Travel theme: Sport

This week’s topic from Where’s My Backpack blog – Travel theme: Sport

Travelling isn’t always as easy as it should be on holiday and some of what you experience (or endure) can feel like you are participating in an olympic sport.

First, you must get your bags to the airport or cruise terminal.

This involves upper body strength, good timing and great precision as your goal is to ensure the bags arrive at the same destination as you.

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Head down and focus on the finish line.

Then you must stand in line, waiting for your turn to board. This can feel like a constant tug-of-war with pompous officials and, if you get your timing right, you can board your vessel in time to relax and pop into something comfortable.

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There’s always pushing and shoving to get on board.

Once you’ve settled in to your holiday you will no doubt undertake various activities, or sports, to keep you busy and ensure you have some interesting photos to show your workmates when you return.

If you choose to sightsee or take daytrips, make sure you are familiar with your method of transport; familiarise yourself with the local rules as penalties may apply for misuse.

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Beware of under-aged drivers and traffic jams!

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Which way to the Grand Prix?

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Well I did request air-conditioning…

When participating in extra-curricular sporting activities you need to keep you feet on the ground,

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Always wear matching team colours.

keep your equipment dry,

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Don’t allow the competition to make you lose your balance.

but not too dry,

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Don’t make the acceptance phone call before you’ve actually won.

 

and keep your eyes on the game at all times.

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Protective eyewear can be handy.

At the end of your trip, you may be tired, you may be distracted but make sure you have enough left in you to tackle the last sporting challenge of your journey – collecting your baggage and queueing for an eternity to get through customs in  your own country.

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I have a black belt in dealing with airline baggage belts.

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The final hurdle, then home.

As you can see, travelling is a lot like an olympic sport: if at first you do not succeed, try and try again (or fly and fly again)!

Harmony in Hiroshima

This week’s blog topic from Where’s My Backpack blog – Travel theme: Harmony

Hiroshima was in the news recently when Barack Obama made his visit there – the first US president to do so since the 1945 nuclear attack. This visit brought up the collective memories and consciousness of the horror that occurred almost 71 years ago, when according to the president’s speech, “the world was changed”.

His visit also highlighted the need for reconciliation between nations previously at war, and a future that relies on harmony.

I visited Hiroshima just 2 months prior to the president’s visit as part of the itinerary of Queen Elizabeth’s 2016 World Cruise and of course I expected to see the peace park, memorial museum and the bomb site, that includes the famous A-bomb dome, (preserved as a symbol of peace), to remind the world of the events of August 6th 1945.

But I didn’t visit any of them.

Instead I spent the day on Miyajima Island, where I experienced complete harmony with nature; the island is a little piece of heaven “where people and gods live together”.

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Welcome to Hiroshima

After disembarking Queen Elizabeth into the cool morning we entered the tin shed that served as a passenger terminal but this cold metal exterior belied the atmosphere within.  The maiden call of Queen Elizabeth brought excitement, wonder and many smiles to the locals who welcomed us warmly.  They even had a small display showing the history of Cunard, along with many local goods and services.

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Excitement at Queen Elizabeth’s maiden voyage here

I was drawn to the volunteer welcomers, all pretty in pink, because I have volunteered in a similar position at Port Melbourne to welcome the cruise ships to my city. I approached them and asked if I could pose with them, and after showing them some photos of me in the role in Melbourne, along with some helpful translation, they were delighted.

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Hiroshima’s Cruise Welcomers

Waterfront welcomers with ship

Life in Camelot working as a Waterfront Welcomer in Melbourne

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Life in Camelot with the Hiroshima Cruise Welcomers

After utilising the free internet in the terminal (Cunard really needs to step into the 21st century and provide free internet services), my husband and I each bought a one day streetcar (an electric railway) and ferry pass for 840 yen (just under AU$10).  The streetcar journey took about 30 minutes to reach Miyajimaguchi where we then boarded the ferry.

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The ferry to Miyajima Island

It only took 10 minutes for the ferry to transport us to Miyajima where the majestic Tori gate beckoned us into the shore. We were greeted at the terminal by a deer – it seemed tame – as it sniffed around my handbag for food.

