Category Archives: Travel Hightlight

Travel Highlight – Paris

Our first Europe trip was to visit London, Amsterdam, and Paris. When traveling from Amsterdam to Paris, we met in the lobby of the hotel at 4:00 a.m. The driver was the only one working, everyone was either quiet or going back to sleep on the coach. With 312 miles (503 km) or 5 hours of driving from Amsterdam to Paris, getting on the road early was the only way we could have more time for sightseeing.

The time we arrived in Paris, it was in the morning rush hour. During the two-day tour in Paris, we visited the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Palace of Versailles, Notre Dame and took a boat ride on the Seine River for a birds-eye view of the city.

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Travel Highlight – Amsterdam

When we joined the Europe tour, our first stop was London and the second stop was Amsterdam.

The tour guide told us that Amsterdam is below sea level. This capital city of Netherlands has a Canal Ring of one hundred kilometers (62 miles) with 1,500 bridges.  Amy at The World Is a Book has a post on “Life on the Water in Amsterdam.” She says there are about 2,500 houseboats in Amsterdam. Some boat owners have transformed their boats into Bed and Breakfast. You can read her post here. We took a boat ride to tour the Canal.

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The first thing impressed me was the number of bicycles. It was mind-boggling to find out there are 881,000 bicycles and one of the parking structures accommodates 7,000 bicycles. When we arrived at a location and the tour members got off the coach, I almost got hit by a bicycle because I didn’t realize that the riders have the right-of-way. I saw one lady with the business skirt suit carrying a backpack and paddling the bicycle with the tennis shoes. It must be a common practice to change shoes when people arrive at their offices.

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We visited the Anne Frank House. When I was teaching, my second-grade class read The Diary of Anne Frank. It was intriguing to find out more about the family’s hiding place. During World War II, Anne and her family hid from Nazi persecution in a hidden room at the rear of the 17th-century canal house. The room was hidden behind a movable bookcase. Anne Frank didn’t survive the war, but her wartime diary was published in 1947. The diary has been translated into 70 languages. We saw the original diary in the exhibit case on the ground floor.

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One night we walked around in the Red-Light District. This area has the red neon lighted windows that display barely dressed prostitutes advertising their services; it’s acceptable when it stays inside this designated area of the city.

As we walked on the street in the same area, I saw a shop that has a potted plant display in the window. I made a comment to my husband on the nice look of the plant. He told me it was marijuana. We went inside the shop and found different sizes of packaging that looked like snack items.

It was a great experience to visit the diamond factory and learn about the different grades of the diamond. The factory guide explained that the value of the diamond goes higher with the increased facets of the diamond. She also pointed out that when reflecting the colors of the diamond, the blue color is more expensive. After she said that, the ladies moved their rings under the light to check on the reflecting colors.

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Our other visits included a tour of the wooden thong factory, the cheese factory and the ceramic painting factory.

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The last day of the tour we had a free afternoon. My husband and I wanted to walk around but there was pouring rain. We then took the free trolley to the Van Gogh Museum. It was an educational visit to learn about how Van Gogh developed his style of painting.

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It was a great vacation in Amsterdam!

Travel Highlight – London

My husband’s family lived in England before moving to Australia. After they moved to Australia, he was born and lived there until ten years old. His grandmother and some cousins still lived in London. Before migrating to the United States, his family went back to London and lived with his grandmother for two years.

As we continued our travel journey, we wanted to go to Europe with London being part of the itinerary. We bought the land tour package and purchased separate air tickets because we wanted a flexible flight schedule.

My childhood friend Shirley lives in London. We arrived five days before the travel tour. Shirley and her husband took us to the cities outside London. We went to Stonehenge, Longleat, and Bath.

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During my husband’s eleven and twelve-years-old in London, there was no fence around Stonehenge. He remembered going around and under the stones. Due to tourism and preservation of the historical site, there was a fence with signs prohibited tourists to get close to the stones.

Longleat is in Wiltshire, Somerset, 97 miles west of London. It is the first stately home open to the public. The Longleat estate includes the first safari park outside Africa.

Bath is famous for its Roman-built baths. While in Bath, we visited Jane Austen Centre. I am a Jane Austen fan, so the visit was a treat. Our visit was after the BBC Masterpiece Theatre broadcast the show Pride and Prejudice. The handsome actor’s portrait was on canvas painting, stationeries, CDs and other souvenir items.

My husband’s cousin picked up us from the hotel, took us to visit the house where his grandmother lived. We also visited the school he attended. There were two entrances to the school courtyard, with one marked Boys and the other one marked Girls. He bought some candy from his favorite store.

Another cousin lived by a river next to his backyard. He would take us on a boat, but there was a pouring rain. We had a barbeque and a good visit, catching up with the latest news.

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When the tour started, the coach took us to go around Windsor Castle, Buckingham Palace, London Bridge, and Westminster Abbey. Some members wished to visit these sites on their own, the coach took them back to the hotel. The others who paid additional for the excursions went with the guide for the guided tours. We were on the guided tours.

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Travel Highlight – Australia

My husband was born in Australia. When we started our travel journey, it was logical that Australia was our first choice. We like to fly nonstop as much as possible. It was a 17 hours’ flight from Los Angeles, the longest flight we have had.

Our first visit was to tour the Sydney Opera House. Besides the tour, we watched an opera available during our visit.

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Bondi Beach

Climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge was quite an experience. We wore the special suit that wrapped around us with nothing loose outside the suit.  It had belts and hooks attaching to the steel railing leading to the top of the bridge. It is the tallest steel arch bridge in the world, measuring 134 meters (440 feet) from the top to water level. It was a climb of our life.

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We visited his aunt and uncle who lived in New South Wales which is less than a two-hour drive from Sydney. They took us to Blue Mountain, and we went down to the visitor area that provided a spectacular view to the Jamison Valley below the Three Sisters.

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Other sites of the visit were the Koala Zoo and the Crocodile Farm.

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Before we went further north, we stopped by Port Douglas.

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My husband always wanted to dive in the Great Barrier Reef. It was his highlight of the trip. I don’t dive but had a pleasant boat ride and a spectacular view of the ocean.

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