Nivi's Adventures

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Solstice

The longest day of the year! I'd forgotten all about it and would probably have spent the night at home in front of the telly, but fortutuously Tim, (Canadian friend whom I visited in Germany) was in London so we were out and about enjoying the summer's eve along the River Thames.

People watching free the movie at The Scoop. Not a bad backdrop for it eh?

I'm kinda in love with this bridge, such a symbol of London.

Tower of London

The funky offices in MoreLondon, a swanky new area by London Bridge

The Tower Bridge going up to let a well-lit boat through. The long exposure kinda captures just how red the sky was.

Ladies who Lunch

Anna finally returned from her trip of Europe and spent a couple of days in London before returning home to NZ. Vasi and I managed to catch up with her for lunch and hear about her tales before leaving.

I dutifully took along my camera, but forgot to take a pic of us at lunch, so when Anna kindly came by my work to return my phone I'd left at lunch, I seized the opportunity for a photo.

Just outside my work - the security guard we asked to take the photo gave us quite a strange look ;)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Sacred: Discover what we share

This post is about Sacred, an exhibition on "The world's greatest collection of Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy books" currently on at the British Library. I figured it would be a cultural experience, and it turned out to be quite an interesting exhibition.

The similarities between the religions are interesting to note and I was kinda chuffed to read a note talking about two of the most holy places for all 3 religions: Jerusalem (tick) and Mt Sinai (tick) :D

Unfortunately there was a no photos policy which I decided to follow (check out some more random photos later, or this link for some authorised photos of the texts).

There were some amazingly intricate books on display which was stunning enough but when you considered they were of such importance and age and variance: for instance a Torah scroll from China 17th/18th c (!), part of the Dead Sea Scrolls and a piece of the carpet that was hung over the doors of mecca during hajj one year!

All in all a nice way to spend a saturday afternoon, even though I got soaked in the rain and walked around the exhibition barefoot, carrying my soggy shoes in my hand :)

Sir Eduardo Paolozzi's statue of Isaac Newton

Lotsa books - as one might expect at the British Library!

And a funky bench in the foyer, which is of course art:
Sitting on History by Bill Woodrow (1995)
"With its ball and chain, this bronze sculpture refers to the book as the captor of information from which we cannot escape"

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Lunch with Luke

One of the great things about living in a city like London is it's a central travel point. So not only do you get the benefit of cheap and plentiful travel but most people will probably stop over in London if they are in Europe - a great way to catch up with friends.

Which is exactly what happened with Luke, a friend I went to Engineering School with back in Auckland. He was in London for a couple of days and even though he had a rather busy schedule, we managed to catch up for a (late) lunch. A bit has happened since I last saw Luke before leaving NZ in March 06 - he got engaged and married to Annie and they are now in California as Luke does his MBA at Stanford. So needless to say we had a bit to catch up on and it was wonderful seeing a familiar face :)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Last day in Israel - for real

So the reason this was our last day 'for real' was cos, as per the entire trip, we got home really late. 04:11 to be precise, and needed to be up at 05:00 to drop Rick and Tom at the airport in time for their flight. I napped for the 45mins and then went along to make sure Asaf stayed awake on the drive home. After getting home I pottered around and slept some more before saying my goodbyes to Asaf's awesome family and the man himself.

I also found out the 'special treatment' I received at the airport wasn't exclusive to me. I got questioned on entering the airport, twice at pre-screening (the girl had to get her supervisor to question me), they did a search of my pack before check-in and then a thorough hand luggage check.

  • Why were you in Dubai?
  • Have you kept in touch with anyone you met in Egypt or Jordan?
  • How long were you in Malaysia?
  • So you're New Zealander but you live in London now?
  • Born in Sri Lanka, so what religion are you?
  • What languages do you speak?

Hard core! I spose the thing I found most surprising was that all the security was leaving the country - I would have thought it would more be entering the country... Ah well you learn something new everyday!

All in all, Israel was a simply magnificent trip, one of the best holidays ever! All the people I encountered were friendly & interesting and everyone seems to speak wonderful english! And the sights were phenomenal!!! It's almost unbelievable to have so much history steeped in one country!

To Asaf and his family (and Rick for insisting I come along) TODA! It was balagan!

Just one last random pic. You know you're in Israel when you have to watch out for bicycles and orthodox jews! ;)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Last day (well ish)

After yet another late start to the day, we headed to the beach - my very first time in the Mediterranean!!! It was loads of fun: vegging out, swimming and playing frescobol to our hearts content :) Frescobol is the Brazilian name given to the beach sport where 2 people basically try and keep a squash ball alive using a wooden paddle about the size of a tennis racquet. I can't remember what Asaf called the sport (the American name is smashball) but the first time I saw it being played was in Brazil so that's what I'm calling it!

After we'd done chilling out at the beach we headed home for our last supper with Asaf's parents (another beauty) before heading out to a cute little cafe and then a really awesome bar for a few drinks. All the bars we'd been to in Israel had been really cool but this one was the best to me - the DJ was totally wicked and spun some amazing tracks!

The Mediterranean!

The crew

Check out the sign ;) I should have taken the photo earlier in the day when the beach was far more thoroughly packed! (It's forbidden to swim here because there are no lifeguards)

The walk/climb back up to the car - you can just see Maya

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Back to Tel Aviv

We eventually headed back to Tel Aviv, arriving in late afternoon and had a light supper in Rehovot (Asaf's parents were out which is why we weren't provided another feast). We had a coffee and stroll in Tel Aviv then headed to Maya's for a drink before heading out and sampling Tel Aviv's nightlife! Fun night :)

Funky old building

Just some graffiti on a wall which I liked...

