Saturday, June 03, 2017

A bad place

Australians love to visit Bali, part of Indonesia. I am not suggesting blackmail, but when the devastating tsunami hit the Indonesian province of Ache, along with other places, we Australians dug deep into our pockets to donate to a relief fund.

Ache is under Moslem Sharia law, decreed by Jakarta. Two men were having sex with each other in a private place on the island of Ache when their privacy was invaded and they were reported to authorities. They were condemned and sentenced to public whippings. The punishment went ahead.

If you are are a woman you must wear modest clothing in Ache. God help you if a strong wind blows and outlines your body. The Sharia police will be after you.

The Chinese heritage former mayor of Jakarta has been sentenced to two years gaol for blasphemy for a very minor matter.

A gay sauna in Jakarta, with most of the patrons being Indonesian Chinese, was raided and it goes without saying that the something like 150 patrons will be publically humiliated, to say the least.

Never mind the Indonesian terrorists who blew up  a bar frequented by predominantly Australians some years ago.

You can be sure that if Indonesian police pull you up for a traffic offence, you will pay the fine directly to the police person. Guess where that goes.

Indonesia is a crap country, full of corruption and controlled by extreme Moslems. There are much better Asian places to visit than Bali. Think about  what happens in Indonesia before you book your next Bali holiday. Australia needs to be very wary in its dealings with Indonesia.

Europe 17 Day 11 Pt 2 Day 12

Another first for me, the Mediterranean Sea, more precisely, Balearic Sea.

Castle on a hilltop. Montjuic Castle, apparently.

Do you want to see the castle? Catch this chair lift.

Plenty of palm trees for Gosia.

Tram lines look much more attractive when laid with grass.

Not quite the Gherkin.

Bike riding seems to be taken seriously in Barcelona, with many streets having good car and bike separation. 

Not the most attractive pond at Placa de Gaudi, that is Gaudi Square.

R and his sister's 22 year old English great nephew is studying in Barcelona and that evening he caught up with us for a nice dinner and we learnt a little bit of inside knowledge about Barcelona. His mother had given him money to buy us drinks. We let him keep the money and paid for his dinner, the poor struggling student with the latest iPhone.

 It was a slow start to the next day as we packed up all our luggage and said farewell to Sensation Apartments. 

We caught a taxi to the port and seamlessly boarded the Royal Princess, through very tight security. I don't know what this old building near the port is. 

The backdrop to the port.

We set sail at 7pm, bound for Marseilles. We loved Barcelona. It was easy to get around, with most streets in a grid pattern. The people were generally warm and friendly. A good way to see what people of a certain city are like is how friendly they are among themselves, and Barcelonians seemed very friendly to each other, with the streets ringing out with ola, hello. It was hard for us to break the quickly developed habit once on the ship of using ola. Barcelona is part of autonomous region in Spain known as Catalonia. Catalan is spoken but Spanish is more widely used in Barcelona.

From a tourist perspective, Lisbon, Porto and Barcelona are great cities to visit. No doubt the weather being quite good helped our view of our times in those places. I would not want to be in any of these cities midsummer. 

Friday, June 02, 2017

A brief conversation

As we ate take away pizza with Little Jo, I mentioned, your Nanny stayed here with us for four nights while her electricity was fixed. Little Jo: "Was it a nightmare?" "No Little Jo, it was fine." I blatantly lied. Little Jo has had Mother stay often enough and has clearly overheard and experienced things.

I have told R in the past to not poison the nieces and nephew's memory of Mother by speaking frankly to them.  Late Step Father and Mother used to take them out for a drive every Sunday to entertaining places. Mother was not always like she now is. Even now I see glimpses of what she was, as she and I sat on our balcony at 5:30am and discussed how the city was coming awake.

Complicated, hey.

News from The Highrise

Tradie Brother turned 52 a week or so ago and a barbeque was held at his place on a freezing cold day, with showers and hail. As well as having a tenant in the self contained flat at the rear of his house where Ex Sis in Law's parents once lived, he now has a boarder, a local chap who has fallen on hard times and seems like a very nice guy. He pays $50 a week board for a bedroom and does cooking and house cleaning etc. What an odd arrangement but he did a terrific job last Sunday for all of us. It must have been quite intimidating for him to have this strange family descend.

I kept pressing Tradie Brother to light the outdoor gas heater, and eventually he did before we froze to the bone. Near the barbeque was a $2 coin stuck down on the paving. It has provided amusement over the years, as people covertly or overtly try to pick up the coin. Great Niece Little M spied it and tried to pick it up and of course she couldn't. But the two year old was determined and worked at it and succeeded. I guess adults don't try too hard once they realise it is stuck down.

