Israel again

Israel as we expected was a model of efficiency and politeness. There seemed to be fewer people manning the border crossing but they handled everything faster and so much more efficiently. The final delay we had at the exit gate which appeared to be unmanned was totally acceptable as there was certain to be a reason rather than some tin pot dictator making sure that as many people as possible knew that he could hold them up!

Again the rather lovely border guards with one being assigned to our case 

Apart from the border we reached an Israel that was seriously closed for the Sabbath.

Information kiosk only offered $90 rooms of whatever type

Red Sea hotel 90 + 90 i 90

May 16th Saturday

Breakfast Israeli style complete with cockroaches. The one that I fished out of the egg maiyonnaise really didn't raise any eyebrows. I guess that they are fairly common. It was a bit worrying how long the breakfast had been siitting around s it was a cold buffet.

On to the local equivalent of sea world -Aqualand that being right nect to the sea had an underwater viewing area which gave a good view of what it must be like to dive without all the risk and hassle. It did rather make me want to go out there though - pity about that morbid fear of being out of my depth. Geoff as taken to the oceanarium which was okay but spent too much time focusing on the 'characters' of the supposed crew of the imaginery submarine rather than the visual that it could have stuck with. Geoff liked it and was on the edge ofbelief that the multi screeen cinema was in fact a real trip in a submarine.

On to the dead sea

planned to camp nearer the edge got stuck

dug the car out 4 times

do aquadrome the bet of that

May 17th Sunday

finaly dug the car out and drove onto the firm bit and stopped.

drove on towrds the out.

got stuck again

walked to the army post, first soldier very non commital, second one interested, third one positively keen to help. Called man with winch.

Man arrves with ISUZU that didn't look up to the job - how could such a small car pull great big ally out.

Dug sally out again, he obviously knew his job, then veryslowly we winched Sally out.

Very friendly man, I think for Israel we got charged a very reasonable amount {I remember how much the 30 minute wheel bearing change cost us back in 1987) though seemed high at 250,

He helped us load up the car and escorted us out of the beach area.

A cold beer at the services and with the ime roughly approaching 14:00 we headed off for Haifa to see if we could get on the ferry.

Found CASPI, wrong office but right travel agent, went on to the right office which was closed but the office close also CASPI but for airline tickets gave us directions to the port though we did have to talk it out of them.

'The ferry ticket office is closed' 'could you direct us to the ferry port then', 'the ticket office closed at 5 oclock' 'Yes, we know that but where is the car ferry'. She obviously knew but for some reason didn't feel obliged to tell me' Sarcasm worked 'I am looking for the car ferry, it is a large boat that carrys cars and people and takes them from Hifa to Greece' so she told me exactly where.

We got there in time nd there was a cabin left. Lesley started to do the procedures while I looked for the passports and all the other stuff, basically the money belt. It wasn't there and despite turning the car inside out we couldn't find it.

We drove back to the beach, and camped in the dark. We were exhuasted

We arrived just in time

May 18th Monday

found the jack but no money belt.

All our passportsMoney 200 Travellers cheques 1,300 Cheque book, Lesley's visa card and the cheque book.

Accomodation in Jerusalem incredibly expensive and the quality of the rooms which we saw was very poor. The tourist information was not very good. Their first contribution was an extract from the yellow pages labeled guest houses though transcribed onto a photocopied sheet. The second attempt was a hotel which though I emphasised repeatedly that it had to have parking turned out to be on a red route with no street parking at all. Also the area was fairly down market.

Finally settled on a studio apartment which was $55 and compared to everything else that we had seen was incredibly good value.

No4 Rahel Imeu Boaz Green

Really the process of searching for accomodation was characterised by a great deal of driifting around. We had lost direction and really didn't know what to do. The accomodation prices were totally different to what had been indicated in the Lonely Planet guide, admittedly our copy was 3 yers old but where the YMCA was indicated as costing in the region of $40 or so, we were being quoted $160 which was on a par with if not more expensive than many of the hotels.

