Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas Greeting

The following has already been snail mailed to some, emailed to others but now posted for those of you whom I cannot contact directly.

Christmas 2008
Dear Friends
I guess my working days are now over. The only employment this year was as a polling official at the council elections. I cannot say I miss it but watching my superannuation funds empty due to the Global Financial Mess makes me wonder. I certainly will not be planning any more extensive trips until things improve.
As I took my laptop to Europe, many of you already know of my 2 months wandering first through Bavaria, Austria and Switzerland before travelling north to Berlin, Warsaw, the Baltic States, Stockholm, Helsinki and even the Arctic Circle before returning to Munich via Leipzig and Frankfurt. I had a wonderful time helped by staying with friends in Munich, Berlin and Helsinki and meeting other contacts in Bangkok, Vienna and Stockholm.
It was a mixture of train and ship travel, walking in the Alps ( I lost weight, sadly only temporary), attending operas (Der Rosenkavalier and Land of Smiles in Vienna and The Magic Flute in Berlin) and a concert (Stockholm), visiting museums, castles and churches as well as just wandering in cities and navigating their public transport. I know that I often waste time doing this but prefer that to guided tours.Above is beautiful Hallstatt in Austria which has gone to the top of my list of favorite places and below is the medieval town of Tallinn in EstoniaAt the beginning of November, Bev and I used our frequent flyer points to fly to Dunedin for 10 nights. I am now determined to move there during 2009 as long as I am able to sell my present house for a satisfactory price.
While we spent most of the time in Dunedin and my sister agrees with me that it is a lovely city but wishes it was not so far away, we also went south to Lake Manapouri and Doubtful Sound (the Road to Doubtful Sound is below) where we experienced the heaviest November snowfall in 30 years. I was pleased to see snow fell in the suburbs I have chosen to look for a home.I have continued my U3A activities of Monday walks and Tuesday music. I will miss the friends I have made there. I have also continued to worship at St James, King Street as well as attend various courses it provides during the week. While I love the church, I do not love the 2 hour train trip each way. I have made contact with the Vicar of a church in Dunedin and we worshipped there one Sunday and went to the Cathedral the next. I am finding the garden difficult to maintain and have employed a landscaper to repair the walls and paving I completed more than 20 years ago but have now collapsed. Hopefully this will be finished before Christmas
Internet Blogging has brought me many friends world-wide and at least they can be taken with me. Perhaps if the world economy improves I can visit them one day. I still have enough points for two round trips between Sydney and Dunedin so should not be marooned.
This year I have been the furthest North in my life, when in May I visited the Arctic Circle (66 deg 32’ 35’’N) and yes, I had an interview with Santa . In November I went the furthest south to the port of Bluff in New Zealand (46 deg 36’ 54”S). I have not yet forgotten all my Geography.

Best wishes for Christmas and 2009


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