In Praise of Something Smaller

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Maureen & I have completed ten cruises over the years, mainly with Princess Cruises, but the one that we use to judge all of the others is Azamara Cruises.
Azamara Quest 30,277 GT, the smallest ship in which we have sailed, launched in 2000, with a passenger capacity of 686 and a crew of 408.

 

Majestic Princess cruise ship

The largest vessel in which we have sailed was Majestic Princess at 144,000 GT, launched in 2017, and she has a passenger capacity of 3,560 and a crew of 1,346 and I must admit that we never felt crowded.

As a comparison Majestic Princess offers 1 crew member for 2.64 passengers and Azamara Quest offers 1 crew member for  1.68 passengers.

The larger vessels offer climbing castles, multiple swimming pools, some with wave makers, wind tunnels, promenades that hang over the water, whereas smaller vessels offer the opportunity of seeing smaller accessible ports that the large vessel can’t enter.

It all depends on what the customer wants, so I thought I’d post a few photographs of the Azamara Quest as a comparison.

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The buffet area where one can have any meal, but we used it mainly for breakfast & lunch.

DSC06105rThe passenger doesn’t help himself, all food is covered and a crew member serves you so there is tight control for health reasons, not portion control – you can have as much as you require.

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Waiter service at lunch time if you want a glass of wine or beer.

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I’ve never experienced the buffet to be rushed, or noisy, and we never had to wait for a table, obviously the sitting area is larger than the area shown in the photograph.

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Swimming or sunbathing on a sea day.

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For those who don’t swim, there is always some where to sit – and before you ask I don’t have any idea who the guy is behind Maureen. During our cruise we had a good choice of beers, which were complimentary, as were all the soft drinks.

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The pool is also used in the evening for ‘White Night’ – people dress in white (which is not compulsory) and there is a buffet of hot food, all cooked to order, of dishes from around the world, and of course various wines.

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Towards the end of the evening there is the ‘march of the flags’ representing the international mix of the crew. As you see the Isle of Man, or Manx flag, was also represented as part of the flag march, because I think the ship’s Master was a Manxman.

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A favourite of mine is always the library, which is in the Drawing Room.

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Quiet, with picture windows overlooking the sea, board games available for those who like chess, scrabble, cards etc, plus desk top computers if you wish to go on line.

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The Living Room.

A large room that overlooks the bow – with picture windows to watch the world pass you by, while you sit in hammock seats suspended from the deck-head, or just in comfortable armchairs – your choice.

The above was taken in the early morning, but around 4.30 pm it becomes popular because the piano player arrives or other musicians (music is never too loud), stewards serving pre-dinner drinks, and it is a place to meet fellow travelers, without being too shy or uncomfortable.

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The bar area in the living room.

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Port side of the Living Room for a quiet read.

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Come 5.00 pm and the hors d’oeuvres have arrived – complimentary of course – they never seem to run out.

 

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From the Living Room over looking the bow as we left Bombay.

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Sunsets over the Indian Ocean as we head for Muscat in Oman.

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Around 6 to 6.30 pm we made our way to the dinning room – choice of tables for small groups, or just for two, we were happy to sit with people we didn’t know, but on such a small ship it wasn’t long before your ‘knew’ everyone.
Each day the complimentary wine changed (one red, one white) from different parts of the world, this always made for a very happy friendly evening meal.1058-DiscoveriesRestaurant

I copied the above from the Azamara Pursuit site – all the other photographs are mine from our cruise in the Quest.

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Entertainment is not as extravagant or as spectacular as the shows on the larger vessels, but more like a night club where you are closer to the acts. The above was a local dance troop during our visit to Goa in India. They didn’t sail with us, but came on board just for the show .

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You still have the all dancing and all singing acts. . .

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The difference with the smaller ship shows, is that you get to talk to the entertainers because they are all involved with the daily running of the ship – they run the trivia quizzes,  teach ballroom dancing or just chat about their life at sea as an entertainer.

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This guy was ‘DIFFERENT’

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The balloon appeared to be a standard balloon when he began.

