The Holy Land Part 1

July 20, 2016 at 5:55 am (Travel)

An organised tour with On the Go Tours.


Day 1:


imageI think I can call myself a fairly seasoned traveller, but I have never slept in an establishment with more inconsiderate people than the night before we flew to Israel. They were up to 2am loudly discussing who knows what in an European language indecipherable to either mum or myself. At 6am they were right back to it! At least I had something to do on our flight… SLEEP!

We arrived safely in Tel Aviv and made our way to our hotel. Stupidly, we did not take the transfer driver’s (who drove suspiciously like Micky J) advice and go straight to the beach. Instead we chilled out in our room and enjoyed a cup of tea. Our walk along the seaside was beautiful and even though it was late evening there were still plenty of people enjoying the water, definitely a rookie mistake.


Day 2:


imageBright and early we met our tour guide and other travel group members. It was not long before mum and I realised that as per usual we were not going to get on with our guide. Alex is particularly pleased with the sound of his own voice and needs many more words to explain very simple things. On numerous occasions he completely misunderstood simple questions, beating around the bush for ages before finishing his speech. In short, not actually answering the question nor sprouting anything of interest. Our walk around Jaffa (Joppa) was as a result more tedious than it should have been.


At Caesarea mum was in no mood to follow him around and promptly asked for a meeting time so we could explore the ruins ourselves. This proved to be much more fun and we were able to cover much more of the ancient site as the rest of our tour group. The initial settlement was built by King Herod in honour of Augustus Caesar 25 – 13 BC. The settlement held strong until 1265 AD when it was abandoned. Herod’s choice of location affords sensational views of the Mediterranean Sea, but was not necessarily the most practical place to build a city. His aqueduct system was most impressive though as were the amphitheater and chariot racing track.


Our next stop was also the remains of an ancient city. Megiddo was lived in continuously from 6000 to 500BC! Each time the city was conquered it was knocked down and the new inhabitants rebuilt it on the rubble. As a result you can actually see the layers of settlement building the mountain. It’s believed that approximately 25 cities where built there over the time of occupation. The views here were breathtaking. One can see why the site was chosen as a city. Not only could you see for miles in every direction, but it was also situated at the crossing of three ancient city roads.


This city is actually mentioned in the Book of Revelation.


‘Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.’ Revelation 16:16


Megiddo in Hebrew means Armageddon, hence it is believed that the final battle to end time will occur there. The site has already seen its fair share of carnage though. Let’s hope Armageddon, whenever and wherever it may or may not occur, is somewhere in the far and distant future.


We stayed the night in Tiberias on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. Much to our delight, our hotel had a pool and a wondrous view of the lake.


Day 3:


imageA drive around the Sea of Galilee was obviously on the cards. This is the area where Jesus is said to have performed many of his miracles. We started at the Mount of Beatitudes where it is believed that Jesus picked his twelve apostles and also preached the ‘Sermon on the Mount.’ Whether or not this is truly where these things happened, if they happened at all, I cannot account for, but the choice of location was beautiful. Our trip was made more special by listening to a Nigerian Christian travel group as they sang praise so passionately about their faith and belief. Unfortunately the nuns were having none of that and they were asked to be quiet. The nun obviously believed she was in the right, as did they for expressing their joy.


We continued our ‘miracle’ ride with a visit to the site where it is believed that Jesus fed 5,000 people with five fish and two loaves of bread. We also visited St Peter’s house over which a most impressive church has been built. Mum fondly referrs to it as a spaceship and found it more interesting than the actual archaeological and biblical site. I tend to agree with her.


The highlight for us both however, was our next stop at Golan Heights. Growing up, this was a place that mum never thought she would be able to visit in her lifetime as it has always been a site of contention between Syria and Israel. Both countries believe it should belong to them. The 1973 Yom Kippur War saw Syria try unsuccessfully to regain the Golan Heights. Since then it has been the most peaceful border that Israel has ever experienced.


