Monday, 30 June 2008

Last days at Sham el Sheikh

Hi from Clare, Sunday 29th

Photo 1 - All is well

We had dinner in a Thai restaurant at the resort on Wednesday night. Thurday morning Patrick and Leanne went out on the dive boat and Pat, Ron, Andrew and I went snorkeling off the resort. The tropical fish were plentiful and we enjoyed just lying on the surface of the 28 degree water watching a spectacular array of form and colour; it certainly is a peaceful pastime.

All too soon it was time for Andrew and me to pack up and leave the resort and make our way back to the boat. The six of us had our last dinner together Thursday night at an excellent smorgasbord restaurant. Andrew and I left a day earlier than the others so we could connect with our flight to Tel Aviv. It was sad to say good bye as the six of us had a fantastic holiday together. Over the past 7 weeks Pat, Ron, Andrew and I have toured Turkey, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. Leanne and Patrick joined us for the last two weeks in Egypt. What a fantastic experience and we have seen so much that at present it is just a blur.

We arrived back at the boat Friday morning happy to find her safe and sound, just bobbing about waiting for our return. The marina is almost deserted and certainly looks a lot different than when the 80 rally boats were here. We have been talking to the Canadian couple parked next to us. They have just come up the Red Sea and had a fuel problem. The Egyptian navy towed them to Sharm el Sheikh and then presented them with a bill for 15,000 USD. After some negotiation the bill was reduced to 7,000 USD. I think they are still suffering from shock!

For the past 24 hours I have been lying low with a stomach upset. Don't know how this happened, as we have been so careful.
Andrew has been wrestling with the computer as it decided to crash. He has been busy reinstalling all the software. Fortunately we haven't lost anything of importance.

We were intending to leave for Southern Cyprus late today but we have postponed this adventure till tomorrow. The trip will take us 42 hours and so with two nights at sea I think a good night's sleep tonight is in order.

love CANDY

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Sharm el-Sheikh

Hi from Clare, Wednesday 25/6

Photo 1 - Mop those tiles Photo 2 - Nothing but fun Photo 3 - Is that tea ? Photo 4 - Cooling off Photo 5 - Beautiful gardens

We arrived in Sharm el-Sheikh last night and welcomed the cooler temperatures. It is 38 degrees today (Wednesday) compared to 45 degrees in Luxor on Monday.

We are staying at a wonderful 5 star resort where no expense has been spared. For example, the roads are paved with highly polished tiles and the resort is so large that golf buggies are the common mode of transport.

The President of Libya is staying here so there are many impeccably dressed dignitaries arriving in stretch limousines. An entourage of woman, dripping with gold, look particularly stunning with their dark skin, brightly coloured long dresses and matching head attire.

Andrew and Patrick have gone scuba diving today in the Red Sea. Unfortunately I left my dive certificate on Eye Candy so I just have to be content here in this heavenly resort. We are situated on the Red Sea and so we will do some snorkeling later today.

Andrew and I will fly out to Cairo tomorrow night and then to Israel and hopefully find Eye Candy in one piece and patiently waiting for our return.

Pat, Ron, Leanne and Patrick fly out Friday night for Australia. Poor suckers have to spend another day here. You will see by the pictures life is really tough!

love CANDY

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Luxor and the Valley of Kings/Queens

Hi from Clare, Tuesday 24/6

Photo 1 - Karnak Temple Photo 2 - Luxor Temple Photo 3 - The girls with our tour guide Photo 4 - Tomb painting Ramses 1st

We have had some fun over the past few days, visiting the Temples and Tombs around Luxor, shopping and being harassed by the touts, staying in great accommodation and eating like kings. Definitely back on our diets next week.

We set out Sunday morning at 6.30am and toured the Karnak Temple and the Luxor Temple. I was impressed when discovering that Philae temple took 180 years to build and decorate. Just shows how little I know, the Karnak Temple took 2000 years to complete from 1500BC-500AD and encompasses 13 temples built by different rulers. The place is huge and very impressive with many statues to the Gods and carvings on both exterior and interior walls depicting their life style and mythology. The Luxor Temple is much smaller but still very impressive.