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You can see how close he is to his audience.
He was a ‘magic act and did more than climb in to a balloon, he was very funny.

A day ashore in Muscat,

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The local Souk or market – air conditioned . . . .of course.

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and on our return – the Quest had remembered Maureen’s birthday,
and her gluten free cake.

azamara-pursuitAzamara Pursuit
There are only three ships in the Azamara Group – Azamara Quest, Journey & now the Pursuit, they are all sister ships.
The Pursuit was launched in 2001,  30,211 GT and has just completed (August 2018) a substantial refit in Belfast, UK, to bring her up to the standard of her two sisters.

Maureen & I are booked to sail in her in 2019 – I do hope the experience will be as good as the Quest.

We may consider that sailing in a ship of ‘only’ 30,000 GT is small today, but having sailed in cargo ships, such as the British India ship Pundua, launched 1945, at 7,200 GT Azamara Quest, to some of us is quite large.

PunduaI was 3rd Mate in the Pundua in 1966.

 

 

 

 

 

Oбед = lunch

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Lunch on our second day, was at our own expense, but the guide made sure that the restaurant that we visited was able to cope with 12 of us dropping in for a meal.

I asked the guide for a traditional Russian light lunch, not borscht or beef stroganoff. She’d chosen a restaurant that offered a type of wrap – it’s advertised in the above picture.

We all sat at different tables in blocks of four, which was the layout of the restaurant.

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We had a chat with the waitress, who was very pleasant and tried her best to understand us, but her English was very limited and our Russian was nil. I was trying to ask for a gluten free dish for Maureen, and we didn’t get anywhere until I called the guide over to help with the ordering.

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Our first priority were the drinks – I wanted Russian beer and the waitress kept pushing German beer, which was not much different in price, but when in a country I like to try their own beer.

The Russian beer, based on the menu card, was fine, but I was a little concerned because of the beer mats. The above beer mat is for Krusovice, which is a Czech brewery named after the village where it originated.

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 The crown shown, is not Russian, but Austrian, so as the beer I drank was draft beer, I am not sure if it was Russian or  Czech or even German.

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Regardless it was a pleasant drop that hit the thirst spot.

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Maureen’s gluten free meal – it looked attractive and from memory Maureen enjoyed it.

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I ordered the above, which was filled with a Chinese type vegetables, with chili sauce on the side. I’d only seen pictures and worked out that you could have two for a certain price or one for a cheaper price. I wasn’t sure if they meant double fillings or two full wraps, so just picked one, which was a specialty of the house. I thought that if they were small, and I was still hungry, I could always order another. As you see one was enough. Puff pastry filled with stir fried vegetables – it was OK, but I didn’t think this was particularly Russian – but I might be wrong.

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The experience was entertaining, the food OK, and beer cold, and we were on holiday so, can’t complain. The meal & drinks for both of us, cost less than USD $15.

Are You Free, Captain Peacock??

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Elisseeff Emporium on Nevsky Prospekt.

Elisseeff Emporium reminded me of a visit to Fortnum & Mason’s in London. Elisseeff Emporium food hall was part of retail and entertainment complex, which was built in 1902/03.

Before this new building was constructed in 1881, there used to be a restaurant on the corner, which anti-tsarists used to dig a tunnel from the restaurant under the side road that can be seen from Nevisky Prospekt, in an effort to plant a bomb to kill Czar Alexander II. Everything was ready, but the Czar didn’t pass that way on that date. The Czar was assassinated later.

After the new building was completed it was under the control of the Elisseeff Brothers who were merchants.

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The shop in 1904 – found the picture on the internet.

After the revolution in 1917 the shop was operated by a State company and called Gastronom No. 1, and so called until the 1990’s, when it was operated as “Eliseevsky shop” (a public listed company) in 1995, but the enterprise never really got off the ground, and there were various attempts to open businesses including opening as a perfume shop.

After a long period of restoration the shop eventually opened in 2012. The operator retained the old feel and the food hall now offers the traditional seven different food areas.DSC03454c

I took this as we entered, and later had to crop out certain 21st century signage – they just didn’t fit.

