BEIJING, MAY 2, 2008|
Their new airport has an amazing starry ceiling constructed of wooden or steel planks and lights. The airport itself is in the shape of a dragon with the solar panels forming the spikes on the dragon's back.
WHERE WE STAYED
Hotel Gioberti, Rome, right next to the railway station. Snooty front desk staff and an ordinary, noisy room with bad plumbing right on the main street despite booking months in advance. The breakfast, on the other hand, was sensational-designed for German tourists, without doubt. There were lovely meats, cheeses, pastries presented beautifully.
Albergo di Murlo, near Siena. Looked good, was expensive but basic and breakfast was ordinary.
Hotel Minerva in Pisa - basic but OK. Free internet access and one pleasant staff member at least on the front desk.
San Guisto Camping, near Florence with friendly hosts and Tuscan home cooking.
Residence Camping near Venice. Set up to attract German tourists. The room was excellent value and very clean.
Hotel Susa in Susa near the base of the Italian alps. Nice room, free internet access and pleasant breakfast. They want a lot of money in Susa for fasoletti (handkerchiefs) which I tried to buy because in Italy, ladies' hankies are the same size as men's!
Saint Pourcain, a beautiful little town where we stopped by chance and heard the organ playing behind medieval church doors. The hotel room was small and rather grubby. The Irish Pub next door, part of the hotel, had no Irish food, no Irish beer and the host spoke no Irish or English.
Les Saules camping, Loire valley, France. A very friendly host and free internet access. The disposable sheets were awful.
Sainte Claude Hotel, Peronne, France. In the centre of town but inconvenient in terms of access.
Bors Hoff, Stuckenborstel, Germany. We were the only guests. I don't think German hotels like or expect passing travellers.
Prins Carl Hotel, Ystad, Sweden. Ystad is the setting for the Kurt Wallender detective novels by Henning Mankell, and of the TV series. The room was tired, poorly ventilated and there was a step right inside the door that must have finished off a few tourists. Fortunately, the room was so small that when I fell, I landed on the bed. Breakfast was excellent.
Claridges, Delhi. A glamorous hotel with (too) many staff getting in each other's way and beautiful grounds. Outstanding food at the restaurants. Eating glorious Chicken Tikka Masala at 2 am after our arrival will be an enduring memory.
Marigold Residency Hotel, Mumbai. Close to the airport and quite pleasant but not overly friendly.
We also stayed at Lis's holiday home in Skagen, right next door to the house where one of the famous Skagen painters, Laurits Tuxen, lived. The glorious rhododendrons were in bloom and we purchased a card of the painting and have had it framed.
Tuxen painting of the rhododendrons next door
My photo of the rhododendrons next door
One building in the Skagen art gallery complex
The hotdog van in Skagen
In Vejle mall
Just a few coffee accessories on sale in Vejle
Wordsworth in Goslar, Germany
Goslar, Germany, European Cup, 2008
Taj Mahal, Agra, India
A cow on the road, Agra
Watch out for the animals!
A ceiling at the Temple of Heaven
On the way to the Ming tombs
Lupins in China-they grew wild in Denmark
A doorway in Albergo di Murlo
Siena, like something from Romeo and Juliet
Fountain in Siena-a drink from the wolf's mouth
A tempting fruit display in Siena
The tower is still leaning
The glorious cathedral in Florence
A canal in Venice
Masks for sale in Venice
War memorial at Villers Bretonneux, France
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
At Rosenborg castle
Hotel in Skagen
Fire engine tour, Ystad
An adorable panda at the Beijing Zoo
At the Great Wall
The Colosseum in Rome
Goteborg Harbour, Sweden
Huts on the beach near Ystad, Sweden
Wallender fire-engine tour
A Danish cottage
Holms Inn, Middedlfart, Denmark
Just popping in to do some shopping
COUNTRY ROAD, TAKE ME HOME
It was a relief to get out of Italy into France because of all the red tape involved in getting a hotel room or camping place and connecting to the internet. In France, we just had to sign the register and that was it. Breakfast isn't routinely supplied in France but we could always buy succulent baguettes.
The French countryside was not quite as pretty as Italy but more relaxed with much better roads. The crops grew right up to the edge of the road so that at times we were driving through cereal crops.
COMPLAINTS, I'VE HAD A FEW
Any well organised traveller about to fly out of a country probably arrives at an airport without too much local currency in hand. Why then, is it almost impossible to buy anything cheap at airports? Why would I want to go around the world buying the same stupid designer labels from every airport anyway? Again at Bombay airport, I had 500 rupees left. That is about $A16. I was looking forward to buying a few more little souvenirs with that - I had already bought a few little things for 100 rupees knowing that price was highly inflated in tourist shops. Firstly, there were no little souvenirs. Secondly, the shops in the departure lounge would only accept US dollars or credit cards! If I'm travelling home to Australia, why would I want to convert my money to US dollars? So after being harassed to spend endlessly all week, I converted my money to a minimal amount of Australian dollars and took it home with me.
On a 2 hour stopover at Sydney domestic airport, it was a delight to see a variety of attractively presented shops selling confectionery, books and magazines, jewellery, sunglasses, cheap bags and a post office shop selling cute souvenirs all at reasonable and honest prices, and I happened to have $15 burning a hole in my purse.
Since arriving home I have heard that the rent at Adelaide airport shops is so exorbitant that the only way they can pay their way is to sell expensive gear. Perhaps the airport needs to re-think its policies, if this is true. If people have a few dollars left over, they would often like to spend it rather than change it. Have a few shops selling cheap and cheerful goods that people can buy at realistic prices - I couldn't bring myself to pay $25 for a key ring at Helsinki airport, however good the quality - a plastic one for $5 would still have come from Helsinki.
Hindu temple in Delhi