibit.
Once inside, all is glass and mirrors and darkness. In the background, you hear the mournful strains of a cello, over which two voices recite the names, ages, and home countries of some of the million and a half children who perished in the Shoah. But that's not the incredible thing about this monument. At the center of the memorial there are five lit candles, of varying sizes and placed at different heights. All around the exterior walls of the exhibit, the glass and mirrors are arranged in such a way that the lights of those five candles are reflected back and forth so that everywhere you look, you seem to see an endless galaxy of flickering points of light. It is without any doubt one of the most moving experiences I have ever had, and it is simply perfect for the purpose of the memorial. http://www.geocities.com/Athens/6985/Israel/yvkids.jpg

From there we navigated our way through the crowded streets of Jerusalem to the Zion Gates to the Old City (with a little help from Meir's GPS). At the Wailing Wall we mingled with young soldiers slung with Uzis and the ultra-orthodox, garbed in black with swaying forelocks. The most amazing sight was one such chap on a motor scooter, not dissimilar to my own, with his payot (curled forelocks) dangling beneath his helmet, flapping in the wind. After parking it, he swapped his helmet for a Shtrimel (a large fur hat worn by the Hassids). At 6:20pm we had an appointment with history - a tour of the tunnels beneath Jerusalem. http://english.thekotel.org/content.asp?id=116 . We walked beneath the old city for the entire length of the original western wall. An awesome experience treading the paving stones laid down over two thousand years ago. The portion visible today is but a very small percentage of the actual wall. Majority has been buried by centuries of other cultures and civilisations. Most of the tours exit via the "Via Dela Rosa" in the Arab section of the old city, but as the sun was already setting this posed a security threat so (for our own safety) we had to walk all the way back through the tunnels and exit the way we'd come in.

To finish such a wonderful day, what else could we do but to eat? So we drove into Abu Gosh - another Israeli Arab village and ate ourselves silly yet again. I think I'm going to have to upgrade my return ticket for a first class one just to get a seat big enough to accommodate my ever expanding girth.
Enjoy some of the photos - next edition will include my nieces wedding.


Love from the Wandering Segals.


Wandering Segals witness wonderful wedding

08/06/2006


Well, well, well! What a wonderful wedding.

Our niece, Idit Segal, wed Erez Evan-Paz on 6/6/06. And what a beautiful couple they make.

The pool area was tastefully decorated and illuminated by a myriad of fairy lights.

Starters were served including, amongst many, many other things, to my delight - sushi (my all-time favourite food).

The ceremony was well choreographed and the glass was successfully shattered .

Dinner consisted of a mouth-watering array of delicious dishes and more food was consumed than I thought humanly possible. A well stocked, bottomless drinks bar supplied many a hangover for the next day and provided much amusement on the night. But the best thing was the mobile espresso bar complete with frappe, just the thing for a hot Israeli summer night. The weak willed amongst us were then tempted with an amazing array of waist widening decadent deserts.

Much merriment was made with the younger ones partying on into the wee hours of the morning.
(us oldies gave in at midnight before we turned into pumpkins).


Bountiful Beauty in Botanica Bahai

11/06/2006


Sunday saw the Segals slip into Haifa. Our first stop was the Druse village of Daliet el Carmel. Once a quiant village with dirt roads and a thriving souk, it is now no more than another sprawling suburb of Haifa. But let me tell you, the falafel there is to die for...and cheap...so cheap, that although we were not really hungry (hungry; we can't even remember the meaning of the word) we just had to have one. I tried to resist the temptation...but no, I just had to have one.

But the real highlights (excluding lunch...which came later) were the beautiful gardens of the Bahai Temple. Simply breath taking....not to mention muscle aching....700 steps down from the top to the Golden Dome. Another 700 to the German Quarter below. If you want to walk back up you must first convert to the Bahai faith....as you can imagine they were not trampled in the rush of would-be converts. Though the Bahai faith sounds very appealing, 1,400 steps up hill took the edge off it for me. Admittedly we only walked down as far as the Golden Dome, sent the drivers up in a taxi to fetch the two cars we arrived in. No we haven't eaten so much that we need a car each, there were other sundry family members on our trip too.

Photos of Haifa.

Now to lunch....there is this great seafood restaurant at the top of Mount Carmel called Jacko's. The salads, bread and drinks are inclusive and then there is some of the best seafood in Israel. Just for a change we ate to bursting point. I'm looking in the maternity shops for clothes these days. Lucky for us they only weigh our luggage and not us when we check in at the airport, for I fear we are now way, way over weight.


