Vor WORLD TOUR 2017

DIARY from our WORLD TOUR in September-October-November 2017

OUR WORLD TOUR  29.9. – 10.11., 2017

Some activities and impressions on our way

 

DAY 1 in Canada - if it all continues like this.....

 

September 30, 2017

This was in a way our wake-up day after our long trip.  Getting used to Canadian and Pacific habits.  Not difficult at all.  It is not only a nice place here. It is also a place, where you very quickly feel at home :-)   It is in many ways very European - but also very different.  The time difference of 9 hours from home is the most striking difference. In order to be aware of that I have decided to carry two watches:  on the left arm with Canadian-Pacific time and on the right arm with Central European time!

The name Vancouver ( the stress is on 'cou, to pronounce it correctly ) comes from the British naval discoverer George Vancouver ( 1757-98 ).  He traveled with his ship all over the Pacific coast around here and made it a British possession. Therefore, you find his name - not only in this city, but as the name of a smaller town in the State of Washington in the US just south of here and also of Mount Vancouver in Alaska.

And the province here is called British Columbia. Why Columbia?  This was at the time a poetic female name for the new world, the Americas.  That's why you meet the name in many contexts over here.

The city of Vancouver itself has today about 650.000 inhabitants. And greater Vancouver is about 2,5 million people, about half of British Columbia.

Our foot excursions today brought us to several places, not least a fantastic and very lively restaurant called Steamworks Brewery.  Their own beer and also the food was very nice. Our waiter was Irish, and the menu was dedicated to Oktoberfest.  So do not claim, that Europe is not present here!

 

As usual we always try to know as much as possible about a new place, we visit. And to do it in the shortest possible time.  Our hotel here is really good, also on that point. It  offers its guests a free guided tour with a professional guide in the centre. Superb idea. European hotels should learn from that.  A very entertaining young man called Ali took us around for about two hours. There were 20 of us from all over the world. 

 

We learned how this area of Canada was a real outpost until the second half of the 19th century. After George Vancouver discovered the area in the 1790ies it was still in the hands of the local Indian tribes ( today called the First Nation people ). It was the so-called Gold Rush in the mid and late 19th century, which brought thousands of white people, primarily men, to the area.  After Canada became a self-governing nation within the British Empire in 1867 development started, also here in the west of the country. The Canadians were very worried that the United States would take over the whole of the west coast. It would be practical for them, as they in 1867 had bought Alaska from Russia for 7,2 mill. dollars.   To avoid that the Canadians decided to build a Pacific Railway from the East coast to Vancouver. It was opened in 1881.  This de facto stopped the Americans from taking over the area, and it also started a very fast development of the west coast. Thousands of Chinese workers had been imported to help build the railway ( lots of them died due to the hard work ). The surviving Chinese stayed. And many more people moved west with the railway.  Vancouver grew from 8.000 inhabitants in 1867 to 100.000 in 1910.   Many also came from Europe. Of today's population about 48 % were born outside Canada - or their parents were.

 

Our 2 hour bus tour around Vancouver - with German-born Heinz as our entertaining guide -gave us an impression of the huge area it covers, including the very nice Stanley Park right at the Pacific coast.  With water, islands and mountains in all directions the views are magnificent.  So it is not surprising that Vancouver is a very out-door area for its population and its tourists.  The winter Olympic Games took place here in 2010. The only real problem during those games was that exceptionally there was no snow that year!  So it had to be imported from other parts of Canada.

 

Nothing negative to report from here?  Our view is that they have built too many high "sky-scrabers" in  a too small area ( including a Trump Tower! ).  And their Chinatown is not really interesting - unlike Chinatowns in many other cities.

 

People here are extremely friendly, helpful and curious to know where we come from and what we do here.  Crime is very low. So the famous Royal Canadian Mounted Police does not have too much to do here. We haven't seen any of them yet. You recognise them in their red uniforms and with their special hats.   They are in principle police on horses - but the horses normally only get out on special occasions.

 

We were very surprised and chocked to hear about the terror attack yesterday in Edmonton (which we passed on our way coming here).  We are less surprised about the terrible terrorist massacre in Las Vegas last night.  Again a proof that it is a very "good" idea, that Trump wants as many guns as possible in circulation in his country :-(

There is so much to see and discover here, so we continued to go new places today. We wanted to greet their local "Little Mermaid" at the entrance to the harbour ( seeprevious photo andcomment ). She was donated to the city in 1972 in connection with an upgrade of Vancouver's image.  

 

Not far from her we were studying an old gun, which since the 18th century and still today is firing a loud shot at 9 pm every night. In the old days it was a way to make people aware of the exact hour. While discussing that between us a nice gentleman said in Danish:  Nå, er det sådan, det hænger sammen!   What a surprise! Nice guy. Let's call him Carl Bay - the name I always give men I do not know!  He and his wife were on their way on a cruise to ..... Sydney. Like us. But with Norwegian from Vancouver. And lasting 40 days (ours will be 23). They would also visit French Polynesia.  The world is small. And always be careful what you say, also in Danish, wherever you are.  Imagine that we had said in Danish:  What a bum, that guy!

 

Most of the other nice people we met on our walk were Asiatic. Sometimes Vancouver is called HongCouver, because most of the Chinese people here came out of Hongkong.

 

We also visited a small park with Totem Poles.  Very nice and impressive. Made by the Indians here during centuries. They tell stories about families, life in the village, life and death, culture, and much more. They are all different.  There are still about 200.000 Indians living here in British Columbia. Split up in 198 clans - with 30 different languages. As mentioned before they are called First Nations here. And their life and rights have fortunately been improved considerable over the years.

 

Talking about the Indians:  Where does the name Canada come from ? From the Indians, of course. Ka-na-da means village or settlement.  Once I thought it came from the Jutland dialect, where I come from:  Ja, det kan A da!  Our Jutlandish version of Obama's Yes we can!  :-)

On this last day in Canada we decided to stroll through the most interesting part of the city centre.  The weather was fantastic - not a single cloud in the sky. 

Our first target was the airport right in the middle of town. Vancouver South Airport - as it is called. It is a very busy airport. It is very special in the sense that all flights are Catalinas - they take off from and land on water. They are the city's connection to Vancouver Island, to towns in the neighbourhood and to places in the surrounding mountains. Very efficient - but rather noisy.

Next to the airport you have Vancouver's very modern and very functional cruise ship terminal. Today two big ships were guests here. The biggest one, Norwegian Jewel, was this evening off to Hawaii - on its way to Sydney.  We could in principle have used that one too.  But when we heard that the ships "godmother" in 2005 was Melania Trump, we were happy that we did not use that possibility :-)

The following adventure today was a visit in the Vancouver Lookout.  The 168 m tower, from where you can see the whole city - and even Mount Baker with its snow on the US side of the border.  The tower was opened 40 years ago by the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong. What he said here, we do not know. But on the moon in 1969 he said the famous words, when he put his feet on the surface: This is a small step for man. But it is a huge step for mankind!

After all these "serious" efforts to "do the city" it was time for a well-deserved drink in a local pub called "6 Acres" in Gastown. And whom did we meet there?   A nice young waiter, who spoke Danish. Why? Because she had ( or has ?) a boyfriend in Silkeborg in Denmark! Small world once again. How did she find out that we were Danes?  The accent, when we spoke "Canadian", she said.    You can't hide anywhere anymore :-)

And when we later had our dinner in a fantastic restaurant in the harbour our lady waiter was ...   no, not Danish, but Swedish/Polish.  So all these nice and interesting people make us very much feel at home here.  We even came across Belgian waffles today - without buying any, though.

Bye, bye Canada.  Tomorrow morning very early it is off to "Trump-land"!

 

Our train trip from Vancouver to Seattle was very spectacular. Not so much with mountains, as we had expected. But with great coast and sea landscapes almost all the way.  And the border crossing from Canada to the US was very easy. We were inspected by a US Coast Guard guy called Christensen !