We visited Mt Bental, a rocky outcrop in the Golan Heights. This advantage point was used during fighting and the trenches are still intact. You can totally imagine soldiers hiding and shooting at enemies. Perhaps it has been maintained in case it should ever need to be reused? The view is absolutely amazing and I had not realised how close we were to Syria.


imageSo close in fact, that we not only heard bombs going off but also met two United Nations soldiers on patrol. The UN have been involved with the project of protecting and supporting this border since 1948. The two men explained that their lookout spot was temporary due to new developments in Syria. Due to the rugged location only day postings are possible. These consist of 12 hours in the sweltering heat and lots of questions from interested tourists. I think they quite liked the attention to be honest.


imageWe rounded off the day with a trip to the River Jordan where members of our group had the opportunity to be baptized or rebaptised. This wasn’t exactly mum and I’s thing but we were surprised at how much we enjoyed it. Three members of our group chose to be rebaptised and watching them and their enjoyment and amazement in what was for them an incredible experience was really touching. Of course, both mum and I also made sure we at least got our feet wet in the river.


P.s  More photos?


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Taking a Walk down an English Memory Lane

July 13, 2016 at 11:22 pm (Travel)

imageVery annoyingly, my plane was delayed out of Lisbon and it took away two hours of catch up time with the beautiful Sarah in Thrisk. Sarah and I have been pretty good with catch ups since we both left the SISS. She lives on the way up to Scarborough so it’s easy (with a little planning) to fit in a quick visit. This time I got to see the lovely village and see her new little house. We both really enjoy our catch ups and are hoping to involve more SISS people next time I am in town.

The next three nights were spent in Scarborough where my mum is originally from. I arrived early Friday morning and spent the morning trying out paddle boarding with Matt. We had sunshine, a wonderful view of the castle and it was much more fun than I thought it would be too! I loved being out on the water and it wasn’t too bad of a core workout either. Definitely something I want to do again or possibly get more into when I find myself a permanent base.

imageIn the late afternoon my mum, my uncle and his partner Paula (who live in Hobart but were both born in Yorkshire) arrived and we headed out for a roast dinner and of course Yorkshire puddings with the Scarborough family. Afterwards Uncle Charlie drove us on a tour of Scarborough, complete with a visit to ‘The Croft’, the house he and my mum grew up in, Marine drive, numerous schools the family attended, the old pharmacy my grandmother owned and Oliver’s Mount racetrack where Paula’s dad used to race motorbikes. This was accompanied with a running commentary from both mum and Charlie about memories, changes to the town and many a story of Charlie’s naughty teenage years.

The nostalgic tour did not end there though. On Saturday we toured North Yorkshire starting with a stop at Robin’s Hood bay. Rumour has it that distant relatives were involved with the smuggling trade there back in the day. It’s a beautiful part of the coast and well worth a stop if you are ever in the area. From one beachside town to the next, we headed to Sandsend which was where Paula used to holiday as a child. It was only fair that she could also join in on the childhood memories. J We had fish n chips for lunch at Whitby, which is where Captain Cook left on the Endeavour and walked the 199 steps up to the picturesque abbey.

Leaving the seaside behind us we drove across the North Yorkshire Moors to Goathland. Goathland was the setting for the well-known British TV program Heartbeat and the station was used for Hogsmeade in the first Harry Potter film. The village is very quaint and you can see why they chose the station for Harry Potter. You can check out a clip here and compare it to my photos.   Randomly, there was also a vintage car show at the station. We saw the most beautiful pink Cadillac as well as a VW Combi and a very stylish Dodge Pickup.


The trip back followed curvy paths and cute little villages. You simply don’t get the different shades of deep greens in Australia, nor the pretty little houses nestled in the countryside. The narrow roads and breathtaking scenery truly made for a wonderful tour and somehow in the two days I had managed to see more of the local countryside than I have in the past six years of coming to visit!

imageA trip to Scarborough is not complete without a trip to the Harbour Bar for an ice-cream. Normally I just get an ice-cream in a cone from the take away but this time we sat at the bar (mum said we had to) and I had a chocolate sundae. I’ve been pretty spoiled for proper ice-cream sundaes in Germany so the Harbour Bar had some big shoes to fill, which it did, with flying colours. Of course we also played some 2p arcade games and walked along the pier before heading into the centre of town for a very short nip of shopping. Charlie was still walking down memory lane so we headed for a beer at the Alma an old hunting ground of his youth. The pub was old school with wonderful memorabilia on the walls and a couple of regulars to add to the atmosphere. I also played pool with my mother for the first time, and we even beat Paula and Charlie, which I believe surprised everybody.