Segals see Caesarea

14/06/2006


On Monday we visited the ruins of the ancient port town of Caesarea...here is a brief history lesson;
Herod the Great ruled the Land of Israel from 37 to 4 B.C. During that time he constructed a large port city called Caesarea to honor Roman Caesar Augustus. The project was built on the remains of an earlier Phoenician city called Strato's tower. Once it was completed Caesarea took on even more importance than Jerusalem and became the heart of Roman rule in the land. Herod built a port in the bay, and erected all the cultural institutions found in every great Greco-Roman city a theater, a hippodrome larger than the Colosseum in Rome, and a luxurious bathhouse. In order to supply water to the city's ever-growing population, he prepared an aqueduct system stretching from the springs of Mt. Carmel to Caesarea. Part of this system is still visible today.
The city was eventually destroyed by the Moslem invasions of 638. About 400 years later, the Crusaders conquered the Holy Land.

See images of Caesarea here.



Farewell from fair Israel

15/06/2006


Yesterday I was a guest at 'Achuzat Yeladim' a boarding school for special needs children. A project sponsored by the Australian branch of an international womens' group I belong to. I met first hand with some of the children who are residents there. The staff to student ratio is almost 1:1. I was very impressed by the work they are doing and the results they are achieving.

Today is our last in Israel and tonight we gather as a family in Jaffa to say farewell....and how best to do that? By eating of course....it's a national past time here.

Jaffa is not just something you role down the aisles in the cinema, it is one of the oldest cities in the world, over 4,000 years old, and reputed to be the port from which Jonah set sail for his fateful meeting with a whale. Jaffa has many different roots in history: the Egyptians, Greeks, Phoenicians, the Turks and the English all left their traces.

See photos of Jaffa

We have had a really slendid time with our family and friends in Israel. It still feels like home...I might even be tempted to open the "job vacancy" page of the newspaper here. Who knows?

Tomorrow we fly out to Istanbul and from what everyone tells us here, eating is an even bigger past time in Turkey...oy, oy, oy!!!

My impressions of Israel after not having been here in 12 years are as follows; the pace of life has remained just as hectic. Security is still a top priority. The 'Souk ha Carmel' we visited this time is the same crowed market place it was years ago, when in 1984, the day after we were there a terrorist bomb took the lives of dozens and left many more permanently maimed. When entering a shopping mall in Natanya this morning I wasn't the only person looking over my shoulder as I passed through the security check point where three separate suicide murderers have claimed many innocent lives in as many years. Cars baring the number plates of Gaza and the West Bank are no longer visible in the streets of Israel. The forests of hastily built post-war concrete housing units have all but been replaced by modern condiminiums. The road system has been radically improved with new highways crisscrossing the country and the drivers, though still maniacs, have become a tad more tame. Everyone has the latest hi-tech gadgets available. People party like there is no tomorrow. All in all life goes on, Israelis really know how to live for today. Will we be back? Most certainly! My regrets; that I didn't get to see everyone on my list. To Sheila, Shlomo & Abba Richman, maybe next time!
My frequent blog updates deminish here. In Turkey I doubt whether I will have as frequent access to a computer. I will write when I can.


Talking Turkey

21/06/2006

This is a map of the tour we took.

We arrived safely in Turkey after our flight from Tel Aviv which took less time than a flight from Brisbane to Melbourne. Istanbul is an amazing place and still quite exotic, especially the Grand Bazaar; truly a maze (ing) place. A virtual labyrinth of narrow criss-crossing alley ways all under the cover of arch stone & tile roofing. Kilometres of little nooks and crannies housing carpet seller, leather coat merchants and other assorted souvenir hawkers all hell bent on grabbing, not only your attention, but your hard earned cash as well.

We have a lovely mix of souls in our tour group, predominantly Aussies (singles and couples), a few older couples (the first from South Africa and the second Kiwis) then a motley bunch of other individuals from UK, Thailand, Canada and Korea.

The first day of our tour was a foot tour of Istanbul including the underground cisterns, the Hippodrome (& no, there were no flying hippos there), the Blue Mosque, which is grey and Topkapi Palace where the worlds largest diamond is housed. We were tempted to cancel all plans for dinner that night and return after dark to relieve them of it...but no! At the mosque we saw several families with little boys (between the ages of 4 and 10) dressed like princes; white suits, white satin sashes and robes and white satin hats all emblased with gold and silver emblems. They looked very pleased with themselves, till that evening that is. We were told by our guide with the aid of hand signals (index finger and middle finger snipping through the air) that all boy in Turkey are circumcised before they turn 13 and today is the day for these poor unsuspecting kiddies. To me it seems a tad barbaric to do it at this age. Our guide then told us that a few days later the fathers take photos of their sons snipped bits and proudly show it to their mates. Sadly our guide said he had lost the photo his own father had taken of him. I did, unselfishly, volunteer to re-take the photo but realised that I did not have my wide angle lens with me.