During the train ride - in an excellent train with a very charming and helpful conductor - I could not help wondering how many times I have visited the US over the years. I believe that this trip is my 9th visit.  I was here first time 52 years ago - in 1965.  I have visited 30 of the 50 states.  Very different and very exciting trips all of them.  Liselotte is this time on her 6th visit to "God's own country" as they are calling it. 

Seattle is a very lively city with water on 2-3 sides of it. You see the snow covered Mount Baker in the distance.  The city has its name from a native American chief in this area. He was a warrior and a trader in the beginning and middle of the 19th century. Very respected by everybody. And he ended up as a Roman-Catholic  with the name Noah.

The city is in particular known for its huge, multinational corporations based here:  Amazon with 40.000 staff ( and right now 10.000 vacancies!), Microsoft with 30.000 staff and Boeing also with 30.000 staff.  All this contributes to a very international atmosphere here.  We profited from that by having dinner in a top French restaurant TOULOUSE just round the corner from our hotel.   The total number of inhabitants is 700.000.

With only two days in this dynamic city it is important to select what to do. We strolled along the harbour front with its mixture of very elegant and tempting restaurants right at the water front  and also of sort of run-down wild-west saloon bars with guests suited for them :-)  It is a very hilly city, so walking is in many places very healthy, read: tough!  We visited the Seattle Center with its theaters and its famous Space Needle,  a tower from the World Fair here in 1962.  Lots of nice activities in the park - except the awful sound from a strange Chinese oddly looking long and thin "guitar".  The elderly player seemed to be the only one enjoying it!

We made a visit to the Belinda and Bill Gates Foundation.  It explaines in a very elegant way how their foundation is investing massively in the fight against diseases, in education, in equality for women, etc. Most of it in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  A veryimportant and positive way to use their enormous fortune gained in Microsoft.  We were during the tour asked, what we would give priority, if we had a fortune like them.  Liselotte wrote:   Education, education education - and also efficient medical treatment for everybody.   I - Niels - wrote:  innovation, innovation, innovation - especially by full support to small and medium-sized enterprises, which have the biggest potential to make decisive progress.  Giving priority to young people.

Let's see what happens!

 

We are finishing with coffee and a bite at the local Starbuck Cafe. Why there?  Because also this world-wide company has its headquarters here in Seattle. Founded in 1971 - today with more than 23.000 cafes throughout the world.

My question leaving this great, dynamic city is very simple:  When will we have a similar dynamic and innovative city in Europe?  We have lots of potentials.  Let's get going - using these potentials fully.  The world's biggest market could be even stronger and even more innovative, if we together understand to use it - to build bridges instead of walls, to share our education and research instead of closing borders, to encourage young people to study and work in other countries, to build the world's fastest and best internet with access for all where ever they live, to share and protect all over common values in an intelligent and convincing way, and not least to treat all people wherever they come from, whatever colour they have, whatever religion they care for, whether they are poor or rich, young or old, women or men.   It should even more than today be a top priority for us all in Europe not only to say it - but to show it in our daily life.  

What made me say all that here?  The last few days here in a country with an "America First" atmosphere you become even more European that you were before.  Nationalism and in-ward looking must be things of the past!   It  is now for Europe to show the way ahead!

 

DAY 1 ON THE PACIFIC OCEAN

October 07, 2017

We have now left the American continent and are cruising west of Oregon and California. We are on our way to Hawaii, where we will arrive in 5 days. The weather is good - the sea is somewhat lively. You feel you at at sea :-)

The Pacific Ocean is - as you know - by far the biggest ocean on earth. It is also called The Blue Eye of our planet. It covers an area of 169 mill. sq.km or a third of the surface of the earth. All seven continents of the earth could fit into this ocean.

The Pacific Ocean got its name from the Portuguese discoverer Ferdinand Magellan ( 1489-1521 ). He saw it first time as "beautiful and peaceful".

The ocean has 25.000 islands, is up to 11 km deep, and has all sorts of valuable minerals on the bottom . Unfortunately, it also has on its surface in the north an "island" of plastic material, which over time has been thrown into the ocean. It has the size of Africa and is floating around :-(

 

DAY 2 ON THE PACIFIC

October 08, 2017

Enjoying a great time way out on the Earth's Blue Eye.  Now 1300 km from Seattle and 3100 km until we reach Honolulu on Thursday morning. And we haven't seen one single ship or one single bird since we left Seattle. All the fantastic wildlife is beneath us. Where we are right now the depth is 3.859 m.

And the sea is still somewhat agitated, so we all pretend that we are active members of John Cleese's “Ministry of Silly Walks”!  Good fun!

The drinks are generally better than the food. So we agree with Frank Sinatra, who once said:  I feel sorry for the people, who do not drink. The feeling they have when they wake up in the morning is about as good as it gets the whole day!!

As we have mostly Americans on board - all friendly and curious about why we have come all this way - you also see quite a few, esp. ladies, who have taken forms, where it is easier to jump over them than walking around them!  And this gives me the positive and rare feeling of being one of the lightweighters around :-)

Today we will also try out the ship's fantastic fitness center. It is placed on the 12th floor up front. So when you are on your bike you have the captain's look ahead. And the more energy you put into your biking, the faster the ship will sail, of course :-)

 

DAY 3 ON THE PACIFIC: REFLECTIONS

October 09, 2017

When we left Seattle some days ago the total weight of ship + passengers was about 142.000 tons. Most of the kilos come from the ship, after all!  When we reach Sydney in 3 weeks the combined weight will be the same. But, but....  Some of the tons will have moved from the ship to us - the 4000 passengers. The noble art, at least for some of us, is to minimize that transfer :-)

It reminds me of the young girl, who once said: I do not want to have children. Why? Because they use my money and spoil my body!  
If you are not careful, cruises can do the same! 

So we made ten walks around the long walkway of the ship this morning and will enjoy a forceful  "quickstep" with the elegant Vitality Fitness Centre this afternoon.

One more reflection about weight watchers:  when we enjoyed a coffee in a cafe on the ship's long internal promenade this morning we realized that Michelin Tyres apparently use American ladies to promote their biggest tyres over here. One impressive promoter after the other walked by - often followed by their much smaller and - it seemed - quite dominated husbands.

But apart from these problems (for the others) our cruise is going Very well. At the moment we have 5,5 km of water beneath us. The sea is extremely calm, the sun is shining, and we are sitting on our nice balcony sipping coffee and on the outlook for whales. No luck so far.

We have also last night - in a bar - met a nice Danish gentleman. He told us that we are 12 Danes on board. Our Norwegian skipper Kjertil greeted us also this morning, when we ran into him, with a Scandinavian: Go' morgen. So he seems to know his passengers well.

 

DAY 4 ON THE PACIFIC: MORE PLEASURE - MORE REFLECTION

October 10, 2017

This is our 12th cruise, since we started our cruise career in 2005. It is by far the longest one. And the first one totally on the other side of the globe.  And as the days pass we get more and more used to doing nothing. And if we have not finished one day, we just continue the day after!  Yes, it is Pure holiday!  When we get home we perhaps have to be retrained in many daily tasks such as cooking for Liselotte:-)

Our dinner waitors are second to none: Konang from Indonesia and John from the Philippines. Our Indian bar waiter is very much on his toes too. But when he last night after we had had our usual couple of glasses of Pinot Grigio and Merlot suddenly without us asking for it brought us two bottles of cold water we wondered why. We had actually planned to ask for two such bottles to bring to our cabin. Perhaps Indians can read your thoughts :-)  Or he felt it was about time that we enjoyed some "water music"! 

We also attended a great show in the ship's huge theater. The guest was a very dynamic Australian multi-entertainer Hayden Smith. He also brought in his delightful - for the eye as well as for the ear - young English wife, who like him sang beautifully. From Sweet Caroline to Hey Jude, to Evita and Les Miserables.  All ending with one of my absolute favorites, Andrea Bocelli's wonderful Time to Say Goodbye - the song I want people to hear, when I some day in the future move on!

