The Road from Adelaide to Melbourne

I’ve been meaning to do a post on the Adelaide-Melbourne run for a while, since I find myself making the trip reasonably often.

adelaide-to-melbourne

It’s about 800km, all on the one road, so it’s a pretty easy trip. Except for the stretch of road between Horsham and the border. Actually, any part of the road in Victoria further away from Melbourne than Beaufort at a stretch. But never mind that.

There are a couple of good places to stop for a meal along the road:

tailem-bend

Jager’s BP, Tailem Bend

Where: on the left, just before the town (from Melbourne) or on the right, just after the town (from Adelaide)

Eat-in: fully air-conditioned, with complementary chilled water and couches; menu is very tasty, varied, healthy and reasonably-priced

Take-away: all the usual suspects, all the usual prices

Service: cannot be faulted; staff are friendly, welcoming, and prompt

Toilets: a little scrungey

Other Attractions: the balcony is literally over the river, so it’s a good view

 keith

BP Roadhouse, Keith

Where: on the right, very shortly after “commodore on a pole” (from Adelaide) or on the left, just before the down (from Melbourne)

Eat-in: air-conditioned, but fairly basic dining facilities; menu is reasonably good, with lamb rump steaks with chips and vegetables currently going for around $13 each

Take-away: all the usual suspects, all the usual prices

Service: practical and utilitarian; not rude, but they don’t go out of their way to be welcoming

Toilets: unpleasant, but mostly tolerable

Other Attractions: um… it’s near a commodore on a pole?

 nhill

Olivia Rose Café, Nhill

Where: on the left, just before the round-about (from Adelaide; or take a slip-road across the median strip to approach it from the same direction when coming from Melbourne)

Eat-in: air-conditioned, a varied and healthy menu at reasonable prices; gluten- and dairy-free options

Take-away: I don’t think they do take-away

Service: friendly; it’s a café, not a roadhouse

Toilets: just across the road, on the median strip; public toilets are basic but clean

Other Attractions: Nhill

dadswells-bridge

Koala Kitchen, Dadswells Bridge

Where: on the left (from Melbourne) or right (from Adelaide), just behind the giant koala

Eat-in: air-conditioned, a varied menu at reasonable prices, but mostly featuring lots of turkey; turkey sausages with chips and salad goes at $12.30

Take-away: all the usual suspects (pies, pasties, sausage roles) at the usual prices

Service: a mother and son, not overly friendly but polite and prompt

Toilets: very good

Other Attractions: there’s a three-storey-tall fibreglass koala, a native animals petting enclosure ($5 for adults, free for children with an adult; entry includes the price of feed), and a turkey farm across the road

koala

 

Ìosrael

Bha còmhradh againn an seachdain mu dheidhinn ar lèithean-saora, agus tha mise air a bhith mu dheidhinn Ìosrael a ràdh.

Dè seòrsa aimsir a th’ air a bhith ann?

Tha an aimsir air a bhith uabhasach fuar! Tha uisge air a bhith ann h-uile latha agus bha sneachd ann cuideachd!

Dè tha thu air a bhith a’ ceannach? Aodach, prèasantan do dhaoine eile, càil dhuit-fhèin…?

Tha mi air a bhith mòran cuimhneachan agus prèasantan do mo theaghlach a cheannach. Chan eil – agus cha bhith – mi air a bhith aodach a cheannaich. Chan eil mi air a bhith càil a cheannach dhòmh-fhèin ach geansaidh blàth no dhà.

Cò ris a tha am biadh air a bhith coltach?

Tha am biadh uabhasach snog. Tha a h-uile biadh air a bhith “kosher”. Tha sinn air a bhith siùpear “basariy” ithead agus tha feòil ann, agus tha sinn air a bhith breacàist “cheleviy” itheadh agus tha càise agus bàinne agus ìm ann. Chan fhaod mi bànne no ìm no càise ith agus cha toigh leam breacàist an-seo a-riamh!

A bheil thu air biadh ùr fheuchainn no deoch ùr a ghabhail nach do dh’fheuch no nach no ghabh thu a-riamh roimhe?

