Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Travel--Elisabeth Rose

Me in Western Australia at Cape Leeuwin on the bottom corner where the Indian and Southern Oceans meet.

For some reason Australians love to travel. Maybe it’s because we’re so isolated or so many of us come from other places we still have relatives overseas. Or just that we’re curious.

I love travelling. When I was nine my family spent nine months in Europe. Back in 1961 there wasn’t much point going for a short trip because the sea voyage was 5-6 weeks. We went on a cargo chip called the Clan MacInnes which meandered its way to Manchester from Sydney via Colombo, Aden, the Suez Canal, Port Said, past Gibraltar and into the Channel.

Dad hired a car and we drove all over Europe stopping for a few weeks here and there wherever took our fancy. We stayed for a month in a guest house in Buckinghamshire, England where the grandparents also joined us, visiting from Australia. To travel back home we boarded the Oranje, a Dutch passenger ship which went the other way round the world, through the Panama Canal. I remember my brother and I loved the children’s activities onboard. We must have been starved for the company of kids after so much travel with just our parents

A few years later we went on another month long sea cruise to Papua New Guinea stopping at various ports such as Port Moresby, Lae and Rabaul which has a smoking volcano I was convinced would explode any moment.

My mother has never forgotten how on that cruise she and the other women would go in for afternoon tea at four o’clock. Children were not allowed in to the dining room to join in but the mothers would take a slice of cake or biscuit for them. Someone once asked for more cakes and the steward eyed them sternly and said, ‘There were exactly enough. One each. Someone has eaten two!’ They all hoped there’d be no search of pockets and handbags on the way out.

My next overseas foray came in February 1975 as a member of the Australian Youth Orchestra. We did a 19 concerts in 22 days tour of the Philippines, Korea, Japan and Hong Kong. The most memorable thing about that trip was vast temperature changes. High summer in Australia, clammy humidity in Manilla and a cyclone in Cebu City, freezing below zero in Pusan and Seoul, marginally warmer in wintery Tokyo and moderately warm in Hong Kong.

In October that same year my now husband and I set off, again by ship, the Galileo Galilei, for Europe. This was the third last run by the Italian liner. Sea travel by this stage was fast being over taken by air travel—quicker but still not necessarily cheaper. That was a wonderful experience. Five weeks on our big white Mama ship. Sydney, Auckland, Fiji, Tahiti, five days without land to Acapulco, San Cristobal, through the Panama Canal, Curacao, more days without land and the weather getting colder, Malaga, Malta, Naples and finally Genoa. From there we caught the train to stay with a friend in Switzerland and then on to Leeds in England to spend Christmas with my brother-in-law.

As many Aussie intrepid young travellers did in the seventies we bought a VW van outside Australia House in the Strand in London and then drove it all over Europe. Eric the van took us from London to Greece via then Yugoslavia, back north via the south of France, Switzerland where my husband worked in a band playing club gigs for 3 months, and then finally to The Hague where we lived for a year.

Back in Canberra we still ventured forth. The South Island of New Zealand came next with our 18 month old daughter then Japan in 1987 with our two children. We’ve seen a fair bit of Australia over the intervening years but haven’t made it to the Top End yet. That’s on the list along with Egypt and South America.

We’ve been to the USA twice and I’ve been to China twice with my Tai Chi Academy.
The Nan Yan Palace in Wudang.

In January we’re doing an upgraded version of ‘Eric the van camping’ in the North Island of New Zealand. According to the brochure this van has a toilet and shower. No running in to the shower block first thing and checking for hot water! The Grand Canyon

Now that we’re getting closer to retirement we’ve decided to get out there and see those places we’ve wanted to but haven’t yet, while we’re still fit and able. A return trip to Europe is a must because we missed so many places last time—Prague, Vienna, Scandinavia, the Greek Islands, the Italian Lakes. Then there’s the friend we met in Holland who now has a peach and grape farm in Argentina . . . and my husband’s long time dream of doing a Nile cruise.

The world is a wonderful place!


Beate Boeker said...

Wow, Lis, you truly have seen the world! I'm impressed that you managed to take time off for weeks on end and even traveled with small kids. It sounds fascinating. And you know that when you come to Europe the next time, you have to stop in Germany!

Sandy Cody said...

The world is indeed a wonderful place - but only to those who appreciate it. Good for you!

And I'll echo Beaate's sentiment. If you come back to the US, let us show you around the Philadelphia area, not just the city, but the surrounding area. PA is a beautiful state.

Loretta C. Rogers said...

Lis, this is a fun article. I enjoy traveling. Hopefully, some day, I'll make it to Australia

Carol Hutchens said...

Wow, Lis...and we all want to come to Australia!!!!
Thanks for the fun.

Elisabeth Rose said...

Beate, you're on! We'll definitely get back to Europe.

Sandy, thank-you for the offer and it goes in return, of course.

Loretta and Carol. I hope you do make it to Aus one day. Loretta you'd probably enjoy our bushranger history--Ned Kelly etc. It's the closest we come to the Wild West.

Zelda Benjamin said...

Lis- I love your part of the world. Ever since our 1st visit 6 yrs ago my husband and I go back every year. It'll be Tasmania this year. Any suggestions?
You're right about Aussies and Kiwis loving to travel. We've made some good friends who have visited us here in Florida. If you're ever in Fl give us a call.

Elisabeth Rose said...

Hi Zelda,
Suggestions re Tassie? Take warm clothes! Just kidding but, it doesn't get as hot down there. I went a couple of times when I was a teenager but haven't been back since. My husband's never been so it's on our list.

Of course you'll do Port Arthur--the notoriously cruel convict prison. Are you planning a wilderness trek or rafting trip? It has some of the world's few remaining wilderness areas.

Don't forget if you come to Canberra be in touch.