Since we left Seattle several days ago we haven't seen anything but water around us.  Today we see some waste in the water.  This probably means that we are coming closer to what is called civilisation :-(   

Our fantastic trip reminds us of an old music hall song going like this:  I signed up with the Navy to see the world. But what did I see?  The sea!    This is actually for us very positive. We love the sea. But we are also happy that we will make "landfall" at some stage :-)

 

Our mornings are - like back home - very important, almost sacred. After or sometimes during breakfast we enjoy our so-called "Home-University". Also here at sea.  Studying and learning new things - or things we perhaps have forgotten :-)  Today we updated our knowledge about the famous German author Siegfried Lenz. Why?  Because Liselotte is reading a very interesting book written by him. And we also had a go at the history of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  This was the day when the self-overconfident Imperial Japanese leadership made one of their biggest mistakes ever by attacking the US and thereby bringing that country into the war.  Good for most of us in the longer run. But that was probably not the intention of the Japanese.

 

The very well functioning internet on board  makes it possible now and then also from here to do something good for Europe. Such as supporting the new campaign for internet voting in the future, also for expats around the world.  Spreading the word about this campaign is very important.  Have a look at this website:  https://euromonde.eu/   

 

And last, but not least: being in the US at the time of the recent massacre in Las Vegas we cannot avoid being strongly moved by this terrible act.  Not so much by the monster, who did this mega-crime. Such monsters will always be around. But it is the simple fact that such crimes are facilitated by the huge number of firearms in circulation in this country. About 300 million guns are in the hands of the population - almost one per inhabitant! Yes, it is true that 78 % of theAmericans do not have any.  This still leaves71 million people withfirearms. About 3% own half of the arms - or 15 in average per person.  Is that reasonable? Is that clever politics? Its is based on an old, outdated rule from 1791 - more than 200 years ago, when everything - arms, society, the law - was Very different from today.   New figures here tell us that there are 93 deaths caused by firearms - every day.  It is not surprising that the roll-everything reasonable-back-president at the moment will take no initiative to change this situation. On the contrary.  But let us hope that these new mass killings after all will be a wake-up call to make the US a reasonable modern and safe country - getting rid of as many as possible of these terrible and dangerous firearms.  One first step could be to do like the Australians did recently: they made an amnesty for people to hand in their weapons. Altogether 51.000 guns were delivered to the authorities over three months. Yes, there are many more guns out there. But for sure, there are 51.000 guns less now.    Perhaps such an initiative could be taken by one or more US states just to show the way. Time is over for politicians just to sit passively on their hands!!

Now we will enjoy our breakfast on our balcony - and throw nothing in the ocean, of course - except joyful and curious views on a fantastic part of our Globe !

Our great ship moves on. And our clocks do the opposite.  We are now 12 hours behind Europe. Or as my son Claus wrote from Odense today:  It's difficult to understand what is morning or evening where you are, as your are sailing down there under our feet!  We have now three times since our departure from Seattle last Friday been "given" an extra hour. Our days and nights are in a way longer. And that's great.  But we are fully aware that at some point we have to pay them all back!

 

You might wonder, why I do not send some pictures to prove our delightful journey. Yes, we take a lot of photos.  But our internet connection here on the ship is coughing helplessly, if it also has to cope with pictures. So they have to wait until later!

 

I should have liked to show you photos of the very artistic animals, which our Philippine cabin attendant Selson makes for us from towels almost every night.  I managed to send one to our granddaughters in Australia. Look what a sweet monkey we have in our room, I wrote.  Eleven year old Anna Maria wrote back right away:  This is not a monkey. It is an orangutan!   Ok - you have to learn every day!

 

Once communication minded - always communication minded!   This is my weakness - or strength, as you like it.  Why do I say that?  Because the responsible communicators on this ship are very good.  With 12+ floors, cabins for 4000 guests, restaurants and bars of all sorts, swimming and jacuzzi pools on several decks, shops, library, sun decks, footpaths, fitness centres and much more - it is quite a task to ensure that we all without too much effort can find our way around without getting (too much) lost.  We actually can. And not least because you all over theship find one meter long models of the ship, which are installed in such a way that the front of the model points in the direction of the front of theship.  Simple, but still very smart. At the same time you have in hallways on all decks an electronic "white-board" showing a "cut" through the ship. And at the spot where you are standing a lamp is blinking on the white board. At the same time the board is a touch screen. If you push Restaurant, you are shown how to get to them all. If you push Fitness Centre, you no longer have the excuse that you couldn't find it.  And if you push I want to get off, a trapdoor will open, and you will disappear right into the ocean :-(    ( no, this is not completely true ! )

 

And our daily "Home University" today?  We now know much more about Siegfried Lenz and his close relations to Denmark.  And we also upgraded ourselves with exciting news about the future from the website:  www.futurism.com      Try to have a go at it too!

After 6 great days at sea it also feels good to hit land again. Esp. when it's Hawaii!  


First, you have to learn how to pronounce it:  Hawai-i  -  with the stress on the last i !  Not Hawaj :-(   And we also understood that the Hawaiian language only has 13 letters, most of them like our vowels. Only the W has been imported from outside. 

Hawaii is part of Polynesia. It consists of 8 bigger islands and a number of small ones. James Cook was one of the first European discoverers to land here. He was killed in 1779, because he tried to kidnap the king, after one of his ships had been stolen. One of Cook's British officers, George Vancouver, came back with a small fleet 12 years later and became a close friend of the king. Also because he brought the first cattle to the islands as a gift to the king. 


The king was so happy that when he later made the flag for the Hawaii islands he placed Union Jack in the upper left corner of the flag. This is still Hawaii's flag today.

Hawaii was an independant Polynesian kingdom from 1810-93. After that the US took over. But only in 1959 Hawaii became the 50th State in the United States.  As a state with 1,4 million inhabitants in has two Senators and two members of the House of Representatives. All 4 of them are Democrats. So is the Govenor.  So we are very happy to say that Hawaii is definitely not Trump land !!

Two years after becoming a US State the later president Barack Obama was born here - called Barry when he was a boy. He continues to be very attached to the islands.

Statistics tell us that out of the 1.4 million about 135.000 are fully native Hawaiitians.  But there are lots of people with a mixed background. Our guide yesterday told us that she is 68,2 % Hawaiitian.

We spent two very interesting days here. The first one on the main island Oahu with the capital Honolulu. We made a very scenic bustour into the hilly surroundings with a nice guide Ken, who got excited by the fact that we were Danes. Why? Because he is a soccer fan and in particular keen on the brothers Laudrup! 

The second day we made another bus excursion - this time a 6 hour trip to the top of the dormant volcano on the island Maui. Our lady guide - who was also our very skilled driver - was talking ALL the time. Yes, she knew a lot - impressive. But six hours continous talk was a bit over the top. I am sure that she was the only one in the bus listening all the time, and the only one laughing of the jokes. Perhaps except Liselotte, who is very attentive at such occasions.  But - chapeau: it was a lady with drive (good for a driver!), initiative and energy. She also told us about all her seven children. And I fully understood the point when she told us that her husband was SO happy, when she came home from a tour like ours. Why? Because she didn't utter a word for the rest of the day :-)

And the excursion: very interesting, not least the upper part of the volcano, which is now a national park - with very unique plants and animals. The elevation was about 3000 meters. And we were told that they got more snow up here last year than Chicago did.

The two cities we visited on the two islands are very different. 

Honolulu with Waikiki is a real capital city with all what that implies.  Waikiki is a very "hyggelig" and entertaining modern city, which we enjoyed doing by foot and by bars :-)  Lahaina, the main town on Maui, was in its own way very charming indeed. It reminded us of towns in South Africa like Stellenbosch and Franshoek.  And while there was rather chilly and only 75 % oxygen on the volcano, it was boiling hot outside, when we came back into downtown. It is very understandable that they are Very proud of their huge, protecting and world famous Banyon tree in the centre of town.

