Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Portugal diary, day 5

Thursday, 6 June, 2019

Wednesday, 15 May, 2019. 21:41

Well that was an interesting day at the ISO meeting.

We woke up just before 06:00 this morning, so managed to get a decent sleep, which was good. I’d say that’s effectively the end of the jetlag. We went down to breakfast a few minutes earlier than yesterday, determined to be the first at breakfast today, and indeed we were, arriving as the staff were still putting out platters of cheese and meats. We had muesli and yoghurt again, and then croissants and bread with cheese. I took one of the small heated pots of cherry tomatoes so I could add them to my cheese and bread. That was really good, so I got more bread and cheese and another pot of tomatoes, rather than a second serve of muesli.

M. spent the day going to the Museu Nacional do Azulejo, which houses a historical collection of azulejo, the distinctive decorated tiles that you see everywhere all over Lisbon, and then walking through the nearby Alfama neighbourhood. She really enjoyed the museum, but said that the walk to get there from the Santa Apólonia metro station was a bit unpleasant, through a dodgy neighbourhood.

Azulejo Museum
Museu Nacional do Azulejo

I, meanwhile, went to day two of the meetings. We got stuck into the technical sessions, and were thankfully in a different room which was slightly cooler and less stuffy, but still too warm and stuffy for comfort. But it had proper desks and seats rather than the lecture room style rows we had yesterday, so that was a lot more comfortable.

Read more: a dramatic development at the meeting, a huge lunch, and exploring the Chiado neighbourhood for dinner

Portugal diary, day 4

Wednesday, 5 June, 2019

Tuesday, 14 May, 2019. 17:17

We’re resting for a while at our hotel before heading to the meeting reception this evening, which will be at Casa do Lago, on the small lake in the middle of the park between our hotel and the meeting venue.

This morning we woke up early, being the second night after arriving, as is so often the case. Probably 05:00 or a bit earlier. Unable to go back to sleep we waited until the sun started coming up at 06:00 and then got up. We headed down to breakfast a few minutes early to find several people there already. We double checked the breakfast times, which were posted in the lift on the way back up to our room, and it definitely said from 07:00. Anyway, we ate muesli and yoghurt and some bread and mini croissants. I took a glass of what looked like a mushy fruit salad to add to my muesli, and it was just chopped fruit, so that was good.

After breakfast we prepared to head out. We left together and walked to the Entrecampos Metro entrance, where I left M. to head into the city while I turned north to walk up the park (Jardim Mário Soares) to the meeting venue. It was Building U of the Universidade Lusófona. On the way I passed the University of Lisbon as well, and the park was full of students in academic dress, as well as other students in regular clothes performing various stunts at the direction of the others.

D João I
Statue of King João I of Portugal, in Jardim Mário Soares

M. meanwhile headed south on the yellow Metro line to the end of the line at Rato, then walked south towards the Bairro Alto, or high city. She spent the day wandering around the area, checking out the sights, eventually working her way down the hill into the Baixa and Rossio Square area. Then she walked to the riverside and finally caught a train back to the hotel from Terreiro do Paço.

While she was doing all this, I was in the meetings in the university building. As I entered, I had my name marked off at a registration desk and the guy there told me which room we were using and how to get there. The room was a lecture room, with rows of fixed seating with tiny swing away desks attached, which was a change from our usual horseshoe desk arrangement. It was quite uncomfortable being in one of those seats all day and not having a proper desk to lean on. And it was very warm and stuffy. But fortunately we are in a different room the next two days. The IS&T Archiving conference is on here this week too, and today was the short courses in the same building as us, but from tomorrow they move to another building, so we’ll have better rooms to choose from.

Read more: my meetings, then the evening meeting/conference reception

Portugal diary, day 3

Wednesday, 5 June, 2019

Monday, 13 May, 2019. 11:41

We are sitting in the Confeitaria Nacional, a traditional and old pastry shop in the old town Baixa area of Lisbon. A review site I looked at this morning said this has some of the best custard tarts in town, so of course we had to try them. We’re sitting in for a short break from the heat outside, although it hasn’t really gotten as hot as yesterday yet, and we’ve been waling among the shady narrow streets of the old area.

