Thursday, November 29, 2018

Got the Bird

I picked up the turkey this evening for Saturday's Czechsgiving fiesta.  This beast is 13,4 kg (29.5 lb) and I hope that it fits in the oven.  This is the biggest bird I've gotten since I moved in to my new flat.

It's hard to believe that this will be the 10th Thanksgiving that I've hosted here in Brno.  The event has become way bigger than that first one back in 2009.  At this rate it won't be long before the kids will outnumber the adults.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Australia-New Zealand-Hong Kong Trip Summary

We finally made it to Australia.  About 20 hours of travel but finally arrived in Sydney.

There is so much to see and do in Australia.  Another trip or two or three is definitely in order.  If only it wasn't so dang far away.  Starting in Sydney was brilliant.  Sydney is a modern, very gay friendly, European-ish city with a hip Asian vibe.  Loved it!

I really enjoyed the Blue Mountains and, of course, no visit Down Under is complete without seeing a Koala.  Marcus is now working in Sydney so it was good to catch up with him over dinner.

Most people take photos the Sydney Opera House but few actually go inside.  We were lucky to have tickets to the premier performance of Spartacus.

The performance was absolutely brilliant.

Here's the commercial from the Australian Ballet that I found out on YouTube.

©The Australian Ballet

From Sydney, it's possible to do a day trip to Canberra to see the capital.  In a perfect world, I would have preferred one full day there but when cramped for time then the four or five hours there on tour is enough.

Then it was on to Queensland to visit Cairns.  Nice little town but I could have done without the bats.  The best parts though of visiting Cairns were going to the rainforest in Kuranda and seeing the Great Barrier Reef.

The final stop in Australia was Melbourne in Victoria.  Melbourne definitely has a European feel to it.  One of the coolest things was the taxi ride from the airport to the hotel and seeing kangaroos going full blast in the wild.

The Great Ocean Road is a must do activity in Melbourne.  The Miss Fischer's Tour was interesting but probably only for fans of the show.

Cristine moved to Adelaide almost two years ago.  Since I flew to Australia she flew to Melbourne for a weekend and it was fun to catch up.

Australia was awesome!  I can't wait for next time, well except for the long flight there.

Then it was off to Kiwiland.  Back in Wellington for a couple of days with Natalie and her family.  Fortunately there was no earthquake this time.

Then it was off to Hong Kong via Sydney.  Natalie was on her way back to Vanuatu and we happened to be on the same flight.  Yeah!

It was fun being back in Hong Kong even just for a couple of days. One of the biggest highlights was lunch at Tim Ho Wan.  I still have yet to see the Bruce Lee statue but I did have an interesting Thanksgiving dinner.

Another great adventure but I wasn't ready to give up the 24℃ (75℉) in Hong Kong for the 4℃ (39℉) in Brno.  Now to start getting ready for the 10th anniversary Czechsgiving fiesta.  How has it already been 10 years?

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Back in Hong Kong

Hong Kong isn't that big but there's so much to see and do that you don't have to repeat the same sightseeing unless you want to.

Aberdeen is located on the southwest side of Hong Kong Island.  In Cantonese, 香港仔,  the name translates to "Little Hong Kong."  The area is home to around 80,000 people and its harbour is home to several floating restaurants.

There's a nice little promenade for a stroll along the harbour.

The local Tin Hau Temple was built in 1851.

In 2004, the Avenue of Stars opened along the Victoria Harbour waterfront.  It's the Hong Kong version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame and it honours the local film industry.

I wanted to see the 2,5 metre Bruce Lee statue the last time I was here but it was closed off for renovations.

Well the whole avenue has been moved during the three year project but at least this time I at least got to see everything, except Bruce.  Damn!  Guess I need another return visa in a couple of years.

I was able to overcome my disappointment of missing Bruce Lee for a second time by having lunch at Tim Ho Wan.  Fortunately we timed everything right and we didn't have to wait in the queue for too long.

Lunch at a Michelin Star rated restaurant ticks another item off of my bucket list.  This place has to have the best dim sum I've ever had.  Lunch for two for less than €20.  Highly recommended!

One thing well worth doing over and over in Hong Kong is going to Kowloon to view the Hong Kong Harbour at night.  This never gets old.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving in Hong Kong

Next week is the 10th annual Brno Czechsgiving fiesta but today is Thanksgiving.

So tonight's Hong Kong Thanksgiving dinner was pork noodle soup and bubble tea.  Not a traditional Thanksgiving dinner but tasty nonetheless. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Back in Wellington, New Zealand

On Monday it was time to leave Australia and head to New Zealand.  I was definitely ready for some Nat time in Wellington.