04 - Hyssop

A’ deanamh labaneh (pizza Druze)

Uill, tha mi air “labaneh” fheuchainn an seachdain. ‘S e “Pizza Druze” a th’ ann agus tha iosop aig. Agus tha mi air a bhith mòran sùgh gràn-ubhal a ghabh.

 

Càite a bheil thu air a bhith a’ dol airson biadh ithe?

Tha mi air a bhith aig an òsdal a fhuirich agus tha breacàist agus siùpear ann. Tha mi air a bhith a’ dol dhan bùth falafal airson shuwarma airson dìnnear. Tha shuwarma ann an Ìosrael coltach ri yiros ann an Astràilia. Tha mi a’ smaoineachadh gur e “kebab” a th’ ann yiron ann an Alba. An e sin ceart? Tha feòil agus biadh-luibh ann àran-pìota.

Dè cho daor ‘s a than a prìsean air a bhith?

Glè dhaor. Tha a h-uile càil air a bhith nas daoire na tha e aig an taigh ann an Astràilia.

Dè seòrsa daoine ris a bheil thu air a bhith a’ tachairt?

Uill, tha a h-uile duine ann mo ghrùp às Astràilia no Sealainn-Nuadh, ach tha mi air tachairt ri daoine èile às na Stàitean-Aonaichte agus às Ìosrael-fhèin. Tha mi air tachairt ri Raghnaidh (Rachel) eile ann am bùth ann an Tel Dan. ‘S e ainm glè chleachdail a th’ ann “Raghnaid” (Rachel) ann an Ìosrael.

Ciamar a tha thu air a bhith a’ siubhal air feadh an àite? A bheil thu air na busaichean no na trèanaichean no tacsaidhean a ghabhail?

Tha mi air a bhith dol ri bùs comhla ris a h-uile daoine eile ann mo ghrùp.

A bheil thu air turas a dhèanamh ann an gondola no air druim càmhail?

Tha mi air càmhailean a shealtainn, ach chan eil mi air tùras air druim càmhail a dhèanamh. Ach mi air turas thairis an Loch Gailíl ann am bàta a dhèanamh.

Dè seòrsa àiteachan air a bheil thu air a bhith a’ tadhal? Àiteachan eachdraidheil agus cultarail? Eaglaisean no taighean-tasgaidh?

Tha mi air tadhal air mòran mòran àiteachan inntinnich – mòran àiteachan eachdraidheil agus cultarail agus Bìoballach. Tha mi air tadhal air Nàsairet agus air Ièriùsalam, agus tha mòran mòran eaglaisean ann an an Ièriùsalam.

Dè an cànan no na cànanan a tha thu air a bhith a’ cluinntinn?

‘S e Eabhrais a th’ ann an cànan ann an Ìosrael, ach tha mi air a bhith a’ cluinntinnn Eabhrais, Arabais, Beurla, Spàinntis, agus Rùssais.

A bheil thu air mòran Gàidhlig no Beurla a chluinntinn?

06 - Ireland

maoiseach Gaidhlig Eireann ann an Nasairet

Tha mi air a bhith mòran Beurla a chluinntinn – tha mòran daoine an-seo às na Stàitean-Aonaichte. Chan eil mi air Gàidhlig a chluinntinn a-riamh, ach tha mi air maoiseach anns a’ Ghàidhlig Èireann a shealltainn ann an Nàsairet.

 

A bheil thu air beagan den chànan ionnsachadh?

Tha, tha mi air beagan Eabhrais innseachadh. ‘S e “boker tov” a th’ ann “madainn mhath” agus ‘s e “laila tov” a th’ ann “oidhche mhath”. ‘S e “Shabat shalom” a th’ ann “Latha na Sàbaid math” agus “todah rabah” a th’ ann “tapadh leibh”.

‘S e “aniy lo medeberit ivrit a th’ ann “chan eil Eabhrais agam”.

No English translation this week. You guys have already read all this.

Israel – The Things They Don’t Tell You – Toileting

When I travel, I take notice of unusual things. Sort of everyday infrastructure things most people either don’t notice or don’t think worthy of mentioning.

For example, in the US, light switches are off when they’re in the Australian “on” light-switch position, and vice versa. Also, in the US, curbs are a little higher than in Australia.

