|St George's College, Jerusalem--our home for the next three weeks (we're in one of the third floor rooms with a balcony)|
The last week or so following our departure from New Zealand was a whirlwind as we visited three large cities--Sydney, Melbourne, and Singapore--before taking the El Al flight to Tel Aviv from Bangkok that arrived here early Sunday morning. We also rented a car in Sydney and drove the 1000km to Melbourne over the coastal route in two days to see something of Australia outside its two major cities. (Interesting routing by the way for the El Al flight, which can't fly over Saudi Arabia, so we went south around the horn of Africa over Somalia and Djibouti before flying over the Red Sea, which itself took 2-3 hours, much longer than I expected.)
A few random observations of the places we've been since my last post:
--Sydney: the highlight for me was seeing for the first time, in person, those two iconic landmarks--the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. It made me think of those other thrilling moments when I've been fortunate to see in person sights that I had known only through photographs since childhood--the Eiffel Tower, the Matterhorn, and the Star ferries in Hong Kong come to mind. My first sight of these two Sydney landmarks was on the approach of our Air New Zealand--what a great airline!--flight from Christchurch when we happened to be on the right side of the aircraft to take in the view before landing. Later we were able to walk across the Harbour Bridge from our B&B in nearby Kirribili and to tour and later attend a performance at SOH. Will always remember this.
|Harbour Bridge and downtown Sydney (Opera House at far left) seen from ferry slip near our B&B|
|Marilyn and friend at Melbourne Zoo|
|Naumi Hotel with its great rooftop pool view of Singapore was a splurge at the half way point of our journey--and well worth it|
I'll close with an initial reflection on Israel. Just walking through the Old City the other day--very much an in your face experience in comparison to the polite, Anglicized places we've been to so far--you realize how hard the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is and will be to resolve. Like the layout of the Old City itself, it seems very complicated. This morning, up early to do my email, I spoke with Azzam, one of the Palestinian workers at the College. Today it took him an hour and twenty minutes to get through the Israeli checkpoint to get to work from his home in the West Bank. He has rheumatoid arthritis and it hurts for him to stand in line for so long. Just imagine going through the worst airport security line of your life every workday, twice, and that's probably what it's like. The next few weeks are going to be filled, I think, with troubling observations and I hope some positive insights as well. Farewell for now.