Whenever you are on a cruise it is great to look back at your ship from various spots but I also enjoy the sudden porthole views you catch as you move around the ship.
Managed to see a lot of native and traditional indigenous art and culture in both Alaska and British Columbia. These totem poles are very old but still great pieces of art and they stand about 20 feet high.
And here are some nightmarish masks to keep away marauders and unwelcome visitors – not to mention providing a few nightmares.
Two days in Adelaide to sleep in a “non rattling bed” after three nights on the train. I slept very well.
As I know the city quite well I signed up for a foodie tour which had me trying four different restaurants for savouries and a final creperie for dessert. Very enjoyable as the group was fun – and included locals too. My favourite was the escargot en gratin at The Delicatessen so had to go back today for lunch so that I could have a full plate that I didn’t need to share with anyone! (I’m an only child!). Followed by one of my favourites – steak tartare. Along the way (back on the foodie tour) there was a nice selection of street art in the Laneways which are being developed to look a bit like the Melbourne scene – so far so good. I think it will be really helpful to keep central Adelaide vibrant at night.
After an evening of food tasting it seemed appropriate to end my visit with a day of wine tasting. This one focussed on the nearby Adelaide Hills and was using a company called Hills Luxury Day tours so only five of us which made it more leisurely. I especially enjoyed Pike and Joyce’s gurner veltliner and Goldings Shiraz so although I’m trying to reduce my wine collection pre moving from my apartment I bought a bottle of each.
Back home for a couple of days and then away for another long trip.
Watch this space.
On our last day we visited Gozo, the small island about 20 minutes by ferry from Malta. I’d heard mixed reviews from previous visitors – some really liked it and others weren’t too bothered. Maybe because the sun was shining and the sea was sparkling I actually liked it a lot. It is small and quiet and not changing as rapidly as Malta is – that is probably what I liked most about it – it is not full of new or being built high rises. While there we visited the GGantija Temple which is actually older than Stonehenge – who knew and also saw the many salt flats where salt is extracted from the ocean using very old methods – I will never think of sea salt in quite the same way again. All in all a nice day out in the sunshine
The old parts of Malta – Valletta, Mdina and others make this a special place to visit. Equally I worry about the massive construction going on as more and more foreigners flood onto the island both to holiday but also to live and retire (it is a relatively easy place to move to for retirement). The cost of living is low, the crime rate virtually non existent, the water is clear and clean and the sun shines a lot too. I look at the photo below and hope the top section remains the norm, rather than the bottom.
Next stop – home in Melbourne for a while but off again mid June.
En route to Fes we stopped at Volubilis, a site of Roman ruins surrounded by very Tuscanesque scenery – I can see why it made the Romans feel at home. They (the ruins not the Romans) were in good shape and it was an excellentway to spend an hour or so walking off our lunch. Mosaics are impressive but we are told they look best after the rain has cleaned them – so I think they should be sloshing water over them all the time just for us tourists!
Next stop Fes.
My friend Margot recommended a visit to the bamboo groves on the west side of Kyoto – it was well worth finding my way there on the train. The first set of pictures shows an artistic interpretation of the grove using kimono patterns in cones all over the station. Apparently they are lit up at night so very pretty. As you can see, even the train matches in nicely. And would you believe on the train platform there is also a sulphur foot bath you can use for a small payment to soothe your feet after a hard day’s walking and everyone waiting for a train can watch you. Didn’t seem to put people off. I thought this was really neat.
And then I walked on to the real thing. 15 minutes through this amazing environment – quite extraordinary and not like anything I’ve seen before.
OBSERVATION OF THE DAY – Train Travel – Gotta love it. Here’s how it goes. Get a JR rail pass before you leave home as unless you only plan one train journey it will likely be cheaper than paying as you go. Japan, as my friends in the UK will appreciate, has a train system that is owned by multiple suppliers so JR rail is only valid for the train lines they own (quite a few of the expensive ones eg. Kyoto to Tokyo) but you have to pay for other trips. But that is where any similarity to the UK train systems ends.
Trains are spotless and cleaned by staff in white gloves in many station stops and always immediately at the end of the line before turning round for the return journey. They are always on time. They always have a cart that comes through to sell you coffee and food – and it’s not half bad. They have a conductor who walks through the carriages to review tickets and greets and bows to the customers in each carriage (how come I never managed to get my work colleagues to do that to me I wonder?!?) and they are wearing smarter suits than I’ve seen in many office environments. At the end of the line when they are due to go in the opposite direction the seats make a balletic twirl and turn around meaning that everyone can face forward on every train but equally should they want to sit in a square they can do that too if they prefer.Everyone queues in an orderly fashion on the platform and remain orderly when the train arrives – no-one ever pushes in or shoves you. And most amazing is that every employee at the stations even the large and busy ones can speak “train English” – give them a destination and departure time and they immediately know which platform to direct you too – they seemed to have learned the whole timetable off by heart. Big tick as an excellent way to travel in Japan