zofka's Guestbook

8th June 2014

Sounds like a place we would enjoy. Thanks for sharing your impressions.
8th June 2014

Enjoying the sun, enjoying the sand, enjoying the sea! I hope you will try scuba diving at some point as it is so much better. Happy travels.
14th June 2014

I so am going to try out scuba diving:-)
7th June 2014

I hope you realize that the residents of old city of jerusalem are Arabs, except for the Jewish quarter. All of the people who live and work in the old city are Arabs - the shops, vendors etc. So the old city refelcts the Arab life style, culture, mentality etc. I agree with you that there's no development beyond Arab tradition within the 3 non Jewish quarters of the old city, and that gives a glimpse of how all of Jerusalem including all of Palestine would have looked like had the Arabs controlled them. But there is development and future outside the walls in the new Jerusalem that Israel built and developed - in areas which are clean, developed and present a different way life than the Arab way of life that is manisfested in the old city. And by the way, the quote from Lawrence in Arabia is the impression one got from Palestine during Ottoman time - before Israel was established and before the Brits started to develop the place when they had the mandate over Palestine. Many western tavellers to Palestine in the 19th century or the begining of the 20th century so a very backward, under developed, dirty, mostly empty barren land. The irony is that Israel has developed it so much that people who don't know history believe the lies that the Arabs ("palestinians") spread as if everything Israel today used to be "their" Palestine and the Israelis just stole everything from them.
7th June 2014

Firstly, I think this conflict between Israelis and Palestinians is too complicated and very emotional for me or you to state anything enlightening about it. My blog is not about the conflict and who has the right to what. And I do know that Lawrence saw Jerusalem through a different cultural and historical time. That is why I found it fascinating. That people seem characterless is not because they are, but due to a commercialisation of the city as a tourist magnet. It doesn't matter what ethnicity they belong to. It is consequence of us the tourists - not them, and is similar in many other popular cities. That I find the Old City is stuck in the past, is a consequence of how it is holy to all three religions. Not just Islam. The ladder at the front side of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is evidence of how stuck in the past the Christian communities are in this respect. No one dares touching the satus quo. I really liked both East and West Jerusalem, not because they are neighbourhoods of a particular religious ethnicity but because unlike the Old City they are both very much alive in each their unique way. My critique is neither of Jews nor Muslims, but of the atmosphere in the Old City. It is a critique which is personal and if you read my other blogs you will understand that I often abhorre from the very tourist cities where that which is unique has become commercialised. It is a paradox that I myself am a tourist adding to that. I like places which are alive, where old and new meets, and it is often these places that I write endearingly about. I am simply not so fond of places where you can't see the city for 'made in Taiwan' souvenirs and where the local population, be they Arabs, Jews, Parisians, Italians from Florence, are forced to make way for tourists. And that is what I write about. Nothing more, nothing less.
27th May 2014

The Jerusalem Shock
I am eager to go to Jerusalem. As you say this blog is more negative than your normal writing but if those are your impressions they are to be shared. I'm glad to hear the old town has not allowed a variety of outside foods. I always cherish the towns that don't allow Starbucks and McDonald's. It sounds as if they have stood still in the part of the city and I bet I'll like that when I get there but I'll wait to see. Happy travels and eager to read more.
3rd June 2014

Old city
I am with you 100 pct. I only ever liked Starbucks in Seattle, because there it tells a story. Jerusalem is old, very old, and that is why we come and why it is unique. It would be terrible to see an Americanisation or any other odd cultural influx to the old city. That is the exact reason I dislike the souvenir shops, because it makes it all seem so commercialised and as a tourist trap rather than the unique place it is. I love cities where the old is treasured but where the modern and present life is integrated, not through an odd number of Starbucks, but on the contrary through the presence of local culture and cuisine, and the falafel and shawerma stands are not representative of Israeli/Palestinian culture. I would have enjoyed Jerusalem better if some of the space of the souvenir shops were spent on something more cultural interesting and non-commercialised. A local theater, a shop that sells things which are actually made in Jerusalem or from local designers, a shop or place where locals go. Except for the Muslim quarter the city seems to be created for modern age tourists and pilgrims. And to me cheap 'made in china' souvenirs are just as badly placed in the old city as a Starbucks. I think that comment was a bit longer than I planned:-)
21st May 2014

I have spent wonderful days staying at a friend´s flat once in Tel Aviv. I visited Jaffa. Lovely place. Absolutely recommended. Yes. Go!!!!!!
21st May 2014

Tel Aviv
You do a very nice job of weaving the rich and interesting history in with what you are seeing and your impressions of the country. Thank you for sharing.
21st May 2014

Your story about boarding the plane was wonderful. This country is rich in history and we hope to go there soon. Love hearing your impressions.
17th May 2014