With that in mind, here are a few things about Israel that you’re probably not going to hear anywhere else. It’s the little, commonplace things that give every country and area its own distinct “flavour”, but which also go unnoticed.

Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of as many things as I’d hoped – such as toilet-door locks and common brands of service station – because I ran out of room on the SD card and deleting the pictures by accident along with the ones I’d already saved!

Let’s start with the most important – but also most unspeakable – aspect of day-to-day life…

Toileting

Toilets in Israel are European-style (as opposed to American-style or Asian-style). This means that they’re sit-toilets with a whole-circle seat and a low water-line.

Because Israel is a moderately water-conscious country, almost all most toilets (at least, all of the ones I went to) have dual-flush systems. They appear in two main configurations:

Toileting - Flush 1

Two buttons on the top. Note that they’re not in the centre like Australian two-button systems. But this is how they looked, on the side. This is the more common style.

Toileting - Flush 2

Two front pull-tabs. This is a little less common, no doubt because at least 75% of the ones I saw had lost the white half-flush tab.

Toileting - Flush 2 Broken

Toilet cells are fully enclosed to the floor on both sides (although some are open for about a foot at the top), and doors are rarely more than an inch or two from the floor. Goodness, that must make it hard for Americans.

Anyway, there are three main sorts of lock. The most common is a large black plastic tab sbout 15cm long and 5cm wide, rounded, which flips over across to the doorframe – tucking into a notch for inward-opening doors, or just sitting there for outward-opening ones. The second-most common is a tiny little metal circle, about 2cm wide, with a ridge for grip, which turns and operates a mechanism inside the door. Finally, the only one for which I have a picture to show, is a plain, old-fashioned bolt.

Toileting - Lock 1

Public toilets are generally pretty good quality. Quite a few had damp floors in the stalls, but I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and say it was because it was raining most of the time we were there. Aside from that, they were pretty clean, and had all the necessary parts. A few in more remote places seemed a bit ramshackle, but only once did we have a no-toilet-paper problem. Privately-owned toilets (mostly on Catholic-owned sites) have a fee of two shekels; we only encountered two or three of these, though (and didn’t go in).

In short, public toilets in Israel are better than public toilets in Australia. I went to the toilet in a town called Buninyong (you can tell it’s rural Australian) the other weekend which didn’t even have toilet seats!

Outside the toilet stall, the only other thing to note is the taps, which for the most part prefer to come straight out from the wall and hover about a foot above the rim of the sink. They’re mostly operated by a single knob and emit freezing cold water (I’m sure it’s warmer in summer). The hotels preferred to have those awful swivel-temperature-control taps. And I encountered one or two sensor-taps in places like the Israel Museum and the airport.

Toileting - Tap

Another thing which should be mentioned about sinks is that many public sinks in Israel come equipped with a large two-handled cup chained to the tap. After spending the whole trip wondering about it, I Googled it after my return and discovered that the cups are part of a mivkeh-avoiding purification ritual.

It’s not really related to toileting, but I lack enough pictures to post on the matter, so I’ll talk about service stations (petrol stations? gas stations?) here, although I only went into one and didn’t go to the toilet there.

Basically, there are three major chains of service station in Israel, each with a seemingly inseparable café chain attached. The first, which seems to be most common around the coastal plains area, is called Sogol (the café is So Good), which is white-based with a large red flower. The second, which was more common around Galilee and the Golan in particular, was red-based, and I can’t recall the name of it.

The third, which I saw more of down south, was called Petz (or some other vowel), and was yellow-based, with an appropriately-named Yellow café chain attached.

Service Station - Petz Yellow

I think I’ll just about leave this post here, since there’s not really much else to say on the toileting front. I’ll move on to less awkward matters on the next post, but before then, feel free to check out my observations in toileting in the USA.

I know some nationalities seem to think “toilet” is a rude word, but perhaps many don’t realise just how toilets (and the accoutrements surrounding them) change from country to country.

In England, many toilets still flush with a chain, while in German and Europe, some come with a “shelf” upon which you may inspect your leavings. In America, toilets have seats split at the front and are filled to within a few inches of the top with water, while in Hong Kong (Airport), they flush by means of a foot-lever. In rural Australia, the toilet might not flush at all, but simply drop leavings and paper down a long, long hole to decompose. (The more modern ones include special chemicals to reduce smell and quicken the decomposition process).

