Archive for the ‘Diary’ Category

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

Tanzania diary, day 11

Sunday, 23 December, 2018

Monday, 9 July, 2018. 16:09

We are sitting in the Serena Inn bar having a break from the hot sun of the day and enjoying some cool drinks as the breeze blows through the open doors and windows. We’ve been here for a while already as I finished typing yesterday’s diary. I’ve had a gin and soda, and M. had an iced coffee, with milk, which was at first delivered without milk, and taken away again by the waiter who jokingly blamed it on the drink maker not hearing him properly. We’ve also just finished a plate of hot chips, as a snack to stave off hunger until dinner time, as we had a light lunch today.

Our day began as the sunlight began creeping into the sky, waking us up naturally without an alarm. We took our time getting ready for breakfast and then went down to the hotel restaurant, where the usual buffet style breakfast was in progress. For drinks, they had wide selection of juices in pitchers, including hibiscus, as well as fresh coconuts with a hole tapped in them and straws so you could drink the juice inside. They also had a cook doing eggs to order. But no muesli, so I started with a bowl of bran flakes, topped with peanuts, sultanas, and natural yoghurt. M. went for the varied pastry selection, trying four different things. She declared the pain au chocolat dry, but the croissant acceptable. For hot food, there was some sort of fish in a spicy sauce, as well as the usual staples. Seafood is clearly a local thing, Zanzibar being an island and all, so I tried the fish, which was very nice. I had it with some corn, mushrooms, a beef sausage, and grilled tomato. We both finished with some fresh fruit.

Serena Inn breakfast
Breakfast at the Serena Inn

As we ate, we could see interesting boats passing by on the ocean outside, including a dhow, and several boats with outboards full of fishermen, with nets and long poles. There was also a lone guy pushing a small boat with a couple of lobster traps on it, using a pole to push against the sand near the shore. It looked exhausting and slow. And a lot of people were out either walking or jogging along the beach. It seemed to be the thing to do. After a while I went back up to the room to grab my camera to take some photos of the interesting boats, but by the time I returned the boat traffic had virtually stopped. Presumably because it was now after 09:00 and rush hour was over, and everyone was at work now.

Read more: walking around Stone Town in the hot weather, checking out various markets, taking breaks in a coffee house and by the hotel pool, seeing the Fort again, and dinner at a fancy place by the beach

Tanzania diary, day 10

Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Sunday, 8 July, 2018. 06:49

Monkey spent the whole night in the lounge next to the bar! Probably drinking Amarula.

We woke with the alarm at 06:00, dressed and party, packed our bags before breakfast. Most people from dinner last night had gone already, departing at 06:00 for various things. A few stragglers were there but left by the time we’d had a few bites. The morning was cold, but not as cold as yesterday, and the sky was more overcast. We had the muesli again and I had bacon and eggs while M. just had some toast.

We were packed and ready to go before 07:30, so hit the road a bit early. The drive was back along roads we’d travelled before, circling clockwise around the Ngorongoro crater rim until we hit the entrance road, then turning onto that and heading down towards Karatu. When we left the camp the sky was overcast, and as we circled the crater the cloud descended until we were driving in fog. This vanished soon after we turned onto the descending road.

Departing Ngorongoro
Driving through the fog on the crater rim

There was a brief stop at the Ngorongoro entrance gate for Timba to file exit papers, and then we were back on paved road for the first time in five days. From here it was a long drive back through Karatu and to Arusha. At Karatu we stopped so I could use an ATM to get some cash out, which we needed to make up our tip for Timba, having spent some of the money we’d set aside for that.

During the drive, as we passed Lake Manyara, I asked Timba if the animals in Lake Manyara National Park were isolated or if they could move to other areas. He said that they used to migrate to Tarangire National Park, but they can’t any more because the area in between is now populated with people. Further on down the road I asked Timba what wood the Maasai used to make the sticks that the men used to herd cattle. He said ebony was preferred, as it was heavy and hard, but they also used some types of acacia wood that was also hard. Ebony trees grew on the area we were driving through, but it was hard to see one as they are quickly cut down for wood as it’s so useful.

