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Well, here we are on the last day of our trip! 5 weeks has gone by so quickly. We’ve had a wonderful rest here in Waikiki and are now both ready to come home to family & friends. We leave very early tomorrow morning, 6am pickup, and will be back in Welly via Sydney just before midnight on Thursday night. Looking forward to our own beds.

It’s been an amazing trip, the people, the places and the experiences have been almost indescribable, but hopefully I’ve been able to give you all a small insight into our travels. I’ve managed to get the photo’s working now and have added some into the posts but the blog has run out of space, so can’t add any more!

Thank you to everyone who has commented on the blog or messaged us separately – it’s been lovely to know you are following us and wishing us well everywhere. We have felt so blessed on this trip – it was meant to be!

No place like home though – so Wellington, here we come :)

Sunset Hawaii

Sunset Hawaii from our hotel room

View from hotel Waikiki

Panorama View from hotel Waikiki

28 – 31/03/2019

Ah…Hawaii !

This is where the holiday part of the trip begins !

There isn’t much to say except that Honolulu is warm & relaxed.  We are in the last hotel at the quiet end of Waikiki Beach in a corner room with a spectacular ocean view & also look out right across the zoo to Diamond head. The hardest part now is deciding whether to sit on the balcony, or sit by the pool, or sit on the beach across the road or snooze. Planning on doing all of the above.  Had a little retail therapy in the Ala Moana mall but apart from a Pearl Harbour visit tomorrow morning, we aren’t planning on doing much more than just sitting around and resting. The last four weeks have been amazing. We saw & experienced incredible things & met wonderful people but it has been so full on busy that we are now so very grateful for this time to rest. Cant believe the trip is almost over and we will be back in our own beds in a few days. Cant believe this time next week I’ll be back at work !

As with all the places we’ve stayed, a catholic church has not been more than 2 mins walk away, so we went to church last night and the sign on the door made me smile – you don’t see ‘No swimwear allowed’ on most church doors, but I guess in Hawaii when that’s the national costume most of the time, the sign is warranted :)

Off now to the beach, or  maybe the pool, or maybe just  to have snooze….


Israel – Day 27


Today was our ‘airport day’…we knew it would be a bit of a wasted day as we would have to spend a long time there before our flight after midnight that night, but until you are sitting there doing nothing for 12 hours, you dont’ realise how long the wait really is & how incredibly boring airports are! After packing the night before we had to check out of our Air BnB at 11am and as there was no storage for our bags, we headed straight to Tel Aviv airport. We first caught a cab to the train station where we had to argue with the cab driver when he wanted to take us all the way to Tel Aviv !!  However we were ready for him after previous experiences and once he realised he couldn’t get what he wanted he started complaining that he’d hurt his back lifting our bags! I thought here we go, he’ll want more money, so I explained that I can lift the bags fine and I did actually warn him first that they were heavy. He then obviously got over the heavy bag situation and wanted then to take our bags down to the train platform level – told us there were only stairs & we wouldn’t be able to manage. We refused and I told a white lie that we were meeting someone, gave him the agreed 80 sheckles and basically dragged our bags off him and thankfully he went away! Crikey, you have to be on your game with these blokes! And there was an elevator….;) !!

The train was fast & efficient & we were there in 25 minutes. Once again the special assistance for Mum at the airport meant we didn’t have to stand in the line for the El Al security questions, they came to us so Mum could stay seated and we skipped all the queues for passport control and baggage screening. Although I did have to do the drug dog walk – Mum was waved right through  – obviously not a potential suspect ;) A ride on a cart to the gate with a lovely young man who waited for 10 minutes chatting away to Mum while I claimed my tax back and then at 12.45am we were on our way to LAX – a 15 hour flight which I must say was at the tipping point of tolerable ! Thank goodness for Premium Economy & the extra leg room. Then we had a 6 hour wait for the flight to Honolulu and finally 48 hours after leaving Jerusalem we were in our very comfy beds at our hotel on Waikiki Beach ! Mammoth flying effort and not something I would be keen to repeat any time soon.



Israel – Day 26


This morning we walked down outside the old city walls to visit the Golden Gate (sometimes called the Mercy Gate). This is the gate that has been blocked up for centuries and will be the one that Jesus will come through on a white horse when he returns. It has an Arab cemetery in front of it which is not very well maintained but it’s got an amazing view across to the Mount of Olives.

We then wandered to find Oskar Schindler’s grave which wasn’t hard to find, so many stones on top of it, you could spot it in the distance.  Stones are mainly placed on graves in Israel as a mark of respect and honour instead of flowers as stones don’t die.