On Monday we toured the Valley of the Kings and The Valley of the Queens. Another early morning pick up to beat the heat of the day. We all like our guide in Luxor, she is a sweet little woman who speaks good English and giggles a lot, particularly at her own jokes.

In the Valley of the Kings we visited the tombs of Ramses 1st, 3rd, 4th and Tutankhamun. The tombs are surprisingly large with long passages, numerous storage chambers and a burial chamber. The length of the Pharaoh's rule seem to determine how elaborately the tomb was decorated. Unfortunately no cameras are allowed, but I'm sure we will never forget the grandness, the detail, beauty and colour of the paintings and carvings that adorned every inch of the tomb including the passages.

The Valley of the Queens is not as impressive as the tombs are much smaller. It is the burial place for a Queen, Princess or Prince. I thought the biggest difference was that in the children's tombs the paintings were bigger, more innocent, pretty and childlike which produced a real sense of peace and comfort.

Unfortunately we haven't done as much shopping as the girls would have liked to do. The prices are great and there are some really lovely and unique items to buy. However if the searing heat doesn't wear us down the touts certainly will. The minute we step on to the street, they are upon us. The shopkeepers aren't much better, there is no such thing here as "just looking" they are there to sell, sell, sell!

When visiting temples and tombs there is always a row of souvenir shops that have to be passed to enter the area. The touts are strategically positioned along the road and it is necessary to duck, weave and sometimes run to get away from them. I have developed my own defence by holding my sun umbrella between me and them and as they run around me, my umbrella changes sides. With my head down and umbrella up I charge through the line ready for defensive action. It must look pretty funny as yesterday even one of the touts laughed!

This is our last day in Luxor, we have left the cruise boat and are in a lovely hotel in the centre of town. This is the only place we have had a really cold beer since leaving Kathryn's home. The Egyptians have no idea about cold beer and sometimes I think they have been horrified that we drink from the cool bottle rather than use the warm glass provided. The good news is this hotel serves cold beer with chilled glasses. Woo Hoo!

We fly this evening to Sharm el Sheikh for a few days of touring, diving and snorkeling in the Red Sea.

love CANDY

Monday, 23 June 2008

On the Road Again

Hi from Clare, Saturday 21/6

Photo 1 - Nile River Plains
Photo 2 - Temple at Edfu
Photo 3 - Beautiful Carvings
Photo 4 - Patrick, Leanne, Clare, Andrew relaxing

We left Cairo and caught the overnight train to Aswan on Thursday night. Fortunately Kathryn organized two company cars to ferry us, down the highway from hell, from Alexandria to Cairo. The traffic conditions are so dangerous that it is company policy to have their cars off that road by nightfall. I guess that tells all!

The train station was an adventure in itself. The local trains arrived every few minutes with people hanging out the doors and windows. How the awaiting crowd managed to squeeze into the train remains a mystery. At the back of each train there were six or more people standing on the decking where the next carriage is connected.

The overnight train to Aswan is not too bad. Not quite as glamorous as they make out on "Getaway" but after a few beers we were ready to cope with the rocky ride, narrow bunks, smelly toilets and basic lunch box meals for dinner and breakfast. It was all worth it though just to leave the busy cities behind and head for the fertile farming plains of the Nile River.

Our Aswan tour guide met the train, bundled us into a mini bus and speed us around Aswan so fast, taking photos was nearly impossible. We saw the Aswan Dam (which provides 60% OF Egypt's electricity) the granite quarry and the unfinished obelisk which weighed 1,150 tons (imagine maneuvering that into position)and then to the Temple of Philae, the first of many temples we expect to see on this trip.

