Friday, August 31, 2007

Spanish Riding School

Hi From Vienna!

It's friday evening. Today I attended a morning workout at the Spanish Riding School , a tour of the stables, and then went through the Lippizan Museum. It is very COOL! (a special THANK YOU to Lynne Bowen for suggesting Vienna / Spanish Riding School part of the trip)

Vienna is Beautiful - weather is About like Seattle is. A NICE change from the blast-furnace of Eilat, Israel.

Tomorrow I have tickets for a performance of the Spanish Riding School then off to the Prater and maybe the Danube tower (and the Danube River) SOOO much to see - definitely will not get to see much of Vienna. Then off to Krakow (Poland) on monday.

Vienna is a clean city and the people seem very nice. The hostel I am staying in is GREAT. It is close to the ring - I walked back from the Hopsburg Castle (where the Spanish Riding School is)

My only regret about Vienna is not having scheduled to spend more time here.

YES - I had a Starbucks today! (and also McDonalds) Starbucks is literally across the ring from the Riding School (across the other street from the Lippiyan Museum)

More from Vienna later.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


Hello from Vienna!

Got here this morning (it is now 6:00 PM) and slept all day since I was up all night. I spent yesterday, my last day in Israel, sightseeing around Tel Aviv and then had to be at the airport before midnight to turn in my rented Israel cell phone. I slept most of the flight.

Weather here is cool and rainy - just like Seattle. A nice change from the blast - furnace of Eilat, Israel.

The hostel I am staying in here is very nice - clean and close to the underground. They have a nice computer lab for internet set up. It is only 1.5 Euro per half hour. This German keyboard takes some getting used to. Some of the letters are in different places.

Tomorrow I go to the morning workout at the Spanish Riding School and then take a tour of the School in the afternoon. Saturday and Sunday are performances before heading to Poland on Monday. I should be able to post every day until then :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Hello again from Eilat (Israel)

Monday night here (monday morning for you guys) It's my last night in Eilat before heading back to Jerusalem in the morning (then on to Vienna) 10:30PM and it's cooled down to 97F (36C) --- I see Seattle is currently 64F (18C)

I had some emails asking about the pyramids and sphinx:

Both the pyramids (9 in Giza) and sphinx are on in Giza in the same area which is next to Cairo (sort of like Des Moines / Federal Way) The hotel we (the tour group) stayed in had a view of the pyramids and it only took 5 minutes to get there by bus. The city is right next to the pyramids / sphinx and there is a McDonalds right in front of the sphinx - as well as numerous other buildings and businesses. While, according to the tour guide, the pyramids / sphinx used to be a ways out of town, Giza is within a city block of them.

The hotel we stayed in was a five star hotel (EXTREMELY nice) The Sofitel (an Accor hotel) and was wonderful. From what I am told, bus fare from Taba (border with Israel) and Cairo is $100. so the tour cost of $234. which included hotel, food, and admissions ($10. for pyramids, $10. for sphinx, and $10. for egyptian museum was a very good bargain.

While it was very cool to see the pyramids, sphinx, and Egyptian museum, egypt has its problems --- more about it when I get back.


The tour to Petra, Jordan was VERY nice. Petra is great - much more to see than I thought there would be.

I went to the Ocean Observatory / Aquarium today and it was WONDERFUL! Lots of tropical fish in the Red Sea. They have tanks with some fish then you walk out to the observatory (on a pier) and then walk down a spiral staircase to below sea level where you can observe the reef and fish in their natural enviroment. VERY cool seeing all the tropical fish in the Red Sea!

Tomorrow I head back to Jerusalem so I do not know when I will have internet access again.

Still VERY hot here - I'm melting (and walking) off weight.

Hope I can post again soon!

Bye from Eilat (Israel) !

Saturday, August 25, 2007


I just checked my weather post. For you guys it is 59F and for me 109F :(

I never appreciated Seattle weather so much!!!

Also for my IT friends: I mailed some post cards from the post office in the Old City Jerusalem the other day and saw their server in the back room (through the window) - they are using NT 4.0 as the server. So Dee teaching older operating systems may be important for some of us!

Hello From Israel !!!

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. I cold not find internet in Jerusalem (plus I was very busy and NO time!) In Egypt, it was $16.00 for 1/2 hour so I didn't post from there. I am now back in Eilat (Israel) and am having a WONDERFUL time. The Dead Sea was GREAT! - and it is true, you DO float like a boat. Masada was WONDERFUL.

Egypt - the pyramids and sphinx were GREAT - plus went to the Egyptian Museum and saw King Tut's stuff and all the mummies. I was very uneasy in egypt. Feel lots safer back in Israel. The tour was WONDERFUL though. Tomorrow I go to Petra (Jordan) and head back to Jerusalem on tuesday.

It is HOT HOT HOT - especially the Dead Sea and here in Eilat.