And that’s just the sit-toilets. The world is peppered with squat-toilets, from France and Italy to Singapore and Korea. Some toilets in India have extra-wide seats with foot-grips to allow squat-toilet-users to do so on sit-toilets. In Singapore, as with many countries with high Muslim populations, toilets include a small tap or shower-head on a bendy pipe to allow for washing.

And it occurs to me as I type these last two paragraphs that I may have an unhealthy obsession with toilets.

A Quick Weekend Jaunt

Abair turas mor! What a long journey!

Sorry for the delay in another post (I know you’re all waiting with bated breath to see whether I actually got home or whether the ‘plane crashed somewhere perhaps over Mount Gambier), but for much of the latter half of last week I was completely incoherent with jet-lag, and for the last fifty hours, I’ve been in a car.

Well, I haven’t been in a car for all of it, but I have been for about twenty hours of it, which means I’ve spent just as long in a car this weekend as I did in an aeroplane last weekend. And didn’t get nearly as far.

It was entirely my fault, of course, as I didn’t have to go and I chose to.

And, unfortunately, I left my camera at home (again – this is becoming a habit) so I don’t have any pictures to share with you of the trip (the scenery isn’t nearly as exciting or rapidly-changing as in Israel). However, I may or may not be making the trip again in two or three weeks, so there may be pictures then.

What’s happening is that my sister is going to uni interstate (nearish Melbourne) this year, which is probably an 8-hour trip if you speed and don’t stop for food or the toilet. With the academic year starting in a few weeks, we went over this weekend to sus out student housing for her. And found a rather good houseshare, it has to be said, for all of the five daytime hours we spent at our destination.

That’s enough of cars for a while, I think.

Funnily enough, Adelaideans travelling to Melbourne for the weekend isn’t particularly remarkable. And I mean, it’s not like you live in Jerusalem and you’re going to Tel Aviv or Ber Sheva for the weekend (yes, I’m still comparing everything to Israel, as in Israel I was comparing everything to Australia). After all, the trip from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv is probably about forty-five minutes in rush hour. It’s not even like you live in Glasgow and you’re going to London for the weekend – although it would probably take about as long by car, it’s not neatly as far.

I’ve been telling myself for a few years now that Australians drive distances, and no Australians bat an eyelid at it. We drove from Dallas to Iowa City and barely thought anything of it as we did it over three days – but the locals we mentioned it to were amazed! Then again, I had a conversation with a lady in a shop in Tiberia who was amazed that we’d come “all the way” from En Gev to visit her shop. That was about 16km as the bird flies (about 30km by road). Yeah, I literally go that far by road to do the weekly shopping. Although admittedly it would be only about 16km to my nearest supermarket.

But one of the people we spoke to near Melbourne thought we were crazy for driving that far for the weekend (it’s ten hours one way). “I’d fly!” he said. But flying’s more expensive. And more difficult to do at the last minute.

“We wouldn’t drive to Sydney for the weekend,” we told him, “That’s two days. But Melbourne – no-one thinks anything of it.”

Which is true. If you mention a weekend jaunt to Melbourne to someone in Adelaide, the most involved response you’ll get is, “Stop every two hours for a rest and don’t leave at 4am to get there at lunch time.”

The truth is, whenever there’s a football game involving one of our teams in Melbourne, thousands of Adelaideans leave on Friday night to drive to Melbourne for a Saturday night game and then drive back on a Sunday. The trip simply isn’t remarkable. The road is dead straight. You don’t even have to turn off at any point – just slow down now and then to go through the odd town.

That doesn’t make it any less wearing, though – although I do think I’ve conquered my jet-lag. That’s what I was hoping would happen with going along on the trip – exhausting days in the car and early mornings at motels near major freeways with thin curtains and no soundproofing. Eastward jetlag always hits me harder and the four nights I’d already had at home hadn’t seemed to have done anything to help it.

So, there you have it. Yes, I got home safely. Then I left again. Now I’m back. At some point, I’ll have to get myself sorted for uni.

The Second Leg – Bangkok to Melbourne

I think Bangkok Airport makes it very easy for airlines to make things very hard for passengers. It’s just the way it’s laid out between the departure lounge and the holding yard / gates area.