We finished our time in Scarborough with a fish n chips and Pizza Hut feast. Isla had made the ladies chocolate lollipops for dessert and Dylan organised a game of backyard cricket. They are two of the cutest little kids imaginable. When we took their new dog Elsie out for a walk along the beach they bombarded me with questions and explanations from both sides. Trying to have two separate conversations and keep both of them happy tested even my patience. I feel so lucky that I’ve been able to be a constant part of their lives during my time in Europe.

I was lucky enough to be chauffeured down to L0ndon by Charlie and Paula who were on their way to the Chanel Tunnel.   I got to meet Paula’s parents in Well, play around with some ultra powerful hand dryers with Paula in Hemsley and enjoyed many laughs along the way.  It was possibly the best and cheapest ride from Scarborough to London ever.

In London I was treated to an amazing home cooked meal by my Aunt Frances.  She has finally managed to retire and is looking very well for it indeed.  We had lots to chat about and to fill each other in on.  Coming to visit her in London has been such an important part of my time in Germany so it’s hard to imagine it is all coming to an end.  We’re so used to exchanging stories every six months or so!  Thank you for all your support, friendship and advice.  You are one special woman.

imageAfter a quick catch up with Debra, I headed on to Oxford to visit Suzie in her new flat.  Mum and I stayed with her one night and spent the next exploring Oxford.  Actually, a shopping trip with a visit to the Ashmolean and some coffee stops thrown in is a more accurate description.  We finished the day with dinner at the oldest pub in Oxford.  Suzie and her friend joined us and we had a lovely meal.

Tomorrow our adventure to Israel begins!


More photos?




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Sunshine in Lisabon

July 8, 2016 at 11:28 pm (Travel)

imageMy summer holidays this year started in Düsseldorf. I joined the Stuttgart ladies for a senior’s tournament as Hennen Rennen (translation: hens run). This involved lots of socialising and beverages, and a little bit of hockey. After a very stressful last week, I was not in complete party mode but I enjoyed dancing and spending time with these amazing women. It truly was a lovely way to say goodbye to hockey in Germany and I am hoping to make an appearance at the tournament again next year. Special thanks must go to my roomie Stephie and my train travelling partners Vero and Corinne.

Lisbon had been on my travel list for ages and I was very excited to finally visit the city. Combine this with seeing my friend Kerstin from Schuldorf fame and you have one very happy Katie. I spent three wonderful days exploring the city and falling in love with its tranquil charms. The combination of beautiful buildings squished between old derelicts definitely makes for beautiful pictures.

imageI was lucky to have my own personal tourist guide most of the time for my trip. I enjoyed just following Kerstin around the city and bathing in her excitement and passion for the city. We saw sunset at Miradouro de São Pedro de Alcântara, a beautiful lookout over the city with a wonderful view of São Jorge castle and a laidback atmosphere. We ate wonderful Mexican and chilled out at a very cool rooftop bar. We also went shopping, visited both the riverside and the beach, and saw Rua August Arch on the Praça do Comércio.


imageI spent one day exploring the suburb of Belém by myself and really enjoyed ‘feeling’ like a tourist again. Jerónimos Monastery is simply a breathtaking building. They started building it in 1501 and it took 100 years to complete. The structure is beautifully carved and sitting in the cloister was a lovely respite from the heat. I also visited the Tower of Belém, both buildings of which are UNESCO heritage sites, and marvelled at the modern art at the Berardo Museum..