On a more sombre note we spent Monday on the beaches and in the trenches of Gallipoli. Even those amongst us not from Australia or New Zealand could not help but be moved by the tragic loss of so many very young lives to appease the egos of a few old men sitting safely back home pulling the political strings 91 years ago. In the museum we read the letters the boys had written to their mothers waiting for them back home. We wandered among the headstones, not only of our boys, but of theirs as well. All in all a very emotive day.

That afternoon we slipped across the Dardenelles and into Asia.

Tuesday was spent amongst the ruins of Troy and Pergamum. Historically very interesting. We learnt to beware of Greeks bearing gifts. Today, Wednesday finds us in the sea side resort of Ku?adasi.

We were scheduled to visit the ancient city of Ephesus today, but alas I found myself lying flat on my tummy with my rear end exposed to a large Turk. Unfortunately he was wielding a large syringe aimed at my tush. I had suffered a severe migraine and was violently ill and in agonising pain from 2am which only ended with a prick in my butt at 9am. I was warned about these Turkish boys; but did I listen? Alas, no!

On that note I bid you all good night (10:20pm here) .
Tomorrow our adventures continue.

Sorry for the lack of images, this pc does not recognise my portable hard drive. Also please excuse any weird letters and bad grammar, this is a Turkish alphabet keyboard.

Warm Regards, the Wandering Segals


Quickie from somewhere in the Aegean.

28/06/2006


hi all, no blog access here, so this is a quickie.
Spent gruelling days on a yacht cruising the Aegean sea.
Diving into azure blue waters and 'shnookling' as our captain so quaintly puts it.


Tough job, but someone has to do it!
We were not in Antalya till after the bomb went off, in case any of you were worried.... as if!!!
Heading to Cappadocia tomorrow will try blogging there.
bye
wandering segals


Turkey Tour terminates

01/07/2006


Yesterday was our last day of our 'Flying carpet tour' of Turkey.
It was pure magic. Some of the greatest vistas were left to last; Cappadocia was stunning.

A fantastically unique place. (photos to follow later.)
The last day was spent on a bum numbing 15 hour return bus trip to Istanbul via Ankara.

Unlike our China bus trip this one stopped at far more civilised toilet facilities.
Most were the regular type, but some were squats, some had paper supplied, some even flushed. Most cost money. Talk about inflation... to spend a penny costs 50 cents these days!
Some had motion detectors to switch on the lights....you would not want to spend too long contemplating your navel or you found your self doing it in the dark. So there I sat arms flailing in the air (waving, not drowning). Easier said than done when only a squat was available.

Now we have a whole week in Istanbul with out the pressure of gulping down a breakfast in order to perform morning ablutions before boarding a bus for a hectic 12 hour schedule.

All-in-all, our trip was a great adventure. The group we travelled with was very cohesive and our tour guide, Cenkis (pronounced Geng?s) was an archaeology graduate and had a seemingly endless amount of knowledge. Hotels were on the whole good (some better than others)
We learnt not to whinge, when we complained about one hotel only having the all purpose shampoo/bath foam/carpet cleaner/paint stripper type dispenser in the shower recess, the next hotel had none and when we asked for a bar of soap they said they could sell us one.
When at one place we had only two sheets (no blanket) the next place had only one sheet & and a some what prickly blanket. When one hotel had an inadequate air-conditioned, the next had none.....it pays to be satisfied with what life throws you.

Time to log off,
Warm regards from the wandering Segals


It's Istanbul, not Constantinople

06/07/2006

But for us it's been a week of constant on the move. We have not wasted a minute and made the most of our time in Istanbul.

We met a lovely couple of engineers from Istanbul who were travelling with their twin 21 year old daughters on the same yacht (Gulet) with us in the Aegean Sea and caught up with them again while we have been in Istanbul. We spent a thoroughly enjoyable evening in their company on Tuesday night. Together with their Israeli business partner, Ofer, (who as chance would have it, lives near hubby's brother on Kibbutz Maarbarot and was visiting friends there only three days ago...Talk about a small world!) they wined and dined us to excess at a seafood restaurant on the shores of the Bosphorous equivalent to Oxley on the River in Brisbane. A truly superb evening. One we will remember for years to come.

During our stay here we have travelled the length and breadth of the Bosphorous and back again by public ferry and caught trams and bussed from one end of Istanbul to the other. The public transport system here is fast and efficient, if a little over used.

