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Pete and Elaine's Travels

Hello all,
Welcome to our Travel page.
This is where we will try to keep a record of our travels beginning in 2011
-we will update it as often as we have time! Of course we are not continuously travelling, we come home after each journey!!!

Our first itinerary ;-
20th January to 23rd January, San Francisco
23rd January to 19th February, touring north and south islands of New Zealand
19th February fly to Sydney, Australia where we will be staying until 25th February,
26th February, land at Heathrow airport

Second journey;-
We took the caravan through Belgium, Switzerland and Italy, when we did lots of walking, sight seeing, painting and reading.

Third itinerary;-
To celebrate our Ruby wedding anniversary, on Wednesday September 7th 2011, we fly direct to China, with a short stopover in Dubai. On arrival in Beijing, we join the tour with Wendy Wu, spending the next month travelling the length and breadth of China.
We finish off the holiday with a couple of days in Dubai, returning home on October 7th.

Fourth journey;-
29th January to 16th February, South Africa
16th February to 20th February, Zambia

fifth journey:-
USA, September 4th to October 7th 2012

sixth journey:-
Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, flying January 19th 2013

Seventh journey:-
India and Nepal, flying November 21st and returning December 5th

Eighth journey
Chile, flying January 22nd and returning 4th February

Ninth journey
Namibia, flying on July 24th and returning on August 11th

10th journey
would you believe it, the 10th and off to Western Australia on July 6th finishing off in Singapore on the way back

And so to the 11th adventure, Secret Lapland, January 20th to Monday 25th January 2016

Well unbelievably the twelfth journey, we fly 18th March to Myanmar via Bangkok, and cruise on the Irrawaddy until April 3rd

And onto journey 13, from October 7th to October 18th, the Silk Road in Uzbekistan.

Journey 14 begins on Monday 6th March, 2017 when we travel to Southern India.

Now Journey 15, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania,
May 14th to May 22nd 2017

Journey 16, Copenhagen and Stockholm, September 6th to September 14 th 2017

Journey 17. Peru and the Amazon

Journey 18. Russia, September 29th to October 14th 2018

Journey 19, Armenia and Georgia, May 8th to May 21st, 2019

Journey 20, Alaska, July 14th to July 26th, 2019

Journey 21, Jordan and Jerusalem, September 17th to September 26th, 2019

Diary Entries

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

Location: Jerusalem, Israel

Another day of glorious sunshine and clear blue skies and we are off to Palestine to visit Bethlehem today. We had mixed feelings about going as we thought it would be as crowded as some of the churches in the Old City here but it turned out to be a gem of a day.

There has been an awful lot of money spent on Jerusalem but Palestine is much poorer.
Israelis are not welcome in Palestine to put it. Mildly. There were large signs to say keep out at the turn off roads and that any Israeli straying into Palestine would be shot. Our driver was allowed to take us as the country needs him to drive the tourists! Between 8000 and 16000 tourists come to Bethlehem daily. And this week there are exceptionally high numbers as it is the end of the Jewish calendar at the weekend.

There are three zones here, one for Israelis, one for Palestinians and one for both to use to get to work.

The main industry in Palestine is tourism with love growing a close second, giving lots of products and carving from the olive wood which if dried properly can last over a hundred years. Without these two industries unemployment would be eighty to ninety percent. Most of the Palestinians drive into Israel to work in the construction industry.

First stop then was the Field of Shepherds complex where the chapel is built on the site of the appearance of the angel Gabriel to the shepherds. God was making a point by appearing to the lowest of the low to make it plan that all are welcome. The circular dome shaped building is just lovely and was only built in the 1950 s on land originally owned by Boaz. As we entered a group of young German tourists broke into a rendering of the Gloria. Some of us found it quite moving and emotional and we joined in spontaneously with the singing until we ran out of the words. They had lovely voices which echoed and swirled round the small dome. What a special memory this was. This is the believed spot where the angel appeared. There is no archaeological evidence as the Romans and others destroyed what there was. But according to local tradition, as in other places, this is the believed place.
From the grounds were good views over Palestine. Outside was the usual tourist commercialism and disturbingly a young boy who had a lamb round his neck asking for money for a photo shoot.

We walked on to enter the Church of the Nativity through a very small doorway called the Humble Gate , so called because you had to stoop to enter.
Inside, it wasn't as chaotic as the Holy Church of the Sepulchre in Jerusalem. But there was a two to three hour long queue to get to the underground grotto where Jesus was born and the manger in which he was lain. Our group decided we weren't going to wait but the guide knew some of the police at the entrance to the grotto and five of us dodged the queue and got in within half an hour, not daring to look back at those waiting!!
Who you know works! The guide said he had known the queue to be seven hours long.
It was then a short walk through the streets past bakers, craftsmen, olive wood carvers etc to reach the beautiful Milk Grotto where it is said if infertle women sprinkle its dust in their food they would become pregnant. A lovely chapel has been built over the grotto leading to the chapel where a sect called the silent nun were praying.

