Sunday, 24 August 2014

Cities and Their Meaning

MyPublisher is an online photo album company where I get ALL our albums printed.

Each time we come home from a days outting or holiday all our pics are uploaded to the laptop, popped into files, edited/sorted, then over a short period of time, the 'best' pics are filed into an album. This file is then moved across to MyPublisher; photos laid out, copy written (lots of Googling for facts that are too quickly forgotten) then sent off for publishing.

You all do that too, right?

We love looking through them. So many memories; seeing MissM as a little person, remembering friends and places.

MyPublisher has just posted a list of the Top 50 Cities To See Before You Die.  It's not that different to all the other Top Cities to Visit lists. Most travel magazines and major newspapers run an annual list, as does travel programmes, TripAdvisor publishes one based on users comments, and other online booking sites also offer their users opinions in a comprehensive list.

Add to these lists, UNESCO List of Sites around the world, various National Trusts, Heritage Trusts, there's Cultural Importance lists, environmental lists and so on.

Each time one appears, do you find yourself drawn to opening up the link, counting where you've been, drooling over where you haven't and opening Google Maps to find a few places you've never heard of but are happy to add to the Bucket List anyway?

How many of you been to on this list? Several friends will probably hit close to 30-40 range for sure.

BG (AKA Before G, which is just over 14 years) I had been to only two cities on MyPublishers list (SanFran and NYC). Since then I can add another 13, making 15 in total. Obviously, still got a LOT MORE to go.

Before each trip, we make sure to have spent time with MissM at the library or Googling about where  we're going and what we might see, so she has some points of reference before we get there. It definitely helps sight seeing with a child who has some basic knowledge before hand. Some things are a surprise, but most are not. It depends on where we are and what we're doing.

Part of the success we had as a family touring Italy in June was her enthusiasm which started in Ancient History at school in the UK, and from watching Horrible Histories.

You'd agree I'm sure, that every holiday memories comprise of what happened while you were there, the giggles, and sometimes the not-so-funny; the meals you shared with friends, the antics the kids might have got up to, a strange bus or taxi ride, a tour guide etc.

Club Med, Noumea was my first ever overseas holiday, my first ever holiday with a girlfriend. We were both 20 years old. It was 10 days of pure fun and I remember a lot of it to this day. The girl I travelled with was one of my closest friends at the time, and we've recently hooked up on FB. She hasn't changed a bit!

I then waited a few years and met my boyfriend at the time in New York (that's on the list) much to my parents disappointment. From there we went to San Francisco (also on the list) and Los Angeles (Disneyland, Hollywood, Bel Air - we spent most of our time fighting) before flying back to Sydney (also on the list).

After launching colour for The Australian, I went to Club Med Nusa Dua in Bali on my own as no one could take time off to join me. Never having gone away my own, it was an eye opener for sure. I promised myself I would do one day at the Club and one day out touring. What an adventure I had. White water rafting down the Auyung River! Day trip on the island culminating at sunset overlooking Tanah Lot, buying a wood carving in Ubud (the carving is in storage), bartering in the local markets.

That was the extent of my overseas travel until we became expats. I'd been waving goodbye to friends and family for literally years and seldom if ever went anywhere. One HUGE positive about being an expat, is living in different countries and being full time tourists, and having friends literally all over the world.

So going by MyPublishers list, here's where we've been fortunate to have been, and the instant memories for me. 

Our recent trip to Italy added Venice, Rome, Florence and Vatican City. As you know, we enjoyed each and every place we visited there and would recommend it to anyone to go!

London - My first visit to London was a weekend with MsH. She could not believe we'd never been. We were living in Dublin and G had no desire to go. So, I did. We had a great weekend doing all the quintessential things one does in London as I didn't expect to be back there. MsH was mortified at my suggestions but played along and added a few 'unique' things to the mix. Stand out memories from that trip is her huge red bag which got in the way of most photos, the most amazing chocolate milkshake ever at Harrods, seeing Harrods pet shop and Christmas shop, standing outside Buckingham Palace, seeing London Bridge and doing the tour, going on The London Eye and standing in a London phone box. Seeing all the signs from the Monopoly board was a hoot too.

The fact that we ended up living in Winchester allowed me to visit London several times.  The train from Winchester into Waterloo was quick and easy which meant I could zip in/out while MissM was at school.  MrsV and the art gallery; MrsW and Ottolenghi; MsH and walking'n'talking along Southbank; MrsW and Westfields; a weekend with G and MissM sight seeing; another weekend with godson and girlfriend. We did so much, yet there's still so much we didn't do. Might have to go back one day and finish the list.

