I studied Chinese in high school, all the way to year 12, though I barely remember any now. I’ve eaten with chopsticks since I was a kid. I just remember chopsticks being in the cutlery drawer with everything else, like the little cake forks you use to eat cake. They’ve always just been there.
I’ve been to Hong Kong a few times, either as a 3 or 4 day stop over going to or from somewhere else, or for around a week with the school band, I played the bass clarinet. But I had never made it to mainland China.
Dad had been interested in going for years. Dad convinced mum to go by organising the trip through an agent with dedicated guides and drivers each day to take us around.
Day 2 was a little different to day 1. The weather was not on our side. Thomas didn’t want to head out until later in the evening to maximise the chances of seeing something. He met me at the hotel around 9:30 and we set off north. The biggest challenge tonight was to find clear skies, and to find them we were driving north.
One of the things I was most eager for on this trip was a chance to see the aurora borealis, or the northern lights. There are also the aurora australis or southern lights that occasionally pop up in the south of Tasmania, but due to geography and physics, they aren’t nearly as strong or prevalent.
When booking the holiday I looked around to find a guide to take me out to hunt the aurora. There were some options for self supported cabins in the far north of Finland, but that seemed a bit much. I found a guide, Thomas, who operated out of a town called Oulu, about halfway up Finland on the coast, that seemed to be a good compromise. I booked two nights, the theory being if we don’t have good weather on one of the nights I would get a second chance the next day.
Our last stop in Europe this trip was Zurich. Mum and dad had flown in via Zurich on the way to Barcelona. We were only here for a few days. We spent one of the days visiting Liechtenstein. Our hotel was in the middle of the city, above a square with a number of restaurants and walking distance to most things. Downstairs was a traditional Swiss restaurant serving fondue.
There had been many highlights this trip, but today was right up. Back when we were planning all the places the visit we were also planning how to get between them. One of the reasons to visit Milan was the train trip back into Switzerland. The Bernina Express.
Local looking sharp and dignified on their scooter
The bare minimum number of devices a self respecting taxi driver would have
After our side trip to Zermatt we had a train all the way through to Milano. Somehow coming through the Alps (through, as we went through many tunnels) the train was on time in Switzerland, and then suddenly running late as soon as we hit Italy.
After Lausanne our next stop was in Milano, Italy. We were travelling by train through the alps and had organised to make a detour on the way over to Zermatt. We caught our first train to Visp where we found some luggage lockers for our bigger bags, and a convince store for coffees.
A very popular attraction in Barcelona is the Magic Fountain. They are outside the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya – National Art Museum of Catalonia in the avenue running down to the Arenas and the Torres Venecianes.
They generally have a performance 3-4 times a week, depending on the season, and were first shown during the Great Universal Exhibition in 1929.