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It is a popular tourist spot – in the centre under the large pineapple, people were enjoying cups of coffee or tea.

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Piano music – classical tea time music that one would expect, was played by the invisible man. The keys were computer controlled, as you can see two keys have been played – it was quite relaxing.
The Australian readers would liken it to the live pianist in the David Jones Department store in Sydney.

DSC03457c The price of the middle white item is 120r, I think this means grams, so on the right it states 240 PY6 / RUB, so I assume it is 240 rubbles.
As far as I can make out 240 rub = USD $3.50 (approx) for 120 grams (just over 4 oz) of the cake.
The PY6 is a symbol for the Kopeks & it seems the Rubble, and there are one hundred kopeks in the rubble.

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They had individual stands dotted around, as well as traditional counters. The lady in red on the right is sitting for tea & cakes and just above her you can see a waitress.

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Fish counter all well presented.

DSC03459r Lightly salted salmon & trout & the eel was smoked cured.
Trout is 100 grams for 320 PY6 about USD $4.70
Eel 100 grams = 800 rubles about USD $11.75 (About USD $53.30 / Ib)

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Turkish delight and other sweet dishes.

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Hampers & dry displays – had a feeling of Christmas – but it was July . . .

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Decadent cakes for the proletariat.

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My favourite counter – glorious cheeses –
Swiss Briee – 100 gram (3.5 oz) 690 PY6 about USD$10.13

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Hard cheeses – young goat milk cheese – 800 (USD$11.75) for 100 grams.

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Special occasion cakes

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All items are made with chocolate – except for the tea set . . .
Chocolate shoe 240 grams = USD $22.00 (1500 rubles)

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They also sold foreign delicacies -couldn’t make out the price in the photograph for the British item.

They also sold wine and Champagne. Quite an interesting thirty minutes.

 

Onwards to the Sceptred Isle

 

DSC03891rPicture taken of the Cross of St George the English flag, above Bargate, Southampton.

DSC02055rBargate – Southampton . . .
but before we reached the Sceptered Isle, we had to leave Singapore
DSC02010rWe walked out of our hotel in to a very quiet terminus at 6.00 am, to check-in for our flight to London.

Emigration & security didn’t open until 6.30 am so we had time to find our check-in counter. Flying business class did not require us to do self check-in and self labeling of our bags, a growing cancer of modern day flying and self checkout at super markets.
Remember me, I used to be called the customer, not the DIY wizard to save you money.
jetstar-self-check-in-1When was the last time that you saw empty self-check-in machines?
Changi-Airport-Kiosks                  Photographs must have been taken during the night – nicely posed.

Whinge over, we’ve been checked in by a real person, and we’ve been invited to the lounge.
DSC02012rA light breakfast perhaps – not too much as to ruin the appetite for brunch on the plane .
DSC02013rThe lounge was not all that far from the boarding area so we had plenty of time for breakfast and to watch the airport traffic.
DSC02018rOne must admit that Singapore airport authority have created a relaxing environment for those travelling in tubes of metal across the world. The above is an advert with a fountain (the white circle), which didn’t come out as planned. More fountains below
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DSC02026rAs we sped down the runway the Singapore Airlines planes were everywhere, so is it any wonder that in the near future they will be flying an ultra long range aircraft A350-900ULR none stop to New York. It’ll take nineteen hours, and only carry business and premium economy seats. Our flight from Singapore to London would take us about thirteen hours, which is long enough for me.

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All my yesterdays – ships at anchor off Singapore, but I have a feeling that they are not waiting to go alongside or to work cargo from junks, but to die on a beach in India or Bangladesh.

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Nothing new – in 1838 HMS Temeraire, immortalised in William Turner’s painting as she was towed to the breakers. Sold by the Admiralty for scrap for £5,530, her copper reclaimed and sold back to the Admiralty, and her timbers sold for housebuilding and hand carved furniture – where there’s muck there’s money.

