Wasn’t 2020 a crap year!

The alleged old chinese proverb says “may you live in interesting times”. While there’s no known link to an actual chinese proverb, 2020 has certaintly been an interesting year.

The year started off with me finalising my mid year European holiday plans – a 4 week sojourn through Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands. Flights booked, hotels booked, currency purchased. The one time in my life I was really organised and I think I jinxed it.

News started filtering through mid January of some flu-ey like illness that was circulating in the northern winter and the assumption was this’d all be done by March and we could then get on with our lives.

But it wasn’t done by March and in late March we got told to work from home as the number of infections and deaths increased.

It dawned on me that I wouldn’t be heading to Europe for my holiday. I held off for as long as possible before cancelling holding onto some faint hope that I’d be able to head overseas. But then the Australian government closed the borders and you weren’t allowed out without a good reason or a Liberal party membership card.

Luckily I was able to get over 99% of my money back after I’d cancelled – only being out of pocket for the credit card surcharge of around $30 that Qatar Airways had charged me. In hindsight they should have refunded the credit card surcharge but I couldn’t be bothered arguing over it.

And then the Melbourne lockdown happened. Between late March and late October the Melbourne metropolitan area was under a strict lockdown for a total of 112 days, with a small break in the middle that ultimately ended up causing the second wave. In total we had one hundred and twelve days where you had to have a valid excuse to be outside your home or you’d face some pretty hefty fines.

While retail was closed, and the cafes and restuarants were restricted to take away only, bottle shops were open! Go figure. And bars that had traditionally not been able to sell take aways were allowed to so, so this opened up an opportunity to feast on craft beers from a couple of nearby bars – Penny Blue and Benchwarmer.

And feast on beers I and a mate did – from mid March til the end of 2020 I managed to try some 340 new unique beers.

After lockdown eased the Melbourne CBD has been a wierd place. People are slowly coming back into the CBD but its nowhere near as busy as it was pre-pandemic, and many places unfortunately just didn’t survive. It’s going to take a fair while for the city to recover but I think ths post-COVID CBD will be quite different from the past.

For me – while it’ll be work from home from the foreseeable future I’m hoping that there will be some overseas travel in 2021. Hopefully Europe will get this under control by mid year. If not I’m crossing my fingers for Japan, South Korea or Taiwan.

Let’s all pray that 2021 is nothing like 2020.

Europe 2019 retrospective

For my Europe trip this year I decided to head off to southern France and bypass Paris altogether, and to finish off the trip with a couple of days relaxing in Amsterdam.

Overall the weather was pretty disappointing, most days were cloudy but not too much rain thankfully. Towards the end of May the weather started to get better with one day in Amsterdam being nice and warm (and I even got a bit of a tan!) but I think my next trip would need to be June (but need to avoid all the school holidays).

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Japan 2018 trip – a retrospective

My fourth trip to Japan took place in the northern hemisphere autumn in October.

The weather was still very pleasant with only a couple of days that were cold and wet while there were also warm days thrown into the mix.

I flew into Narita from Melbourne on a Monday evening and rather than taking the train as I have done in the past I chose to take the limousine bus that would drop me right at my hotel, the ANA InterContinental Tokyo. If I’d taken the train I would have had to change to the Ginza subway line at Ueno and then walk about 500m to the hotel. My guess is that the bus saved me 30 minutes or so.

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2018 travel retrospective

My how 2018 has flown by.

I was lucky enough to start 2018 with a short break in Singapore before returning home in the new year.

Drinking in Singapore can be a very expensive pastime if you don’t know the rules:

  • Go to restaurants that aren’t targeted at tourists or expats – you can still get a long neck of Tiger for around SG$7
  • Drink during happy hour(s) – or more precisely, don’t drink during the couple of hours after the business day finishes when it’s not happy hour. Happy hours are predominantly 2-for-1, so beer is essentially half price
  • Steer clear of hotel bars

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