As we wandered along the waterfront I discovered that the deer are everywhere and live in harmony on the island with the traders and the tourists.

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Greeted by inquisitive deer

They were just so photogenic and placid that I could have stayed with them all day.

I even took photos of other tourists enjoying the deer…

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Excited tourists posing with the deer

… and then I reached the Tori gate!

This majestic gate was far more orange than I’d expected but still so grand.  The tide was in as we approached and I took loads and loads of photos of it, with my iPhone and my SLR (the film not developed yet as I write this).

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Miyajima’s Tori Gate

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Life in Camelot and husband, King Arthur, pose with the Tori Gate

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A vision for sore eyes

I could have sat and gazed at the gate, the water and the gorgeous deer for hours but there was more to see on Miyajima Island, this little slice of Japanese countryside bliss.

There were a lot of people wandering about the Itsukushima Shrine, which also appears to float in the ocean when the tide is in, but we were drawn to Mt Misen and felt compelled to climb it before doing anything else.

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Itsukushima Shrine

I love a good cable car ride up a mountain (that will be another blog post some day) and was excited at the prospect of riding the ‘ropeway’ as the Japanese call them.  However we didn’t have any cash on us that day and couldn’t see any credit card signs at the ticket office; however this didn’t phase me too much as it was the most glorious day and we were drawn up the mountain by the sheer beauty and serenity.

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Directions up Mt Misen

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5 storied pagoda

The ascent was made easy by the sheer beauty of crossing little stone bridges, over creeks, waterfalls and koi-filled ponds, shaded by handsome trees, and of course, more friendly deer.

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Ascending Mt Misen

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Koi pond

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Life in Camelot with a deer friend

We never made it onto the ropeway ride because at the top (and main entrance) we discovered that the ride required a further 2 or so hours spent on top of the mountain, time we didn’t really have before returning to Queen Elizabeth.

So we descended the mountain via a different, but just as beautiful path and drank in the tranquility of this little piece of heaven, near Hiroshima.

Communing with nature makes you hungry though, and after buying some gifts and souvenirs (I just had to get something to celebrate the gate and the deer),

we ducked into one of the little restaurants that faced the ocean for a late lunch.

As if all those giant oysters weren’t enough, my husband had to stop at one of the local vendors to try his luck with some barbequed octopus on a stick (he claims it was still struggling as it went down),

and I indulged in one of the little cakes in the shape of the maple leaf as we strolled back along past many tourist shops.

Maple cakes

Momiji Manju, is the name given to the maple-leaf shaped pastries found on Miyamija Island.  They consist of a dough of flour, water, sugar and starch and are filled with red bean paste. They are boiled but served cold, usually at teatime.  It has been this way since the 14th century.

As we approached the Tori gate again my heart skipped a beat because whilst we’d been frolicking in the mountains with the deer the tide had gone out and it became possible to take even more photos, down at the water level.

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Low tide at the Tori gate

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What a grand structure

Of course it was just at this time that my trusty NIKON SLR camera (only about 17 years old) decided to stop working completely – it may have been just one deer shot too many – so I only had my iPhone to rely on for the rest of the photos.  However, that didn’t stop me from taking as many as possible, including the obligatory ‘selfie’ in front of the gate.

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Selfie at the Tori gate

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Barnacles and coins to make a wish upon the Tori gate

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A very happy traveller

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Beautiful day on Miyajima Island

It was with a heavy heart that I boarded the ferry back to the mainland because I could have stayed there and enjoyed the peace and harmony of the island all day long.  But we had intended to try to see the city of Hiroshima as well before heading back to Queen Elizabeth.

As luck would have it, (or possibly not), we’d spent so many hours on Miyajima we ran out of time and had to return to the catch the last shuttle back to the cruise terminal.  It was still a hive of activity  with visitors keen to see the ship and partake in the festivities of this day.

I used the free internet again, watched a display of young sword fighters and saw some sturgeon being sold by a local fisherman.