Living in Yokohama was amazing. We were only 40 minutes on a fast train into Tokyo and the Shinkansen to Kyoto with Mum was a fabulous weekend. So many great day trips into Tokyo with G and MissM and the mums from school. Art galleries, shopping, festivals, food, gardens, temples, shrines, cosplay, history, technology. We're surrounded with memories as I look around our home with the various paintings, crockery and ornaments we collected. The day trip to China Pete's every time we use our dinner setting; or getting lost on our way to Dirty Dishes when the small crockery pots are used to hold dips or olives. Every Ikebana vase, even those bought in the UK remind us of our 3 years in Japan.

Kyoto - temples, gardens, shrines, food, Geisha, shopping, walking. And Mum. A fabulous weekend with Mum. Seeing the Golden Temple for the first time, still takes my breath away when I think about it; wanting to stay and savour the moment at Ryoan-ji and being rushed out as everyone else thought it boring.

Paris! MissS was performing at EuroDisney (a long way from the dance studio in Sydney) and we thought 'why not pop over and see her perform and take MissM'. Little did we know we'd end up going back to see MissS perform her very last night at Moulin Rouge a few short years later (this time without MissM). I went  back a 3rd time with Mum and her friend and caught up with MrsA&Co who we lived with in Yokohama, MrT and MrP (from Sydney) and MrsC (who I met in Dublin). Can't wait to go back again - still so much to see!

Singapore - our first visit was to spend Christmas with Mr&MrsP and Co (best friends from Yokohama days); we stayed in a hotel and swam every afternoon, went to the Zoo, did the Hop on Hop Off Bus and had a family oriented Christmas lunch. G and I had NYE at the Hotel which was hilarious for many reasons and MissM had a sleep over with her bestie. Fell in love with Hawker Markets.

We went back for a second visit on our way to living in the UK. G went ahead of us, and as we were in no hurry, we took a 3 night stop over and hung out with the P's again. Saw the Terracotta Warrior exhibition!

Bangkok - great stop over between Dublin and Sydney when MissM was tiny. We organised a private guide and saw the main sights. Too hot for us! This time round we fly straight thru via Abu Dhabi, two long legs.

Prague - a great city for a girls weekend. Thanks MrsS (Aussie friend, met in Dublin) for a brilliant weekend of non stop sight seeing. My candle sticks, puppets and Challah cloth are constant reminders of this great city.

Budapest - Another city we got to experience because of MrsS and Co (same friend went to Prague with). We visited with them just before they repatriated to Sydney. To be fair, not sure it would have been a city we'd have thought to visit otherwise (Copenhagen is another one we have been to cos friends were living there, otherwise we'd not have gone). Loved just walking around the city, drinking in the history. Our days out with The S family were fantastic!

And no list of Cities to See Before You Die is complete with out SYDNEY being there. Our home city! Where does one begin? I so love helping friends put together their 10 day visits.

I used to catch the Sydney Ferry to work from Rose Bay to Circular Quay. Never once taking for granted the fact I lived there, and could do this every single day if I wanted to. People save for years to make the trek to Sydney, to be able to see the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and to catch a ferry to Manly (my brother and SIL live there, and surf, walk, ride bikes, walk the dog daily).

Do your own city a huge favour and PLAY TOURIST the way millions of other people do.

You' might be surprised to learn how wonderful your city is!

Our bucket list, like yours is ever growing .... tho our money tree isn't.

That's the downside of expat life, the fact that most of us are legally bound to being one-income-families. All this bucket list stuff takes money! If only we could be two incomes, holidays might be more easily attained.

Expats tend travel - domestically and internationally. We never know how long we'll be living in one place, so have to make the most of where we are as it could quickly come to an end. MissM could not believe that I had never been on a plane to go on a family holiday. That all our family holidays, and we have one every year, was a driving/exploring holiday within Australia. Her face was a picture of WT!?!?!?!?!?!?!? She's been flying internationally and touring since she was two and a half!

We do things and go places that 'locals' don't, and when we they hear about what we've been up to always comment along the lines of 'haven't been there since school' or 'never been there'. We have our DK or Lonely Planet tour books, we note all the long weekends and school holidays, keep an eye on cheap air fares, spend countless hours online googling and comparing and ask FB friends for recommendations.

So, go live like a tourist or expat in your own city or country.

How many places on this list have you been to?
What are your stand out memories?
What will you next do to play tourist in your own city?
If you had to create a 10-day itinerary for someone who's never been to your home city,
what would it include?

With friendship

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