We walked from here through Manger Square whe 15000 people celebrate a month long Christmas period and down Star street which is a World Heritage Site. We wandered back through the back streets of the Old City to the bus which then took us to a section of the wall where we spent some time walking along the perimeter being watched all the time from the soldiers in the regularly spaced tall watch towers.
The separist wall was erected in 2008 and it is an awful sight. It surprisingly weaves in and out. We expected it to be in a straight line but apparently the Israelis wanted to get as much land as possible and this was an effective way of doing it.
Our young guide Barbara was very passionate and angry about it. It felt very chilling and intimidating. The house are dominated by the wall. This section is twelve meters high and constructed from concrete. Some sections are fenced, some are settlements which make a buffer zone. The Israelis built and manage the wall and have complete control of it. There are tough restrictions on those who live near it. If there is a problem with a water tank for instance which is kept on the roof, permission has to be obtained to go up to mend it ! Palestinians have no rights of their own, they must seek permission from the Israelis. Our guide couldn't leave or go through the wall without going permission which was difficult. They cannot broadcast their feelings or use social media like Facebook.
The Israelis decide on the size and specifications of the houses which are built so close to the wall. There is no running water, sewage system, electricity and no right to complain.
Walking along this stretch of the wall took quite a while as we stopped to read the proliferation of graffiti some of it from the artist Banksy. There were poignant poems and posters as well. One of the most poignant was a depiction of the young girl who was shot as she ran to help someone who had been shot from one of the watchtowers. This dr has since become a martyr. It was a sober group that walked along as we tried to absorb the enormity of the situation here. We stopped eventually at a pub called The Walled Off, the outside of which has been decorated by Banksy. There is another of his art works in the lovely Victorian style bar blow a small art gallery full of brightly coloured paintings in a room where the light was blocked by this huge block of concrete.

it is easy to see why situations flare up as emotions and the sense of injustice run deep here. We will take this with us and keep it for a long time.

Such food for thought.

And so we came to our last day here after a holiday which has been phenomenal. We fly home early in the morning but perhaps it might be appropriate after such a day to end this blog by repeating a couple of quotes provided by the tour company.

' I am not the same having seen the moon shine from the other side of the world' Mary Anne Radmacher

'Travelling, it leaves you speechless then turns you into a story teller' Ibn Battuta.

Thank you for following my stories. I hope that you have found them enlightening.

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Location: Jerusalem, Israel

A short bus drive today started our tour of the city.
First to Gethsemene, where the church is also known as the Church of Agony. It is a modern building but beautifully designed. Amethyst was used for the windows to create the darkness of the agony that Jesus went through on his last night when he asked to be spared the fate ahead of Him.by the altar is the stone from the original garden which is a place for pilgrims. The stone is said to be where Christ shed tears and those tears fell here. It is said that where ever part of Jesus touched remains holy as a part of God has been left. So,pilgrims come here to to rub the stone.
The church was very busy so this should have been a warning of what was to come!
Most of the garden has gone but there still,remains a small area where some 700 year old olive trees remain. Previous societies had destroyed the many olive trees growing in this area to punish the Jews in order to take away their wealth from the crops which they yielded. Outside weer groups singing and praying so some of our jolly members started off with a hymn.
From the garden there is a clear view of the wall and the place where a gate has been bricked up. This gate will be open to allow the coming of the Messiah. Further along we could see Lions Gate which is the gate that Jesus passed through on Psalm Sunday on his entrance into Jerusalem. Through Lions Gate is Bethesda wher Martha lived and where Lazarus was healed to get up and walk.

As we continued on our journey, many landmarks were pointed out to us. It became almost like a pilgrimage.
We passed by Zedachiahs Cave which is where the stone was quarried to build Solomon's original city of Jerusalem.

Another landmark was a further glimpse of the Jewish Cemetery where we could see the tomb of Absolom and some of these tombs dated back 2700 years.

Our next drop off point was at the Dung Gate. Apparently the Romans wanted to humiliate the Jews so they would dump their rubbish at the top of the mountain where the rains would wash it down the mountainside to collect at the bottom, causing untold smells. Hence the name 'Dung'.

No smell today though as we walked up into the Jewish Quarter.