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Farewell performance for cruise passengers

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Baby sturgeon for sale

I talked to some lovely local women who gave me brochures for my scrapbook and practiced their English; they were even impressed at my 3 or 4 words of Japanese; they really are so well-mannered.

Then I joined my husband back in our port-side stateroom where we watched the Hiroshima police band play for us whilst the excited locals waved their glowsticks with gusto.

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Police band and groupies farewell Queen Elizabeth

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Farewell Hiroshima – we shall return

When we reconnected with our fellow passengers that evening we heard many stories about how sad and poignant their visits had been; some people who had spent their time between the peace memorial and the island wished they’d only been to the island, because the island offered an idyllic escape from the grim reminders of war in the city.

As we sailed away to our next port I was left so inspired and moved by Hiroshima, it’s people, nature and harmony.

Walking

Walking

These boots were made for walking…

 

Above all, do not lose your desire to walk:

every day I walk myself into a state of well-being and walk away from every illness; I have walked myself into my best thoughts, and I know of no thought so burdensome that one cannot walk away from it… but by sitting still, and the more one sits still, the closer one comes to feeling ill…

Thus if one just keeps walking, everything will be all right.

(Bruce Chatwin – Songlines)

The first Bruce Chatwin novel I read was Songlines.

I think it is time I read it again.

 

Travel theme: Poetry

This week’s blog topic – Travel theme: Poetry

 

I found a bottle on the seashore and took it home with me.

Message in a bottle
Inside the bottle, a message furled – I couldn’t wait to see.

Was it about illicit love
or unrequited passion?
Did it contain some history
of some important fashion?

Was some poor soul alone and lost
and waiting for an answer
Or was it just the impish prank
of some coy necromancer?

The time had come to end the doubt and see what was inside,
I held my breath and pulled the cork that salt and sun had dried.
I held the paper, brown and old:
The words I read with ease;

My lofty dreams came crashing down with…

“Milko, 2 pints please”!

old fashioned milkman - England

 

 

Travel theme: Dazzling

Being a lover of all things that glitter and sparkle, I was enchanted by the notion of a blog post entitled Dazzling and couldn’t wait to post my own.  So I searched through some of my travel photos to pick some of the prettiest and, most dazzling.

Coincidentally, just today I went through a display home with my family and I came across this master bedroom with ensuite bathroom, adorned with dazzling tiles and opulent chandelier:

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Bathroom luxury

Most of my recent world travels have taken place on board Cruise ships, mostly on board Cunard but here’s a photo taken of a marvellous stage show on board Celebrity Solstice:

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Flying high on Celebrity Solstice

I have just returned from cruising through Asia where I saw dazzling dance dresses in South Korea:

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Busan, South Korea

A warm welcome, fantastic ferris wheel and blingy boats in Osaka, Japan:

And the spherical, shiny reflection of the Tokyo Skytree:

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Tokyo Skytree reflection

When visiting abroad there are some things you just can’t resist and this includes the stunning masks in Venice (yes, we managed to get one all the way home without breaking it):

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Venetian masks

And daggy tourist photos of yourself with dazzling street performers in London’s Piccadilly Circus:

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Life in Camelot, and friends

Cruisey Music

I’ve sailed on eight cruises since 2009, seven of those being with Cunard.

They always have a house band who play at sail-aways, deck parties and various other special evenings.

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The band always has a different name (and I presume different members), a name that almost always includes the letter Z.

They tend to do a pretty good job of entertaining the guests. This current cruise is no different.

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Here’s my problem with them – they all play the same repertoire without much individuality.

Frankly, I could really live without hearing another rendition of the following cruise band favourite songs:

Red, Red Wine

Hot, Hot, Hot

Sweet Caroline

Mambo #5

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How about you?

Are there any songs that pervade your cruises or holidays that you could really live without???