Then we caught a tram down the road into the new city and went to the Yehuda markets for a stroll – the produce was so vibrant & colourful. I wish we had markets like we’ve seen back home. Everything is so fresh and the size of things are huge.

Oskar Schindler grave

Oskar Schindler’s grave

Golden Gate

Golden Gate

Halva at Yehuda Market

Halva at Yehuda Market – sooo yummy – Karen, I need you to work out how to make it !! ;)

Israel – Day 25


Up early we were at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre at 7.10am….however so were alot of other people. And there was a mass going on right next to the tomb structure, so they weren’t letting anyone in until mass was over and then the pews all cleared away – this is the 2nd time on the holiday I should have brought the walking stick seat for Mum but didn’t and I was kicking myself as it was 90 mins of standing around, however Mum is a tough chick and we eventually got inside. Not much to see after all that, just an empty tomb… but I guess what  do you expect ?….He is Risen…so He wasn’t there ! Mosaic ceilings were a work of art. Must have taken years.

After that we went down to the western wall to line up for the security to get up to the Temple Mount.  We were dressed very modestly and were well behaved. I’d read that some people get turned away by the Arab checkpoint if their pants are too tight or they look too Jewish !  The Israeli security check at the bottom was the standard bag through the scanner thing, but the Arab security at the top was non existent !! They were having smoko :) So we just wandered in. I could’ve worn my tight pants after all ;)

It looks amazing from a distance, but up close the Dome of the Rock mosque actually is pretty dilapidated and could do with a lick of gold paint – or at least a clean!  They don’t appear to maintain the outside much. The temple mount site is huge….but there isn’t much up there to be honest….very sparse.

It started to rain, so we decided a few indoor things were the next good option, so we went to The Burnt House just around the corner from our apartment. It is ruin of a house from the 2nd temple period where the final hours of the residents during the destruction of the temple by the Romans were re-created . They found a young girl’s severed arm and lots of household items. Must have been an horrendous end.  Just amazing the artifacts on display.

We also went to the Hurva Synagogue, also close to the apartment. We were able to watch from the gallery the young men being instructed on the Torah and had a marvelous view over Jerusalem from the outside gallery. The synagogue also has an ancient ruins site underneath.

Holy Sepulchure2

Mosaic ceiling in Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Hurva Synagogue

Hurva Synagogue

Temple Mount1

Temple Mount & Mads

Temple Mount2

Temple Mount & Nova

Israel -Day 24


A morning visit to the Temple Institute was eye opening! They have made every vessel, lamp, alter, priests outfits etc ready for the third temple and they are deadly serious. Just incredible what has been made and what they are planning for the future.

More exploring & decided to walk the ramparts along the old walls. Broken into two walks, the Northern and the Southern, the views over the old city quarters and also over the new city are fantastic. It really puts into perspective how small the old city really is. Mum did one walk and then put her feet up for the afternoon, while I completed the other walk – they really were a work out, with large steps up and down and my calf muscles ached afterwards!  I was quite proud of myself though as I managed to keep my fear of heights under control on the narrow walkways. They had closed the last part of the walk off, so I was directed down into the Muslim quarter and proceeded to get very lost amongst all the halal butcheries, but eventually found my way back to the apartment. We went to mass that night in the church of the Holy Sepulchre …even though it was in some foreign language, it was easy to follow. The queue to get into the sepulchre was enormous, so we decided to come back early the next morning to get in. Another early night, more wine and more Netflix ;) A nice relaxing pattern was emerging.  While we absolutely loved our tour & having dinner every night with people, it was very nice to hunker down at night and make dinner & just relax.

Rampart walk Nova

Nova walking the ramparts

Israel – Day 23


For the first time in over 2 weeks we had a lazy start to the day and didn’t get outside until after lunch. Jerusalem was still on the cold side so the shorts stayed in the suitcase!  Wandering around the markets linking the quarters can cause a few headaches as they all look the same at every turn but as we weren’t in any rush we just enjoyed getting a bit lost. The stall owners desperately try and get you to buy so you learn quickly not to show too much interest in things unless you are really in the mood to haggle – a foreign concept to us kiwis. And I learnt the hard way that you need to ask ‘how much?’ first before accepting the goods as I was ripped off for a loaf of bread and 2 croissants to the tune of $18 NZD …too late they were already in the bag and I was too tired to protest! I made sure we enjoyed those very expensive items !  It was nice to be seeing the old city at a relaxed pace and we also enjoyed the quiet evenings with a glass of wine or two and netflix. Neighbours quieter tonight !


