I have, according to the plaque on my wall, had the fortune to travel more than 1,000,000 miles in the air in my life. It seems like a huge number, but in fact, it isn’t. It is just a number. I have had the opportunity to visit some of the most amazing cities on earth. I have flown on some of the best airlines, and some of the worst. I’ve stayed in some of the best hotels, and some of the worst. I thought I would put together the best of travel from my perspective over the next couple of days. My favorite cities, and why! Plus pictures from the visits there over the years!
The top of my list has three cities, so I am going to lead with the three of them as my co-1’s! The three cities are then followed by a list of other cities and will share those tomorrow. Today we start out with the top of Scott’s favorite cities to visit list. My rules are simple; I had to have been and stayed in the city. No fly-byes, drive-byes or wandering the encyclopedia.
My three all time favorite cities, which is probably already given away, although maybe not as they are after all my pictures. These three cities are fun to wander, warm and to invite and a place that I truly love to enjoy more than anything. The first of the three is Copenhagen. A huge part of my heritage is Danish, and I love the city. The next city is also a huge part of my heritage Dublin and finally getting out of Europe my last all time favorite city is Bangkok Thailand. Tomorrow I will dive into the why I love each of the three.
The hardest part of traveling for me was away from family. I did love the many places I got to see and the wonderful things I got to experience. But the best part of every business trip was the leg home. Then the trip was over, and I could remember and share. I wish I had shared earlier, sharing pictures. There are so many to be seen and share. We had a couple of extra free days the second weekend in Australia. The crew doing the rest of Asia had left, we returned from Melbourne, and I was on my own.
So I decided to take the Sydney Harbor cruise just to see the many sights. Sunday I was meeting some co-workers I had worked with the year before on a project, but for this Saturday I was going to cruise around Sydney Harbor and see the sights! It is a massive deep water harbor, but the tour focuses more on the tourist and commuter side of the harbor.
The harbor cruise was a wonderful afternoon. I enjoyed taking pictures and video of the city that is Sydney. I did, towards the end of the cruise run out of battery which was frustrating. I had, then two batteries for my Sony Digital Video camera, but I only took one with me on the cruise. So the last part of the cruise has no images.
Being in Australia and meeting all sorts of people I had communicated with via email for ages, now in person was amazing. Some of the people were on the many late mornings and early evening calls we had talked about what we were doing with the new solution that was being introduced. Our group was splitting up in Sydney; I was going with a friend and co-worker to Canberra and Melbourne. We had 7 or so customer talks that we would be having while visiting the two cities. The rest of the crew was off to Japan to present the same talk there.
We (well my friend/co-worker) decided we would drive down to Canberra from Sydney. I had no clue how long a drive it was, but I was game to see a bit more of the country than I would from an airplane. So off we went on an expedition. Had we only had a yellow road, a tin man, a little dog, a scarecrow and well you get the rest, then it would have been a fitting journey across Oz!
Canberra is an amazing city. First off it is laid off in a grid, a designed city. Each area or district of the city has roads that meet where you expect them to, and it is an extremely logical planned city. We were staying near one of the lakes downtowns and walked around the lake a few times. We were only in Canberra for three days, one of which was Melbourne Cup day. Horse racing is big in Australia.
The first weekend in Sydney was fun for several reasons, not the least of which was the Hollywood movie being filmed there at the time (It was the second reboot of the Superman Movies). Plus the weather was perfect. So the Sunday before the start of meetings we (a dear friend and I who was on the trip) decided to go on a walk. We were just going to wander around Sydney a bit. A little over 12 miles later we were ready for dinner (and going to sleep!).
I got a lot of wonderful pictures of the city. During the week there weren’t as many opportunities to wander the city, we were on the go most of the days with internal and customer meetings. It was the launch of a new way of doing things. I think it was mostly just us doing things the same way but repacking it in a different box. I am not sure the company was truly transforming as much as being claimed.
There were some places along the Quay that had amazing gardens. Plus there were street performers sharing their art. My favorite was the gentleman who played the Didgeridoo just outside the ticket area of the Quay. I thought about bringing one home for the kids. Then I thought about the reality of the learning process and didn’t! It is a glorious instrument well played; it is horrifying played poorly. Sounds like what I imagine a cat would sound like as you rock over its tail with a rocking chair, over and over.