None of us liked the guide because he rushed us through our pre paid program then pressured us to take expensive additional excursions. We also had ongoing issues regarding appropriate tips. From the literature we have read today, I think so far we have each paid what the group should have paid totally, in other words we have paid five times too much. Guides, who needs them? I remember Kathryn saying that when she did this trip, her main objective was to keep away from her guide - maybe it was the same one!

Late yesterday (6pm) we went to the temple at Kom Ombo and early this morning (6am) to the Temple at Edfu. The temples are brilliant, so enormous and with beautifully carved stone work. It took 180 years to build and decorate Edfu and we can certainly see why. Every surface of this well preserved structure is beautifully carved; a staggering achievement.

As a tourist, Egypt is a challenging place. The touts are unrelenting and they swoop like sea gulls on chips. Yesterday when one was trying to sell Andrew a long shirt, the price dropped from 350 Egyptian pounds to 30 pounds as they pursued him along the road. What the touts failed to get was that Andrew didn't want the shirt regardless of price. At one stage I looked around to see a great flurry of material around Andrew's neck, as two or three were accosting him. I fully expected to see Andrew break free from them wearing the unwanted shirt.

I have found that, being female it is easier for me, all I have to do is hold my hands up and say sternly "don't touch me" and they back off apologetically. Thank goodness for that!

Our river boat is excellent with good dining, comfortable rooms, swimming pool and shaded outdoor lounges. It is 3.30pm and Andrew is sleeping in air conditioned comfort, I think I will join him shortly.

We are now at Luxor and tomorrow morning we will set out at 6:30am to visit another Temple. We are expecting 45 degrees tomorrow, so 6:30am sounds good to me.

We will write again soon

Thursday, 19 June 2008

A few days in Alexandria

Hi from Clare, Thursday 19/6 Photo 1 - Montaza Palace Photo 2 - Alexandra Photo 3 - The beach along the corniche Photo 4 - Picnic lunch out of town We have spent the last few days in Alexandria visiting The Montaza Palace and Gardens (one of the old Egyptian King's residents), strolling along the corniche (boulevard) that runs along the Mediterranean coast, shopping in the chaos of the city, visiting Patrick's old school (which hasn't changed much since he attended some thirty years ago), touring the war museum and cemetery at Al-Alamein (site of a Second World War battle for control of North Africa), eating out at a lovely roof top Chinese restaurant and having a picnic on the beach. For most of the time, Kathryn has been busy at work each day and so we have had the benefit of her company car and driver. Talk about thoroughly spoilt, a clean, modern, air conditioned car with a safe driver is a luxury. We have seen enough of the speeding traffic on the freeways and the congestion in the narrow back streets to know this is not the place to hire a car and expect to live. Alexandria, with a population of 5 million, is the second biggest city in Egypt. In the summer months people from Cairo come here to the beach. The water is lovely and warm and once out of the city the sandy beaches are good. In Alexandria however the beach is a strip along the corniche, it is packed with people and heavily polluted by the constant stream of traffic. I couldn't help but think how lucky we are in Australia to stroll along a deserted beach in total peace. After spending 5 weeks on the EMYR rally this last few days in Alexandria has been very relaxing. It has given us the opportunity to slow down, catch up on some sleep and get ready for the next adventure. Today we will travel down to Cairo to catch the overnight train to Aswan. We will take a four day cruise on the Nile stopping each day to do some site seeing and then on to Sharm el-Sheik for some snorkeling and diving. Over the next week I will write whenever I can get internet access. love CANDY

Monday, 16 June 2008

The bustling city of Cairo

Hi from Clare, Sunday 15/6

Photo 1 - Clare & Pat relaxing at Tel Aviv Airport (after a cocktail or two)
Photo 2 - Patrick, Leanne, Clare, Pat & Ron, let the fun begin.
Photo 3 - Ron, Pat, Kathryn and Andrew enjoying dinner.
Photo 4 - Andrew, Clare at the Sphinx.
Photo 5 - Clare, the reluctant camel rider.
Photo 6 - National Museum Cario.