Israel – Day 22


Quiet night in Tel Aviv & after the last huge breakfast at the hotel we explored the Camel Market – not a camel in sight but plenty of food of every type you can imagine and things you didn’t know you needed or for that matter even knew existed. We then bit the bullet and took a GETT (uber equivalent) to Jerusalem as the options with the bus and train were limited being Shabbat (the Sabbath). Cost about $150 NZD but needs must & at least we would get within a few hundred metres of our accomodation and not have to lug the bags too far. However the cab driver was a bit of a shark (as are most of them we’ve since found out) and even after getting the concierge to tell him exactly where we needed to go, and enter it correctly into the GETT app, he dumped us off way too early as he didn’t want to drive through the old city narrow one way streets. Our lovely Air BnB host however came to meet us and helped drag the bags through the old city to the apartment – she took his name and number and was going to give him an earful as apparently they do it all the time! I never give drivers a bad rating on uber, but I figured I would never be on GETT again so I rated him poorly – wish there had been an option to comment on his 130kms per hour driving and the constant straddling of the lanes so he could pick which one was going faster at any given moment. I prayed all the way into Jerusalem !!

The apartment was great but the neighbours upstairs were soooo noisey – sounded like they were moving furniture all night, but it was Shabbat and the feast of Purim still underway so we just put up with it. The young boys earlier in the day were all getting absolutely hammered for Purim, walking the streets drinking straight out of wine bottles…they would have had to sober up quickly in time for Shabbat.  We were going to go to a Jewish house for a Shabbat meal that I had pre booked, but in the end we cancelled it as it was in the new city and we had no idea how to get there and back in the dark – and we were already put off the taxi idea!!

Israel Day 21


During the drive back to Tel Aviv we stopped at a few more places, a Kibbutz for ice cream made on site from their dairy farm, the Ramon crater in the Negev desert which is 40kms in length – we could hardly see the other side and the ruins of the biblical old city of Be’er Sheva right across from the new city that has sprung up. This area was apparently captured and held secure by the NZ & AUS troops in the first world war. The last supper was tonight in the hotel with everyone going back to the States on the midnight flight. They all have been a lovely group of people to meet and we’ve enjoyed travelling with them. They all have a standing invite to NZ & I reckon some of them might turn up!  Tomorrow check out is midday (total luxury!) and the adventure continues on our own back in Jerusalem at an air bnb for 5 nights where the holiday part of the trip will begin.

Special thanks to Kirsten & David Hart our American hosts from the Zola Levitt team who cared for everyone like we were part of their family. David will no doubt relax now that he’s on the way home to the States as he doesn’t have to count people anymore…although it might be a hard habit to break…he could be counting people on the El Al Dreamliner right now! And I wonder if Kirsten, like me, will find it a dreadful trial not having dessert options for breakfast anymore ;)


Israel Day 20


Crossing the border into Jordan reminded me of those movies where prisoners are exchanged and walk past each other in no mans land to the other side. Many checks of passports and security checks but it was fairly painless and we walked into Jordan by 8am and onto a Jordanian bus with a new guide and new driver as our Israeli friends and our lovely bus stayed in Israel.

The Petra experience is hard to describe. The rock formations are so huge you feel in awe and completely insignificant. The walk down to the treasury site was fantastic and walking out into the open treasury space blew me away. The photos didn’t do it justice (& neither did the Indiana Jones movie !)  so I tried to just to drink it all in. ( advice from my darling Ethan!). Mum caught a horse drawn buggy back up with some of the other ladies as it’s a long incline back. She gave the driver strict instructions on watering his horse at the top ! She wanted to make sure he did …& she calls me bossy! Not sure how well they treat their animals in Jordan and unfortunately when I was walking further down with the remainder of the group one of the horses fell .. an awful scene. The people were alright but not so sure about the horse. Jordan while so close to Israel is so different. They have to import water from Israel and apparently they take a lot of NZ sheep ! Our Jordanian guide Aladdin ( and before you ask Mr Taylor ..no he didn’t have a magic carpet!  ) was lovely and twisted my head scarf in the traditional way to demonstrate to the group. It stayed on most of the day & really worked to keep the sun off. While Jordan was an experience I was glad to get back across the border to the land of milk and honey and our super clean, modern & well maintained bus and our gorgeous sweet driver David and Ilan our incredible hilarious guide for the past 10 days.

I must say the timing for the sites we’ve visited has been impeccable. Our group has been amazing at getting to the bus on time everyday and at every stop.. no waiting for stragglers (although Mum & I are often last off and last back on!) and David & Ilan have ensured we have missed most of the crowds and cruise ship bus loads arriving within minutes of us leaving each site ! We’ve often had places to ourselves.

Petra walk

Walk down to the Treasury

Petra Mads

Mads outside the Treasury

Petra Nova

Nova outside the Treasury

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