Finally, how do you explain how far away Hawaii actually is from anywhere ? Los Angeles is 4000 km away. Fiji (where we are heading to now) is 5000 km away. And Sydney - the final destination of our cruise - is 8000 km from Hawaii.

So yes!  They are quite alone out here in the middle of the Blue Eye of our Planet!

On our way towards Fiji on Saturday we are cruising in the middle of the Pacific. West of Nicaragua and east of Manila in the Philippines. The sea is blue and friendly. And with clouds in all thinkable formations mixed with sunshine now and then it is really nice balcony weather! TV and Internet function perfectly. Yesterday we enjoyed a great video talk on Skype with my daughter Cecilie in Western Australia. And last night our ship ( the ferry, as I call it ) offered us a bottle of champagne in our room!

Today is a reading and writing day - mixed with good discussions on my sites on social media. By the way, I just passed the figure of 1 million visitors to my Danish home page!

Tonight we will move our clocks one hour back once again - making us 13 hours behind Europe!

 

October 16 - at 07.23

Position:

Parallel:  5,54 North

On the same parallel you find countries like Liberia, Colombia and Indonesia.

Longitude:   167,39 West

It goes from the North Pole to the South Pole almost only over water all the way except it is hitting Alaska in the north and Cook Islands in the south.

We have right now 29 degrees.

We have since Seattle sailed 6.715 km.

We will pass Equator tomorrow Wednesday at 12.15.  The tradition on the ship is that everybody meet on the deck at that moment. And that as many as possible jump in the water - not the water outside though - we leave that to the sharks ! , but into the pools on the ship :-)

This morning we crossed the Equator! A great feeling. You mentally felt a small bump ! Others say that there is an (invisable ?)  Green Line in the water :-)  And logically we are sailing downwards now!  For sure the distance to the North Pole and to the South Pole is now the same.  And Equator is, as we all know, the longest parallel on earth - about 40.000 km.

We will now also discover a different sky at night. I can't wait to see the Southern Cross again. The sun will soon be right above our heads at lunchtime - it is springtime down here. And when hitting Australia in 11 days it will be in the north. Funny feeling.

While we might be sailing downwards my daughter Cecilie is sailing in the very happy skies. She was yesterday nominated full professor at her university in Perth, Western Australia! She is and should be very happy and proud!  And she has an - if possible - even more proud dad by now!  Very well deserved, my love. And this is not the end of something. This is the beginning of a new exciting part of your life!

Cecilie's special research field is how physical activities have a significant influence on your health and psyche in many different ways - and what you can do yourself to profit from these very positive findings.

So, now I am off to one of my daily activities on the ship: walking on the top deck  :-)

Yesterday we passed Equator, as I already mentioned.  But we made a mistake. We did not ask the God of the seas, King Neptune, for permission to do it on beforehand.  So we had to excuse ourselves in front of the king and his queen.  He was reasonably angry with us, and some "hostages" among us had to suffer ( a bit )! The king threatened to call for help from his Greek brother, Poseidon. But it did not turn out to be necessary.  We accepted and promised better behaviour in the future, while the King was swinging his Trident above our heads!  

Later we calmed very much down, when we at our dinner table met a very, very nice Australian couple from Newcastle,  a city about 100 km north of Sydney.  They are on their way home from a family visit in California - near the frightening forest fires there, by the way.  We have also briefly met a couple from Horsens, Denmark.  The wife is very keen on cruising - her husband much less.  He considers the best part of cruising is coming home afterwards!  But he is reading books while here on the ship. And that is apparently a rare event!

Our own "Home University" today was dealing with a newly discovered huge threat to the world, to us all.  No, it was not Trump (this time).  It is scientific evidence that the number of insects in the world has dropped enormously.  Great, you might think.  We had actually noticed it ourselves this year, when we drove to and from Denmark. We got much, much less killed insects on our front window in our car than before. Others have had the same experience. Why is that dangerous for the world?  Because insects are of crucial importance to  the universal food chain ( and not only for Noma !), but to other animals,  and to the balance of nature.  Specialists are very worried. Hopefully it will not at the end mean that killing a fly will be forbidden :-)  

Yesterday was JACUZZI day !  While the tropical rain was pouring down for some time outside we decided to jump into one of our ship's many Jacuzzi Pools.  The one we chose is arranged somewhat like a Roman bath with columns, tiles, etc.  And the warm water and the jet streams were wonderful.  The only thing I have against water is that it is so wet :-)

And why is this special hot pool called a jacuzzi?  It takes its name from its inventor Candido Jacuzzi ( 1903-86 ).   He was born in a small village in north-east Italy. When he was a child he emigrated with his parents and 6 elder brothers to California. Here the family started to produce parts to airplanes.  And when Candido later got a son, who at the age of 15 months got serious back problems, Candido invented the special pool with jet streams - to be installed in a normal bathroom.   It became a world success.   So this is the background of the Jacuzzi Pools.

From our new Australian dinner friends Noeleen and Lindsay from Newcastle we also learned more about their country and especially about famous Australians.  Such as Paul Hogan, born 1939, from the famous films Crocodile Dundee - he is still very active and very popular. Such as Barry Humphries ( "Dame Edna" ), born 1934 - also still very active. Such as Rolf Harris, born 1930 - the singer with  "Jake the Peg" - the man with the extra leg. He also painted an official painting of Queen Elizabeth II in 2005.  Later things went very badly for him, as he was convicted for child abuse and went to prison until this year :-(   And finally as Olivia Newton-John, born 1948, and actually from Newcastle like our friends.  She became famous with the comedy musical Grease in 1978.  She has in recent years been fighting with breast cancer.

So we fortunately continue to be on a permanent learning curve - also here on the high seas!

Many things are a first in life !  For us it was a first, when we crossed the International Date Line this morning.  We had to move our clocks 24 hours forward.  Easy to do - because you do not have to do anything :-)  But the crucial thing is that you have to move the date forward. We moved from Thursday to Saturday - in ONE go.  I am happy I do not have my birthday on this now missing day :-)

So we are no longer west of Greenwich. We are now east of Greenwich.  We are no longer in the far West. We are in the far East.  And we are 10 hours ahead of Europe. In other words: we see the sun ten hours before you in Europe!

Now we really feel that we are in the middle of an adventure around the globe !

Our first visit in the South Pacific on this magnificent trip is about to end. FIJI - the dry west yesterday and the wet east today Sunday.

It is a country of 322 islands - 106 of them are inhabited. The country is independent since 1970. Before that it was for 95 years part of the British Empire. And before that it was an area known for its cannibalism :-(  Why did they eat people? Not because of hunger and

In my latest mail I told you about my ability now also to speak Fijian.
I forgot to tell you that my quoted words for Hello, Goodbye was "my dialect" :-) 
famine. But because they were convinced that a killed enemy would come back, if you did not eat him!

They also at the time had the tradition that when a Chief died his legal wife had to die with him. She was allowed to decide for herself, if she wanted to be strangled, killed with hammers or to be buried alive!

The Methodist missionaries who arrived from London in the beginning of the 19th century managed to make an end to all that. Today most of the 900.000 inhabitants are peaceful Methodists, a third are Hindus from India, and the rest holds different religions.

We made two excursions into the beautiful countryside with mountains, rain forests and some villages and towns. The people living in a village we visited were dancing and singing for us in their traditional colourful dress. Very moving and friendly!

We were particularly happy, when we today crossed a new nice bridge across the river in the capital Suva. Why?  Because a big, blue sign with 12 yellow stars told us that it has been paid for by the European Union - and the work done by Chinese engineers!