We left Ashkelon marina and travelled by train to Tel Aviv airport only to find that the train was delayed for a short while due to a bomb scare. We found our later that a missile from Gaza had whistled over the top of the marina and landed in the sea shortly after our departure. The locals on the train didn't seem to be disturbed by the delay, I guess it is just a normal event for them. We on the other hand are hoping to find Eye Candy in one piece upon our return. Good thing we have insurance!

The security requirement at Tel Aviv airport necessitates arriving four hours before a flight. I don't know why this is a requirement as the place is virtually deserted and has only Mc Donalds and a few grubby cafes for dinner. We pooled the last of our Israel money and after a meagre Mc Donald's meal we couldn't afford the necessary $10 for a glass of beer or $35 for a G&T - any wonder at those prices! But being resourceful Aussie's we soon discovered that Duty Free was supplying free samples of a Bacardi cocktail. They were pretty good and after six cocktails (we had to be sure we liked them) we purchased a couple of bottles for the princely sum of $35.99; a much better bargain. After I had rearranged the airport to secure 4 comfortable leather chairs [much to Pat's amusement] we settle in for a long wait for the flight landing in Cairo at approx 3.30a.m.

Even at that hour of the morning, Cairo was a real culture shock - absolutely crazy traffic with cars speeding, madly tooting their horns, no traffic lights, and pedestrians taking their chances ducking between the cars as they crossed the road. And the cars - if you can call them that, were on the whole well and truly due for the scrap heap. During our 2 days here, of the 10 cabs that we caught only 1 had a meter - we presumed the others belonged to the cousin/uncle/friend of the person placing the reservation.

The highlights of Cairo were seeing the pyramids and Sphinx at Giza and a trip to the National museum, where we took part in a 2 hour organised tour. We were 'blown away' by the museum as it houses a spectacular collection of statues, tombs and assorted items such as jewelry, weapons, pottery and manuscripts dating back to 3000BC. The most interesting of course, being that of the pharaoh Tutankhamun; the wealth, detail and workmanship of the treasures recovered from his tomb was absolutely amazing. We wanted to buy a book to keep as a reminder but we could not find one that would do it justice.

We met up with Patrick and Leanne and had a very interesting afternoon at the Cairo bazaar. Patrick's knowledge of the culture [having lived in Alexandra for 7 years] came in handy when it came to negotiating a price. It was also very useful when the sometimes unimpressed traders let us know what they thought, not realising that Patrick could understand the language and their verbal abuse. Their look of amazement as he pulled them into line, was really quite comical.

We also met up with Kathryn [a former work colleague of Andrews in Australia] enjoying a long cool beer with her before venturing out into the market place, and later sharing dinner with her in one of Cairo's top hotels where she was staying - what a treat.

Late Saturday afternoon, Kathryn organised 2 cars to transport us to Alexandria where we are now enjoying the air conditioned comforts and hospitality of her home. We will be here for four days visiting the local sites before we set out for Aswan, our tour of the Nile and Valley of the Kings.


Thursday, 12 June 2008

Two Days in Jerselum

Hi from Clare, Thursday 12/6/08

Photo 1 - Jerusalem City
Photo 2 - Ron, Andrew & Pat 1st day
Photo 3 - Pat in back street Old City
Photo 4 - Part of the local flavor
Photo 5 - A photo mistake on the bus.

We had two exciting days navigation around Jerusalem. On day one (10th) we went to the Western Wall (along with hundreds of other tourists) and placed our slips of paper containing a prayer in the crack of the wall. We were told the previous day by our tour guide that the pieces of paper are collected and buried (not burnt) as they are considered "holy" and a link between man and God. Regardless of one's faith, the aura of religious fever makes a visit to the Western Wall a moving experience.

We then walked the Via Dolorosa following the Stations of the Cross. However this is not a religious experience as the Via Dolorosa today is a busy market street. The shops are packed full of souvenirs and clothing; shop after shop of all the same things. The shop keepers say "business is not so good" and that's not surprising. I haggled for a dress which had a starting price of $145 and ended up paying $20. I couldn't help but think, so what is a fair price?