Maya and Asaf

The gang - I think someone stole Rick's Bombay ;)

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Lunch in the Golan Heights and other stuff

So as mentioned previously, we spent the night in a Kibbutz in Kefar HaNasie. We lounged for a while in the morning before heading to do some low key kayaking on the Jordan River (like you do!) No pictures of that obviously - luckily my camera didn't meet the same fate my new sunglasses did when Asaf the maniac tipped me over. (The sunnies are still MIA.)

After working up a bit of an appetite we had lunch in the Golan Heights (I still can't get over it - this was the same area where more than 1000 people died in the Lebanon/Israeli conflict last year!!!) We had yet another delicious meal and some even tastier arabic sweets. We then headed to Mt Bental for a dusk view of the Golan Heights.

The view from our room in the Kibbutz

Asaf appreciating the view and Rick, the OJ

Heading through the Golan Heights

Not being able to read Hebrew, I didn't realise this, but Avi informed me that the green sign says stop border crossing - into Syria!

Lunch with the gang - Asaf, Ayala, Rick, Nivi & Tom

This was rather amusing - the guy driving the white car was holding a rope that the 2 horses were tied to. Good way of exercsing the horses but not yourself eh?

The observatory at Mt Bental. Check out the metal silhouettes - a bit eerie

A view from the top. Being such a strategic spot you can see why it's so sought after by both the Israelis and Arabs...

Another day in Israel coming to a close :(

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Sea of Galilee, a kibbutz and some rather good wine!

After a restful night filled with much sleep it was time to head off from Maslul in search of new sights!

Avi and Asaf deciding on the best routes to take

A bit blurry (taken from the car) but you the top white sign is for Gaza! Like Gaza out of THE Gaza Strip! We were about 5km from the Gaza Strip and therefore within range of Qassam rockets...

The Sea of Galilee! It's actually a lake and at some 209m below sea level is the second lowest lake in teh world (the first being the Dead Sea, which also is a lake)

It was such glorious weather and the swimming, lounging and eating that we did was just what the doctor ordered!

Ayala (our friend from Jerusalem) decided that our company was just too great and so decided to bus up and join us. Worked out really well for us as Asaf had initially intended on renting a 'cottage' (ie what Kiwi's would call a bach) but Ayala's brother lived on a Kibbutz in Kefar HaNasie and so we headed there to spend the night.
After arriving and settling in, we decided to go for a few drinks. We drove to Rosh Pina, a little town nearby and walked into a restaurant at 23:10. The waitress let us in even though they looked closed and when I asked what time they shut, she replied 23:00. Wicked! Needless to say a few bottles were consumed amongst us :D

It was a beautiful restaurant with a magnificent view which I unfortunately wasn't able to capture on 'film'. Ah well some things are better remembered in your head eh?

The discarded box used to contain some chocolates, they obviously got demolished pretty quick!

You can see as the night wore on it got a bit blurry ;)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Maslul, Massada and the Dead Sea

We left Jerusalem on the sunday night to drive to Maslul, the little town where Asaf grew up. As was our style we arrived later than we'd planned and by the time we'd eaten and were ready for bed it was midnight. "Surely midnight isn't late for these harded travellers/partiers?" I hear you ask... Well no, not usually, but we were planning driving to Masada and then an hours climb up a mountain for sunrise - meaning we had to leave at 2am...

Despite Avi's masterly attempts to dissuade us from this ;) we soldiered on (excuse the pun). To those of you who don't get the pun - Masada was a Jewish fortress built by Herod the Great which was later laid siege to by the Romans for 3 years. It was such an effective fortress that in the end the Romans only got to the top by building a ramp made of earth and stones. However when the Romans got to the top they discovered the 936 inhabitants had committed suicide. It is suggested that as it's against Judaism to commit suicide the inhabitants drew lots and killed each other in turn so only one person had to take their own life...

Sunrise! The body of water is the Dead Sea

Asaf doing his contemplative, model thing...

Looking west

The ramp the Romans eventually built to finish the siege.

A columbarium tower or dovecot or place where doves were raised, most probably to provide meat and fertiliser...

Rick checking out the view

A model of the water supply system. Basically water from streams that flooded with the rains would be collected and stored - there was at least 40,000 cubic metres of storage. And of course drinking water wasn't enough for Herod the Great - there were even bath houses and swimming holes (although probably not used during the siege).

You can see the framed stones indicating Herods work!

The bath house, looking down... The colums supported the floor, under which was heated water to provide steam baths.

View out again with the sun a bit more awake this time

With the facade looking in this good nick today (the fortness was built approx 37BC) you can imagine what splendour it must have been more than 2000 years ago. Really quite mind blowing!

Well lucky me, twice in less than a year. The Dead Sea was loads of fun and this time I managed to get that classic shot of reading a book in the water.

Rick, Tom, Asaf & me

I'm reading the Economist - check out the cover. Coincidental timing eh?

We returned to Maslul where Avi set about preparing some more delectable treats for us :)

And after such a hard day, what better than some Pimms? (BTW it tastes soooo yummy with mango juice and a splash of cranberry)