Our niece is traveling Australia now so I thought I would share a few images from the times I went to Oz. The very first trip I took was for me the most memorable because I got to go with a bunch of people that were simply amazing. There were other trips, but they were shorter and project related so less fun more business the first trip had the most fun. This first trip was a field communication process we were doing from the product groups. I landed on Friday PM so that I would be ready for the first meetings on Monday am. We were doing presentations in Sydney for two days, then visiting a couple of customers and then driving down to Canberra. We were then going to fly from Canberra to Melbourne, have a few more meetings and then fly back to Sydney. All in all the trip was slated for 15 days.
The other part of the trip for me was to capture images from every angle of the Sydney Opera House. My father had gone to Oz many years before and brought home many slides of the McGill University campus and many pictures of the Sydney Opera House. My niece posted an image of the Opera House as well, so it’s her fault for this wander. Although her picture was of the Opera house, and the water between the far shore and the Opera House that is often filled with sharks. She was more worried about the sharks. My initial goal was to take a bunch of pictures of the Opera House to send my father, just to tweak him a little.
The first day I was there and could wake up (Saturday) was raining. I didn’t care; I grabbed my umbrella (back then traveling often to Seattle I had an umbrella permanently in my luggage). So my initial pictures are of a gray sky and an opera house. Over the course of the next few days, we wandered the city both for meetings and for fun. We ended up having after hours events with other people on the team talking about customers and how we could help them. We had the best lamb I have ever had in my life. We wandered through the coolest swap meet that is off one of the Quays in Sydney. But that first day was just wet and rainy. Until I found out the hotel had a cigar bar and Cuban cigars, then the day started looking up!
Day 6 and Day 7 were spent on the Disney Magic, the then newest of the Disney Cruise ships (I think they are up to three or four ships now). We stopped at the Grand Bahama Island. Barb stayed on board with the napping boys. Jakki and I took a horse and carriage ride around the city! I enjoy the difference of horse-drawn carriages. I’ve done them in Chicago, New York and other cities in the winter. They are quite a unique experience.
Grand Bahama is a wonderful stopping place; I wish we would have had more time than one day there. The next day, which I talked about yesterday was spent at Castaway Cay. I spelled the name incorrectly yesterday with a K; it is a C. I think my favorite part was the mini-tour Jakki and I took the horse drawn a carriage. That was a first for Jakki, and we had a blast! It was a vacation of firsts for Jakki. First ride in a Limo. First trip to Disney World. First ride in a horse-drawn carriage. First trip on a cruise ship. The same true for the boys, minus the horse-drawn carriage while they were napping!
As a first cruise ship experience, the Disney Magic was amazing. The crew was all about service. Our cabin was beyond amazing. The meals were tremendous, and there were some firsts on the cruise. Luke had his first taste of passion fruit cake at the first lunch of the cruise. He said cake, every time on of the waiters walked by our table. At the last night meal, the entire wait staff that had been with us the entire voyage (you keep the same wait staff but switch restaurants kind of a cool system) stood and clapped chanted cake for Luke on our last night. We haven’t let him live that down, yet.
Over the course of many vacations, I learned one thing. My wife loves, adores, cherishes time spent at the beach. On our 6th day of our Disney World Experience (and most of the 5th as well), we spent time on the Disney Cruise ship Magic. The kids enjoyed the food, the shows, and the kids club. Jakki made a new friend in the kids club, and that was the last time we saw her, except for meals.
The island that Disney has converted is Castaway Kay. It isn’t much of an island, and for the most part other than the dock for the cruise ship and a few small buildings the island is as named, a Castaway. The beaches, however, or beach, is just magnificent. White sands that stretch as far as the eye can see, or sea to make it a pun.
We spent the day on the island enjoying the hospitality of the on-land crew. There was an amazing BBQ for lunch that hit the spot (and made a few new spots that laundry was going to have to deal with later.). We truly enjoyed our Beach day, and Nick finally met a Disney Character that he liked. He ran up and hugged Captain Hook.
We ate breakfast most days at the Polynesian resort where were staying. The 5th day brought another trauma as Chip and Dale appeared with us at breakfast. Nick was not comfortable with the characters (as mentioned yesterday) so it was a little disconcerting to start the day. Luke and Jakki ate the characters up, always pointing out the reality of twins. They are completely different people. Nick, is still to this day uncomfortable around people in costumes and any animal that has been restored via Taxidermy. The museum of Natural History makes him nervous for a day. Luckily the young people in the costumes understand that not everyone is comfortable and gave him a wide berth.