Read more: lunch at Arusha, saying goodbye to Timba, flying to Zanzibar, walking around Stone Town, watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean, a market, and dinner by the sea

Tanzania diary, day 9

Thursday, 13 December, 2018

Saturday, 7 July, 2018. 17:32

I slept poorly, tossing and turning for much of the night, for no apparent reason. With the lights off, the tent was pitch black – no difference whatsoever with eyes closed or open. I used my torch to navigate to the toilet a couple of times during the night. M. woke a bit before our alarm and we got up at 06:00. We were ready for breakfast about 06:20 and wandered over, with the morning rather cloudy and still quite dim. A staff member met us partway there to escort us.

Two of the fellow Aussies were there at one end of the table and the staff suggested we leave five spaces for their fellow party members, and take the next seats opposite one another. They had a small buffet with cereals, watermelon and pineapple, small pastries, and toast. We chose the muesli, which was similar to what we’d had in other places, and yoghurt. Then we could order hot breakfast, and I chose bacon and fried eggs, but M. decided to just have some toast with peanut butter, which was dark and roasty.

After we ate, we returned to our tent to prepare for our day out. We were ready earlier than 07:30 and surprised Timba by showing up at the car early for once. We loaded up and drove out, heading further north on the road around the rim. It veered downhill into the crater after a while, descending a slope to the floor of the caldera. The view was amazing, with a few spots of rain enough to create a full, bright rainbow over the crater, with patches of cloud and sunlight creating a gorgeous pattern on the landscape. The crater looked small from this distance, but Timba said it was 13 by 19 kilometres, so it’s actually very large, much larger than it looks.

Rainbow in Ngorongoro
Descending into Ngorongoro crater

We began driving around inside the crater, seeing large herds of zebra and wildebeest, more concentrated than we’d seen in Serengeti. The first new animal of the day was a pair of black-backed jackals. We saw a few more of them later in the day too. I’d expected that lions would be easy to see in the crater, but we only spotted one all day, and in fact I was the one who spotted it. I saw it in the distance as we were driving and yelled at Timba to stop the car, saying I thought I could see a lion. Before I could focus my camera on it to see at magnification, Timba said it was a male lion. It was several hundred metres away, but we could see it surveying the land, and I got a decent shot of its face as it turned to look at us.

Read more: Lots of birds, rare black rhinoceroses, a picnic lunch among the wildlife, and an African drink!

Germany diary, day 6

Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Wednesday, 3 October, 2018

We woke up a bit early and prepared for the day, having showers and getting dressed for the chilly weather. M. had bought a puffy down jacket and vest and wanted to cut the tags off so she could wear then, so I went to reception and asked to borrow a pair of scissors.

After preparing for the day, we set out, intending to visit some of the museums, as they would be just about the only things open on the German Reunification Day public holiday. But some bakeries and cafes were open, fortunately, so we were able to get food and drink throughout the day.

Our first stop was a place that M. had found on her wanderings the past two days: Cafe Rico, out past the western side of the Neumarkt plaza. We entered to find nearly all the tables reserved, presumably for people wanting to book a nice breakfast out on the holiday. A waiter showed us to one of only two small bar-style tables with tall stool that were available. M. had a slice of apfelstreusel cake and a latte macchiato. I had some Florentiner-kirsch, which was an almondy cake with lots of cherries in it. I asked for apfelstreusel, but they brought a slice of apple strudel. When I said no, streusel, it took the waiter a second, and then he went, “Oh, strOYsel!” So now I know how to pronounce that properly and avoid confusion in the future.

Florentiner-kirsch
Florentiner-kirsch at Cafe Rico

While we were there, a photographer and an assistant were setting up food and drink items that were being brought out from the kitchen on one of the tables, illuminating them with an LED light panel, and taking photos of them. Presumably they were shooting new photos for the web site or something.

Read more: On my free day we visit museums, eat lots of cake, check out the cathedral again, and end with an amazing meal at a swish restaurant