The twin babies are doing well enough. One has a thyroid problem, identified by a heel prick test and will have to take a medication for life, but it is no big deal. Hippie Niece got half way to hospital to take one twin for a blood test and realised she had the wrong one.

Her partner's father was dying in New Zealand. They flew there for him to see his new grandchildren. (I wrote that so easily. Imagine flying with 6 week old twins and there were passports to get etc etc) They were supposed to be back in time for Tradie Brother's birthday but her partner's father, in a most inconsiderate manner, died, so they have stayed on for the funeral. I may be slightly exaggerating, but the father is propped up on the family couch to receive visitors to say goodbye to him. Apparently it is in their culture to keep him at home for a week and people come to pay their respects. He was some kind of pastor, Mormon perhaps.

Mother got in touch with her electrician while we away. Hold off on the house rewiring until my son and his partner return from overseas. She was up to something. Sure enough, can I come and and stay with you for two days while the electrical work is done? Mother's voluminous luggage was transferred from ABI Brother's car to ours at the barbeque, along with her walker and while we have had many house guests over the years we have lived here, none have been such a nightmare as Mother. Two days turned into three. She has been here from Sunday to Thursday. R has done the really hard yards with her. Day 1, as my shower is separate and not over the bath, so she used that one. A couple of bottles appeared on my vanity. Day 2, two handbags and a hand towel. Day 3, another larger bag. There is no room for me in my own bathroom. Somehow she manages to saturate my bath mat. I get home for lunch at about 11 and she is still getting ready, just having gotten out of the shower. What had she be doing all morning?

Mother was interviewed for a Federal care package, but she is not telling us that the first suggestion would have been that she goes into care accommodation.

The electrician did a fantastic job, so R reports. All light switches and power points have been replaced, and with double power points and they are very attractive. A smoke detector was wired into the mains and three exhaust fans replaced, all with very little mess.

Last night I had gone to bed, and in marches mother to get something from my bathroom. "Sorry, I didn't realise you were in bed". Ah, our place is not that big that I can disappear, and my bedroom door was closed.

I don't watch too much tv very closely but when I/we do, we mostly sit in silence and do not need to hear about bowel problems and shooting pains down the leg from the hip and incompetent doctors that cannot cure old age.

I kept a close eye on Mother as she left. I made sure none of our special ink pens went into her handbag. R stymied her from knocking off our plastic clothes hangers that she had clothing hanging on. She was all set to pack them into her suitcase.  "Mother!", as she was leaving, "You've taken my cake of soap from my shower."  "Sorry, I can't find it now. I will replace it."

Friends jokingly say to us, well you have spare room. Your mother could live with you. After four days of Mother, I would rather die.

Not all bad about family. Little Jo will stay tonight, Friday night. Sister has a funeral on Saturday and Bone Doctor is doing a two day kayaking course. They are staying in a hotel. Oh dear, have we made them feel as unwelcome to stay as they made us feel about staying at their place?

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Europe 17 Day 11 Pt 1

We did get busy the next day. We bought hop on hop off bus tickets again. There were two routes, one I think contracted out by the government and one owned by a private company. The private company route suited us best. It took us up to the northern part of the city then worked its way down to where the action is at La Rambla, where we left and then later picked it up again to head to the seaside then back to where we started.

The buildings and architecture were stunning and I reckon give Paris a run for its money. (Sorry Grace)

I was on the lookout for Hotel Fuster in the famous Passeig de Gracia, as written about by Hels. However, I missed it as I was thoroughly distracted by some remarkable buildings, such as this one.

And this street lamp.

And these buildings.

Spanish architecture often seems to grasp an element of whimsy.

We alighted from the bus at Placa de Catalunya.

And here we are, a street where I am sure every visitor to Barcelona sees it at least once, La Rambla.

It was a little weird walking on this paving. It looked uneven.

While it has wonderful buildings too, the street is mostly lined with well known world wide stores and a lot of tourists walking up and down.

We headed into the market and found a quiet courtyard at the back where we had lunch.

Hare in the centre of the display case.

Once back on the bus, we headed towards the seaside.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

La Sagrada Familia

Look what we could see from our balcony in Barcelona!

Designed by Antonio Gaudi, construction of La Sagrada Familia began in the 1880s. It is not expected to be finished until about 2032. Plenty of work was underway while we were there. It is open to tours. There were constantly crowds around it, taking photos or just staring in wonder. I found it mesmerising, fascinating, awe inspiring, but did I like it? No, not really my sort of building. Naturally I wasn't backwards with my camera either and this is a collection of shots taken over the three days we were there. I did play with the camera a bit.