A sight often seen and savoured

A while back, I posted a sunset view of Hout Bay from Chapman’s Peak Drive on the even of the Cape Town Cycle tour (read about it here).

Today was different – I actually cycled the route for a bit an early evening workout. This was the view that greeted me from the lookout point at the top.
It was my first ride in two weeks, having been away in Israel in-between. Between the break, the wind and the hills, I certainly felt pretty sluggish.

It’d been raining on and off for the past 24 hours, and the wind was brisk. My fingers were cold and I was thankful for the neck buff I’d brought along. Normally I take photographs on my rides with my cell phone. This does a decent job, but today I grabbed my little point and shoot. I was very glad I did. It takes fantastic images, given it’s small size and light weight.

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Farewell and shalom!

Today is our last day in Jerusalem. We’re off back home tomorrow. It’s been a good time and we kipped the Dead Sea trip in favour of a spa massage. This was a fantastic idea. But then spa treatments are always good.

A few last dashes around for shopping and we had the rest of the time to just amble about. So we decided to walk around the Old City. By walk around, I mean *WALK AROUND*. All the way past New Gate, Damascus Gate, Golden Gate around below Dome of the Rock with the purpose of viewing the Mount of Olives as the sun was setting on it. Top tip for Jerusalem travellers: DO THIS – it’s great. The view across the valley over Garden of Gethsemane, Church of Mary Magdalene (it’s Russian, so has onion domes. In gold!).

The sunset was great, the walk was good and we were looking of over the City of David when the call to prayer rang out from the mosques around the valley. It was pretty surreal and a moment we won’t forget in a hurry. If ever.

We made it back for a last slap-up binge in town with a walk THROUGH the Old City. We’ve had a lot of fun.

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     Aperture: ƒ/4.5 Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III Focal length: 42mm ISO: 6400 Shutter speed: 1/30s
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Shopping in the local market

The main upside to doing a short-term apartment rental when on holiday – you get to experience a city like a local. From just getting out and about to getting groceries, it’s jsut so different from staying in a hotel.

So, the first thing we had to do when arriving in Jerusalem was to hit the stores for something to eat and drink. We tried a local supermarket, but it wasn’t working for us, so a few inquiries had us on our way, and we found an astonishing indoor market selling all kinds of things we felt like eating. Halva, dates, cheese, pastries and sweets all looked so tempting. We settled for cheese and dates, and we’re glad we did. But, it’s a place that locals go to for their daily shop, with many coming after a day’s work to get stuff for dinner. A good cup of coffee, and we were on our way back home.

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     Aperture: ƒ/3.8 Camera: Canon PowerShot SX610 HS Focal length: 4.5mm ISO: 400 Shutter speed: 1/30s
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Jerusalem – the Old City at night

We’ve not used AirBnB before, and if our experience in Jerusalem is their standard offering, we’ll definitely be using them again. Wow! is all we can say. Really topnotch stuff from start to finish. It also helps that we picked a fantastic location – just a short walk from the New Gate into Jerusalem’s Old City.

After settling in, we did the requisite grocery shopping. With a twist… We managed to find the most amazing market where we got cheese, baklava, dates, more cheese and granola. The granola looks to be enough for our stay, but may not last the night at this rate. The stuff is delicious!! Our apartment is a duplex, and the stairs are pretty steep, and after this evening’s marathon walk on the cobbles of the Old City, we may need more than a few espressos to get up to bed.

The image I’ve included this evening was a ‘grab shot’ as I saw a Hasidic couple walking towards me out of the light into a darkened street. They’re just a silhouette, but it epitomises the old City at night. I love the glare coming off the shiny cobbles of the street surface. The contrast between this evening and daytime two days ago is strangely creepy – at lunchtime, you can’t move, and you can’t be heard over the din. At night, there’s no one about, and it’s eerily quiet. It’s really quite an experience.

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     Aperture: ƒ/2.8 Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III Focal length: 50mm ISO: 3200 Shutter speed: 1/30s
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Jerusalem-bound. Again

I don’t normally publish blog posts while in transit, but when I do, it’s on a train using free wifi.

I’ve discovered something I’ve suspected for some time now… Free WiFi is a basic human right, and forms the foundation of Maslow’s Hierachy of Needs. Or at least, that’s how it’s viewed in Tel Aviv. And on the train.

And that’s where you find me. On the train on the way to Jerusalem. Turns out it’s faster than a car, and far, FAR cheaper. Seems good to us. The WiFi thing is a bonus.