Day two (11th) we spent two hours on the City Tour Bus (open air double decker). With head phones attached we covered the 85 sites at a very rapid pace. The roads are bumpy, the corners unexpected and (as the driver bopped to his own music) we lurched from side to side trying to take some memorable shots of the sealing, the floor, the seats, the skyline and every now and then a building - hurray! There is much to see and learn in Jerusalem and I think we could spend a month here without seeing the same site twice.

After lunch Andrew and Ron went back to the boat which left Pat and I to browse. We spent a few hours in the market but eventually we got tired of hearing "Hello lady, where do you come from, come into my shop - just to look - please"

Today we are busy packing and getting ready to leave the boat at Ashkelon marina Israel and fly this evening to Cairo Egypt.
Pat and Ron say they have greatly enjoyed the yachting experience and the time we have shared catching up. We are all looking forward to the next part of our travel as we journey forward to Egypt for two weeks.

love CANDY

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Masada Israel

Hi from Clare, 10/6/08

Photo 1 Andrew's hat improvisation
Photo 2 Final drinks for us with the "Orange Team"
Photo 3 The Dead Sea from Masada Fortress

We left Haifa Sunday afternoon, the pending gale force winds did not eventuate. We had a few hours of choppy seas but after that our final sail on the rally was terrific. We clocked around 6 knots for most of the trip and arrived at Askelon Israel Monday morning. The rest of that day was spent sleeping and catching up with boat chores.

Today (Tuesday) we left at 7.30am on our final tour before leaving the rally. We traveled to the ancient site of Masada near the Dead Sea. Masada was the last bastion of Jewish freedom fighters against the Romans around the time of Christ. It is a very impressive fortress, placed high on a hill in the middle of the dessert. When conquered by thousands of Roman soldiers the 940 Jewish inhabitants (men, woman and children) committed suicide rather than surrendering to slavery; a tragic story.

We also visited the dead sea in about 40 degree heat, We forgot our swimmers, so we just had to sweat. The water has a 30 percent salt content which makes it impossible for you to sink. I waded in up to my knees and it didn't feel any different than ordinary sea water. However when I got out my wet legs felt slimy; quite disgusting.

The biggest giggle for the day was that Andrew's floppy hat has developed a few holes in the top. He is running the risk of getting his bald head sunburnt. But Andrew can always improvise and so he decided to wear two hats, at first I thought he was joking, but no he was being practical. Hat number 1,(his peaked cap) protected his bald patch, while hat number 2,(his floppy hat) protect his ears. He looked very strange, but do you think that worried Andrew?

So this is the final night with our rally friends. We had drinks on the end of our wharf so that the members in our "orange" group could farewell us before the rally moves on to Port Said Eygpt without us. Pat, Ron, Andrew and I are due to fly to Cairo on Thursday and met up with our friends Patrick and Leanne from NSW and tour Egypt for two weeks.

The rally has been fantastic and we have thoroughly enjoyed every minute. We have seen and done things we would not have done alone and the friendships, sailing and social activities have also been great.

Tomorrow we will head off by ourselves (without a tour guide - very scary )and head for Jerusalem.

Must away and get some sleep. Will keep in touch.
love CANDY

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Haifa (sardine) Yacht Club

Hi from Clare, 07/06/08

Photo 1 Haifa (sardine) Yacht Club Photo 2 Swinging from boat to boat Photo 3 Sea of Galilee Photo 4 Golan Heights and Sea of Galilee Photo 5 Meat for sale in Israel! I think I'll go vegetarian

We arrived at Haifa Yacht Club Israel (Thursday 5th) in one piece after a harrowing night for Andy with a UN warship, an Israel Gunboat encounter and a ten mile space where all the rally boats reported that their GPS was turning off - just what we need!