The Old City is divided in to four Quarters, The Jewish, the Armenian, the Muslim and the Christian.
The Dung Gate is in the Jewish Quarter. We set off walking, passing through security scanning to reach once again the Wailing Wall. This time it was a very different atmosphere, full,of tourist as well as worshippers, so we were so glad that we had seen it the night before where it was ethereal with the glow of the Golden Dome rising behind it. Today it was bustling but this time much fewer men than women. There were a lot of school children mostly girls making a visit today. Their uniform was very severe with heavy shoes and stockings even in this heat.
Today I went down to touch the wall although it wasn't necessary for non Jews to leave the wall by walking backwards for which I was quite grateful. I did find it somewhat upsetting when the prayer I left in the wall crevice fell off and I couldn't find it to replace it. Strange. I did feel it was such a privilege to be allowed into the sanctuary even though it was so noisy and animated. At the wall, Jewish feelings begin to surface into a deep and profound experience which you can 'to help but feel.

The wall is the last remaining part of the temple where Jesus went and so it has been sanctified. Touching the the wall is thought to be the essence of life. It has been remarkable built with carefully hewn stones fitted together with no mortar, larger stones at the bottom getting smaller as they reach the top. Somehow touching the stones of this ancient edifice somehow seems to identify with the laments and hope and joy of those taking part. Weird.
Amazing.
Unfortunately it is not possible to climb Temple Mount but many years of laborious work have revealed underground structures which you can visit except we didn't have the time.

And so we carried on walking through the different quarters and stopping at the stations of the cross some of which had small chapels.
Our next main visit could only be described a shell! We went to the site of the official crucifixion, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. What can I say. Such a beautiful buildings with such importance artefacts and relics but ruined by the massive crowds wedged into it. Gone was any decency. Everyman for himself, bad tempered priests trying to cope with people not being respectful. Just awful.
5.2 million people visit Israel each year and most of them end up here, and it looked like they had all come today.
This is the site of Calvary. There is much dispute amongst the faiths even to the providing oils for the lamps as to which faith has responsibilty for the aspects of maintenance.
The interior was magnificent. Inside the door is a stone stairway to the rock on which Jesus was crucified and people queued to touchnit as, as I said before any stone touched by Him embued God. Massive queues so we took our photos and pushed and shoved our way down. There we found the stone slab on which Jesus was lain out to be washed and cleaned after death, again, a place to touch. Further round the corner was a tomb like structure built over the cave from where he rose again. Here it was ridiculous. Here the queues were an hour and a half long, again we didn't wait.
The first disappointment of the holiday. So we left and went for lunch

Last point of call was the Holocaust Museum and this didn't disappoint.A beautiful modern building on Mount Herzl using all kinds of technology and reports of living history to provide a most harrowing and though provoking testament to this evil and dark period in history,
The museum is called Yad Vashem and is free to enter. The word Holocaust means burnt offerings. It is also a place of learning in order to educate the young so that they do not forget and learn to make the world a better place. As you leave the museum you come upon a viewpoint overlooking a forest of 3000 trees planted to signify hope for the living in future years. Wonderful. It is so easy to lose faith in humanity when faced with such dark times. There are many references in the museum to the 'righteous gentiles' as they were called, such as the queen's mother in law, Princess Alice amongst others who helped and saved so may Jews. She has been allowed to be buried here as a sign of respect for what she did.

It wasn't easy for those who survived and made it to Israel as they were first treated with suspicion as to why and how they had managed to live through it all.

Israel holds an annual Holocaust Day held in anymore April depending on the Jewish Calendar. Every thing is closed, everyone wears a white shirt to symbolise respect and a siren goes at ten a.m when everything stops.


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Recent Messages

From sister again
One of the most fascinating, if not THE most fascinating accounts you have ever written. xx
Response: It's such a lovely country and am glad you are finding it as fascinating as we have. And a bonus is the sun but a bit too hot at well above thirty on some days
Xx
From sister
Absolutely fascinating account so far. xx
Response: Younwould love it here, such a fabulous place. It makes the situation in the surrounding countries all the more sad. We can envisage Syria being similar in many ways.
Xx
From angela
brilliant photos and such dramatic scenery. really enjoyed seeing them all
Response: Xx enjoy your visit to Canada
From Jayne
Living vicariously through your words. 😊
Response: We are glad that this has reached you across the water
Xx
From sister
Hope you have arrived safely and I look forward to reading the blog. I always enjoy my vicarious travelling. xx
Response: We are here and safe and sound, with lovely blue skies and a very pleasant place to be.xx
From Little babbie
Hello Parents,

Have you tried guinea pig yet. They were displayed on all the market stalls when I went. Usually with a red pepper or apple stuffed in their mouths. Sounds like you’re having a great time.

