A personal message from Lyn

This last week, has been the worst week I have had in our business, our travel agency Grey Nomads Travel and Cruise & former Yarra Travel Junction, we are in our 30th year of business and have never had anything like this, it is crazy!! I am trying to keep positive, but at times it is hard.

My clients mean the world to me and I go all out to do my very best for them. They become my friends and I just love putting their trips together for them and fulfilling their dreams. I sure hope this Coronavirus goes away real soon, but I have a feeling it is going to get worse before it gets better. Let me know if I can be of help to anyone with advice or travel arrangements. It is hard for everyone at the moment.

I look out at our garden and I feel blessed that I have a little haven to rest my soul.

Oh well as we face this new week, I just want to say, stay safe and keep well and healthy and be kind to each other, and remember you are not the only one that needs toilet paper!!! Share the love.

The story of Ken’s masterpiece.

Let me tell you the story of this painting. It’s a long one.

Back in 1993, we moved shop from down the street to where we traded for another 24 years or so. A friend used to come into the old shop for a regular chat. I knew he was a great artist so asked if he would do a mural on the feature wall of the new shop. His foresight was better than mine and his generosity was even greater. I took him up on his suggestion to do an oil painting of the Yarra River taken from behind the bus sheds in Warburton near Yarra Junction. He spent 6 weeks well into each night, painting this major masterpiece. As he needed the parts to the frame, he asked if we could pay for the frame, which we did. (We did not see the work in progress). Then on day of hanging the work, he said he would have to charge $1 per year. First payment done, no questions. It was on the condition that he be allowed to take it to his art shows which he put on in the valley and nearby. The first time, the office looked so bare we decided to buy it so as not to have the vacant wall on display spasmodically.

Many students from his art class would come into the office just to admire the work, like many of our clients did too.

When we were deciding to move away from the shop a few weeks ago, we wrote to the local shire to offer them first choice on hanging the painting in a public place, as it deserves. We haven’t heard from them. We offered it to the local aged care facility where Ken spent his last few years. No response. We tried a winery restaurant – no response. We offered it to the local church in Warburton. No response. A guy came into the shop two weeks ago and, not knowing why he was in the shop, I asked if he wanted to buy a painting. He responded positively with “how much?” I said “twenty-seven fifty”. “It’s a deal” and placed $30 on the table. (I thought he was paying a deposit with the rest of the

money to come on pickup day the next week.) It would be hung in a restaurant in the Valley. The next week I called the guy to ask when and how he was going to pay the balance and he said he had payed for it. He thought I was meaning $27.50 not $2750. The confusion meant the sale didn’t take place.

Lyn’s response was “bring it home and hang it in the family room”. So today, with help of kind Alan Hall, we brought it to its rightful place, we believe, and have it at home to enjoy for many a day in the future. Thanks Ken Mead – your masterpiece is our blessing in our home now.

End of an Era

Today is the last day Yarra Travel Junction will operate out of Yarra Junction after opening in 1990 – 27 years and nearly 7 months. You would have noticed that the website has changed to Grey Nomads Travel and Cruise.

We intend to travel Australia selling travel from our motorhome in country areas of Australia and at various festivals and rallies we attend. Look out for a brightly coloured Peugeot on a trailer as you drive along the highway or country road. You will see us, that’s for sure. And if you see us at a truck stop or rest area, come and have a cuppa – we should have the time.

Thanks Lyn, for being the “face” of our business. You certainly have done a fair and proper job to all who came in the door. The tours we took people on were well planned and a pleasure for all who joined us. I commend and appreciate you for a job well done.

The contact phone number is now 0418185850 and the email is lyn@gntc.com.au.

160916 Phnom Penh

Our day today was a very hard one. When I returned from my visit to the world renowned ‘killing fields’, I wrote these first few paragraphs, in another place, because that was on my heart on my return.

I have just returned from an excursion to the “killing fields” in Cambodia and before I go to lunch, I just want to say how depressing it is to hear of the dramatic way that one man created such havoc to so many innocent people in this beautiful country. Around 2 million people, or 20% of the population, were killed by a sharp blow to the back of the neck on the edge of the mass grave into which they would fall. These victims were educated doctors, lawyers, teachers and their children, as well as anyone who looked educated. Wearing glasses qualified you to be held in S21 for torturing and investigation under terrible circumstances, before being taken to the killing fields.