We slept pretty well, rousing drowsily about 06:00. We got up slowly and prepared for breakfast in the hotel restaurant, arriving there shortly after it opened at 07:00. It wasn’t very busy yet. There was a good spread of food and we had muesli with yoghurt, some small croissants, bread and cheese, and fresh fruit. They also had bowls of ingredients which you could put together and hand to the waiter to have the chef make a custom plate of eggs with, but we didn’t try this.

After eating, we returned to our room to get ready for the day out. With the forecast being 33° and sunny, we used sunscreen and wore long sleeve shirts to keep the sun off, even though it will be hot.

Monkey on the Lisbon Metro
Monkey riding the Metro

We left and got on the Metro at Entrecampos, right outside our hotel. I though this would take us direct to Terreiro do Paço station by the waterside, but we realised we had to change lines at Marquês de Pombal. The first train was full and crowded, but the second one was empty enough for us to get seats. We got off at Terreiro do Paço and negotiated the exits, having to turn around when we ended up in a wharf area with departing ferries, and no easy way to get to where we actually wanted to go.

After leaving by another exit, we emerged near the square leading down to Cais dos Colunas, a set of limestone steps descending into the river, which seems to be a historical place where Portuguese ships of exploration embarked from. (Doing some research later I discovered that these steps used to lead from the river directly up to the royal palace. However the palace was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake and never rebuilt, so now the stairs lead up to an open plaza.)

Read more: the historic Baixa and Alfama districts, São Jorge castle, and going up and down lots of hills!

Portugal diary, days 1 and 2

Tuesday, 4 June, 2019

This was a trip I took to Lisbon to attend an ISO Technical Committee 42 Photography standards meeting. My wife accompanied me and we spent an extra week in Portugal to do some sightseeing.

Saturday, 11 May, 2019. In flight

Our trip began with a train journey to the airport. We left home just after 17:00, walking to the station. It looked like we’d just missed a train to the city, and the next train was only going as far as North Sydney, with nearly a 15 minute wait until the next city train. The North Sydney train was nearly empty, but the the one we caught after it was almost standing room only.

As we stopped at Milsons Point, we noticed on the indicator board that all the trains were terminating at Wynyard, which was unusual. I checked the trains website on my phone to find out that there was trackwork on the City Circle, and trains were only running anticlockwise. So we had to get off at Wynyard and go down to the lower platform and catch another train to Central and then change again for an airport train. Thankfully both connections were quick, but both trains were very full.

We arrived at the airport a bit after 18:00. We’d already checked in online and printed our boarding passes, so we went straight through passport and security checks. A lot of people had just filed into the immigration area in front of us, so it was fairly full, but the lines moved quickly and we were through before too long.

After buying some duty-free Plymouth gin and Drambuie to pick up on the way home, we went to the food place we always go to, to sit and have a bite to eat. M. had the wood fired haloumi, which came with fired red grapes, pomegranate kernels, a grilled red onion, and sourdough bread. We also got some smoked almonds to nibble on. The food was good, but I didn’t want to eat too much because I wanted to have the dinner on the plane and then try to sleep on a full stomach. It passed the time though, and by the time we were ready to go it was almost time to board our flight.

We boarded nice and early thanks to my silver frequent flyer status, getting seats by a window and a middle seat. It was too late to change our seats to have an aisle by the time I got to selecting our seats online.

Sunday, 12 May. 07:49 Dubai time

We landed in Dubai a few minutes early, just after 05:00. Our connection to Lisbon departed at 07:25, so we had a short time to sit and rest while M. had a coffee and a pistachio croissant from a patisseries in the terminal. We had to walk almost the length of the terminal, from Terminal C to the far end of Terminal B, for our next flight, but it was good to stretch the legs out. This flight is just under eight hours, so it won’t be long before we touch down in Lisbon.

20:41 Lisbon time

We landed in Lisbon a bit before 12:30. It didn’t take long to get out of the airport customs area. Most of the time was spent walking from what looked like the furthest gate in the entire terminal. Passport control had virtually no queue, we only had carry on bags so didn’t have to wait for luggage, and the “nothing to declare” customs door simply led straight outside.