Fiji is definitely a country in development. And it needs it!  A couple of areas where progress could move on: EDUCATION, where government paid compulsory schools for three years was only introduced a few years ago. POLLUTION:  waste water is still in many places to a large extent sent directly into to the river. EQUALITY:  girls are still not allowed to wear shoulderless clothes, mini skirts, etc.

But with all that said it is VERY important  for me to say that people here are very friendly and helpful. Nature is gorgeous in most places. And the quality and quantity of fruit, vegetables, etc. on the many local markets is very impressive and tempting. As Fiji is a great sugar producer they also produce rhum. A very strong one. We managed to avoid testing it :-)

Finally, we also learned how to say hello, goodbye and many other nice things with two words in the local Fijian language:


BULA BULA !

Now we are off for our next South Pacific destination on Tuesday:  VANUATU - Mystery Island!

In correct "high Fijian" the greetings are:   BULA BULA !  Pronounced with an optimistic and energetic tone !

I also want to tell you four more interesting things we learned about Fiji:

1. Men in Fiji are often wearing a skirt. More or less like an Indonesian Sarong. Why? Because it is very pleasant in the heat. And especially because a previousFijian Chief whilestudying in Oxford met a Scottish friend in his kilt. He got so carried away by that idea that he made his own, elegant version for Fiji.

2. What do people in Fiji normally eat? A lot of fish! And also a lot of chicken. It's accompanied by tapioka and sweet potatoes. Now they are also importing lamb from New Zealand. But their aim is to be as self sufficient also with food as possible.

3. Fiji tries in different ways to serve the whole of the South Pacific - to be in a way the centre of this huge, wide spread region. It houses the University of the South Pacific.  It also has the education of health staff, esp. nurses, for the whole area.  In business Coca Cola has their production for the whole region in Fiji. And diplomatically several foreign embassies in Suva cover many Pacific states, incl. the US embassy.  The EU Delegation in Suva is primarily dealing with the many EU support programmes for Fiji.

 

4. Politically, Fiji has had a rather complicated time since independence from the UK in 1970. It includes three military coups - the latest one in 2005. Part of the troubles come from the problems between the Fijian native population and the Indians, who came here in large numbers as workers during the time of the British Empire. With a new constitution from 2013 things seem to have calmed down.

BULA BULA !

 

Today we should have visited the Mystery Island in the country Vanuatu ( ex New Hebrides ). Our visit has been cancelled due to a medical emergency on board the ship. We are speeding in the direction of Nouvelle Caledonie, so that we can come into the reach of a helicopter to take the patient to Noumea, the capital of Nouvelle Caledonie.

Our present position etc. at 07.45 Tuesday morning ( 22.45 Monday night European time):

Position:

Parallel:       20,19  South
Longitude:  169,38 East

Depth:    1.530 meter

27 degrees

Sailed since Seattle:   11.187 km

PS: It is now 12 o'clock midday here. Change of plans again:  No helicopter coming. We do not know, if the patient has died :-(   But we go to a small island  LIFOU in Nouvelle Caledonie and where the patient will be brought to the local hospital.  

The rest of our cruise will continue as planned.

Now the weather is very humid and foggy.  But here inside our ship everything is clear and pleasant !

We have now been sailing for 20 days ! We have never been at sea for so long. From time to time we wonder, if we ever can get used to another life again :-)   The sun isshining.Temperature has fallen to "freezing" 24 degrees, which is very pleasant.  The ocean is dark blue and continues to look totally empty - though only above surface.  Yesterday we visited a small tropical island Lifou in French New Caledonia.  I enjoyed talking to a local rooster and his harem. He wasn't too confident in the beginning. But he understood my "Cimbrian rooster language" well, and we almost became friends.  It did not go so bad as in Portugal some years ago, when I also spoke to a local rooster. I apparently said something awful, because all of a sudden he became very scared and ran away. This did not happen yesterday!

On board our "ferry" ( as I call our great ship ) we travel with a lot of Americans. They are - as always - very friendly, smiling, helpful, entertaining and very curious to find out, where we come from. So Liselotte can use her professional tourism background and I my position as Goodwill Ambassador for Copenhagen to promote Denmark and its values. Fortunately, they do not ask about Danish politics. If so, we might get into some difficulties being honest and positive to Denmark at the same time!  As far as the Americans are concerned we cannot help thinking who among them have voted for Trump!  We do not ask. We do not want to spoil the good atmosphere!  But our own conclusion is that very few of those on board voted for him. Why? Because his core voters ( like other nationalistic voters in other countries ) mostly are people, who do not travel and probably never were in direct contact with foreigners. That is why they are so much against them!

The only problem we have with some of our American co-passengers is that some of them are very difficult to understand!  They seem to have an apple in their mouth. And a few of them have a very big apple. Such as our cruise director Dan from Wisconsin.  We  believe what he says. But most of it we do not understand :-(

We have a lot of entertainment on board. Almost around the clock. Impressive and most of the time very professional. The ferry's own 9 person orchestra, The Explorer of the Seas Orchestra, is second to none.   An Ice Skating Show yesterday with nine young skaters was fantastic.  Only one small complaint: why is most of the music SO loud, that you can hardly hear, what you think yourself.  Last night I installed the app "Sound Meter" on my smartphone during a concert, just to monitor how much above the health limit of 90 decibels they played. The very second when the app was ready to function the music became much more pleasant. I should have installed that app 20 days ago :-)

The only other complaint about the entertainment was an announcement some days ago, that the evening performance would be done by "a new Victor Borge".  We were very excited and were the first to arrive in the theatre. But Mon Dieu!  Victor Borge must have died at least once more, if he had seen and heard that. So we were also the first ones to leave the theatre that night!

Apart from all that we have developed a very nice routine with morning walks, morning coffee on our balcony, a morning shower, late breakfast,  a reading and writing session in the "Viking Lounge" with overview of most of the ferry,  lunch (which we try to make our main meal - though not easy ), a power nap in our cabin in the afternoon,  a pleasant stay in the Roman Jacuzzi Pool,  a drink or two  ( Pinot Grigio and Merlot (or Black Label ) in our Stamm Bar, the Crown and Kettle Bar, dinner in the Sapphire Restaurant  with our new Australian friends from Newcastle, Australia, and our waiters Kamang and John, entertainment in the theatre,  a couple of night caps in the bar or on our ownbalcony - and bye bye to that day! Some day excursions to destinations on land “spoil” the daily rhytm. But we can live with that J

Does all that seem bearable to you ?!?   :-)

 

We are enjoying the last full day on board our great "ferry"!  We have sailed 14.000 km - or more than one third of the distance around the globe.

We still have more than 500 km to go until we reach Sydney tomorrow morning - our final destination at sea.

The Tasman Sea is greeting us in a quiet way. During the night it was more agitated. Great to feel that you are actually sailing!

Yesterday we were all checked by the Australian Border Guard, which had come on board. This facilitates procedures, when we arrive in Sydney. Smart move!  We were accepted in two minutes!  If everything continues to be that easy, we will be very happy visitors!

We will try to get up early tomorrow morning to fully enjoy the magnificent entry into Sydney harbour with the famous Harbour Bridge and not least Jørn Utzon's world famous Opera. You know how he got the idea for the design of the opera? He got it while peeling an orange!

Still almost a month ahead of us on this great world adventure of ours !!

 

This morning very early we arrived to SYDNEY. The city which has its name from a British politician in the 18th century, who got the idea to send British prisoners to this part of the world on a one-way ticket.

It is with its 6 million inhabitants the biggest city in Australia. And with its geographical position at the ocean and at a river it is a very beautiful city. Not least now with lovely spring ( today with 29 degrees ) and with thousands of the blue Jacaranda trees in full bloom.

We are for three days staying at a small elegant hotel in the hilly area next to Sydney harbour - opposite to the city centre. A small convenient ferry takes us in ten minutes across the harbour to the centre - passing very closely by the magnificent Sydney Opera House.