Why am I telling you all this? No, it’s not because I want to make you feel scared of your existence in a ‘safe’ Australia. I would never consider that to execute innocents, is the direction anyone should take to benefit mankind. However, when someone in authority takes control of a situation without considering ALL avenues that could be implemented, to me, it borders on dictatorship. All dictators perish or are overthrown.

Thank goodness, for the Cambodians and the world, Pol Pot was overthrown. However he lived to die of natural causes. His punishment was a life sentence to give him mental torture in pondering how shocking  his self-centred ideology was. War is only about greed and overpowering the innocent. Never entertain the idea of war in any situation, but then, we do not live in a perfect world.

While I visited the killing fields Lyn, who had visited them two years ago, attended a Cambodian cooking class. The class went to the market and purchased the food and then went back to the classroom to prepare two courses. I’m hoping the new recipe gets used on our return – it looked scrumptuous.

The afternoon until 4:00pm was free, so 4 of us found a place for anotheimg_4685r massage. The ladies had a foot and shoulder massage while Greg and I had a 4 hands massage. It wasn’t as good as the massages we had in Saigon, but acceptable.

We were given a ride on a tuk tuk to the Raffles Le Royal Hotel where we had high tea and were entertained by some guys who performed a Traditional Khmer Shadow Puppet Show. Greg, who it turns out is rather dry and humorous, came to Lyn afterwards and thanked “mummy for the 2 year old puppet show”. After the show, we were allowed to roam around the Hotel and found the wine glass that Jackie Kennedy left her lipstick on. This was before the Pol Pot regime, and was kept in a safe place for all those years.

Tomorrow we are in Phnom Penh for the morning and then cruise on up the mighty Mekong River.

160504 Venice

Today is a ‘free’ day. However, this town has much to offer for anyone. We have been to Venice a few years ago and today, we both said, “yes, we could return again”. The weather has been very kind to us with a clear blue sky and warm from the sun.

After the fiasco last night at the restaurant, we woke around 3:00am to start the wheels turning in the supplier’s offices to get the meal vouchers sent again. It had never occurred to us that once you have printed out a voucher for some suppliers that you can print a second copy, but fortunately we were able to have emailed a second set. We were on our way to picking up the cash in exchange for the vouchers.

When that was settled in our minds, and the first two posts were published, it was time to clear our minds by going for a long walk – well, it turned out to be a long walk because we got lost. We found many alleys where tourists have been lost before, I’m sure. 90 minutes of walking was a big hole in the 10,000 steps a day goal.

After breakfast, the sun’s warmth told us it was going to be a bonza day. There are quite a number of areas of the town we had not ventured into before (a bit like the early morning walk). We hadn’t been near the very busy Grande Canal, so off we ventured after collecting the money from the restaurant. They were very good and patient with us about it all, and so I will put up a Travel Advisor post on their restaurant for them.

When we climbed one of the highest points in the town, the bridge over the Grande Canal, the colours of the waterway was turquoise and ready to be enjoyed. After the photos, we climbed down to the café on the shore for what turned out to be a light lunch – toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches with a large dob of thousand island dressing. All good while watching the boats and water taxis pass by.

We needed to see more of the Grande Canal, so caught the ‘water bus’ which took us to the Rail Station and the wharf where cruise boats tie up. There weren’t any in port today but still the town had multitudes of tourists. On arrival back in St Marks Square, you tell where all the locals were – serving the thousands of tourists who were eager to purchase souvenirs and nick-nakes.

A day like today requires an nice ice-cream to wrap the tongue around – pistachio, tiramisu, and cookies and cream went down well. Our hotel is no more than a ¼ kilometre from the main town square the outside chairs became our resting place for the next 2 hours. A celloist was practicing all her repertoire for all the passers by.

Senior’s Moment

Lynore was wondering how the fire trucks got on with carting the water to the fire in their fire-boat. “Do they really need any?” we asked. I’ll leave you all to sort out Lynore’s problem for her.

Take a look at this time lapse video to see how busy the Grande Canal gets. Taken with an iPhone and hand-held.

You may like to follow

Friends of ours are doing a two month trip around South America and then cruising over to Europe before an itinerary through Turkey. If you click on this link, you can follow David’s travel blog. 

http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/davidwoolley/2/1459516577/tpod.html

Make sure you go to the beginning by clicking on ‘previous entry’ a few times to view the complete trip from Day 1. 

