Deprecated: mysql_connect(): The mysql extension is deprecated and will be removed in the future: use mysqli or PDO instead in /home2/kiwichef/public_html/includes/db_connection.php on line 12
  » Related Links
  » Link1
  » Link2
  » Link3
  » Link4
  » Link5
  » Link6
  » Link7
  » Link8
  » Link9
  » Link10
Newsletter » Letters from the past » Europe 1997
Hi, and we are now back from our travels! Marg is in Glasgow still while I am back in Calcutta. Only nine months to go, and about five before I see what the job market is like. We had a great trip, meeting Marg in London, - who was still in bed when I arrived mind you, - and having a few days in the chill of a good ol' British summer! Time to rest though and get over the flight. Onto Spain where we had a couple of days in Madrid taking two day trips out to Toledo and Sevruga. A nice place and the Hotel was very friendly and central, being just a short walk from the central square. Saw a bullfight here, but found it totally boring and cruel to the animals that we left after only a couple or five different fights. It has changed so much, that it has become very one sided and a bunch of girls could easily do the same job now!

From here we took the overnight sleeper down to Lisbon and stayed there for five days. A grand old city, plenty of old and new intermingled. Accommodation here was only two short subway rides from the center, but the hotel was actually quite poor. Luckily we found a dining café type place that served superb breakfasts and survived with that. Went to Caicais for the day which is on the Atlantic coast, and while some people were swimming it wasn't this tropical fishs' cup of tea. Toes only in this case! We also took a day to Simla, which is a hill station with a grand old castle on top of it. The only day we got caught in the rain and cold, Marg having to buy a sweater to try and keep warm. Still worth going though, as it was a very charming place, even if it was full of tourists! Lisbon itself has a great fort on top of one of its hills, that you can take a tram ride to. Marg and I found this out after we walked up the first time, - always difficult to work out the ticket systems for the various modes of transport in the countries we visit.

A flight to Athens, the land of the Acropolis, and what a sight it is. A couple of gunpowder store explosions may have left a lot of it in ruins, but it is still a very impressive sight! Our hotel was only about 400 meters from the Acropolis, so very easy to walk to. Actually, nearly every city that we have been to so far, we have been able to see the majority of the sights by walking. Admittedly we cover a few miles, but the exercise is good and you get to see a lot more than on the top deck of a tour bus speeding past. The highlight that I feel of the trip was a cruise, only for a day, around three of the closer Greek Islands. Beautiful and you could really see why the Greek Islands are so justifiably famous. Maybe I have found my new retirement home! We also took a trip to Delphi, the ancient center of the world and the site of one of the very first athletic stadiums. Also it had the temple of oracle there. Such a great sense of history associated with all these places. It truly makes you feel so small in the universal order of life.

All too soon this part of the trip was over. After having feasted on the various delicacies from these countries and sitting down and having countless cappuccino coffees and beer, it was time to fly back. We were only in London overnight before heading across to Dublin where we stayed for a couple of days. Actually, we were a littler disappointed with Dublin, being like most other cities whereever you go in Britain. We stayed in a bed and breakfast here, and then decided to hire a car for a few days travelling down to Waterford, then Cork and Limerick before heading back to Dublin. A nice trip, carried out mostly in the rain, (of course), but what a green and beautiful country Ireland is. Extremely nice people and great hospitality also. We did go to Blarney Castle though, and yes, did also do acrobatics to kiss the Blarney stone. You have to hang upside down over a straight drop to do so, but you cannot go to Ireland without doing so I suppose! Once back in London a trip up to Glasgow to see Margs' parents was on the cards, so onto the train and a quite pleasant trip up the coast. It was good to spend some time with them, as I had not seen them in eighteen years, so it was time! I only had three nights here, in which case we did some shopping and a little sightseeing, before I had to catch the train back. I left Marg here, as there was not much point her coming all the way down to London and then the long trip back. I came by train to London, then bus for two hours to the airport, then then a flight a couple of hours later. Twelve hours flying, plus the loss of seven hours, meant a very long travel day and a half. Actually, when I landed in Hong Kong, I though it was 6-30 in the morning, and wondered why all the shops were open so early, and why it was actually getting darker! Actually, I had lost a day and it was evening of course, so only time for dinner, a couple of beers and then try and sleep of my jet lag.

Actually wasn't so bad once I orientated my brain, and had the next day to shop around. I am into music and film CD's now, and Hong Kong is one place I know where you can get a fair selection. It certainly beats' watching repeats of CNN and BBC all the time. Next day it was a time to beat cyclone Victor and I nearly got stuck overnight, but luckily enough was placed on an earlier flight and left before the airport was closed. I only had the one night in Bangkok to change planes, so a delay would have meant a complete muck up of schedule to get back to Calcutta. Not too bad a thing I suppose! One piece of bad news from the holiday, was my camera giving up the ghost after two rolls of film, so an expensive repair there, and for most of the trip used Marg's camera only. It is a small Pentax zoom, good for most things, but not with the versatility that my Nikon gives me. We just bought a whole pile of guide books instead. The place has survived very well since I have been away, but there are delays in the renovations. Apparently all the support beams have corroded out, so add another six months to the renovation time to get it structurally sound again. It was lucky that they found out in time, as we might have had the whole hotel crashing down at some future date!

Marg is well and good and also thoroughly enjoyed the trip. She did a great job in planning this trip, as we had to try and coordinate our timings and movements to be able to meet up, but she arranged just the sort of holiday that I like. It is actually the first time I think she has solely planned one of our trips, so a great effort. We always have great difficulty in adjusting our holidays to suit both, as I am more of the "every day get up and go" sort, while Marg is slightly more "take a day or two on the beach" person. I think this time we found the balance, even though there was not a single day in the whole trip that we actually did nothing all day.

Marg also scored an "A - Excellent" pass mark on her Psychology course, which gave her 40 credit points towards her degree course. She now has to decide where to do the degree, as one sticking point is the amount of money required by Glasgow, even though Marg is a British subject. More news on that later as things develop. It is quite lonely without Marg here now, - I am feeling it a lot more this time, than in the first year apart and look forward to the next posting when we have a chance of leading a normal life again. A busy year coming up again with about seven major happenings being held here in the next six months, with again a major emphasis on menu changes and standards being set for all the kitchens. Will try and spread things out a bit and not tire myself out too much.

It was great talking to you on the phone this morning. I was hoping that I would catch you in. Good to hear that Royces' cancer is in remission, and I hope there is no pain at present from any of the past trouble spots. How are you going, which is the main thing? Judy tells me that you are running a bit depressed, which doesn't sound like you at all! I do hope that it is a passing phase, and that you do not let the various bits and pieces get you down too much. Apparently also a mild winter this year, which probably would have meant more time being able to be spent outdoors. How is the garden looking? We saw some beautiful roses in various places on our trip and always thought of you when we did.......

With all our very best

Willi and Marg