DSC02037rOn a happier note it was time for brunch.

DSC02038rThe lighting had been dulled a little for those who wished to sleep, hence the coloured reflection. Prawns and scallops, and of course a glass of white wine, it was 5.00 pm somewhere in the world!

DSC02040rMore fish – Maureen was proud of me considering fish is my least favourite food.
DSC02041rI think this was called a Tarrufo Limoncello – what ever it was called it was very nice.
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DSC02043rand of course cheese to finish – this meal was a very pleasant way of spending an hour or so . . . .
DSC02046rEngland below – the picture is not as clear as I’d hoped, and as we descended, I was hoping that we would pass near Windsor Castle for a photograph – we didn’t. If we did I didn’t see the castle.

Once through customs and immigration we were met by a driver to take us to Southampton – the traffic was nose to tail most of the way and took us two hours.

We arrived at the Premier Inn, Cumberland Place in time for a quick shower and down for a drink before dinner. The hotel is not a ‘flash’ hotel but new (opened February 2018), clean, with friendly efficient staff. We’d booked in for three nights before joining the cruise ship.

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Small bar area, which was part of the dinning room.

DSC02051rDining room.

They served the best ‘Continental’ breakfast that I’ve had in a long time – choice of juices, cereals, fruit, various breads and as much coffee as you could drink. A hot breakfast was about £3.00 extra, but after the ‘Continental’ I couldn’t face bacon & eggs.

Early to bed as our inner clocks where out of wack with the local time . . .

 

 

 

 

 

Celebrity Silhouette to the Baltic

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The last time I visited the Baltic area was in 1965 when I was a cadet in the BI ship Dunera, which at the time was a school ship. This time Leningrad was no more, and St Petersburg had been resurrected.

We considered flying with Garuda International, who had just gained a five star rating, but after various checks in to the logistics of the trip we decided to fly with Singapore Airlines. A little more expensive, but their reputation for service trumped the extra cost, plus in a few months time we will be celebrating our Golden Wedding – try this version in Sydney.

For those who prefer the original by Woody Herman, which was recorded in 1941, Oh! those drums.

I booked us to fly 03rd July from Sydney to Singapore, daylight flight, stay overnight at an airport hotel and fly daylight to London. The ship would sail from Southampton.

The booking was for business class, after all at our age our holidays may come to a halt due to our health, because various bits are already failing.

We checked-in and within a short time we were in the business class lounge.

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DSC01954rThe flight had a schedule departure of 11.00am, which required Maureen and I to be at the airport at 8.00 am, which meant that we had to be picked up from home at 7.00 am, and up and about around 5.00 am. I was tired out before the holiday had started.

We knew that the lounge would be in breakfast mode, so along with a small glass of  Champagne and a bowl of muesli (for health reasons of course) our holiday began.

DSC01956rWe had a window seat in the lounge, which allowed us to watch the early morning airport landings and take-offs.

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DSC01959r  In the maintenance area we’d spotted an SQ A380 and thought that this might be our aircraft – we were correct as an hour and a half before departure we watched it being towed to the passenger area.

DSC01966rWe were fortunate that the 11.00 am departure aircraft had all the new seats that SQ had designed and were slowly installing in all of their aircraft. Heaps of room, entertainment system was very easy to use – easier than the next leg, which had the older seating.

DSC01973r.jpgWe left on time and queued with others for the runway.

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As we raced down the runway the air, as it rushed over the wing, could be seen. I’m sure someone will send me an explanation of what is happening – please make it simple . .

DSC01987rGoodbye Sydney – not a very good shot, but the best I could get without it blurring.

DSC01990rWe both like window seats, and as they are single seats I sat behind Maureen.

DSC01991rThe centre seats have the ability pull up a ‘wall’ so that both passengers can have privacy. You can just see the top of one ‘wall’ behind the seat on the right. The ‘wall’ can be dropped if you are travelling with a spouse or friend.

DSC01992rBrunch began – first course, I enjoyed the delicate light taste.

DSC01994rMain course – beef in Thai red curry, not as good as I expected.

