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Traveller’s tales

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Touchdown! My getaway from Gateway is over and I’m back at work. I’ve swapped travel and sightseeing for meetings and deadlines. My carefree and memorable days while on holidays will now give way to the routines and pressures of corporate life. Before getting too consumed with the daily grind, please allow me to give you a brief snapshot of our escape.

Our first port of call was the British capital. We stayed in Bloomsbury - the intellectual and literary capital of London. The area was made famous by a group of writers that included Charles Darwin and Virginia Woolf. Charles Dickens lived in Bloomsbury and his former home - where he wrote the novel Oliver Twist in 1838 - is now a museum. We toured Dickens' home and also visited the site where Charles Darwin once lived.

Something else that I discovered about Bloomsbury is that it’s home to Bloomsbury Publishing, a once obscure publisher. All that changed in 1997 when the (then) small publishing house agreed to take a punt on a manuscript by unknown author - JK Rowling - about a boy wizard called Harry Potter. Bloomsbury’s fortune was sealed by that magical decision.

The imposing structure of the British Museum dominates Bloomsbury which is also home to a campus of the University of London which Bev and I walked through. We also browsed in several quaint bookstores, explored the British Library and stopped for coffee at the Poetry Café. The garden squares of Bloomsbury have attracted thinkers for centuries and I felt quite at home there.

After five days, we left the cultured atmosphere of Bloomsbury for the tourist city of Cologne. This city on the Rhine boasts Germany’s most visited tourist attraction - the gothic Cologne Cathedral - and it was certainly worth a look. Cologne has another 11 Romanesque churches and a variety of museums - including a chocolate museum which was scrumptious.

We glimpsed Cologne University which is one of the oldest and largest in Europe. On the other side of the city is the picturesque Old Town which we strolled through. A highlight of our visit to Cologne was taking a Rhine River cruise which gave us an unparalleled view of the city’s landmarks.

Next stop on our itinerary was Lisbon, the hilly coastal capital of Portugal. Intrepid sailors embarked from here in the 16th century to chart new lands. It is claimed that Portuguese navigators were the first Europeans to sight Australia between 1521 and 1524 – before the Dutch.

While we did not sail during our stay in Lisbon, we did get to see the city’s coastline. The Atlantic breakers that roll over the beaches are tame compared to the surf in Sydney. The hop-on, hop-off busses are popular with tourists and we found them a key part of the experience of visiting Lisbon.

From Lisbon it was a very short flight to Madrid. While these two cities are in neighbouring countries, they each have their own individual character and charm. We found Madrid - Spain’s central capital - to be a modern metropolis that is constantly buzzing with activity - and non-stop traffic jams! We also discovered that Spaniards eat late - 2pm lunches and 8pm dinners are the norm.

A walk along Madrid’s busy streets reveals monuments, churches and parks. The city centre - with its myriad roundabouts - connects to different neighbourhoods and a highlight was discovering and inspecting the magnificent Royal Palace. Madrid is known as a shopper’s heaven and Europe’s sunniest capital and we found both claims to be true.

The final stop on our holiday was Singapore. Like London, Singapore is very familiar territory to us as our son and his wife used to live there as expats and we were regular visitors. A new addition to the landscape since we last visited (and Singapore’s number one tourist attraction) is the spectacular Gardens by the Bay.

I’m an avid gardener and love to be around nature and was in my element strolling through this sprawling 101-hectare site. A highlight is the massive man-made super-trees. These tree-shaped vertical gardens are between nine to 16 storeys tall and are a must see.

Now that I’m back at work, I’m pleased to report that everything is shipshape. I’m told it’s been smooth sailing at Gateway in my absence and for that I thank my executive colleagues: Lexi Airey (CCO), Peter Gilmore (CFO) and Gerald Nicholls (CRO).

Thanks must also go to our four guest bloggers – Mike Lawrence, Melinda Muth, Faz Fazal and Lisa Montgomery. Each blogger displayed their erudition and are to be congratulated for successfully completing their maiden voyages as bloggers.

Regards,
Paul J. Thomas, CEO

Comments

avatar Michael Neary micneary@gmail.com
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Welcome back! Sounds like a great trip.
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CEO Paul Thomas