My cousin’s album is released!

#freepromo

My cousin, harmonica world champion in 2009 and 2013, has released his début album Lost In Time!

The album is now available on streaming platforms and also for digital download on iTunes. The physical copy is available in Hong Kong’s retailers whilst the online store offers shipping to Hong Kong and Macau/Macao.

Soon passengers on certain Royal Caribbean cruises will also be able to buy it.

https://ushop.umwebzine.com/bol.html

https://music.apple.com/au/album/lost-in-time/1457809023

https://www.last.fm/music/CY+Leo

Flying home from Israel: Frankfurt, Germany, Greenland, Canada

After reading this blog entry, you may wish to review the current travel warning on Israel I published. The troubles with flying from Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel-Aviv happen even with transit passengers.

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Canadian mountains from the sky. Snow everywhere.

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I believe these were icebergs. We weren’t that north but apparently it’s all frozen.

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At Frankfurt airport, there are some big photos for you to take a selfie with, so you can pretend you have actually entered Germany proper.

It’s necessary to go through airport security even as a transit passenger, and some gates are really far.

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Greenland. Do you know the Vikings only called it Greenland to deceive their countrymen?

Xilitla / Las Pozas (Edward James), SLP, Mexico

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Xilitla, another magical town. I travelled to San Luis Potosí, the state capital, then headed to Ciudad Valleys, then got another bus to the town. The town itself had nothing.

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The main attraction is the surrealist garden designed by Oxford-educated architect Edward James. It’s very far from the town actually, and I got off and walked up the hill to it. After that, I hitchhiked to the town (dangerous, I know).

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I couldn’t be bothered to actually go inside though. The queue was three-hour long and we were less than two hours before closing. It was the end of a very tiring trip and so I just observed it from the outside for a while and left.

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Verona, Italy

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Ahh…Verona, the city that makes Romeo and Juliet historical figures. Here stands Juliet’s golden statue, with people touching her breast.

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The main square. There’s a market there, but of course the main attractions are all The Tragedy of Romeo & Juliet related. All very close anyhow.

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I went just because “why not” and to take some photos so the next time I teach Romeo & Juliet, I can show them to my pupils. Nevertheless, it was a surprisingly decent place to be. Brilliantly designed structures throughout.

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Once again, a river.

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Juliet’s tomb. It’s a museum and I didn’t go in as there’s a charge and I’m pretty sure Juliet never actually existed.

There’s a Shakespeare bust. And China built something outside, calling it the Chinese Romeo and Juliet.

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The crown jewel of the town, a coliseum that’s well-maintained. Somehow there’s a dismantled giant abandoned outside of it.

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Juliet’s balcony. Allegedly. Herds of people get into it, pasting love notes all over the place. This was taken from a shop opposite to it. Not that many people, comparatively anyway, discovered this place.

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A castle thingy next to the river. Out of this world.

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Verona desperately trying to be Her Majesty’s realm.

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Venice, Italy

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St Mark’s Square – one of the most visited sites in Europe.

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Venice was absolutely beautiful. Sure, it’s got tourists everywhere and isn’t the easiest place to navigate (many dead ends); but the whole place was simply amazing.

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The canals were all right.

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The real Bridge of Sighs.

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What a fantastic square. Too bad I couldn’t take a good photo of it.

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The food was relatively cheap – you can expect around 12 Euros for a set meal, and just a bit more for a (not very good) buffet.

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The church was unique. Byzantine and all that. Actually purchased a 3D puzzle.

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Shylock’s Bridge. Can confirm there’s more than one Jewish person there now.

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The city’s quite walkable, although it’s likewise possible to take a water taxi or a water bus.

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First thing you see getting out of the train station.

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Speaking of the train…Make sure you’ve got the correct Venice station! There are three.

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Siena, Italy

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The city wall, the sign of an ancient military might.

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I didn’t even know Siena existed before my Couchsurfing host in Florence recommended it. It turned out to be my favourite of the three in the area I visited (Florence, Pisa, Siena). It’s not as packed, and I did like the buildings better.

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It was literally built on a hill so visitors had to keep walking up and down. But it’s not too bad. It’s also got loads of rings to chain people to.

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From Florence, it’s exceedingly easy to get there by train. The fact that it’s quite cheap was a big plus.

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Whilst everywhere you go, you see something, it’s remarkably easy to navigate (with the exception of the synagogue, which was sorta a blink-and-you-miss-it type of thing). Their dear tourism office has multiple guides on offer, suggesting to you where you should go based on the time you have.

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The urban area stretched beyond the old city walls, although they weren’t anything to brag about.

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This was a curious spot. I rather liked this church, and I thought it looked best when I was right there with it; but this was the best place to take a photo of it.

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See? Not very impressive from this angle.

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There’s a sportswear shop that claims to have the best view of the city. The view was fine, but the windows weren’t that big and weren’t that clear so it wasn’t worth going…

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The church, supposed to be the main tourist attraction.

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It was relaxing just chilling in there.

Pisa, Italy

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Question to The Queen of Pop Madonna: If “Italians do it better”, why is the tower not straight?

