Travel theme: Paths

This week’s travel theme  is paths and here is one past journey with some of the places and pleasures it lead to:

The pathway into London was awash with light while the dark Thames snaked its way through the city.

Life in Camelot, Travel Theme: Paths

On the ground, the path alongside the Thames embankment brought some interesting and exotic surprises:

Life in Camelot, Travel Theme: Paths

Life in Camelot, Travel Theme: Paths

You never know who you might find resting along the path;

Life in Camelot, Travel Theme: Paths

Or who has rested here previously.

Life in Camelot, Travel Theme: Paths

The path to St Pauls provided options for hungry travellers.

Life in Camelot, Travel Theme: Paths

The path along Fulham Road has football fans galore (but not this cold winter day).

Life in Camelot, Travel Theme: Paths

The path to poverty can be found through Christmas shopping in Oxford Street,

Life in Camelot, Travel Theme: Paths

and the path to ruin for many a poor mother can still be found in London’s high street stores.

Life in Camelot, Travel Theme: Paths, gin

Finally, the pathway to another portal,

Life in Camelot, Travel Theme: Paths

that lead to a path for a passage at sea,

Life in Camelot, Travel Theme: Paths

which ultimately lead to a pathway to paradise.

Life in Camelot, Travel theme: Paths

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St Valentine’s Day

Ah, what is love?  Who can answer that question; most people have different definitions of what love means to them and I think that is how it should be.  But greeting cards have to be sold, flowers have to be harvested and chocolate has to be eaten so here is my post inspired by St Valentine’s Day.

Visiting Busan in South Korea last year (as a port stop on an epic 6 week cruise of Asia) I was delighted to see a wall of love locks and messages inspired by love.  The Parisians lost their love locks in 2015 when the council deemed their outpourings of love too weighty for some of the city’s most beautiful bridges; OK so it was actually the 45 tonnes of some million padlocks causing danger to the bridges rather than all those emotions.

But these locks and heart-shaped notes seem to be here to stay and add to the charm of walking to the top of Yongdusan Park, and taking in the panoramic views of the harbour below.

You can even sit down and admire the views, and the love.

Love seat, love locks, Life in Camelot, Korea - St Valentine's Day

A love seat amongst the love locks

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Thousands of heartfelt messages of love for everyone to read

Love locks at Busan Tower, Korea - Life in Camelot - St Valentine's Day

A wall dedicated to those dedicated to expressing their love.

Life in Camelot with love locks in Busan, Korea - St Valentine's Day

Just loving the love.

Happy Valentine’s Day to lovers in all the countries around this wonderful world and to my darling husband, who travels with me to all these countries, and wants to see as many of them as possible.

Cruisey Christmas

Christmas day this year is very hot but still spent with family. Two years ago we were on board Queen Mary 2 for Christmas which was incredibly festive and a special way to spend a Christmas.

Here is my blog post from last Christmas as we cruised around the Caribbean from island to island in a different heat.

I took photos of the incredibly festive stateroom door decorations that other QM2 passengers went to the trouble of packing for Christmas:

Life In Camelot

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.

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Favourite Song Friday – Gabriel

Today is my wedding anniversary so this is a mushy Favourite Song Friday:

In Your Eyes by Peter Gabriel

Who remembers John Cusack in the very forgettable movie Say Anything, standing with his boom box held high playing this song, wearing his heart on sleeve trying to impress his young love?

Life in Camelot - Favourite Song Friday, Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes

Peter Gabriel’s album SO was released in 1986 and this was the year I travelled overseas as a young backpacker.  I played that cassette over and over until the music became part of my euphoric European experience so this song, in particular, will always be one of my favourites.

I still play this song when I travel, with my husband instead of a backpack, but now it is on an Apple iPod rather than a Sony Walkman.

The lyrics are lovely and the melody is haunting so join me, on my wedding anniversary, in reminiscing with this Favourite Song Friday.

 

 

Favourite Song Friday – Braithwaite

This Friday’s Favourite Song is a little bit late because sometimes life gets very busy, so here is the aptly named,

 As the Days Go By, written and performed by Daryl Braithwaite.

When I was young Daryl Braithwaite lead a band called Sherbet.  I was probably the only teenage girl in Australia who didn’t follow this band (and yes, this is what bands wore in the 1970s!)

Life in Camelot, Favourite Song Friday - As the Days Go By

Sherbet, in the 1970s, with Daryl Braithwaite on the far left.

It wasn’t until Daryl released some solo albums in the late 1980s and early 1990s that I really discovered his music and his style.

Now he is another of the artists that I have taken with me on my travels, be it driving around the north island of New Zealand, or running around the deck of any of the Cunard Queens, cruising to all the corners of the globe.

Because I am getting older I do appreciate the life I have lived so far, but also look forward to the life I have yet to live, (and the journeys I shall take), so the words of the first verse of this Favourite Song (not Friday) resonate with me:

My love of life just gets stronger
As the days go by
And some things I wish they would last
Just a little bit long longer
As the days go by.

Do you have any music that makes your travel even more memorable?

Please comment and share your Favourite Songs with me.

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.

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/

 

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.

 

Travel theme: Below

On my last cruise I took numerous  photos from angles below the intended subjects; so I share some of these with you as they fit in nicely with  Where’s My Backpack’s latest travel theme: below.

We flew from Melbourne to London and spent a week looking up at all the sights, including Cleopatra’s Needle and St Paul’s Cathedral, before boarding QM2 for our Trans Atlantic crossing to New York.

Life In Camelot - Travel theme: Below

I particularly enjoy the juxtaposition between the ancient world and the modern in both these photos.

Life In Camelot, Travel theme - Below

We spent one day in New York (docked at Brooklyn) and I fell in love with the brownstones and their 3 stories including one below ground level.

Life in Camelot - Travel theme: Below

Life in Camelot - Travel theme: Below

We reboarded QM2, leaving the below-zero temperatures behind and headed to the warmth and tranquility of the Caribbean islands including St Thomas, Dominica, St Lucia, Barbados and St Kitts.

Life In Camelot, Travel theme: below

Fellow cruisers straggle back to Queen Mary 2 after sightseeing in the tropical heat of St Thomas.

Life in Camelot, Travel theme: below

It’s awfully nice to be back on board with a drink in hand, the sky above and the sea below.

Life In Camelot, Travel theme: below

Some of Queen Mary’s crew and performers get a different perspective from above as they take farewell photos of another island paradise.

Life in Camelot, Travel theme: below

Another day, another dock and we find that poverty and opulence share the ports in the Caribbean, particularly Dominica.

Life in Camelot, Travel theme: below

Queen Mary 2 dwarfs the breakwater below on St Lucia.

Life in Camelot, Travel Theme: below

Costa Fortuna holds her own against QM2 in St Kitts…

Life in Camelot, Travel Theme: below

… but there can only be one winner – her majesty, Queen Mary 2.

God bless all those who sail her, above deck and below.