You see, I’d bought a couple of bottles of water in the international lounge. Yes, I’d drunk them and then filled them up from the drinking fountains, but usually once you’re in the international lounge, anything you buy there is fine.

Not so here (although I didn’t have any problem in the other direction). Apparently Australia doesn’t allow you to take bottles of water over 100ml into the country. Not that I’d been planning to take them into the country, anyway.

I immediately felt cheerier as I stepped onto the aeroplane. El Al is very efficient and all, but has small grey seats and navy military-style uniforms. Thai Airways, with their rainbow of seats and bright skirt-blouse-and-sash uniforms, just makes you happier. The service could be terrible, but you wouldn’t mind it as much because of the décor.

01 - Thai Colours

unfortunately, the soft, warm lighting means you don’t get the full effect of the colour scheme

Did you know Thai Airways’ short-distance flights/planes are called Thai Smile?

But the service was pretty good. A nice stewardess came along and asked if I’d ordered the vegan meals, and when I explained that I hadn’t, and that it had been a mess-up with the travel agent, she made sure to get me proper meals.

I managed to stay awake for dinner, which was surprisingly good. Chicken curry (apparently – it tasted good, but it was a bit bland to be curry) and rice.

02 - Dinner

I watched Ted, which was more vulgar than I expected, and then went to sleep. Although I don’t recall sleeping much, I also can’t remember anything further until they woke us up in the morning, so I must have done.

Omelettes seem to be very popular for airline breakfasts at the moment (that’s three of four this trip), and shortly after that, we were landing.

03 - Breakfast

So far, I have about a 60% success rate with the e-gates. It worked leaving two weeks ago, but not this morning. This is pretty typical. “Go and see a real person”, it told me (not in as many words). It’s quicker that way.

I ticked about four boxes on the quarantine declaration form, and go questioned. “What are you declaring today, ma’am?”

(I find it so weird to be called “ma’am”. I’m old enough to be called “Frau” in German, and that’s weird, too, but “ma’am” is something you’d expect from an American, not someone with a Melbourne accent.)

“Ah, and olive wood carving, some dried rockmelon I’m prepared to give up if I have to…”

“No fresh fruit, vegetables, or plant products?”

“No…”

“Please continue through here, ma’am.”

I had barely even started my long, long list of stuff to declare. I hadn’t even reached the part where I explain that I have been on a farm, near farm animals, or in a rural area in the last 30 days simply because I live on a small farm(-ette) and have been gone only 18. That’s always a fun conversation.

Is it possible to get culture shock coming into your own country? I always have trouble when my port of entry is in the eastern states – “you forget how bogan everyone sounds when you land in the eastern states”. I’m currently sitting at the gate waiting to board, listening to some middle-aged Aussie couple going on about “Oy had that bl**dy window seat but there was no f*cking bl**dy window, was there?”

Yeah, welcome home.

That said, the earlier flight has now boarded, taking the bogans with it, and I can now here and middle-aged-Adelaide-city-man accent behind me. You know the accent I mean.

The First Leg – Tel Aviv to Bangkok

I have no idea what happened to the seating. We were all over the place. I was next to two elderly Israeli ladies, Evanna and Juliana, who were going on some sort of RSL group holiday to Thailand. Evanna told me it was the fifth time she’d done it!

I tried hard to stay awake for dinner this time, and I mostly managed it, although I dozed in between.

01 - Dinner

I’ve been signed up for vegan meals again, which is great for breakfast (no dairy), but not so great for dinner. But Israeli vegetarian food isn’t bad. I’m not looking forward to the Thai version.

But I did discover something interesting: When I pronounce my name the Israeli way, and someone subsequently sees my surname, it is pronounced “Chay”, which is sort of cool, because that’s Hebrew for “life”.

I slept solidly for a good five hours (although I can’t say how well), before waking up in time for breakfast.

02 - Breakfast

After that, it wasn’t long until we landed, and then parted ways. Some are staying in Bangkok for a few days, others wanted to go into the city just for fun, others went to find coffee. I went to find a bottle of water, some dried rockmelon and a comfortable seat.