One hostel we saw wanted in the region of $60 for what looked like a jail cell, we forwent that one as it looked like it would be incredibly noisy. I tried asking what had happened to theprices in Jerusalem but this question failed when all I could get was a statement repeated in various ways - 'These are our rates we cannot reduce them' I tried posing the question different ways 'Have room rates gone up over the last few years', 'Is this the high season' 'Why does my guide book show your rates as 1/4 the amount you are charging' all to know avail, I just got the same answer.

May 19th Tuesday

British Consulate for passports - very very helpful and pleasent

Cancelled the Travellers cheques

Problem with visa card as cancelling Lesley's would cancel mine as we had the same number. Needed to do tickets and money first.

May 20th Wednesday

To the 'Ammunition Hill' museum which in fact turned out to be more of a memorial than a museum. Very sad as it basically details a ist of all those who died in 1967 the six day war in the battle for Jerusalem. There was an old sherman tank

May 21st Thursday

We walk into town to the old city.

Montfiore windmill - Man explains the 6 day wr to a group of Israeli children

'One day the city was divided, the Arabs occupied the area across there - he points towards the old city' and often fired their guns towards us. The city was divided - heavy emphasis here - we couldn't travel there, they couldn't travel here. But one day our soldiers went over there, the Arab soldiers ran away and we united the city. Now the city is one city - lots of repeats and heavy emphasis - and now Israelis can travel freely there and the Arabs can travel freely over here.'

I was almost in tears by the end of it.

Very pleaent chap though, I asked him directions and as with just about all the Israelis we came across was more than willing to lend assistance.

Across to old city.

King Davids Tower NIS 25 each. The cafeteria is just the same as any other museum cafe, over priced and most likely with portions that had stood for some years.

The exhibition was great value for money with at least ,

Blues Brothers Steak House - Mid day business lunch at Sheckels 50, fantastic value anywhere for the helping that you get.

organised the Visa card cancellation 177 101 6384 8V7029803

May 22nd Friday

Up early so as to get to the ship in time to wait a great many hours for it to go. This is the day before the Sabbath which means Israel stops early and thus the hip must be ready to sail some time before it ultimately goes. Check in is between 10:00 and 12:00, departure is 20:00.

So, Alarms are set for 06:00 with the aim to be off by 07:00. A plan which is almost met with an 07:30 departure (I think it was nearer to 08:00 but we must get something right sometime). A clear road out of Jerusalem and apart from one break for sandwiches and diesel (cheaper in Israel than Greece, a guess that proved correct) and another 10 minute delay due to road works onthe Tel Aviv to Haifa road we arrived in Haifa at the docks spot on 10:00.

The etrance to he docks with regard to the ferry is a bridge that is met to your left just as you start to meet the main shopping area. To get there you must pass over to the other carriageway as there is no entry for those entering Haifa. Either turn right into the town and do a loop back on to the outgoing lane or carry on for about a kilometre when there is an oportunity to turn left and do an effective U-turn. But obviously being careful not to miss the 'right' turning up onto the bridge on the way out, else you must start again.

Into the port and the security check which is a series of questions aimed at getting you to accept 100% responsibility for theitems that are with you. For us that was easy as we had packed everything ourselves and had positively avoided anybody else having anything to do with the vehicle since we had left Pakistan. Passport control was easy and so polite unlike the horrible Egyptian version, then on to customs and a few stamps and that was it, bliss, a departure from the control of Israel as pleasent as the entry, here's a country that is active in its desire to win friends and I hope as successful as it has been in our case.

The next delay was anal in its making. The cars as they are processed are led to the boat - the 'Sea Harmony' in batches by a security wagon, we missed the first wagon due to Lesley's bottom initially and Geoff's bottom secondly. The docker who was organising the cars seemed a bit purturbed though I hope was able to see the funy side, the worst we got was a shrug of the shoulders. Then we were off and round to the boat where we had to wait while thay worked out where such a tall vehicle could go. We ended up on the ramp which was manouvered onto in 4x4 low range and with the expert help - he actually knew what he was up to - of the deck hand responsible for placing cargo, i.e us. Having had too many Egyptians and Pakistanis directing me or others out into moving traffic I was at first reluctant to follow his instructions to the letter, my mistake.

Note: Grown up 1st world deckhands directing cars are to be trusted. Don't look at the mirrors, look at them and obay them, otherwise they get justifiably irritated.

The Sea Harmony is 3

May 23rd Saturday