Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Hong Kong


Once again, I must apologise for the delay in transmission. We had difficulty with internet connection (and finding time) to update the blog while we were there. We arrived home safely yesterday afternoon after the long and tiring trip back to Australia via Sydney. The journey through customs, Qantas transit lounge and on to Brisbane was frustrating - to put it mildly. Anyhow, back to Hong Kong - here's our 5 day stay in a nutshell. You can view all of the photo's, including the day trip to Macau, by clicking the picture link below.
Click on this picture to view all our photos from Hong Kong
Hong Kong

We arrived in Hong Kong early on our first day, but due to exhaustion from the flight didn't get to do very much during the day. We spent the afternoon and evening exploring the surrounding area and watching the laser light show which happens every night at 8pm. We were lucky enough to arrive on a night where they also had special fireworks in the lead up to handover celebrations on the 30th June.

The next day we went up to the Peak to look at the view and take some pictures. We had a lovely lunch at The Peak Lookout restaurant which has been there as long as Mum could remember. After lunch we went back down and caught a double decker tram to Causeway Bay, primarily to go to the Hong Kong Yacht Club however we were distracted by a huge sale they were having a Sogo (a large department store). We emerged several hours later and got to enjoy the laser light show from the other side of Hong Kong!

We organised ourselves to take a day trip to Macau. Unfortunately the weather was very rainy so we didn't get a chance to look at all the sites that Mum had recommended. I can tell you that the Bela Vista Hotel is now some kind of official building and closed to the public. We had lunch (late) at the Lisboa in the coffee shop. They are busy building a 2nd Lisboa behind the first including an (almost) life size version of the globe! By coincidence I happended to buy a watch from the watch shop where my grandfather bought all his watches!

We spent the next few days exploring the other sites of Hong Kong, including a trip to Kennedy Road, the playground where I first walked and the house where my family lived when I was born. It so happened that on this day a vising VIP meant that we were stuck in the Hong Kong gardens during a 4 hour rainstorm while the road was closed. It was an experience .... not very good for my shoes I'm afraid.

We left Hong Kong on the night of the handover clebrations. We heard there were plans for a fireworks show to rival that of Chinese New Year when the government invested 1.2 million dollars on fireworks! It was a bit of a shock to come back to winter as we'd been enjoying the balmy humid conditions in Hong Kong and European summer. As a result I'm all rugged up to write this final blog (except for the gloves ... not that cold yet!).

Bye for now.

Malga's Back in Oz :)

Friday, June 22, 2007


On Wednesday we paid a visit to the ancient Roman ruins at Carnuntum, about a 20 minute drive from Vienna. It was a very hot day, but we managed to visit all of the significant sites, most of which were outdoors. We joined the hundreds of school kids that were touring the various areas. Carnuntum was home to a huge Roman army, they are still uncovering ruins and here is a picture of the dig site, where you can also view replicas of Roman buildings and uncovered ruins.
The dig site at Carnuntum
Here is a picture of the old Pagan gate, superimposed with a graphic of how it would have looked originally.
Carnuntum Pagan Gate
We also visited an old amphitheatre where gladiators battled. Here is a picture of the gate where competitors entered and exited (mostly dead) the arena.
Carnunthum Gladiator Arena
There was also a museum full of artifacts that had been uncovered in the course of excavations. Many items were thousands of years old, including several ancient pieces of amber. Carnuntum was on the "amber road" in ancient times.
Near the ruins was a magnificant castle, in a bad state of repair. On our way home we snuck in (it was closed to the public) to take these pictures. This is Schloss Petronell and was built in 1650.
Schloss Petronell exterior Schloss Petronell Courtyard
You can view all our Carnuntum pictures by clicking on the image link below.
Link to all our pictures of Carnuntum


On Monday we visited the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava. We arrived by a short ferry ride down the Danube which took about 1 hour. Bratislava is bordered by both Austria and Hungary, and has a long political and cultural history. The old city centre is actually quite small so visitors are able to do several walking tours to see the major cultural sites.
Here is a picture of the Brataslava castle which is built on a hill top that has been inhabited since the stone / bronze ages. The first stone castle was built in the 10th Century, and had various renovations until it was destroyed in 1811, it then laid in ruin until the 1950's when it was rebuilt in the former Baroque style.
Bratislava Castle
Unfortunately we were unable to go inside when we visited as it was closed for a private function. The castle had some beautiful gardens with a picture of the view of Bratislava from the garden walls below.
View of Bratislava from the Castle
We also visited the parliament, which is protected by 2 armed guards which are in the picture below (although probably too small to see here).
Bratislava Parliament
After many hours of walking around Bratislava we caught the train back to Vienna. The train trip back only took 1/2 hour - but we waited on the platform for a 1/2 hour in Bratislava before the train left. No explanation was given for the delay - passengers just had to sit an wait! Here I am waiting for the train to leave, after I gave up trying to decipher the departure board outside the window.
Waiting for the Train to leave

View all our pictures from Bratislava by clicking on the picture link below.
Link to all our pictures of Bratislava

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Viva Italia!