Here’s another story I wrote about the importance of music to a holiday – https://lifeincamelot.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/37/

 

I left my child in New York city (part 3)

Every parent tries to do their best when raising their children, from the very first night they are brought home from the hospital right through all those school years and into young adulthood. Depositing them in a strange country, over sixteen thousand kilometres away (or just over ten thousand miles) may seem akin to throwing a baby into a pool to see if they can swim, but it seems that when I left my child in New York city it wasn’t the worst thing I could have done as a parent; she survived the ordeal and has now safely returned home.

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Before I left my child in New York city though, I stayed with her for a week to help her settle in (i.e. cleaned her dorm room and purchased everything she would need for her stay) and I got to see a little of New York before leaving her all alone in the Big Apple.

 

During her stay in Brooklyn Heights she did discover some flaws in her skill set that could be improved upon before she heads out into the world again.  For example, she found was wasn’t overly enthusiastic about using a laundromat (coin laundry), nor was she confident in asking for directions, and she definitely wasn’t keen on cooking in a communal college kitchen.

Important as they may be, these skills can be practised at home – she was in New York and set about making the most of her time there.  When she wasn’t attending classes at the Stella Adler summer conservatory course she went to as many Broadway productions as time and money would allow, and she squeezed in extra stage door photos with a who’s who of American talent.

Life in Camelot - I left my child in New York city

Georgia with Ramin Karimloo

 

 

One Broadway star, Cheyenne Jackson, took pity upon my poor child, (all alone in New York city) as he clearly did not want to let their meeting pass into the history books unrecorded,  so he took selfies of the two of them and threw in a special kiss.

When not kissing Broadway stars she still found time to dine out at local establishments and go to class, which was the purpose of this stay in New York.

Then it came home for this little chicken to fly home so she boarded a plane at JFK and 24 or so hours later, after flying thousands of kilometres, she arrived home with very tired wings.

She had survived by herself in the Big Apple.  She had worked as a student, grown as a person and lived the dream of every budding actor and actress in the modern western world, if only for a few months.  She had been immersed in ‘musical-theatre nerd’ heaven.

She returned a little bit the same and a little bit not, but it was all worth it.  So if you should ever require any parenting advice regarding your teenager, don’t forget to ask me about the time…

I left my child in New York city.

Cruisey Christmas

Last year I spent a cruisey Christmas on board Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 – a rather splendid way of spending Christmas.

Obviously there were a couple of thousand of other travellers spending Christmas on board too and, in my journeys around the decks, I was simply amazed at the lengths some of these people went to in decorating their stateroom doors with festive displays.

Here are some wonderful examples of Christmas at sea:

I hope you all had a very merry Christmas in 2015 and cheers to the New Year – and let’s go cruising.

 

Merry Christmas 2014

This is what I was doing for Christmas a year ago and I posted from Queen Mary 2.
Today is a much quieter affair.
I would like to wish all the WordPress and blogging folk a wonderful and peaceful Christmas and holiday season, wherever you may be,
from Life in Camelot.

Life In Camelot

‘Twas the lead up to Christmas
And we were crammed on a plane
Flying economy from Melbourne –
I swear never again!

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We landed at Heathrow
as the sun was just rising
then queued for hours in Customs –
not so very surprising!

Parsons Green, London, Christmas 2014

‘Twas the lead up to Christmas
In old London Town
And our holiday spirits were up
But the Aussie dollar was down!

We marvelled at the landscape
The blend of the old and the new
Then hopped on the skychair
For a breathtaking view.

London, Christmas 2014

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St Paul's, London, Christmas 2014

Sky lift over London, Christmas, 2014

‘Twas time for the shopping,
The best bit by far,
As the fare went from gorgeous
To the slightly bizarre.

Fortnum & Mason, London, Christmas 2014

Shopping in London, Christmas 2014

Shopping in London at Christmas 2014

Shopping in London, Christmas 2014

Scorpion candy, Christmas, London 2014

Shopping in London, Christmas 2014

London’s evening fell quickly
And Christmas lights shone
We felt quite assured that
Our Noel would be bon!

Christmas lights in London 2014

Christmas lights in London 2014

We then headed down to Southampton
For our cruise on QM2
A merry Christmas to all
And especially to you.

Christmas display on QM2 2014

On board QM 2

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