8 countries visited: Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Germany, Austria, Netherlands, Singapore.
27 cities visited*: Sydney, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Melbourne, Auckland, Wanganui, Ohakune, Orlando, Boston, Montreal, Quebec City, Munich, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Würzburg, Nuremberg, Salzburg, Leipzig, Berlin, Potsdam, Osnabrück, Wuppertal, Bonn, Cologne, Aachen, Maastricht, The Hague, Singapore.
(* I define visited as having deliberately gone to that city for work or leisure. Transiting through a city is not counted.)
16 train journeys taken between cities in four countries (Canada, Germany, Austria, Netherlands).
Experienced jet-lag in 7 time zones: AEST, AEDT, NZST, EDT, CET, SGT.
Virgin Australia’s 737
15 hotels slept in for a total of 36 nights and 14 nights spent staying on friend’s couches, floors and spare rooms.
Finally, some good and bad highlights from the year:
Missed connections: 1 due to late inbound flight.
Best Airport: Gold Coast – due to Virgin Australia’s fantastic ground staff
Worst Airport Terminals: Abu Dhabi terminal 1 and Boston terminal B.
Best food: Etihad Amsterdam to Abu Dhabi (dinner) and Eithad Abu Dhabi to Sydney (breakfast).
Best flights: Etihad Amsterdam to Abu Dhabi and Scoot Singapore to Sydney (both red-eyes!)
Worst flight: Air Canada Boston to Montreal – grumpy cabin crew.
Best planes: Etihad’s A340 and Scoot’s 787-9.
Worst plane: Air New Zealand’s 767-300.
Best ground staff: Virgin Australia at Gold Coast.
Worst ground staff: Delta at JFK.
I have now caught the travel bug, nine years ago I had never been on a plane, six years ago I’d never been outside of New Zealand, less than three years ago I had never been outside of Australia or New Zealand.
I’m unlikely to repeat this much travel in the coming year, or years. But I’m scheming plans for more amazing places I now want to visit. Returning to Europe remains high in first place in those plans.
On my visit to Singapore I went to the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.
As we arrived quite late in the afternoon we only had a little over two hours to quickly race around quite a large zoo. Overall the zoo was quite interesting with lots of animals that you don’t generally see in Australian zoos. However I left feeling that the zoo was a little over-hyped.
In mid-April I went up to Singapore for three days. This was my first time in Asia and the decision to visit Singapore was mainly made because of friends who live there and great airfares on Singapore Airline’s budget carrier Scoot.
The flight from Sydney to Singapore left just after midday and arrived almost an hour early around 6.30pm local time. By the time I had collected my bags, cleared immigration, and caught the MRT to my hotel it was quite late in the evening so I had an early night.
The next morning I met up with an Australian workmate who was also visiting Singapore and we explored around Little India. This was a little bit of a culture shock as it was not what I was expecting Singapore to be like.
Scoot’s 2nd 787-9 Dreamliner aptly named Barry
Those aren’t Jungle animals
Streets of Little India
After getting lost a few times we found a MRT station and headed through to the Marina Bay area which is a complete contrast to Little India. At Marina Bay we met up with another friend at the Merlion and walked around Marina Bay to Marina Bay Sands where we had lunch.
It has just taken me around an hour to try and insert some previous and next month navigation links to the blog monthly archives. It seems that WordPress doesn’t have any real native support for this time of navigation which is odd.
Anyway the code below is my very hacky version of how to do it. I placed this in my theme’s archive.php file
Yesterday Indonesia murdered two Australian citizens convicted of drug smuggling.
The two Australians have been in prison for over 10 years and by all accounts were completely rehabilitated. The killings are unjust and show complete arrogance on behalf of the Indonesian government to the social norms regarding crime and punishment.
The Indonesians have ignored all international pressure to stop the executions, this is their sovereign right to do so. However, they have also made deliberate choices to offend the Australian and international community. The President and the government have deployed army commandos and fighter jets to transport the prisoners, they have deployed naval frigates to patrol the small island on which the executions took place, and police chiefs have taken smiling photos with the masked condemned men.The worst of this was the announcement of the date of executions on ANZAC day.
In response to the killings Australia has withdrawn its ambassador to Indonesia. While this is a very strong action in political terms in real action it seems like so little. The damage left behind by the Indonesian government is more than two dead bodies, there are geopolitical wounds that will take a long time to heal.
For over a year now each time I buy music from the iTunes store I am informed that “Your account has been accessed from a new computer or device”. I am then asked to renter my credit card information.
The first time this happened I thought that it was possible that my account had been compromised so I got iTunes to deactivate all my computers. But then this message came back again and again and again. I next wondered if it was happening when I was switching between computers and downloading music on two different systems. But no this wasn’t the case either.
I have finally figured it out. iTunes is not allowed to store the CVC2 or CVV2 code from your credit card (the 3 numbers on the back of the card). In fact no provider is allowed to store the three number code. But some credit card providers require this code for purchases (such as my bank). Because of this each time you purchase something on iTunes you are asked to reenter this code.
The problem remains that iTunes prompts for handling this situation are completely wrong. First you are asked to confirm your purchase, second you are asked to verify your billing information, third you are told that you have accessed iTunes from a new device – which is wrong. Finally you are emailed that your recent purchase was made from “a computer or device that had not previously been associated with that Apple ID” – again wrong.
Clearly iTunes knows and is correctly not storing the CVC2/CVV2 code but its messages for handling this situation are not only wrong but completely misleading and worrying. The fact that it has been over a year and they haven’t fixed the problem – or even have any help on the problem is also alarming.
After exactly two weeks on the ground in Europe it was time to fly back to Australia.
Over the previous two weeks I had seen so much. From skiing on the highest mountain in Germany, to exploring medieval castles, reformation churches, and war memorials. A plan that came together in less than a week allowed me to see every friend who is currently in Germany. I have also fallen more in love with a country whose rich history, vibrant culture and lovely people makes me want to keep going back for more.
The final city I visited in Europe was The Hague. My host and I arrived into the Centraal station quite late on a wet evening. We then quickly took our bags to my host’s apartment and headed out for dinner. After a few beers we called it a night in preparation for a big final day in Europe and a very long flight home.