The magic of Disney World was what kept us going by the 5th day. We were exhausted, the kids were tired, but the magic kept us going. Also, the Disney Magic was the name of the Disney Cruise ship we were going to get on, that was an amazing experience. We had a room at the Polynesian Hotel, actually on Disney Property and connected via the Mono Rail. It was fun riding the Monorail. I have ridden hose all the world in airports, but being out in the open, heading into Disney World remains my all-time favorite Monorail trip.
It is funny having been to both Disney World and Disney Land. Disneyland in Anaheim California is older (by ten years or so) than Disney World. I had been to Disney World and Epcot many years before with my little sister. She and I wandered Epcot for a day while visiting my grandparents. I don’t remember if we went to Disney World itself. This time was magical because we were there with really little kids.You don’t realize how magic that kingdom is until you take a little kid with you!
We did two different character breakfasts while we were there. The first, was on the 4th day and was specific to Chip and Dale. We figured they were safe, lovable non-threatening characters. That was left brain logical thinking. Children are right brain reactionary thinkers when it comes to things they do not like. Nick was very uncomfortable (crying and struggling to get away) as the characters came to our table. We ended up waving the characters away each time. It was never them, it was Nick’s discomfort with the dressed up characters. That discomfort happened in the park, every time we saw a character Nick panicked. He didn’t like how they looked or something made him really uncomfortable.
That fear extended well beyond Disney World. Nick wouldn’t go into restaurants that had any animals in virtually any form (Dogs he liked, Cats he liked everything else no). We found out it was also an exceptional dislike of Taxidermy, and animals prepared to look like they were still alive. But that is a story for a later vacation. We were back to wandering Disney World once the trauma of breakfast was over. We had an unplanned day, simply that we wanted to wander around and ride rides. It was hot, as summer will be in Florida. I was thinking a second viewing of the Hall of Presidents display was in order. Barb and Jakki were not interested in the animatronics though.
That was when I discovered the most magical capability of the Kodak Digital Camera. When there were lights at night, and it was dark, the camera started to see streaks instead of light. These pictures of Cinderella’s Castle were a happy accident. Jakki kept (every day at least 10 times a day) telling me to take pictures of Cinderella’s castle. As we were leaving (exhausted) the park on the 4th day I started taking pictures of the castle at night. The result was and is magical. I have never been able to recreate that effect with another digital camera, unless I set the shutter really slow. Most of the newer digital camera’s I’ve used actually accommodate the dark better making these pictures even more magical.
Walt Disney’s concept of main street USA. It reminded me of many places I had visited over the years. It was just like the main drag or street of Cambridge Wisconsin to Wisconsin Dells Wisconsin. It was like some of the small towns around Bloomington Indiana when we moved there in the 1960’s. It was not the main street of the 2000’s, but the world has shifted since Walt Disney designed and built Disney World. I remember watching the show on Wonderful World of Disney when Walt Disney shared his vision for the Florida swamp they (Disney Corp) had purchased. A place for families to go and have fun. A place for kids to enjoy the wonder of the world.
The boys were too small for many rides, so we split up. Jakki and Barb rode Space Mountain and other rides. They also did the water park. I am still not a huge fan of plunging down the hill and full speed only to be stopped by water. You might as well jump off a bridge; it is the same effect after all. But the two of them were having fun riding the rides. The boys and I explored the park. I think my favorite things were the interesting opportunities to watch people. A couple of times the boys crashed (fell asleep in their stroller) so I found a shady place and relaxed for a 1/2 hour or so while they slept.
I learned the most important parental job at Disney World. Learning to say no as we passed by yet another souvenir store. Every park had what seemed like 100’s of them, shops selling the dream of Disney World. We did end up with quite a few trinkets from the trip. I still have the set of Disney World Golf Balls I bought, unopened. That is the only way you can get the Goofy Golf Ball. I don’t know why I remember that or why at that moment it was important to have the goofy ball. Just to end on a more interesting note. A few of the images taken with my Kodak Digital Camera have some interesting light affects. In fact, they were not on purpose but a very cool accidental discovery.