DSC01995rHokey Pokey ice cream

DSC01996rEnd the meal with a glass of red and a little cheese – I was glad that I hadn’t pigged out in the lounge.

DSC01997rA light snack and a glass of wine a couple of hours before landing in Singapore.

DSC02005rComing in to land at Singapore – and the crest of air is back . . .
at least it wasn’t On a Wing and a Prayer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homeward bound

 

DSC01846rThe last night of the cruise – don’t know how many balloons they go through in a year, because there is a big ‘bash’ at the end of every cruise.

We’d left Akita and headed north east through the night and the following day, which was a sea day.
During the night of the sea day, which was the last night of the cruise, we entered the straits of Tsugaru Kaiko, around 1.30 am, not being a night owl z z z z z I just believed what I was told.
The Tsugaru Kaiko Straits divide the rest of Japan from Hokkaido Island, and around 3.15 am we cleared the straits, entered the Pacific Ocean, and headed for Yokohama.

DSC01849rMorning arrival in Yokohama – later we would cross the bridge shown in the picture.

In the evening of the last night we were asked to leave our heavy luggage outside our cabins. This luggage was removed during the night and the next time I saw it was in the passenger terminal. The whole operation was extremely efficient, we picked out our luggage, after which we were shown were to go for the coach to the airport. We just followed a guide and boarded the bus as our luggage was stowed underneath.

Princess Cruises offered a shuttle service (for a fee) to both airports, Narita and Haneda, but we picked Narita, because our flight would be leaving from Narita the following morning.
On researching the best way to get home I realised that we would not be able to make any morning flights from Narita on the morning that we left the ship, and that we would have to stay at an airport hotel overnight.

DSC01855rWe crossed the bridge after which we encountered traffic.

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Most of the way we were in a convoy of slow traffic and it took us two hours or more to get to Narita, which is about 100 km or 60 miles. At least it confirmed that staying over night for the following day’s flight was the correct decision.

We stayed at the Narita Airport Rest House, which was only a few minutes from the airport and the price was ‘right’ at AUD $110. The room was a good size, and it was clean, as was the bathroom, and you could see the planes but not hear them, perfect for a quick overnight.
We booked a couple of seats on the 6.30 am shuttle (five minute ride) to the airport. On arriving in the foyer at 6.00 am we were just two of quite a few. We were early, because I had a feeling that the bus might well be full at 6.30 am. The driver waved to us and we all climbed aboard and we left at 6.10 am – initiative and efficiency, because the driver would be back in time to make the first run of the day at 6.30am.

On entering Narita Airport we were surprised at how quiet it was, so we found our check-in area and realised that the airport didn’t open until 7.30 am!
I’d never experienced an airport operating on office hours. Last year we checked in at 4.00 am for a 6.00 am flight out of Sydney, and we consider Sydney to be a ‘terminus’, with a curfew, but Tokyo’s Narita would be a 24 hour airport, or so we thought.

DSC01859rcThere were plenty of very quiet planes.

After checking in, because we were business class, we were given an invitation to the lounge. We were given a map along with our invitation – it took us a good twenty minutes to get anywhere near the lounge, and we still had to ask in the end. The airport is huge!

DSC01867rWe were at gate 93, and passed four lounges (for the same airline – JAL) before getting anywhere near Gate 93 and the lounge allocated for this area. The exercise was good for both of us . . .

DSC01862rBecause of our early start we hadn’t had breakfast, so the spread was very welcoming. The blackboard is advertising some sort of food along with Mount Fuji, but self serve was better.

DSC01864rThe lounge was very nice and quiet and had good internet reception.

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It was 5.00 pm somewhere in the world, even if it was only 8.30 am in Tokyo, so I had to try Japanese bubbly.

DSC01878rFollow the leader for take-off to Kuala Lumpur, we were flying with Malaysian Airlines.

DSC01880rAirborne

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One  last shot of Mt Fuji as we left Japan behind.

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Lunchtime – my starter, smoked fish, thought I’d do the right thing because I wanted the meat dish for the main course.

