Thursday, May 05, 2011

From Dunedin to Paris

I flew from Dunedin  to Sydney via Auckland over 2 weeks ago. I spent Easter with my sister and enjoyed attending services at St James, King Street. I was also able to meet with some friends for lunch. I had hoped to do a little sightseeing around the harbour but the
weather was not good so all I managed was to visit the Archibald and other prize exhibitions at the Art Gallery.
The Anzac Dawn service in Martin Place was very wet but fortunately we obtained cover under the GPO colonnade.  I was pleased they sang the NZ anthem in Maori this time. I was also pleased to hear the Australian anthem was sung in Dunedin. I do not think they did that last year.

Some time was spent hassling with United Airlines. I was unable to obtain an upgrade to any of my flights to or from Europe but after several calls have managed a return flight to Sydney in August for a school reunion. My first call resulted in being told there was nothing available over a 2 week period. A call an hour later and there were plenty of flights???

I have now joined Air NZ frequent flyer and hope they will be easier to deal with in future.

Finally last Tuesday I flew to Singapore and spent 2 nights there. For someone who fled the summer humidity of Sydney, it was not the most enjoyable place but I need to break the journey to Europe somewhere.   However I did make it by metro and bus to the Changi Museum. That was very worthwhile. The story of the suffering of the prisoners of war and the civilian population was moving. One room has the paintings which were originally drawn by an English POW in a chapel. He restored them during the  80’s in the museum as the actual gaol is still a prison today. I was surprised to read about some Japanese soldiers who were kind to the prisoners and one man in particular who was high up in the command and went out of his way to help prisoners and civilians. He is referred to as the Schindler of Singapore. There are also stories of the civilians who risked and sometimes suffered torture or death to provide some comforts. I am attaching a picture of the replica chapel which has been built at the site. and a photo I found on the net of one of the murals.

On Thursday was the long 12 hour flight to Frankfurt in a packed plane. I arrived at 8.40pm which was 2.40am in Singapore and found my way to the hotel where I have stayed twice before. However I was unsuccessful when I tried to use Singapore dollars to buy some fruit juice. The next morning I had time to regroup before crossing the road to the main railway station for a fast train to Paris. It took about 4 hours often travelling at over 200km per hour over the plains of Northern France. Again I am staying in a hotel I have used twice before but have been a bit disappointed in changes that have been made. I think under new owners. No English TV channel meant I  had to interpret the big  wedding with a French commentary. Also the Wifi will not work in my room so I have to sit in the lobby to keep up with the world. However I have enjoyed some long walks around lesser known areas of the city as I have seen all the main tourist attractions on previous visits. I will describe these in my next letter after I have reached Portugal which will be completely new to me. I am travelling there by overnight train next Tuesday.


Leonard said...

Travel well, have a great time!

Fran said...

What a journey! Great to see you on the go again, I am traveling vicariously through you at the moment.