Canberra ain’t Japan: relearning other destinations

The cherry trees were in blossom, but it wasn’t Japan.

I need to relearn how to visit destinations outside of Asia. At night as I sat in the apartment I had to remember that I couldn’t just duck out into the corridor to grab something from a vending machine or pick up some dessert from a convenience store outside. Canberra isn’t Asia and especially isn’t Japan.

I rather like Canberra. There’s a freshness of air, a melding of urban and rural landscapes, a sense of life but also of solitude. There have been many changes since I lived there for three years, back in the early nineties. So many shops empty in Garema Place, so many of my familiar haunts moved or gone altogether: Impact Records, Kingsley’s Chicken under Canberra Place, Woodstock Steak & Pizza House, Dymocks, and others. I suspect that some have just moved a little, across to the shinier and newer shopping mall that rings the centre of Civic or continue on elsewhere. Others have gone for good.

As I walked to work in Canberra I watched the magpies swoop around chasing other birds or gathering material for their nests and was glad that it was not yet spring. If there were two things I disliked about Canberra it was the winters and the dive bombing magpies in spring. At least the winters made you appreciate spring.

I had two good flights to and from Canberra, plus my first experience of a Qantas Club lounge.

Thanks to our corporate travel provider I stayed in a two bedroom apartment. You would think that I should be happy for the extra space but it just looked empty and cold. Truth is that I would have been happier in one of those pokey Japanese business hotels. They are often accused of lacking character, but they had more than  this place.

Looking at hotels to stay in Europe makes me realise how much I have grown used to those in Asia. In many parts of Europe it looks like getting less for more. But then it’s all about what is outside those hotels and all the sights, sounds and tastes of European culture and food. Can’t wait!