Internet at the hotel hear is reasonable (10 NIS a 1/2 hour - which is ~ $2.50) so I will be able to post more at least until I leave tuesday --- and I don't know about Vienna (I leave Israel early thursday morning (wed. evening for you guys)

Friday, August 17, 2007

Banana Plants in the Jordan Valley

Bananas are almost ripe so they, too, are protected from pests. Notice all the leaves are wind torn:

Jordan Valley Israel banana plantation  (August 2007)

Date Palms in the Jordan Valley

Dates are almost ripe so the nets over them are to keep the rodents, insects, and birds from eating them:

Jordan Valley Israel Date Palm plantation (August 2007)

On the way To The Dead Sea

Sheep herd between Jerusalem Israel and the Dead Sea (August 2007)

Didn't go to the Dead Sea (yet) - this was the route I took to through the Jordan Valley on the way to the Sea Of Galilee:

The Jordan River

Jordan River Baptism Site near the Sea of Galilee (August 2007)

In Tiberias (Israel) !!!

My flight got in three hours late last night. There was a three hour delay in Newark (connection flight) after boarding the Boeing 777. Since there is a special security check for flights arriving in Israel, we were not allowed off the plane. They said it was because of a weight and balance issue - they finally unloaded all the cargo and luggage, reloaded the luggage, and left the cargo. I think it was a security issue but they refused to say. It wasn't too bad except for the delay getting into Israel.

Everything I read said Israel customs profiles women traveling alone - but they never even asked me anything. Passport control consisted of them scanning my passport - which was scanned before boarding in Seattle and then by extra security at Newark (which really did not consist of much) It actually was not anything compared to the horror stories I read (including the US Government travel advisories)

Since I got in three hours late last night (remember I'm 10 hours ahead of Seattle time) it was dark by the time I rented the car. Then the traffic was horrible due to road construction and Jerusalem had a concert so traffic was horrible even at midnight - think I-5 closure x 10

Traffic signs in Israel are in Hebrew, English, and Aramaic so there was no problem in reading the signs. Most people areound the cities speak english (at least enough to communicate with) and most places take US dollars as well as Shekels (and other currency) although I did change dollars to shekels on arrival (and you can change currency anywhere or use ATMs)

I spent the first night in Jerusalem and today (friday) met some friends in the Galilee after driving up the Jordan Valley - along the border with Jordan and through an Israeli checkpoint (they looked to make sure who was in the car and wave you through) The Jordan Valley had a lot of date plantations - and bananas and mangos. Much of the citrus is grown near Tel Aviv - and I will be in that area in a couple of days.

I spent time at the Jordan river with my friends near the Sea of Galilee - and I was Baptized there! :) There were lots of people (tours) that stopped there to be baptized (including several groups from Russia and the Ukraine) The Jordan river was WARM - especially compared to water around Seattle.

We then went for coffee at Aromas (an Israeli coffee chain) which was the coffee chain that chased starbucks out of Israel --- MUCH better coffee (MUCH, MUCH better) plus free wireless. Starbucks could not compete with them in Israel I spent Erev Shabbat dinner with my friends and with some new friends. It is now after 9:00 PM on Friday in Israel (still friday morning in Seattle)

Tomorrow I plan on going to Megiddo and the Golan with at least one of my friends (and maybe Nazzareth and Haifa) - and spend sunday in Jerusalem (I did see some of the city when I arrived although it was after some sort of festival was going on and there was no parking and traffic was awful)

I don't know how often I'll get to post although I did want to post tonight to say I'm (FINALLY) in Israel.

Shabbat Shalom from Israel! :)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

I leave tomorrow morning!!!

I can't believe I'll be on the airplane in a few hours! I have wanted to go to Israel for a LONG time - AND thanks to Lynne's (Lynne Bowen from school) I will also be going to Vienna where I will take a tour of the Spanish Riding School and see two Lippizan Stallion performances as well as a morning workout. Because Krakow, Poland is so close, I will also be going to tour Auschwitz / Birkenau, the Wieliczka salt mine, and the Wawel Castle.

I'll post if / when I can.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Spanish Riding School & Israel

Yesterday I received the tickets in the mail for the Spanish Riding School performances! and I ordered a cell phone for Israel (Israel and Europe have short term tourist cell phone rentals) The Israel rates are VERY reasonable ($1. a day, .38 a minute to the US although FREE incoming calls from anywhere in the world) - the Europe rates are pretty expensive so I do not know if I will rent one for Europe. It will be nice to have one in Israel since I am renting a car - and a tour operator (who is guiding the Egypt and Petra tours I am going on) said they will help me if I need anything (nice to have someone to bail me out of a pickle! :) ) I have maps for all three stops (Israel, Austria, Poland) and have them marked with places I plan on visiting.

I was doing some reading about the Dead Sea (Israel) and it is 25% - 35% solids (minerals) Talk about the ultimate mineral bath! It's already looking like I will be taking more trips to Israel - there is SO much to see and I won't have enough time on this trip (especially since I added the Cairo and Petra side trips)

FYI : I included the Seattle weather on my last post because I want to check up on you guys! (:D )