DSC01891rVery apologetic cabin member (can’t say stewardess anymore), said that they had run out of the meat, but I could have the poached haddock.

At home I have fish once a week normally, so now I have two weeks free . . . . .

Because we don’t like night flying we decided to stay over night at the Kuala Lumpur airport hotel, the Sama Sama, which is a lovely hotel, having stayed there a few times.

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Hotel Lobby

Premier_Room_KingTypical Premier Room, which gives you access to the Executive Lounge.

DSC01899rThe advantage is that it includes food and drinks from 6 to 8 pm. By the time you’ve picked through the offering you don’t need an evening meal.

DSC01901rOver eating might be a problem

The following morning we check-out of the hotel and checked in for the flight to Sydney – daylight flight 9.00 am to 7.00 pm. Our ticket entitled us to visit the Golden Lounge, which is the name of Malaysian Airline’s lounge in KL.

DSC01904rIt has all been refurbished

DSC01908rHot food to order –  just ask for the type of omelette you want and the chef makes it . .

DSC01909rVarious types of food for breakfast from western to Asian; hot or cold.

DSC01919rBrunch on the plane.

I was waiting to be told that my main course was not available  . .

DSC01920rI should have had more faith – Nasi Lemak, one of my favourite Malay dishes.
Spiced just right for me – I like spice.

DSC01922rGetting close to home – the wide open spaces of Australia.

DSC01927rStrapped in the seat for landing and held the camera onehanded across Maureen – must do better next time – give the camera to Maureen, I can be an idiot when I try.

Just for my Sydney readers – from walking off the plane, through immigration, collected bags, through quarantine and outside waiting for our lift home – 20 minutes!!

About 7.00 pm on a Sunday night – never had such a fast arrival.

 

 

 

 

Tsuruga

 

DSC01619rA quiet town with a very unusual historical link.

We took a ship’s cruise, because I was unable to find a ‘walker’ guide.

DSC01625rAnother temple – Kehi Jingu Shrine, or as the locals call it “Kei-san,” I took the above photo, but as usual you couldn’t get a clear shot for the tourists :- o)

kehijingu_mainThis shot is from the Tsuruga Tourists Association site.
It is said to have been built in 702 AD. The 11-meter-tall torii gate is known as one of Japan’s three greatest wooden torii gates.

DSC01626rAs we crossed the bridge to enter we came across a bride & groom.

DSC01627rcCouldn’t get a clear shot of her because the lady in blue kept getting in the way, perhaps she was the bride’s mother making sure all was well with the dress. She did look lovely, and everyone wanted a photograph of her.

DSC01636rPart of the temple.

DSC01637rThe prayer board was not far away.

DSC01638rIt appears that as well as selling prayer boards and good luck charms, she also fixed radios & told jokes, because her customer was laughing his head off.

DSC01640rOnce again after the faithful had purchased a fortune slip, and it wasn’t what they wanted,  they would tie the slip to the line and walked away, leaving their bad luck behind.

DSC01641rThese ladies seemed to be working for the temple on a tea stall, and they were quite happy to have their photograph taken with Maureen & I. Perhaps they were the Japanese version of Mother’s Union.

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Maureen & I escaped because we wanted to see how the locals lived and we had visited quite a number of temples over the years. The above shows the local high street, which had Saturday stalls on the pavement – they were just setting up for the day.

DSC01647rThese ladies were trying to encourage us to visit their tea shop – if we’d have had more time perhaps we would have sampled their tea, but our time was limited, because we didn’t want to miss the coach.

DSC01650rPort of Humanity Tsuruga Museum

This is a museum – one that I’d never heard of, but a must for any visitor to Tsuruga.
We were not allowed to take photographs inside, so I have used the internet for those who are interested.

p_e-1-1-2sChiune Sugihara was a most unusual diplomat.