A trip to Portugal is not complete without having a pastéis de nata and of course I wanted to taste the best the city has to offer. The place to do this is at Fábrica dos Paséis de Bélem and man did they not disappoint. The custard was warm, melting delectably in your mouth and the pastry was cooked to perfection. I had mine with cinnamon and literally had to stop myself from lining up for another. There is little wonder as to why long lines of people can be found winding down the street from this place!

imageMish, one of my good friends from Stuttgart, happened to also be in town with her friend Shanel on my last night so we caught up for drinks and dinner. It was nice having the opportunity to say a proper goodbye as everything just got so hectic in my last weeks. Kerstin struck gold at a tiny little restaurant ‘Taberna – Da Rua das Flores’ and we were treated to amazing tapas dishes using only local produce. The food was so good that I even tried the fish dish AND liked it! My favourite dish was the scallops wrapped in bacon with a wasabi mayonnaise sauce. Truly to die for.

After dinner we headed down to Praça do Comércio to try and watch the Portugal / Wales European Cup semi-final and to soak up the atmosphere. Unfortunately we couldn’t see anything and after experiencing the Germans last weekend with their penalty shoot-out heart stopper, I was pretty disappointed with the Portuguese excitement. The second goal was notably better though, perhaps they are only starting to gain the confidence they need for their team?

imageWe decided to avoid the football crowd and head to a bar early. This was the perfect opportunity to ride the legendary 28 tram. Originally commissioned in the 1930s, these trams look like they belong in a museum! I’d been wanting to do it all trip but it had never really been the right time so I was ultra-excited about finally getting a chance to ride this iconic Lisbon symbol. Tram 28 weaves its way around the city in a loop that includes hairpin bends, steep slopes and narrow streets. It’s a little like riding all those old school amusement park rides – wooden rollercoasters, dodgem cars, the mad mouse – all rolled into one. The ride was shorter than I would have liked but the whole loop is definitely something to put on my list for next time.

Lisbon… Thank you for the memories. I’ll certainly be back!


Ps. More photos?

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It’s supposed to be Summer?

July 3, 2016 at 10:18 pm (Germany)

13244812_10153957602600589_1231447492989597618_nIt’s pretty hard to believe it is summer in Germany at the moment.  The weather keeps fluctuating between wet, rainy and warm with some very random glimpses of sun.  Yet here I am, at the beginning of my summer holidays.  Let’s hope the sun is shining for me on my travels at least.  🙂

My one week whirlwind tour back home was a huge success.  Grandma seriously had no idea I would be at her ninetieth birthday party and I know both her and dad really appreciated me making the effort.  I also got to meet the most precious little angel, Mya Magic.  I am truly one besotted aunt. There’s not much else to say about my trip aside from the fact it was chockablock full of catch ups.  I loved seeing everybody and leaving again was harder than I had imagined.  Bob and Sharne made sure I had an amazing send off at their engagement party though.  I’m really looking forward to being home for Christmas this year!

It was off the flight and straight into the frying pan for me.  My Grade 5 students had their big Exhibition project night just three days after I arrived back in Germany.  I was working
off adrenalin and very little sleep but we managed to pull it all together for Exhibition evening.  The students were truly amazing and I am so proud of all their hard work and IMG_1399enthusiasm.

Then it was off to Grade 5 camp.  It was great being out in the nature with the students and having the opportunity to see them respond to different situations.  The camp was a huge success, as were the abundance of campfire songs I have inherited from my mother.

P1020956After camp it was straight into the report writing!  The end of the school year is always a whirlwind of organising and hoping things run smoothly.  In true Kate style I had to add another component into the mix… my wisdom teeth.



Having my wisdom teeth out has been one of the most horrific experiences of my life.  I’ve never been particularly squeamish about going to the dentist before but I think things may have changed.  I was booked in to have all four out at my dentist.  She managed to get the top two out but struggled with the bottom left.  Apparently the tooth was so big that she needed to cut it in half and take it out in two pieces.  Then that didn’t work so she took out part of the tooth, stitched me up and didn’t even bother trying the bottom right.  I think I was in the chair for over an hour.  Luckily my colleague Kathy had promised to look after me and I spent the next four days at her place.  She made sure I was icing, taking medicine and actually eating while I slowly turned from a chipmunk back into my old self.

imageSo slowly my Stuttgart experience has come to an end.  I’ve played my last hockey game, said goodbye to my beautiful students and sold my furniture.  There are so may wonderful people that have made my time here amazing.  You know who you are, and I love you all.

They journey continues… stay tuned.



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