Hello Again

Yesterday we participated in the 2nd day of the 12th Viva Italia Franz Wurz Trophy 2007, a (mostly) classic Italian car rally. We drove in Papa Malgarini's classic Alfa Romeo GTV Bertone Coupe all around lower Austria and even into the Czech Republic. Marco was co-driver and I was a passenger. Here is a picture of us before the start - I'm carrying the clipboard with all the paperwork for the course.
Waiting for our turn to start
Part of the course involved a single timed lap around a race track, here is a picture of us going around. You can't really see how tightly my fingers are gripping the headrests of the front seats! Sadly, we missed out on watcing the Lamborghini's doing their laps.
Round the race track
We ended the rally at this lovely old castle in Greillenstein. There is a beautiful lane of trees here, all of which are 200 years old. We were lucky enough to meet the old Count and Countess and also their son (the current Count).
The castle at the finish
I couldn't end this blog post without adding this picture I took at lunchtime of Lamborghini's as far as the eye can see. There were actually 5 and here they are waiting to start. You can see Marco on the right-hand side ...... dreaming .....
Lamborghini's as far as the eye can see!
For those rev-heads out there, here is a video to listen to the Lamborghini Sonata a la Viva Italia!

It was a memorable day, here is a picture in the rear view.
Rear View

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Hello from Vienna

Hi Everyone

Just a quick update to let you know that we are now safely back in Vienna, and currently recovering from our whirlwind tour of Europe. The weather has been fantastic, averaging 29 degrees during the day and about 16 at night. We've been spending a lot of time getting to know Remo, the parents little (52kg) doggie.

This week we've been doing a bit of wandering around town, catching up with people and sorting out Marco's old belongings which are making the attic sag under their weight.

Here is a little picture of Remo in case you don't know him.
Little Remo


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Lubeck and Hamburg

Finally we headed off to Lubeck, which is about 50km from Hamburg. We hired a car, which made it much easier to get around. As soon as we landed the first thing that struck me was CLEAN - not a spot of rubbish anywhere. It was a shock coming from Italy, which is a little more laid back! Also, absolutely postcard perfect. Beautiful thatched roof houses, and perfectly manicured gardens.
Old houses in Lubeck Lubeck Rathaus (city hall)
Lubeck old city gates Inside a church built in 1210
We went to the harbour, also fantastically tidy. They smoke fish straight off the boats on the wharf.
Lubeck wharf
Then we headed to Travemunde (literally Trave River mouth) for a quick dip in the Baltic sea (thanks Peter) !!. You may be able to see in the background a man actually swimming in his speedo's. He later told us he was originally from Vienna and had lived in this area for the last 40 years. For the record the water temperature was around 16 degrees and considered warm and perfect for swimming!
Temperature test of the Bering sea Travemunde at the beach
The next day we drove to Hamburg where I was amazed by the high standard of living. Can you believe it was 29 degrees? Anyhow, it was beautiful, however we only had a few hours to explore as we had to catch a plane back to Vienna at 1pm. Here are some pictures of the Rathaus (city hall) and the port area which is accessed from the North Sea.
Hamburg Rathaus (city hall) A fountain in the courtyard of the Rathaus
Swans on the river - they were hungry Buildings on the canals in Hamburg
A building near the port area in Hamburg The very busy port at Hamburg which empties out to the North Sea


Next we were off to Pisa in Italy - we actually stayed in Terrenia which is a seaside area about 20 minutes drive from the city of Pisa. As you can see it wasn't exactly perfect weather, although it cleared up as the day went along.
Famous old builidng of Pisa
I'm happy to say the tower is still standing,
Leaning Tower of Pisa
in spite of Marco trying to push it over ....
Marco pushing down the Tower
and thanks to me propping it up!
Monica saving the Tower
We also visited the beautiful church:
Outside the Church Inside the Church Holy water in the Church
In addition we ate some fantastic food. Here is Marco with a Tartufo, a favourite dessert of his. I also had the best gelato I have ever tasted - sorry no picture as I ate it too quickly!
Marco's tartufo