He was born on January 1, 1900 in Yaotsu-cho, Kamo-gun, Gifu Prefecture. His father wanted his high-achieving son to become a doctor, but the young Chiune desired a field in which he could use foreign languages, and at the age of eighteen, entered Waseda University’s Faculty of Education, Department of English Literature. He later passed the stringent exams for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. His choosing to learn the Russian language, as recommended by an examiner during an interview, would determine his destiny.

Humanity Museum – 763 Polish orphans rescued between 1920 and 1922.

On September 1, 1939, the German forces invaded Poland and two weeks later on the 17th, Soviet forces stormed in from the east. Poland was divided and occupied according to the secret clause in the Nonaggression Pact concluded by Germany and the Soviet Union.
The Polish Jews were stranded without means to obtain approval to flee the country.  Their only escape route was Japan via Siberia.
They escaped to Lithuania but, Russian troops invaded Lithuania, and stopped the refugees from leaving.
They were now facing deportation to Siberia, so they contacted the Japanese Consul, Chiune Sugihara, to obtain a Transit Visa. The Consul contacted Tokyo for permission to issue so many transit visas – he was denied permission.
Sugihara, in an act of defiance, ignored the orders, and commenced granting visas.

The refugees who obtained the visas were then at the mercy of extreme hardship. While traveling to Vladivostok on the Siberian Railway, Russian Secret Police boarded the train and confiscated the refugees’ jewelry and watches. Many youths were arrested without reason and led away to forced labour in Siberia. By the time they reached Vladivostok and the ship to Japan, most of them had lost almost all of their money and valuables. From Vladivostok they took ship to Tsuruga.

The Jewish Escape Route lasted until 22nd June 1941 when Germany attacked Russia and the Siberian railways was closed to the refugees.

Hundreds escaped thanks to Chiune Sugihara.
From Tsuruga the refugees would make their way to Kobe, and then to China, Australia, US, Canada & S. America.
Read the links for more detail.

Across the road from the museum we were shown a diorama of Tsuruga – every boy’s Christmas wish.

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DSC01660rThe trains never stopped, the lights dimmed to simulate night and the ships came alongside, with their navigation lights lit. The ships also sailed during ‘daylight’.

DSC01664rNote the ship at sea near what looks like a lighter coloured part of the sea – this is a viewing hole. From where I took the picture one could crawl underneath the ‘town’ and pop up to take photos of the town from the sea. The images on the top right hand side are, I think, reflections of a photograph of railway workers that was behind me when I took the picture. I didn’t know of this until I arrived home and transferred the images from the camera to the computer.

DSC01665rEven the buses and the general traffic moved around and stopped at lights.

All the men from our coach were clicking like mad and admiring the whole project, but our wives went to the souvenir shop after a couple of minutes looking at the display. Obviously the politically correct unisex concept was not in anyone’s mind, so please don’t report us to the PC police.

For some reason were taken to a ‘forest’ of pine trees . . . I’ve no idea why,

DSC01671rat the same time we were shown a beach –

DSC01668rNothing like an Aussie beach as the sand was very gritty.

DSC01670rcAs you can see it was not beach weather, even for an optimist like me in my shorts . . . the top for the day was 15 c (59F), not sitting out weather.

DSC01685rOf course we had to go round another market – not too bad, because they had plenty of samples, mainly fish and various seaweed etc.

DSC01687rThis stall holder was shaving seaweed in to very thin strip from a large piece of seaweed. It was interesting to watch his skill at getting slices that you could nearly see through.

DSC01691rThey had various restaurants & cafes. Some of the tour group had lunch others just made do with the samples.

DSC01684rI didn’t receive any free samples of crab at $81.50 for one crab . . .

DSC01693rVarious types of fish mixed with herbs and  . . . can’t remember, but it smelt ok.

DSC01695rThe smaller towns do make an effort to turn out for a ‘sail away’ & wave goodbye,

DSC01696rand the band with the Manga figures as well.

The one thing that sticks in my mind is that everywhere in Tsuruga was clean – we didn’t see any litter or graffiti. Tsuruga’s zebra crossings were different – once you had permission to cross, birds tweeted as you walked and stopped as soon as the light changed.