Tünde make a piggy bank in kindergarten for her godmother and tasked me with hand delivering it.  I'd been carrying this thing in my suitcase all across Australia but the package made it safe and sound.

Fortunately there was no earthquake this time so we had the opportunity to do some of the sightseeing we missed out on the last time including a tour of the parliament.  Unfortunately, no photography is allowed inside.

The National Library has a new exhibition called He Tohu which is made of three parts - a declaration, a treaty, and a petition.

The Declaration of Independence of the United Tribes of New Zealand, He Whakaputanga was signed in 1835.  It is the country's first constitutional document declaring New Zealand as an independent Māori nation.

The Treaty of Waitangi, Te Tiriti o Waitangi, is the country's founding document which was supposed to be a partnership between the Māori and the British Crown.

A 274-metre (899 foot) long petition, with 25,521 signatures, was delivered to parliament in 1893 demanding universal suffrage.

It's been 125 years since New Zealand became the first country in the world to grant all women the right to vote in parliamentary elections.  It's incredible that the Kiwis did it in 1893 but women in the USA and the UK couldn't vote until after WWI.

We only had a couple of days in Kiwiland but it was great to spend time with Nat and her parents.  If only Wellington wasn't on the other side of the world.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Miss Fisher's Murder Mystery Tour, Australia

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries is an Australian television series that debuted in 2012.  It's about a glamorous female private detective who solves crimes in Melbourne in the 1920s and based on the novels of Kerry Greenwood.

Three seasons were produced and all 34 episodes are available on Netflix.  The show is popular and the show has been aired in more than 100 countries.

©Australian Broadcast Corporation

On Saturday, we took a walking tour of Melbourne that highlighted areas of the central business district where the series was filmed.

A lot of filming took place at Rippon Lea House and Gardens about 7 km (4,25 miles) which we didn't visit.  Following an afternoon tea, we covered about a six-block area of Melbourne.  Apparently the show was filmed on a shoestring budget.  Filming usually took place early on Sunday mornings when fewer people were out and about.  The National Trust allowed filming at the town hall, parliament buildings and the treasury, among other places.  As we walked around, we were shown video clips from the show.  

At the end of the tour we were treated to a Phryne Fisher inspired cocktail at the Gin Palace.  I'm not a gin drinker as I don't care for the taste of juniper.  The drink was made with a local gin, vermouth, apple liqueur and pear cider.  It was pretty tasty.

The tour was pretty interesting and not just for the references to the show.  We got the inside scoop on several of Melbourne's heritage buildings which blend with contemporary architecture.  
The thing that really stands out to me is that the city is home to many funky buildings.  There's nothing "cookie cutter" about the local architecture.  

Monday, November 19, 2018

Great Ocean Road Tour, Australia

On Saturday, we did a tour of the Great Ocean Road.  It's a must do trip when in Melbourne and it's Australia's version of Route 66.  The route is 540 km (336 miles) which is about eight hours worth of driving.

We booked Melbourne Small Group Tours and I'm so glad that we did.  I'm not a big fan of big motor coach tours so a small van with only seven passengers was perfect.  Our guide Travis was fantastic!  Highly recommended.

The two-lane road is 243 km (151 miles) runs between Torquay and Allansford.  It was built from 1919 to 1932 by servicemen and it is dedicated to the soldiers who died in WWI.  The Great Ocean Road is the world's largest war memorial.

Our first stop was about 1,5 hours southwest of Melbourne at a popular surf beach where we had tea and cake.  Then it was on to take some photos at the Memorial Arch.

A stop at Teddy's Lookout gave awesome views of the coastline and the Southern Ocean.

At another stop we spotted some koalas in the trees.  The were doing what koalas do best...sleep.
At Apollo Bay we had an hour to walk around and grab a quick lunch.  Then it was back in the van as we continued our trip.  

Our next stop was at the Great Otway National Park where we had a 45-minute rainforest walk. 

 At Port Campbell National Park we got to see the Twelve Apostles, a collection of limestone stacks.  Although it is called the Twelve Apostles,  there were only ever eight.  Now seven as one collapsed back in 2005.

Another rock stack is the Razorback.  It used to extend further out in to the ocean but erosion has taken its toll.

About 3,5 km (2 miles) northwest of the Twelve Apostles is the Loch Ard Gorge.

On our way back to Melbourne we stopped in a small town called Colac where we had dinner at an Aussie pub.  It was well after 10 pm by the time we made it back to Melbourne but what an awesome day.