We are now on our third and last day here in Australia's biggest city. And we have both survived it - the city and us :-)   We are all three of us in top form!

Yesterday we toured the city by ferry, by foot and by bus. We saw and heard things we saw last time in 2011. And we saw and learned new things, of course. You always do in this city. Our tour around city with the hop-on-hop-off bus ( they call it BIG BUS here ) was very hot on the open top deck. We had forgotten our head gear :-(   But in lovely Darling Harbour we found good shadow, good food and a chilly local beer in a nice Thai restaurant.  We enjoyed walking in the centre with all its old colonial buildings like the old Town Hall, the Victoria Building with all its shops, the Customs House at the harbour and much more. Not least a very lively atmosphere everywhere.  When we needed something cold and stimulating we enjoyed it in a very nice wine bar,  where we had a great talk with the waiter - a very nice young man, Sebastian, from Quito in Ecuador.  He just finished his Master’s degree in hotel management here a month ago and has two more years' permission to stay in Australia, so that is why he worked here. He was very interested in Denmark and Europe. 

As the weather all of a sudden got very cloudy, very windy and significantly colder, we took the ferry back to our hotel towards the end of the afternoon.  When at our local mini-harbour I wanted to take a photo of the stormy weather and the water, a big wave of noisy water jumped off the sea and hit me from top to bottom :-(   In a split second I got very wet. But I took the photo.  Are you a viking - or not!

Back at our hotel we enjoyed a good glass of wine on our balcony with a great view of the sea. While doing that we were interrupted by several big chattering parrots.  They apparently live here, and perhaps they were not happy to see us around. 

 

Today we have been touring the world famous SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE.  We saw it from outside last time.  This alone is breathtaking.  And it is also very impressive inside.  As all Danes know it was the Danish architect Jørn Utzon from Aalborg, who is "the father" of the Opera House. There were 233 different proposals in the competition. And in the first round of selection Utzon's proposal was dropped.  But when the famous Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen - a member of the jury - turned up after a flight delay he ( after having studied all 235 proposals himself ) insisted that Utzon's proposal should be the winner.  If not, he would leave the jury.  Nobody dared to contradict him.  And Sydney got its now world famous Opera House. It is today also on UNESCO's World Heritage list. 

The site where the Opera House is build was for thousands of years an important meeting place for the native Australians, the Aboriginals.  Later it was the garage for the trams of Sydney. And now it is again a meeting place for people!    The construction started in 1959 and finished in 1973, when Queen Elizabeth made the official opening.  The costs were originally foreseen to be 7 million Australian dollars. And at the end the total costs were 103 million dollars. Almost all of it was financed by gambling through a special Opera lotto!

The Opera House has always been a very busy cultural centre. It has about 1.600 events per year - from opera, drama, ballet, concerts and karaoke to conferences - and much more. It has a permanent staff of 600 people + a lot of tasks, which are contracted out to others. Financially it earns 95 % of its costs through all its activities.     

It is all very impressive!

 

 

Off to Canberra in our rented Hertz car!

Canberra is definately not the most visited city in Australia. But it is the Nation's Capital. Or the "Bush Capital", as they also call it ( and this has nothing to do with George W. Bush !).  When it was selected as capital in 1908, it had 5.000 inhabitants. Today about 400.000 people live here. And it is spread over an area of about 100 km in each direction. They claim that it has 120 "satellite cities" or suburbs.  The design of the city was won in an international competition by an American architect from Chicago before World War I.  By the way, he ran into some difficulties with the local politicians - just as Jørn Utzon did many years later with the Sydney Opera House.

We have now tried to see and discover the city as much as we can during our two days here.  The Old Parliament House, which is very nice and now called "Museum of Democracy"  ( funny thought that you put democracy in a museum :-) was one destination of ours.  The new and very impressive Parliament House, which was built from 1981 was another one. Our guide told us that it was so expensive that Australia could not afford to build it today.  Probably not true. We also visited the very nice and big National Art Gallery, which also includes art works by the aboriginal population. 

Talking about politics it is interesting that Australians are very keen on telling jokes about politicians. All the time.  One of the better jokes we heard was that a new political party is about to start. What is its name?  The Party for Self-Interest !   They expect it to become very popular :-)  

The most interesting part of our discovery was our visit to the Australian War Memorial.  We have seen many war memorials in many countries over the years.  This one is for sure the best and most interesting of them all.  It is a memorial for all the 106.000 Australian soldiers killed in the wars the country has been part of since its foundation in 1901.  Including 62.000 killed in World War I.   During that war Australia had just 7 million inhabitants.  One million of them were directly involved in the war.  Imagine what impact that had on society at that time.  The Australian forces were during WWI in particular involved in two major and very costly battles: that of Gallipoli in Turkey (which they lost) and Pouzières in the Somme region in France (which they won).  One of the key battles in Pouzières was fought by a regiment from Perth, where my daughter and her family are now living.  And in the very same battle Liselotte's German relative Franz was killed 21 years old.  You learn a lot from working with genealogy! Also that the world is very small !

As most people know modern Australia was to a large extent built by deported British convicts ( prisoners ).  Between 1787 and 1868 England sent altogether 166.000 convicts to Australia on 806 ships. Why from 1787?  Because they had until then been sent to the British colonies in America. But after the Americans had won their independence they wanted no more convicts from Britain.  The then English minister for home affairs, Lord Sydney, got the idea to send them to Australia instead.  They arrived here - most of them on one-way tickets. And very hard work was awaiting them.  All major Australian cities except Adelaide were built by these convicts.  Not Canberra, though.   It was founded 50 years after the last convicts arrived.   By the way, we have understood that genealogy is not that popular among Australians today. Perhaps because they do not feel happy to find out that their ancestors came here as prisoners!

And finally a more positive story from this century.  Everybody in Denmark and in Australia know that the Danish crown prince Frederik met his Tasmanian wife actually a prince!   Now, in Australian this is often the answer you give, when you want to pull Mary, while they were both in Sydney for the Olympic Games in 2000.  But do you know exactly how it happened? We met a very nice guide here, Michael on the hop-on-hop-off bus  in Canberra. He claimed to know exactly how it happened:   Frederik was in a bar together with some friends. At the next table a group of girls had a good time. Surprise, surprise: they all started chatting with each other. And at a certain moment Mary asked Frederik:  What are you doing?  With a sort of shy smile he replied:  I am actually a prince! Now, in Australian this is often the answer you give when you want to pull someone’s leg.  But Mary responded immediately by saying:  "I am cindarella" -  and she took off one of her shoes!   Frederik reacted like speedy Gonzales, picked up the shoe and put it back on her foot again!

The rest of the story is well known !

Further on into the real bushland.

 

Just arrived at our two-days stay in fantastic Tooma! At the edge of Australia's biggest mountains south of Canberra. We are in a second-to-none Bed & Breakfast called Brigham House.  Only 4 suites.  Just met the very charming owner Jeff, who was born here and earlier worked 40 years as an architect in Sydney.  He is right now assisted by an elderly American craftsman, George. He is travelling around the world doing small jobs here and there. In the northern summer he is often in Luleå in Sweden. After the stay here he will go to New Zealand for three months. As he says:  he is living nowhere and everywhere!

And today they have for the first time a local market. In full sunshine and 18 degrees with fresh mountain air! It very much reminds us of the best of South Africa - such as Stellenbosch!

Though only about a hundred people live in the whole area ( mostly farms ) the local inn here was more than full of people tonight. Everybody very friendly and anxious to know where we came from.  Some believed we were Scots!

 

Tomorrow Sunday we will make a raid by car to the nearest real village. It is called Tumbarumba ! It is about 35 km away.

 

On a day like this it is really difficult to keep up the pessimism ! 