Enjoy and add comments to the foot of each post – comments help a blogger do an even better post next time. 

Re Chile earthquake

Despite the major earthquake in Chile, our group is safe in the Sacred Valley in Peru. On October 3, we have a short stopover in Santiago on our way home. Currently, we are at 9300 feet and feeling the altitude. Yesterday we were at 12,400 feet which is higher than Mt Cook in New Zealand. Some have colds some have altitude sickness but we will still continue this great adventure in South America.

150919 Sacred Valley – Machu Picchu

Over two years ago, one of our clients said to Lyn, “Let me know when you’re going to South America. I want to go see Machu Picchu.” Today, that request was granted and all of us were spell-bound as we entered the ‘sacred Inca ruins’.

An early departure from the resort at 6:30am to board a train to Machu Picchu meant a very early wake up call. However, that was the best wake up call one could ever receive as Machu Picchu is just one of those places that is in your mind to visit one day; and today was our turn.

Machu Picchu township is a very busy little town with so many tourists eager to get to the UNESCO World Heritage site way up in the hills. Shuttle buses transport us up the 470 metre climb around many switchbacks to the entrance of the city that used to have around 1,000 residents. The ruins are kept in immaculately with many workers keeping the stone in pristine condition.

This post is not to provide all the details of the history of the site but is merely to provide some enticing photos and give some personal appraisals from members of our Machu Picchu group. If you want to get all the history using a fantastic guide, give Lyn a call when we return, and she will arrange your trip to South America and you too can experience and learn about this Heritage site.

Almost all in the group ‘jumped’ at the idea of putting their thoughts of Machu Picchu on paper for me to use in the post today.

“You can look at a thousand photos and videos, but you will never really understand until you experience Machu Picchu”

“The trip so far has been great so Machu Picchu had a big ask to beat some of the other experiences. When we got close, the crowds were overwhelming but the wonder started to emerge. Everywhere I looked, I was amazed at the extraordinary sight. And that was just the Scenic passengers puffing and panting but pushing through their fears and fitness. The “site” of course, was incredible. Well worth the trip.”

“Machu Picchu is a must see to experience the size and engineering marvel that it is.”

“Beyond Awesome”

“The walk to the Sun gate was worth every bit of sweat.”

“Machu Picchu, what can I say? – Overwhelming, outstanding & breathtaking – and this is an understatement.”

“A memorable visit to the lost city of the Incas on this my 77th birthday. A Day to be remembered.”

“Unbelievable”

“Machu Picchu – Everything you hear about it. Absolutely fantastic.”

“Picturesque train trip, well organised tour of site – Washington (one of the guides). Good challenge to the top to the sun gate with great view of the site and surrounds. A day worth doing – one more tick on the bucket list.”

“Star Achievers, despite the difficulty of it: Val got to the guard-house. Viv to the sun gate. Greg & Deb, 5 hour Inca walk and still look fresh.”

“Never seen anything like the Inca Trek. This exciting adventure was more adventurous than we expected. Narrow paths, steep inclines, waterfalls, Alpacas grazing. Beautiful packed lunch. The Guide was excellent. Unforgettable.”

“Absolutely amazing and I made it – Yeh!”

“Everything the postcards promised.”

“The feeling of lack of air in front of this wonder is not caused by altitude sickness. It is caused by the feeling of being close to the heaven where these gods made the impossible come true. Well done buddies, we made it together!” (David – one of the guides.)

Back in the 1400s, the Incas decided to build here. What a feat! Check out the pictures to see how amazing their work really was for the 15th century.

Tomorrow we travel to Cuzco – another major site of the Incas.

Mediterranean Collection 2016

We have two Group Tours planned for 2016. The first one is a Cruise on the Mediterranean with Princess Cruises sailing on their mega ship, “Royal Princess”. “Royal Princess” was only launched in June 2013, so she is very new. After a 3 day stopover in Venice on our way to Spain, we will be sailing out of Barcelona on May 7 visiting 14 ports before returning to Barcelona on May 28 and arriving in Melbourne on May 30.

Give Lyn a call today on 03 5967 1858 and make a booking on this cruise which you could include in your European vacation during 2016.