Arriving at "fisherman's wharf" which is really a small commercial port, we waited for ages outside the harbor to be called in. We couldn't understand the delay but in time all was revealed. Many of the rally boats are moored up together. We are squashed in like sardines with lines slung in all directions. Each mooring is time consuming and of course every yachtie has an opinion as to how it should be done.

Once settled we have to climb over five boats to get to shore and we are luckier than some. Watching Pat swinging from boat to boat I couldn't help but wonder if this was what she imagined cruising in the Med would be like. However, "never to be beaten" Pat is doing very well. Ron encourages her (as she teeters on the rail of a boat) with coaching like "don't worry about it, just step with confidence" which she assures me "doesn't do a thing for her"

The pace of the rally is pretty hectic for old folk like us. Most days are spent touring and we are no sooner back at the boat when it is time to go again. This often means shower, dress in formal gear and back on the bus again. The food is reasonably spicy and as a result Andrew has had a stomach upset for three days and I came down with it last night. So far Pat and Ron have escaped the pleasure - I'm sure they are not feeling left out!

We decided to have some time out and not do all the tours in Israel. As it turns out that was a good call, most people missed the first tour in the afternoon due to late arrival. We all had a snooze and recharged our batteries.

Friday we went on a tour of Israel following the life of Jesus through Nazareth, Cana, the Jordan River and the Sea of Galilee (which is actually a lake). In Galilee we saw children's T-shirts for sale saying "loves and fishes" - we think something might have been lost in translation!

We then went on to the Golan Heights which forms the border between Syria and Jordan. We also learnt of some of the troubles that besiege Israel. It seems that this melting pot of various religious views pose an insurmountable problem.

On a lighter note, the traffic! We immediately noticed road lines, turning lanes, traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and some sense of order. We didn't have to take our life in our hands to cross the street. Halleluiah! However don't get too excited, the traffic is still horrendous. There are 8 million people in an area the same size as the Shoalhaven district in NSW where we live. The roads in Nazareth are grid locked with cars crawling around back streets competing with the pedestrians.

Today (Saturday) we are waiting to get out of here and venture on to Ashkelon Israel. The wind has picked up to almost gale force, so we might not be going anywhere and for me that's OK!

love CANDY

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Lebanon - a big surprise!

Hi from Clare, 04/06/08

Photo 1 Swimming pool at Jounieh Marina Photo 2 Reconstruction in Beirut. Photo 3 Beirut, five lanes of traffic! Photo 4 A 2000 tonne stone. Photo 5 UN warship in Lebanese waters

We had a good overnight trip to Lebanon arriving around lunchtime Saturday 31st May. The weather is hot and when sailing from one marina to another, we never miss an opportunity to stop the boat in clean sparkling blue water and have a swim.

Lebanon is a complete surprise. To start with the marina at Jounieh (although small)is first class. The excellent amenities include swimming pools, tennis courts and restaurants. Not all of the 80 EMYR yachts could be accommodated here and so about 30 of the bigger yachts are in the Beirut marina. This marina, in the heart of Beirut, is about the same size and equally well equipped.

The city of Beirut is a complete mixture of destruction and reconstruction. It has many bombed sites and many more fashionable new areas (even Mc Donald's has arrived). Most of the high rise accommodation was constructed around 1995 after years of civil war between the Lebanese Christians and Moslems. Initially these reasonably new buildings gives an appearance of opulence, but on closer observation there are many single story (pre 1995) run down places. A statistic that I found interesting is that there are 4 million Lebanese living in Lebanon and 13 million living elsewhere after fleeing the country. Our tour guide embraced them all as fellow countrymen (not ex patriots). Beirut struck me as a good example of how the human spirit will not be broken. Amongst all the religious friction so deeply routed in the past, there is a tremendous effort being made to forge a better future. The enormity of the task and the passion required to achieve it is so present, we could almost taste it.