PS: The only contribution to a hint of pessimism comes from our efforts to try to exchange Euro notes to Australian dollars.  1 € is about 1,51 AUS - according to the official exchange rate.  We have tried several times in Sydney and in Canberra.  The best offer from a bank was 0,70 AUS for one Euro.  This means we would have to pay more than half of the value of the Euros when exchanging notes :-(   This is robbery in full daylight!  Perhaps I now understand why:  as I described earlier lots of British criminals were by force sent to Australia.  They seem now to have taken over the banking sector here :-(  !

Our trip further south took us through a very nice part of the province of Victoria. After about five hours drive we stayed at a vineyard about 40 km north of Melbourne.  It was called Gisborne Peak Winery Cottages. A very local winery with six cottages for visitors and a lunch restaurant. From the outside these cottages looked rather run-down and unattractive L  But when you got inside you entered another world!  So nice, so tasteful, so well-functioning.  With a fridge full of food and wine. And two nice kangaroos jumping around just outside our windows.   The only down-side of our stay was that I all of a sudden got terribly ill L  I believe I got a not-so-good sausage in the café in Tooma two days before.  But no excursions, no wine or hardly any food when I was concerned.

From here we moved further south:  to the town of Lorne right at the ocean.  Whe stayed for three days in a fantastic apartment at the Cumberland Lorne Resort.  With great view on the ocean from our huge balcony.  This place is the “Mekka” of surfing – for professionals as well as for amatures.  Very interesting to look at.  We did not try it out!  We did’nt try much at all, because my stomach was still in bad shape. And I was a certain moments SO tired that I could hardly remember my own name!  We made a few walks, though, greeted the quite noisy local, white parrots,  enjoyed some of the local food – and rested!  It was a good time for loading up for the last part of our world tour.

 

Western Australia – here we come!

We are now at the last stop on our tour! This is WESTERN AUSTRALIA !  The part of Australia, which has the Indian Ocean and all its whales and sharks as its closest neighbour.   We arrived here with the Australian national carrier QANTAS from Melbourne.  A flight of "just" 4 hours 15 minutes.  A fantastic flight, by the way.  We had been promised an Airbus, but we had to live with a Boeing!  The crew and the ambience was fantastic. The only other flight we have felt the same "hyggelige" and warm happiness was some years ago with Air France from Paris to Yerevan in Armenia.

This is our third visit to Perth and Western Australia. The first time was in 2011 as the start of a cruise around Australia and New Zealand. The second time was over Christmas - New Year 2014-15 to visit Cecilie and her family right after they moved out here.  And the third time is now - for 12 days.

Western Australia is the richest part of the country due to the immense mining industry here. You name a mineral - and they have it!   Also the very rare and costly minerals. It pays for lots of activities here, incl. the very prestigeous Curtin University, where Cecilie and Nikos work.

We were received in the airport by Cecilie and Zoe.  A very special and warm welcome in the sense that Zoe started by performing a number of powerful push-ups ( armbøjninger ) on the floor in front of us!   We should like to be received like that by everybody in the future ! At the same time she handed us a personal drawing with a very warm welcome!   What more can you wish for!  When we came home - where we saw their lovely new house for the first time - it was very hot.  When I could not follow Anna Maria and Zoe up and down the stairs at the same speed as them during their presentation of the house, I said: Look, I am soon 80 and old - I am getting tired!    You are NOT, Zoe said. You are only old, when you are a 100.   I am 101 today, I replied.  Now the joke had according to Zoe gone over the top, so I was in the very charming Zoe-way made aware, that all discussion on the topic was over!

Anna Maria has grown upwards ( and certainly not side-wards !) since we last met in the summer in Denmark.  She soon has the hight of Liselotte.  She is as always very sporty and energetic. And both girls are in addition to a full day at school very active on a daily basis with swimming lessons,  art work (AM), hip-hop dance (Zoe) and karate (AM).  So coordinating all that is a sport in itself for the parents!

Saturday was a relax day. Everybody agreed. Also when I - due to the impressive heat wave - declared that I have never in my life felt such a strong interest in visiting the local huge, modern shopping centre Garden City up the road!  The cooling from the air condition in the centre had, of course, nothing to do with my interest !    Or as I said:  This heat wave is really tough for fat people! And by the way also for me!    I got a bit puzzled, when the others started laughing :-)

Sunday we invited everybody on an excursion to an island in the Indian Ocean- just off Perth. It is called ROTTNEST ISLAND.  It is just 35 minutes by speed boat from Fremantle. But I can tell you that it was rough sailing. A real roller coaster in the morning.  The girls enjoyed it immensely. The rest of us were just grabbing hold of what could stabilize our movements.  Good fun. We certainly felt the forces of nature!  The island was first discovered by the Dutch in the 17th century.  They believed that the special small cat-size animals on the island were rats. That is how the island got its name. But they are not. They are called QUAKKOS.  Try to look them up on Google. They are very friendly, especially if you carry food. And they move around like kangaroos.   There were also a lot of black RAVENS on the island - making sounds like a baby. Since my many visits in Greenland in the 1970ies I am always very suspicious of ravens.  They steal with all beaks and legs - and still look very innocent!   They were so unpopular in Greenland at the time that if you killed one and brought one of its legs to the local council, you received 10 kr. !

Rottnest Island was since the 1840ies used by the British masters here as a prison for male aboriginal prisoners. And they were ordered to build the prison themselves from local material. Many of the nice, yellow houses are still there and now used as shops and holiday homes.  In many ways Rottnest Island had the same function and history as Robben Island had in South Africa.   Local prison for native prisoners under the control of the British.  We also visited Robben Island in 2001 - including the small cell of Nelson Mandela.

 

 

TOURING WESTERN AUSTRALIA FOR 10 DAYS:

With a hot weekend behind us we enjoyed daily life in Cecilie's and Nikos' lovely house from Monday and onwards. Cecilie had been very nice to take holidays during our full stay, so she was looking very well after us all the time.  Nikos and the girls had to go to work each day.  We joined Cecilie some of the days, when she went to the school to pick up Anna Maria and Zoe up at 15.05.  School started in the morning at 08.45.  And on Friday morning I had the pleasure to join the school's weekly ASSEMBLY, where all 300 students meet and one of the classes has to do a performance. That day it was Anna Maria's class.  A very interesting and clever show on the stage. Anna Maria was one of the active trees in the play - and dressed like that.  It is also during this weekly Assembly that students get their yellow certificates for extra good work and nice behaviour.  Anna Maria and Zoe did not get any at this occasion. But they have received many at previous assemblies :-)

Summer holidays are approaching in Perth. They start on December 14 and last until February 1.  And both girls have to start in a new school after the holidays.  Anna Maria will start in Ardross Senior High School, where she can continue until she gets her high school diploma. And Zoe will join a class in another school just next to Anna Maria's.  Both schoolshave very high marks, and they are just up the road from the family's house. So it will become much easier for everybody.

As Cecilie and Nikos are busy with their research work at the university they have hired a very nice 18 year old Australian student called Grace, who is looking after the girls three afternoons every week.

While the girls were sweating in their school Cecilie took us to different very interesting places such as the wonderful  Swan Valley with all its vinyards, bushlands and quietness.  We had to look out for the very dangerous snakes and spiders in the area. Actually, 9 of of the 10 most dangerous snakes live in Australia.  But we all survived, also the animals.

She also took us to very nice area right at the Indian Ocean - north of Fremantle.  You almost saw the 35.000 whales pass by - though they seemed to be anderswo engagiert that day.  And on the day before our departure we visited the very well known Caversham Wildlife Park east of Perth.  We have been there twice before, so we came to say hello to our old friends, the koalas, the wombats, the emu, the Tasmanian devils, the crocodiles - and the often naughty and lazy kangaroos, of course.

Towards the end of our stay we invited the family for a two-day stay in a very well known holiday resort called Dunsborough.   It is about 260 km south of Perth and right on the Indian Ocean.  Fantastic place, fantastic house. And very nice weather.  The more south you go in Australia, the more human the weather gets - normally.   During our stay the girls each tried to drive an electrical car ( great success!) and afterwards to ride a real horse for an hour into the bush, all the time surrounded by jumping kangaroos.  Also a huge success! 