Have emailed several times but they are all bouncing back xx
Response: Hello babbie, we have seen several roasted and live guinea pigs, we plan to taste one before we leave, we have had alpaca, found that a bit tough!
From Sister
Glad you are safely there and look forward to reading your blog. XX
Response: A week gone already!!
From Your sister
Enjoying the vicarious travel, as usual. XX
Response: From inside of your dry home we presume
From Mike and Anne
Hi glad your holiday is going well. Enjoying reading your blog interesting as ever. Looking on the bright side a 'dry' March will help with the medication xx
Response: Dry and searing heat, but much better than rain although there was a terrific downpour in the night. Hope all,is well
Xx
From Sister
Maybe it is really me, accompanying you surreptitiously to keep an eye on you. I have never been called 'scary' before, even by students. X
Response: Mmm, how do you know that!!
From sister
Looking forward, as always, to accompanying you on your journey. XX
Response: We have an Aunty Dotty look alike with us in the group, mannerisms the lot! How scary is that!!!!!!
Xx
From Sister
Delighted to be back on my vicarious travels. Sounds fascinating already. XX
Response: It all seems a bit surreal to be standing in these historic places dating back to the first century BC!
From Kathy & Ken
So jealous - looks like you had another amazing adventure x
Response: Keep stashing away the money whilst you work!!!!!
From Angela and Gilbert
What an experience, can't wait to view the pictures
Response: It was indeed! Now waiting at Bangkok airport for the flight home
From KB
Hola parents,

You look like are having a fab time. Just catching up on your blog. Keep safe xx
Response: Hello babbie
Am trying to get blog up to date, wifi very iffy, hope you had a good easter
From Sue Brockwell
Happy Easter. Sounds a fascinating hol. Now in Isle of Man. House with lovely views out to sea. Drive across island and lunch out next plan. X
Response: Ooh, we liked the Isle of Man, it was like going back in timehope the sun shines for you. It has been forty plus degrees here and feels hotter!
From Sister
Fascinating. Look forward to seeing the photographs. I think I would have been annoyed at being kept back because I was a girl, though. That would have gone against the grain. However, we have to respect cultural differences if we are visitors! XX
Response: Fascinating is the right word to use. Something to see at every turn
Xx
From Sue and Les
We are having a BBQ tonight a bit nearer home in the illustrious Padstow. We now have full family complement so not a dull moment. Glad you are having a great time. We are enjoying reading the updates.
Response: I hope it's Aussie style BBQ with plenty of steak and fish. Hope the weather is staying kind for you all, you must be well into the school holidays by now, looking forward to seeing you when we get home.
From JB
Brilliant story on 29th July Mother; did Nana never teach you not to get in cars with strangers (particularly naked ones)!
Response: Nan never knew any naked men I am sure!! I can just imaging her comment!!!! And
Well, I wouldn't have minded but he was over seventy and every inch of skin was a chocolate brown colour! When he got out of the car when we got to dad, his comment' I hope you don't mind your wife travelling in a car with a naked man' Father's comment..'No'
You will be pleased to know that your father has tried to outdo you with the hobo look, as he refused to shave, except he didn't look suave, just a slim version of Santa Claus in the making. Once it got hot, it started to itch and it all came off!!!!'no staying power
From Sandra/Dave
Pleased to read you are enjoying yourselves. Nipped round to yours, everything fine, lawn green and neatly trimmed. Weather here not good at the moment, rained most of yesterday, slightly better today. X
Response: Ouch, rain not good, we are now in the heat, 35 degrees, this has been quite an adventure with lots of stories to tell!!! Off,East tomorrow, we are finding that Australia doen't like yahoo so we are finding it difficult to get and send emails. Thank you so much for popping round to the house.
From Anne & Mike
Enjoying your blog. Glad your having a good time xx
Response: Hello both, tried to ring you before we came away but I guess you had not returned from your travels..hope you had a great time. We are now in Exmouth, wifi very difficult, am sitting in the visitors centre with 30 mins free wifi, will try to update blog when I can, all good here, have had a problem with a broken windscreen, stone from a road train didn't like us, all taped up, trying to get to Broome to sort it out...britz tried to send us to the nearest repair place which was 500 miles from here in the other direction! Just going to book a glass bottomed boat trip over the reef, they are trying to get us to go snorkelling but we wouldn't look cool with the woggle under our arms as we are not that confident swimmers
From Lynne
Looks like you are having a great time. It all sounds amazing. We look forward to reading some more! Continue to enjoy x it was lovely to see Christine and Charles We had a good catch up xx
Response: Are your jaws aching then???
You would also like it here! Just finished the first leg of the holiday, now for the northern bit and the heat. Ironic to be away in the British heatwave!
From Sister
Sounds fascinating. Interesting that Elaine's ancestors may have been among the earliest emigrants-albeit compulsory ones. XX
Response: I think compulsory might have been right, dodgy stock as Pete says!!
From Clare & Mart
Enjoy!! xx
Response: A fab place, you would both love this lifestyle. We'll let you know what the Motorhome holds in store for us!
From Sister
Sounds fascinating! Hope you find a woolly jumper shop! XX
Response: Yep, entrance to fish river canyon sold a fleece, weather now much warmer!!!!!!