Read more: Our first day in Lisbon, walking around the city centre, plus some photos

More updated travel diaries

Thursday, 24 January, 2019

I’ve updated and revamped two more travel diaries, with larger and new photos, updated weblinks, and additional commentary.

Updated Britain 2009 travel diary

Saturday, 19 January, 2019

If anyone is interested, I’ve just completed an overhaul of the diary of my 2009 trip to the UK. A 24-day extravaganza of touring the English and Welsh countrysides, and ending with several days in London. I’ve enlarged the photos from thumbnails to presentation size, added some new photos, updated all of the dead web links, added a little bit more explanatory text in places, and fixed a few typos.

Now showing here.

Germany diary, days 9, 10, 11

Monday, 7 January, 2019

Saturday, 6 October, 2018. 17:32

We slept right through to 07:00 this morning, finally getting past the jetlag on the day when we need to leave. Since we planned to shower just before checking out at midday, we simply dressed and went out to seek breakfast.

We thought we’d try to place next door to Café Kosmol, which M. wanted to check out. But when we got there the man setting up tables out in the square said they weren’t open for breakfast yet, only coffee. They would start serving breakfast in another half hour. So we went next door to Kosmol and the same man who served us yesterday welcomed us in again for breakfast. We sat at the same table.

This time we ordered with more restraint, asking for just fried eggs with bread rolls, plus a serve of yoghurt and fruit, and coffee for M. and hot chocolate for me. When the eggs arrived it was two eggs per plate and they all had bacon on them! This hadn’t happened yesterday. M. was okay with me taking the bacon off hers. We ate the eggs with the bread rolls by splitting the rolls and using them like slices of toast. The yoghurt and fruit failed to materialise, but we decided we were full enough to not bother.

After paying what seemed like a random amount that they guy made up and had no relation to what was written on the menu, we went off to walk around the town a bit. The sun was emerging through a veil of high fog, and shining directly down some of the east-west streets, illuminating the half-timbered buildings in a yellow morning light. To take advantage of this light, we returned quickly to the hotel to pick up my camera, then walk through the deserted streets up the hill to see the eastern side of the cathedral lit by the morning sun, and then down to the river and along it to the old bridge. Here I got some photos of the cathedral backlit in the fog, reflected in the still river. Yesterday in a shop where M. had bought a colourful woven basket, the woman who sold it to her had spoken about how she walked across the bridge every day and never tired of seeing the cathedral as the light changed throughout the day and the year. She said it never looked the same twice.

Morning on the Lahn
St George’s Cathedral over the Lahn River, in morning fog

Done with the morning light, we walked back into the town. A market was in progress in the town square just outside the old town, and there were also a couple of stalls set up in the small Kornmarkt square where the old town began, and it looked like more would appear soon. Here there was a stall selling various mushrooms, and another with honey or something. Down in the main square were the fruit and vegetable stalls that had been there the past two days, plus several other stalls and trucks, selling cuts of meat, sausages, cold cuts, cheeses, fish, eggs, honey, bread, cakes, and so on. There were no stalls selling cooked food ready to eat though.

Read more: Further exploration of Limburg, the market, the cathedral, the church of St Sebastian, then travelling by train to Frankfurt Airport and flying home

Germany diary, day 8

Saturday, 5 January, 2019

Friday, 5 October, 2018. 15:48

We are taking another afternoon rest break, in the true spirt of being German, sitting in a cafe with hot drinks and apfelstrudel with vanilla sauce. We are in Café Will, which says it’s the oldest cafe in Limburg, with five generations in over 135 years. M. is having a latte macchiato again, while I am having a hot lemon juice with honey, since I have developed a bit of a sore throat.

My throat got really sore during the night, and I found the bed a bit uncomfortable so didn’t sleep very well. We woke up about 07:00, and I was surprised that it was so late. We had showers and prepared for the day out, having decided to get breakfast at Café Kosmol, which we’d passed yesterday.

St George's Cathedral through fog
Cathedral through the morning fog

It was only a short walk through the cold streets. There had been a fog when we woke up, but it had lifted to a grey overcast. The cafe opened at 07:00, and it was after 08:00 by the time we got there, but there was just one old man running the place, and the inside was full of the display tables that had been outside yesterday, with arrays of biscuits and fruit and nut breads on them. We had to push past the tables, moving them out of the way to reach the cafe tables inside.