Everything comes to an end.   Our great visit to the family did too.   Before leaving we gave each of the girls some Australian money.   At first Zoe said:  No, I don't want it. It is YOUR money!   When we insisted, she picked up her purse, already full of Australian bank notes. When she put our small present into the purse, she said with a firm voice:  I promise not to use it for anything stupid!    Anna Maria said right away that she would put the money into her bank account, where she is saving money for her university studies later on!   

At our departure we were all happy to know that we will meet again next summer in Kos in Greece for a week.   And again around Christmas and New Year 2018-19, when our "Australians" will come to Europe for holidays again. 

Warm thanks to all for making our visit so delightful !

 

LESSONS FROM OUR WORLD TOUR FOR TWO MONTHS:

Happily back home in our own nice country Belgium it is time to think about all the many things we have experienced during our 65.000 km long journey around the globe.  It will take time to digest it all. So many different things. So many differentpeople. So many differentland- and "sea-scapes!.  How can you at all make a conclusion about all that?!  You can't!    But you can try.

Our overall conclusion is that it was a fantastic trip.  A long trip, yes. But not too long. And not too difficult at any time.  We got so much used to having everything done for us that it will be difficult to come back to "polite self service"!  But we will manage :-)

If you ask for more specific lessons from our journey we will mention these ones:

 

1. It is fascinating all the time to travel in the same direction as the sun. This makes possible jet lags easier to manage.  And you only have to adjust your watch now and then.  In the middle of all of it we passed the International Date Line.  We lost October 21.  There was no October 21.  We were lucky not to have our birthday that day.   And before reaching the Date Line we were all the time behind Europe in time. After we had passed it we were ahead of Europe all the time.  Yes, try to figure that out :-)   In order to have control of the time I carried two watches during the whole trip:  on my left arm: the local time. On the right arm: European time.  No Hokus Pocus - just a bit of Behändigkeit !

2.The city of  Vancouver  is really nice and interesting.  We had four days there, fortunately.  We got in a way carried away by it.  A sort of European city in the middle of the Wild West. And with lots of people of Asian origin, not least Chinese.

3. Seattle is also interesting and special. Like Vancouver well placed with water  and islands around it. We were in particular taken by the impressive Bill Gates Foundation Center, explaining how much of his income from Microsoft is spent on important human-touch projects around the world. 

4. Our 22 days' cruise across the Pacific Ocean was - as expected - an experience second to none.  Yes, it was a long time on a ship  - or a "ferry" as I called it. Yes, we saw a lot of water. Yes, there were many, many other people on board our Explorer of the Seas  ( almost 4.000 + 1500 crew ).  But it had space, lots of space, for us all.  Unlike our earlier cruises we had a lot of very fat people on board this time. Really fat.  It was easier and faster to jump over them than to walk around them. Some of them, also the younger ones, were not able to walk. So they were moving around in a motorized wheelchair.  

It was also remarkable that during the whole cruise we saw no other ship.  The Pacific Ocean is empty.  Huge and empty.  Do not get lost there - you might well be lost for ever.  While we were happily cruising away two American sailors -  girls - were found by Japanese fishermen near Japan. They thought they were on the way to Tahiti in the south of the Pacific.  They were really lucky.

And this Ocean is really pacific and quiet. Old Magellan was right when he gave it its name. Only the very first day and night during our cruise did we experience an agitated sea. And many passengers had to "speak in the big, white telephone" as it is called. Not us, though.  

5. Hawaii was, of course, an experience in itself.    All alone - way, way out in the ocean, as they said themselves.  Tropical and therefore quite hot. American, yes.But also different.  We were lucky to have two excellent guides on our two bus excursions.  So we almost feel like experts by now.

6. Fiji and its many islands was our next stop - and our next great experience.  Before arriving there we had to cross the Equator.  I made a personal complaint to our very nice Norwegian captain that they had no Linie Aquavit on board  :-(  It is for me linked to passing the Equator.  But no worry. We each got a certificate confirming that King Neptune had accepted us passing the Equator, even without his permission on beforehand! 

During our stay in Fiji we were delighted to learn that finally they had stopped being cannibals about 150 years ago!   Especially our visit to a Fijian village was very interesting. They danced and sang for us - and pretended that they were killing us in the most brutal way as long as a photographer was around to take a picture!  

7. Next stop Sydney - our old acquaintance from two lovely visits earlier. It is a fantastic city with fantastic things to see and do.  Unfortunately, it was unusually hot during our two first days there.  So we often had to take refuge in a "water holes".  But the star was, of course, our "Danish" Sydney Opera House.   We had a very skillful and humouristic guide during our visit to the opera.  We saw no performances, also because the main theatre was under restauration.  So in that way we saved a whole evening!  But we enjoyed a nice late meal while admiring the fantastic building from the outside.   Food in a way tastes extra deliciously with such a view !

8. Canberra - Australia's capital - was also very interesting and nice to see again.  Distances are huge in that city, so we had good long walks in stormy and wet weather.  And a very interesting on the spot introduction to Australian history and politics.  Quite complicated - and fascinating.

Our tour by car southwards from Canberra gave us a personal experience of the mountains, of the bushlands and of the villages scattered over a huge area.  Staying two days and nights in Tooma, a very local village the size of three times nothing,  went to our hearts with its very personal and warm ambience – starting with a big local market on the day of our arrival.  The sad fact that I managed to run into a naughty and "I-shall-get-after-you" - sausage in the one and only pub in the village will not spoil our memories of a great stay there.  It just spoiled the good feelings in my stomach for a couple of days :-(

We enjoyed the winding-up of our South-East Australian odyssey in a nice and very comfortable resort in Lorne on the Great Ocean Road along the South Ocean.  This is the capital of surfing. We enjoyed seeing them falling off in the water!   But the after-chocks from my malicious bushland sausage made our movements around the area few and slow !  But the eternal truth that peace around you gives you peace of mind  was a very good cure for us before "hitting" the family on the other side of Australia !

9.  And last, but not least: our visit to our lovely and lively family was on purpose arranged as the highlight at the end of our global tour!   Fantastic to see them grow, see them enjoy Australia, see them in a positive and dynamic way enjoy their work and challenges, - and see them still being as we know them!   No, they are not Australian, neither formally or by mind.  But they enjoy the country and all its possibilities, including its brilliant school system.  They might for practical reasons apply for Australian citizenship next year.  But as they can keep their Danish, Greek and British citizenships at the same time not much will change.  Cecilie and Nikos will also try to get Greek and Danish citizenship for the girls.  Having these passports will give them the possibility to use their EU citizenship rights fully, now when the British citizenship in all likelihood will be less attractive and useful in the future after Brexit.

PS: After our return to Europe Cecilie and Claus discovered that Anna Maria and Zoe actually already ARE Danish citizens from birth, as their mother is Danish. So now they just have to get hold of their passports!

Of course, our visit got an extra dose of glamour and pride, because Cecilie was nominated full professor at her Curtin University as of December 1.     We are all very happy and proud of "my smart, little girl"!!

10. Talking about happy and proud:   I have got permission to tell you all that Liselotte smoked her last small cigar in Seattle !!    In the beginning I was threatened with the death penalty, if I told anybody. But after she herself put the big secret on the table with the family in Perth, I was allowed to mention it - even here in our DIARY.    I would add that even if the only positive thing we would have had to say about our world tour were Liselotte's bye-bye to the nicotine, then it would absolutely be worth the trip!     

PS: To Liselotte:   and do not start smoking again, just to get on to a new world tour!

 

PSS: Our blog with 53 chapters:

https://myworldtour2017.blogspot.be

 

Liselotte & Niels Jørgen Thøgersen

lilo25thogersen@gmail.com     &   niels4europe@gmail.com  

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