The water and dried rockmelon, by the way, cost 375 baht. I have no idea what that is in dollars. We’re about twenty-five baht to the Australian dollar, so a quick calculation tells me about $15. I wish I hadn’t worked that out. I hope I can get the rockmelon into Australia, because I’m not going to eat it all.

Bangkok Airport is really humid. Walking around it makes me sweat something awful. Also there were mosquitoes in the first lounge I tried, so I’m a bit worried about that, because an Australian couple there (travelling to Israel) mentioned as they were leaving that they had malaria in this country. And malaria is carried by silent mosquitoes, I know, which these were.

Ah, anyway. I needed to find somewhere to charge up, since I was almost out of computer battery. Since the big screens were still three hours away from showing my flight at this point, I headed to my best bet: the wing with the Thai Airways lounge. I don’t think I can get into the lounge, but a Thai Airways flight is likely to leave from there, right?

It’s a little weird to be back somewhere where the majority of white people speak with Australian accents, but here’s one thing I need to learn, since it’s not the first time I’ve been caught out: if you see someone wearing an Australia-themed top, the chances are he or she is not Australian.

I approached a couple, the man wearing an Australian flag on his chest, to ask if they knew of any powerpoints.

“Excuse me, do you know if there are any powerpoints around here?”

“Ah… you want to sit here?”

“… Do you speak English?”

“Little bit.”

“What language?”

“Français.”

“Ah. Um… as-t-il des… points du… power… pour charger mon ordinateur?”

“Pour charger? Je ne sais pas. I think… ask at the magasin.”

Yeah, they were laughing at my attempt at French. It turns out, after asking at the nearest shop, that there was a large, blue, light-up wall over the other side with the words “free charge” and the power sign.

I’m having trouble with the wi-fi here again (although this time I can’t manage to get it to work, which I could last time), so although I’m typing this in Bangkok, I probably won’t post it until I get to Melbourne.

I had quite the headache, although sitting still and drinking water was helping with that, so once my computer had charged, I went and lay down for a bit.

I was sitting near a young German couple who were remarkably uncommunicative despite my attempts to talk to them and feed them dried rockmelon. I gave a “tschüβ” as they left and the young woman looked at me in surprise: “Ah, so!”

Loving Language’s airport challenge is a bit trickier when the other party involved refuses to communicate.

After dozing for about an hour (Bangkok airport as a few areas with really comfortable lounges), I heard familiar voices in my subconscious, so I got up and made my way across to the others. I then filled the remaining three hours by going over the trip with a couple of other group members. Apparently, I’m the only one who can remember the last two weeks.

I also, fearing another less-than-palatable tofu-based vegan meal, went and bought some rice and chicken for 231 baht (I think that’s about $9).

03 - Take-Away

 

The Sixth Day – The Elah Valley (Judaea)

After Herodion, we headed south-west, passing through the Elah valley.

Map - Elah Valley

We went through twice – on the way there and on the way back – so I’ve included here photos from both trips.

01 - Rachel's Tomb.jpg

how eerie. but I begin to suspect there’s been another, slightly more famous Rachel in this area

02 - Valley

I don’t know what this valley’s called

04 - Mountain Farming

Yuval calls this “mountain farming”. Essentially, it’s building an orchard on terraces.

05 - Elah Valley

the Elah Valley

06 - Hitch-Hiker

a random hitch-hiker. he appears also to have a swag

07 - Well

A well of the sort one reads about in the stories of Moses and Rebekah (except without the metal grille in those stories). There’s a lot of limestone in this area, which is very soft – notice the grooves on the edge which have been formed by rope rubbing there.

08 - Servo

We stopped at a service station for lunch. The food was sub-par by comparison to previous days.

09 - Lunch

This is the first… ah, disgusting?… food I’ve had in Israel. Although the “fruit water” was all right.

10 - Unwrapped

I concede it doesn’t look too bad. You can’t see the inside, though. Ah, well, it cost me 27 shekels 70 (almost exactly $10).

I did see this interesting packaging from someone else, though.

11 - Doritos

The service station was right at the head of Elah Valley.

12 - Me at Elah Junction

On the hill to my left (on the right) are the ruins of Azekah; the battle between David and Goliath happened somewhere between Azekah and Socho.