In mid November I traveled to Bali for a friend’s Wedding.
Bali is not a place that I have ever wanted to visit and a raft of stereotypes held up quite strongly in areas of the Island. In fact when I first arrived I was a little surprised at just how poor some areas of the island are. However, the wedding was good and we did some sight seeing on a day either side of the wedding. During the three days I was there we had dinner on Jimbaran Bay Beach and Kuta, relaxed at Nusa Dua, and did a day trip to Ubud.
On my visit to Singapore I went to the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari.
As we arrived quite late in the afternoon we only had a little over two hours to quickly race around quite a large zoo. Overall the zoo was quite interesting with lots of animals that you don’t generally see in Australian zoos. However I left feeling that the zoo was a little over-hyped.
In mid-April I went up to Singapore for three days. This was my first time in Asia and the decision to visit Singapore was mainly made because of friends who live there and great airfares on Singapore Airline’s budget carrier Scoot.
The flight from Sydney to Singapore left just after midday and arrived almost an hour early around 6.30pm local time. By the time I had collected my bags, cleared immigration, and caught the MRT to my hotel it was quite late in the evening so I had an early night.
The next morning I met up with an Australian workmate who was also visiting Singapore and we explored around Little India.
After exactly two weeks on the ground in Europe it was time to fly back to Australia.
Over the previous two weeks I had seen so much. From skiing on the highest mountain in Germany, to exploring medieval castles, reformation churches, and war memorials. A plan that came together in less than a week allowed me to see every friend who is currently in Germany. I have also fallen more in love with a country whose rich history, vibrant culture and lovely people makes me want to keep going back for more.
The final city I visited in Europe was The Hague. My host and I arrived into the Centraal station quite late on a wet evening. We then quickly took our bags to my host’s apartment and headed out for dinner. After a few beers we called it a night in preparation for a big final day in Europe and a very long flight home.
After 12 days in Germany I had around 36 hours to get from Aachen to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol for my flight back to Sydney.
My original plan was head from Aachen to Eindhoven where I was to meet with another friend. But after some discussions with my friends in Aachen I changed those plans and headed to Maastricht instead.
Maastricht is around one hour by public bus from Aachen. The trip isn’t super exciting but the bus does pass through a number of small villages between Aachen and Maastricht. When I arrived in Maastricht I put my bags into storage and began my normal routine of randomly walking through the city.
As I walked from the train station to the main area of the city I stopped to buy some food from a bakery where I found it quite unusual to be speaking English as for the last few weeks I had at least been saying hello in German.
I ate my snack as I continued my usual routine of trying to get lost and stumble upon interesting things. However, I didn’t have much success at this in Maastricht so after an hour I admitted defeat and bought a map from the local tourist office.
After spending a damp afternoon in Cologne it was time to head to my final destination in Germany.
I boarded a regional express train bound for Aachen at Cologne Hauptbahnhof with my local friend who was playing tour guide. Aachen is around an hour from Cologne and is in the extreme west of the country, very close to the borders of the Netherlands and Belgium.
After arriving in Aachen and dropping my bags at a hotel my friend gave me a quick tour around the city before both of us met up with another local friend for dinner. My friends were both particularly keen on showing me the naturally hot water in the centre of the town and complaining about the smell of sulfur near it. Of course coming from NZ the smell was pleasant and mild, but it did leave me wondering if there is little volcanic activity in Europe (and especially Germany) then why is there warm water here.
Köln (Cologne) is my second favourite city in Germany (after Munich). The only problem is the two times I have visited there I have been rained on.
I first visited Cologne on a sneaky afternoon visit when I was attending a conference in Koblenz two years ago. This visit didn’t have much more planning as I was just staying the night while travelling between cities where my friends live.
I arrived in Cologne in the early evening after starting the day in Osnabrück and visiting Wuppertal along the way. After getting lost trying to find my hotel (I really am an expert in getting lost – I was literally standing on the wrong corner of the building and then walked straight past the main entrance), I checked in and then went to attend to my first goal for Cologne: buying my mother some 4711 Eau de Cologne on the Glockengasse.
I then decided to sort out dinner. Eating alone when travelling is not the best experience. I prefer to find some easy fast food, but given the rain lots of places had closed early. After walking around most of the tourist area of the city I settled for a bakery near my hotel.
After visiting Wuppertal I was meant to be spending a day in Cologne. However, my friend who was to meet me there was only available in the afternoon. As I have visited Cologne on my previous visit to Germany, I took the opportunity to travel down to Bonn for the morning.
With no map, and no real plan, I proceeded to walk around the city for a few hours. In my notebook I had written that I should visit the Old Town Hall, the Münsterplatz and the Bonner Münster, the university and the Beethoven Haus.