Phoenix Rising
As Australia participated in Eurovision 2014, the first non European country to do so, there were many eyes from Oz focused on the Finals in Copenhagen. When Conchita Wurst sang...wow...twas like a phoenix rising...prejudices secondary to the music...wow. Then the countries voted. Who won? It was not Austria. It was the "Queen of Austria". Wow. How can Vienna hope to top that when they host the next Eurovision? This was the first year I really took an interest. Looking forward to next year. Watch Song of the Week...World Beats thread in TB's World Music Forum. I hear Conchita will be making an appearance. Looking forward to that!!!
19th May 2014

Conchita and Eurovision
Eurovision has become something of a cult happening for the gay community. I realy think that adds extra to the show, also because every country has to broadcast ALL of the show, so a country where gays are normally persecuted will have to show the Queen of Austria winning. Moreover, I am really proud that Copenhagen decided to use the occasion of the Eurovision to marry gay couples from all over. It is easy to get a marriage certificate in DK and gays are legally allowed to marry. It was such an amazing thing to have all these couples in love, getting married around the city. And I too am looking forward to Austria hosting!
17th May 2014

Vienna is lovely
We were in Vienna for New Year's and it was wonderful. Your blog brings back fantastic memories.
15th May 2014

Warm sunny and clear blue sky
Lush and green Ireland is a magical place. Glad you are having such great weather.
19th November 2013

I like culture. Look like a great country.
11th July 2013

How to update your map...
I assume that when you log in you are at your profile page...that's the only time you need a password, and you can't write a blog without logging in. Next click on the Profile tab. Then click on the Extras tab. Then click on the World Map Maker. Then click on My Travels under your list of Your Maps. Then click on Edit. Your map will appear along with a list of countries with 5 colors. You click on the country and the color you wish it to show on the map. You can edit the Map Legend in the lower right corner by highlighting the existing text and typing in the new text...for up to 5 categories such as Lived, Been To, Want to Visit, etc. When you are done, click on Save My Map. Hope this helps. If you have more problems you might ask on the Travelblog Support Forum.
13th July 2013

Jezz, I remembered that there was a way in through travelblog, but I have been to stupid to find it. I have tried to go directly to the worldmapmaker website, but it is in that context that I don't know the password. Thanks! I will immediately update my map:-)
3rd July 2013

Great photo
1st July 2013

I have missed your blogs...
so enjoyed seeing Paris through the eyes of your family. I noted on your map that there are no yellow countries...where you are planning to visit. Surely the map is in need of an update.
10th July 2013

Thanks Home and Away
If you in any way can tell me how I can update those maps, I would owe you big time. I can't remember the password and when I ask them to send it nothing comes. I have so many yellow countries in my mind - most of the globe:-)
4th July 2012

Nice blog...
You will have a wonderful four months based upon your observations in this blog. Have you observed whether the homeless woman sleeps on her bench at night, or is she there just during the day?
5th July 2012

She sleeps there, definately. The entire bench is covered in blankets. Someone told me that when it was at its worst the winter before last, the neighbourhood women convinced her to seek a bed at a shelter, worried that she wouldn't make it otherwise. It apparently took a bit of convincing, but finally she went. You might say the bench is her studio. Anna
29th January 2012

Definitely take the tram to Tervuren...
the tracks skirt the Bois, a forest that extends south to Waterloo, and was planted in the 1700's with beech trees that grow straight and tall so that they could be harvested as masts for sailing ships. Then it ends at Turvuren Park which is beautiful to walk around the lakes anytime of the year...except perhaps winter. My daughter learned to ride a bike on the road around the lakes, but took a sharp left turn into the lake. Fortunately the water isn't very deep.
28th January 2012

Thanks for the memories
I was also a technocrat living in Brussels for 11 years, but serving as the U.S. Representative to the NATO Infrastructure Committee. All three of my children were born there. I witnessed first hand the end of the Cold War. I also visited every nook and cranny of Brussels, although I must admit I missed the Zinnekin Pis. As for Belgium's Africa links, you must visit the African Museum in Tervuren if you haven't done so already. It even has Stanley's footlocker...he's the one who said "Dr. Livingstone, I presume." Once again, thanks for the memories! Oh, if you could have some moules and a beer at Vincent's off the Grand Place, and tell about Belgian food and beer in a future blog that would be the best!
29th January 2012

Now, I don't want to assume anything, but Zinneke Pis might have taken up his spot at the street corner of rue des Chartreux and rue du Vieux-Marché after your time there. Thanks for the comment, and yes I have been planning to go to the African Museum for the last two times I visited. However, I read that it is a really beautiful trip out there with tram, so I wanted to do it on a sunny day, and well, sunny days are rare...

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