18 million people live in Istanbul but why did they all have to be on the same tram as us at the same time.
On a hot July day I wish the word "deodorant" appeared in more of their vocabularies too.

The tram actually passes along the street our hotel is on. The street is two trams and two people wide at its narrowest point and if you wish to pass someone on the footpath, one of you has to step off onto the tram lines. It's like playing chicken. The trams travel silently and I'm surprised they haven't lost more people to this hazard.

Yesterday we decided to travel the entire length of the tramway a distance in time and socio-economic change equivalent to travelling from Ascot to Inala in Brisbane or Vaucluse to Blacktown in Sydney...if you are ever in Istanbul and are looking to fill in a day...sit and watch the grass grow instead...it would be much more interesting.

Our bus trip to the northern Bosphorous suburbs was much more interesting.
A loud and grubby group of Gypsies boarded the bus we were on heading for Kabatash and tried to pay for their fare with a 100 Lire note of dubious pedigree. After a lot of kicking and screaming the driver refused to accept it and kicked the lot off at the next stop. Thus ensued a very vocal interaction between him and the conductor who sounded more sympathetic to the plight of the Gypsies while the driver drove at break-neck speed through narrow winding streets dodging all manner of obstacles. Although a sign clearly stated "no mobile phones" this obviously did not refer to the driver. As he spoke on his phone, argued with the conductor and swerved precariously we, seated directly behind him, held on, white knuckled, for dear life.
I was lucky to survive to see the Auguste Rodin exhibition which is showing at a museum on the north .... sheer genius.

I have shopped the Grand Bazaar to depletion so now we can come home.
Tomorrow is our last day here and we plan to spend it by taking a ferry to the Princes Islands. Saturday we fly out to Singapore for two days and maybe a spot more shopping....unless my credit card suffers meltdown before then.

We'll be home mid next week....turn on the espresso machine....I need a good cup of coffee.

See my Turkey Photos

Stay happy,
Regards from the wandering segals


Where's winter?

13/07/2006

We came home hoping for some respite from the hot Turkish summer only to find we've missed winter....it was over 25 degrees Celsius on our first day home. We were back in tee-shirts and shorts again.

We love our travels but here are just a few of the reasons we are always happy to come home.
" Free Water! You just turn on a tap (faucet) and drink clean fresh water. No bottled water necessary.
" Toilets that you can actually sit on that are clean and not smelly.
" GOOD coffee, which means a flat white or latte made with fresh milk and not long life (UHT) milk.
" A washing machine at hand 24 hours a day. No more stomping on the washing in the tub while you shower then having it strung across the room flapping in your face for days on end like some leftovers of a Buddhist festival.
" A good wide, soft bed to sleep on, no hotels have beds that are less than rock hard.
" Hot showers in a shower recess wide enough to bend over in without getting intimatly involved with the taps (faucets).
" Air-conditioning that works and cools a room to over 15 deg C and under 30 deg C.
" Good lighting, I can actually read by. What is it with hotels impressions that everyone wants dim, romantic lighting all the time, come on guys, not all of us are on our honeymoon.
" Being able to wander freely through a shopping centre without being accosted by touts for some desperate carpet or leather merchant, cafe or restaurant owner, shoeshine boy/man who would even try to offer a shoe shine even you are only wearing a pair of thongs.

So, I hear you ask, why do we like travelling so much? Well, I guess for all the same reasons. It is so different to home, and to see cultures that are diverse to ours, to meet people who love their countries as much as we love ours, to see places that are written about in ancient history books, that are actually older than 200 years....but most of all to realise how lucky we are right here in Australia. I heard a radio talk back station recently mention the results of a world happiness survey. It stated that Australian is 139th out of 175 countries, and that people in Vanuatu, Columbia and Guatemala are happier than Australians. To these Australians who claim not to be the happiest people in the world I say, "travel the world or at least read about it and see how lucky we are here". Most the people in the world do not have clean drinking water in their homes, public hospitals; let alone free ones, old age/widows/disability pensions, free education or a high standard of living. We have not had a war fought on our soil that anyone born in the last two or three generations witnessed. Are we given too much that we cannot recognise happiness when we see it? Maybe mandatory service in a volunteer corp in Somalia may help Australians recognise happiness when they see it.

But I'm happy, especially happy that I live in a country where I can earn a decent living so as to be able to travel and take holidays especially overseas holidays, but the harsh reality of it all is that now we have to go back to that work and earn enough dosh to do it all again next year in some other strange and exotic land. I'm so happy, I'm so happy.......

So till then, it's good-bye from the wandering segals.
p.s. photos are here; Turkey Photos


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