On a lighter note, the traffic is horrendous and there doesn't seem to be any organization. Very few traffic lights or pedestrian crossings and most roads don't have marked lanes; if that makes any difference. Sitting in the front seat of the bus is quite nerve wracking watching five lanes of traffic jostle for position on one (of the few) clearly marked four lane highways. The guide on our bus said that every day she can see an accident "that is just Lebanon" We could all appreciate the accuracy of this statement when our bus drove in the wrong direction down a two way highway. After about a kilometer we came to a roundabout and miraculously ended up on the correct side of the road. Hopefully we have been granted a miracle or two so close to The Holy Land!

The people are friendly particularly the school children. Most kids at school learn Arabic, English and either French/German. Our guide stressed that Lebanon is big on education and most families do whatever they can to achieve this for their children. When we walked around Beirut with our guide, the school kids on excursion spoke to us excitedly, waved, cheered and gave us "high fives".

We also toured many of the ancient sites, the best being the Roman temple of Baalbeck. The sheer size of the place was amazing. It is said to be the most outstanding example of Roman ruins to be found in the whole region and perhaps more impressive than Athens and Rome. The buildings were enormously tall and some pieces of stone weighed 2000 tonne; still left us to wonder how on earth they shifted them. Makes paving the backyard today look like a walk in the park!

We also visited the Jeita Grotto, I must admit I thought "big deal more stalagmites" but I had to eat my words. The caves had two levels. The upper level had huge and spectacular caverns where orchestral concerts and operas are often performed. I can just imagine how unforgettable that would be, even our voices were echoing in there. The lower cavern (decked out with dramatic lighting) has a river running through it and so we traveled by small boats for one kilometer along the cave and back; cool peaceful and pretty.

Last night we left Lebanon for Israel. There is still a lot of tension between the two countries. When trying to leave Lebanon the Customs people wouldn't stamp us out to go to Israel. We had to pick another destination, so the EMYR said we were going to Egypt; a true statement but we are going via Israel. Lebanon Customs knows exactly where we are going as the rally is in its 19th year and travels the same route. It is just a game they play but who's going to complain when during our overnight passage we encountered a UN warship and were contacted on the radio by an Israeli gun ship. As we approach the port at Haifa Israel we could hear heavy artillery gunfire in the distance. Happy Days!!

Today will be spent catching up on some sleep before a Rally Dinner tonight and then off sight seeing tomorrow. Will keep you posted.

love CANDY

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Fourth Day Tour in Syria and Peace at Sea

Hi from Clare, 30/05/08

Photo 1 - Saladin's Castle drawbridge entrance Photo 2 - Saladin's Castle steep wall Photo 3 - Ron taking it easy after a busy day Photo 4 - Andrew happy in his habitat

We had a good tour this morning (Friday 30th). The pace of the rally is pretty hectic and at times I am tempted not to go on one of the planned excursions. But then that little voice in my head starts "Why come all this way and not take in the sites"

Just briefly, the 4th day tour consisted of a visit to Saladin's Castle, captured in 1188, and described thereafter as the most impregnable crusader fortress; an "eagles nest". It has steep walls and the only way in was via a draw bridge [Picture 1 portrays an obelisk that took 40 years to be cut through the cliff face - it then had drawbridges each side]. It was a very impressive sight.

Then on to Ugarit ruins discovered in 1928, the archaeological layers confirm 5 periods of life. We saw the top layer, 1500 BC. The fifth layer dates back to 6000BC. The site was interesting but a good imagination was required.

Our Syrian guide was excellent; pleasant, dedicated, knowledgeable and patient. He had the unenviable task of leading a free spirited and somewhat undisciplined group of yachties through Syria. When touring in a group some would "deviate from the plan and catch up later" "talk while the guide was speaking" "not listen and constantly asked questions on information he had already covered. "arrived back late to the bus every time" How he maintained his cool was beyond me; the man is a saint.

We left Syria around 4pm Saturday for the 105 mile trip to Jounieh, Lebanon. It is now 7am on Sunday morning (1st June)and our ETA is midday, everyone is in bed and so I have some quiet time. As you can guess, we are glad to be back on the boat and return to the peaceful life.

love CANDY

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