Read more: a very busy sightseeing day! A huge breakfast, a small art gallery, wandering along the river and over the old bridge, circling the cathedral, having afternoon tea, sunset by the river, and a fully laden German dinner!

Germany diary, day 7

Monday, 31 December, 2018

Thursday, 4 October, 2018. 16:28

We are sitting in Bar Tripoli in Limburg an der Lahn, enjoying a glass of wine during a rest break. There are photos of Sophia Loren on the walls, including one of her serving spaghetti from a giant bowl. M. is having a Primitivo red from Puglia, while I tried the Grillo white wine. (I later discovered that Primitivo is an alias for Zinfandel.) Mine was something like a Pinot grigio, with tart fruitiness like kiwifruit or gooseberries and a hint of minerality. The owner is Italian, and I am trying to remember enough Italian to speak with him with less difficulty than in German, but it’s difficult switching languages when my head is full of German.

The day is bright and sunny and a bit warmer than we’ve had so far on the trip. We began early, waking up before the 07:00 alarm. I did some stretching exercises while M. had a shower, and then I got ready and packed bags for our trip. We left a bit before 08:00 and set out on the walk to Köln Messe/Deutz station, where our train would leave from at 09:36. We crossed the Severinsbrücke to the eastern side of the Rhine and walked through the Deutz neighbourhood north to the station.

Departing Köln
Cologne Cathedral in the morning, from the Deutz side of the Rhine

Along the way we found a street with shops and a nice looking cafe called Saint Louis Urban Deli. We stopped here for a morning coffee for M., and I got a hot chocolate and a chocolate croissant, which was warm and rich and buttery, really very good. We sat for a while, as we had some time in hand, but eventually left to walk the remaining few blocks to the station.

Read more: the train from Cologne to Limburg, fruit and vegetable market, wandering around the medieval old town of Limburg, exploring the cathedral, getting fresh baked bread rolls for lunch, sitting in an Italian wine bar, admiring the river Lahn, flammkuchen and gelato for dinner

Tanzania diary, days 12 and 13

Tuesday, 25 December, 2018

Tuesday, 10 July, 2018. 06:53

We’re sitting at breakfast in the hotel restaurant, looking out at the activity in the beach and the boats in the ocean. Today there is a sort of aerobics class taking place on the beach, led by a women in Muslim headcloth, with five other women in coloured headcloths following her lead, plus three men. The men are standing in a group separated from the women by a few metres. Three of the women, including the leader, are wearing black robes, while the other three are in black shirts and tracks suit pants.

Morning exercise on the beach
Aerobics class on the beach

08:47

Now we’re at Zanzibar International Airport. After a breakfast of mostly cereal and bread or pastries, we returned to our room for final packing before check out. The reception desk was ready for us, with our paperwork already on the counter as we approached. The bill for the bar drinks and laundry was tallied in US dollars, but there was a conversion to shillings, and I paid in shilling notes, receiving full 1000 shilling notes as they rounded the cost down from some ridiculously uneven number.

Our driver was there already too, and we left a few minutes before the designated 08:00 pick up. This was a different driver to the other day, but he was just as talkative, telling us many of the same facts about Zanzibar. A few interesting new things were that school children all across Zanzibar wear the same uniforms: blue and yellow for primary and black and white for secondary school. And that the traffic light we passed through was one of just three traffic lights on Zanzibar. He seemed quite proud of the fact that they had traffic lights, and explained that they were solar powered, so that during the rainy season they stopped working. He also told us that although most of the population was Muslim, they don’t follow Sharia, and things like woman wearing head coverings is optional and largely determined by family custom, and that even many Christian women covered up as it was the tradition in their families. And they were a happy people on Zanzibar, because even though most people are poor, they are never hungry because of all the seafood and produce grown on the island, and that they have many holidays because everyone celebrates all the Muslim, Christian, and Hindu holidays together as a big community celebration.

Read more: three flights to get home, last views of Mount Kilimanjaro, and juggling awkward luggage packing