As you may recall from a previous post, we travelled there with Haim, our guide. Now we’re going back to explore on our own, and hopefully get to the Dead Sea and Masada.

But, more on that later. For now, it’s an image from last night.

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     Aperture: ƒ/10 Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III Focal length: 24mm ISO: 100 Shutter speed: 5s
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Tel Aviv

Not much happened today – apart from lazing at the pool and taking a long slow walk along Tel Aviv’s beachfront. It’s an amazing place, and being Saturday, it’s really Sunday, and a time for families, friends and all other manner of people to get out and about and enjoy the lovely weather. I suspect this happens every day, as it seems it’s always lovely weather. The waves of passing joggers, cyclists, dancers and walkers began before breakfast and was going strong at 10pm. They say it’s a town that never sleeps. I think they’re right.

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     Aperture: ƒ/5.6 Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III Focal length: 24mm ISO: 100 Shutter speed: 1/640s
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Jerusalem – in a word: “old”

Today, we were incredibly fortunate to have a tour of Jerusalem from a a research fellow from the University of Haifa (it says so on his card). Haim was amazingly knowledgable, and showed us around Jerusalem. Having led archeological digs, Haim was a font of knowledge like no other. He was able to take us places off the beaten track, and explain little side bits that gave a picture not available elsewhere. While explaining things to us, we often noticed people leaning in to get snippets of what he had to say. He was very generous and happily answered any question posed to him.

Now, we know we have a young country, but when you see a church in which the youngest portion is 900 years old and has been in daily use since then, it changes ones perspective.

I’m not sure how describe the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Wikipedia lists it as having two of the holiest sites in Christendom – Golgotha (Calvary) and Jesus’ empty tomb, but in reality, it’s an indescribable experience, so I’ll leave you with these images.

Church of the Holy Sepulchre - side church Church of the Holy Sepulchre - main dome inside Church of the Holy Sepulchre - outside tower

     Aperture: ƒ/5 Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III Copyright: Copyright Focal length: 24mm ISO: 10000 Shutter speed: 1/160s
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Israel – stage 1: getting there

Having the privilege of something really special often means there’s a sacrifice to be made somewhere else. Living in South Africa, and Cape Town specifically, and traveling to, well, pretty much anywhere overseas is somewhat of a mission. Very few direct international flights leave from Cape Town, and those that do have an extra two hours added to the flight, or even the added bonus of another stop elsewhere en route to stock up on fuel and passengers.

My journey to Tel Aviv was no exception – direct to Istanbul on Turkish Airlines meant a stop over in Durban, and with a tight connecting time of just over an hour, things were always going to be interesting somewhere along the line. However, we arrived on time. They said it was Istanbul, but I suspect they were lying as we travelled overland for what seemed like and age. And when I disembarked to catch my connecting flight, there was an unfathomable amount of other passengers wanting to do the same. However, it’s great to see a well-oiled process do its thing, and we shuffled through in short order. Security at the boarding gate was another story though – flights to Israel are earmarked for special treatment, and probably rightly so. With a sense of humour we all managed fine, found our seats and behaved like patient travellers.

The idea behind this trip is that I’m meeting Cris here – she’s been here for almost a week now on business, and we’re tacking on a few days extra for leisure (try telling that to airport immigration). It’s hot. DAMN hot. It’s also pretty. So I made an image of a dustbin on the beach. Hope you like it!

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     Aperture: ƒ/2.8 Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark III Copyright: Copyright Focal length: 55mm ISO: 100 Shutter speed: 1/8000s
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Tankwa – a celebration

We visited Tankwa to celebrate our 19th wedding anniversary. Below is an image that Cris and I captured while looking at a magnificent vista while contemplating what was and what was to be.

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Tankwa – Deserted in the desert

Tankwa is (broadly) situated in the Karoo, but more specifically, the Koue Bokkeveld (eng: Cold Goat Fields). Driving through the Karoo leaves on with the sense of the nothingness that’s there. Endless miles of dry dusty terrain. The longest road in South Africa edges Tankwa – it’s the 256km between Calvinia to the north-west and Ceres in the south-west. Of that 256km, less than 60km is tarred, and the untarred portion has probably claimed more tyres than than any other road in the country.

The dried up mud pans outside Tankwa is the location for Afrika Burn – the South African equivalent of Burning Man. We visited a few short weeks after Afrika Burn and saw no trace of it ever happening. It must be a sight to behold. If for nothing else, the sight of hundreds of dusty hipsters that have spent days in the wilderness without water and electricity.

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