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Obligatory photo.

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The most iconic landmark in the town of Pisa – the leaning tower. There’s no evidence that Galileo was up there dropping balls.

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But Pisa wasn’t just the tower. Or just the square. I took a bus (£2) straight to the square, then I walked back, passing through the entire town.

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Although of course the tower was wonderful. And souvenirs were 1 Euro a piece.

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There’s a river, which seems to be some sort of a staple for an Italian town.

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One difficulty was taking a selfie that would show the “leaning” of the leaning tower.

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The most interesting structure outside of the square. It’s basically empty inside but it’s an odd-looking church next to the river.

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The Medici family liked this.

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Another big square.

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The whole square as you walk in.

Florence, Italy

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It was 40 degrees!

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Florence, a historic capital of Italy, the ancient centre of their art and culture.

It’s a pretty city, and uniquely Italian, but I didn’t find it that interesting. I guess I’m more of a landmark kinda guy and there just isn’t any apart from David in Florence.

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His idea on how to conduct princely business influenced Shakespeare quite a bit.

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Another thing that’s affected by enjoyment was that some street vendor hit me with a painting.

I was walking around and asked how much the paintings cost. Then I said I’d think about it and walked away. That guy kept following me, and at one point I asked him to please stop following me, then he hit me with the painting!

So I guess what I experienced in Argentina might’ve come from Italian culture. 😛

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Fake David with his micropenis.

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The best view of the city is on a hill on the other side of the river.

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I also tried the steak. Sorry but I didn’t find it anything special…

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Vienna, Austria

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Vienna, the capital of a landlocked WWI-starting empire, birthplace of Mozart, resting place of the second and final Emperor of México.

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It’s not a bad place to be, but honestly quite average. If you have been to Prague, Paris, and Athens, there’s no point visiting Vienna but for seeing some Vienna people.

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The golden hall has absolutely nothing to do with Mozart, as I was told buying a Mozart bust from a souvenir shop opposite to it.

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The streets/roads were all quite narrow so it was difficult to take good photos of buildings.

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It’s easy to navigate – you just basically go from one point to another, unless you want to go somewhere farther away from the city centre.

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Basically like the Radcliffe Camera, except it didn’t feel magnificent with all the buildings around it.

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One good thing was that there were a handful of palaces and they were real palaces, not like the tiny ones in Peterhof or the fake ones in Mexico.

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Vienna really wants you to know Mozart was born there.

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This was a hall where Mozart performed when he was a child. It’s a very small hall and didn’t look old or anything, but I guess what could he expect when he was a little child?

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There were some musical performances, singing, and dancing. The internet will tell you it’s a tourist trap, and in a way it is, since you may be expecting something grand. But then that’s just wrong anyway. Mozart wasn’t that famous when he was a young child.

The performances were all right. Just make sure you do bargain.

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Opposite to it is this palace.

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It was quite hot but there were some water fountains (huge queues).

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One of the two places I thought was worth going – the imperial crypt.

There were numerous important historical figures, including this giant one for Her Imperial Majesty Empress Maria Theresa, The Holy Roman Empress, The Queen of Bohemia, The Queen of Hungary, The Queen of Croatia, The Queen of Germany, The Archduchess of Austria etc.

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What I was really looking forward to was this, His Imperial Majesty The Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, Archduke of Austria. Apparently, many Mexicans wanted an emperor. 

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One of the only four with offerings. His Imperial Majesty Emperor Franz Joseph was the one who declared war on Serbia after gaining support from Germany, and thus started the First World War.

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The church near where I stayed. Near here was Dr Freud’s museum, another place that’s worth visiting. I’m not a fan of Freud, but it was informative.

Long queue in the morning.

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The parliament complex was wonderful, but difficult to take a good photo of.

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A university building.

Peloponnese (Corinth Canal, Epidaurus, Náfplio, Mycenae)

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On this day tour, we went on a very, very packed trip to several places on the island/peninsula (depends on if you think the canal has made it an island), with the most famous theatre (entrance pictured above) in the world being the main attraction.

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But we actually spent the most amount of time here. An acropolis and a grave.

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The doorway to a fortified ancient city.

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And the royal grave.

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A close-up of the bricks on the sides.

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The theatre, known for its acoustics! They’re still using it for Greek theatre performances but since it’s so far from Athens, it’d start in the afternoon and get back at 2am.

Lots of people clapping on stage. Not really that great, but you can certainly see why actors wore masks.

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The seats.

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There were other structures on top of the theatre, but we weren’t given any time to explore any of them…

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Since we weren’t given much time to see the other sites, and we weren’t even told they existed (we had to pass through all of them regardless), it was quite a rush walking through the museum and the other parts. Two people were late for 15 minutes and the guide was extremely upset.

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In a similar fashion, we parked very far from the castles and spent maybe 5 minutes there.

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The canal was nice, and even though we were there for merely 10 minutes, that was more than enough.

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We were finally taken to a shop. You would not expect something like this to a 100-Euro day trip.

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