A happy retired person!

Welcome to the 21st entry of this yearly blog!

A look at 2018

What a year this has been!
I had planned to take it easy this year, after the amazing trip to Europe documented in my 2017 blog entry.
Our intention was to revisit Japan in May and do a trip to inland NSW with Sylvia's grandsons in October, but it ended up being a very eventful year, with a total of 6 exciting trips!

Shira, Chef de Village!
Shira had a nervous beginning to the year.

In December of the previous year, she participated in a Club Med course for staff that desired to become Chief of Village (Club Med for General Manager).

Out of 27 candidates, only 6 were chosen, and the final decision came through in February that she made it!

The exciting announcement included a very special surprise!!!

Please click here to see a very emotional video and detailed description of that occasion

Eitan completed a Bachelor of Science in Human Biology and Biomedical Science at Macquarie University with plenty of Distinctions on his transcript. Well done!

He has now been accepted at the University of Technology of Sydney (UTS) to do a Masters degree in Medical Biotechnology.
Sounds impressive to me!

He has recently moved to a new rented place, together with two mates from high school and his girlfriend Sophie so as to be closer to his new university

My sister Claudia has prepared her own annual report about her family and trips which include amazing photos of The Kimberley region, the Ivory Coast, Zambia, Colombia and Cuba
Click here to view her report!

I am now fully (and very happily) retired, as opposed to working a few hours a weekfor my previous employer .

Retirement gives me the ability to take care of both my physical and mental health:
Every day I either go walking for an hour, mostly with a neighbourhood walking group, swim 700+ metres, go to the gym or ride my bike.

Mentally, I am on my 9th year of studying Japanese. It is good fun, although a little frustrating, as after all this time I should be able to speak it better!

And of course, I get to travel a lot!

This year's trips

  • French Alps - February

    Refer to the section about Shira above and its link to see how I surprised Shira and what a very proud father I am!
    It was an on the spot decision that had me book a trip and be on the plane that same day to Geneva, the closest airport to her resort.
    My niece Sonia and her 3-year-old daughter Zoe joined us at Shira's resort for a weekend making it an even more memorable occasion!

    A special thanks to Shira's Chef De Village Olivier at Tignes for inviting me and making my stay so memorable

  • Japan - May

    Sylvia and I returned to Japan, which we also visited in 2014.
    This time we concentrated on the island of Kyushu (famous for its many hot springs) and visited both Nagasaki and Hiroshima. We often stayed with local Japanese hosts who took us to beautiful areas and taught us a lot about their cutlture, traditions, food and daily way of life.
    The most memoralbe experience was being invited to participe in a special 4 hour traditional tea ceremony

    A very sincere arigatou gozaimashita to all of the Servas hosts in Japan that went out of their way to make this visit so special

    Clockwise: Kyomi Akane and Manobu (Kumamoto) - Izumi and young Ryohei (Kumamoto) - Masumi and Tomoyoshi (near Hiroshima)
    Clockwise: Yuki (Fukuoka) - Shizue and Hiroyoshi (Saga)- Akiko (Nagasaki) - Masumi and Tsuyoshi after the tea ceremony (near Nagasaki)
  • Germany - August

    During last year's trip in Europe I did quite a lot of searching into my family's roots which led to the discovery of a half aunt that lives in Hamburg, Germany.
    The purpose of the trip this year was to meet her, her daughter and family.
    Whilest in Germany, I complemented the previous year's discoveries:

    • Finding the grave and tombstones of ancestors from the 16th century, 14-15 generations back.
    • Visiting the town where my Grandfather was born and finding out that an ancestor was the first one buried in the Jewish cemetery there
    • Meeting a third cousin who supplied me with her father's very interesting memoirs including growing up and surviving as a half-Jew in Nazi Germany and his subsequent life in Colombia and Venezuela
    • Visiting my father's aunt biographer. My great-aunt was a famous pre-war artist and art collector who perished in the Teresienstadt concentration camp

    Read more about my root search in Germany here

    A special thanks to the Hannes family for their very kind hospitality while in Frankfurt.

  • San Francisco - September

    When I was a university student in Colombia, my best friend and chess rival was Richard, who came to Bogota from the coastal city of Barranquilla.
    During a Christmas break I spent an unforgettable holiday with his family.
    I was honoured to be invited by Sam, Richard's brother to their mother's 90th birthday in San Francisco.
    I had not seen her and her 91 year old husband since I visited them there in 1988, and I had not seen Richard for even longer, so this was a real nice reunion, with his parents and brothers and we chatted as if we last met a week ago!

    A special thanks to the whole family, specially to Sam and Helen for the invitation and their amazing hospitality.

    Also thanks to Sherry and Robert (Servas Berkeley) for hosting me and showing me around Berkeley.
  • Jenolan caves, Bathurst, Parkes, Orange, Dubbo (Western NSW, Australia) - October

    During their school holidays, we took Jake and Nathan, Sylvia's grandchildren from Brisbane to Dubbo, where they have the famous Western Plains Zoo. It is a zoo with no cages, just vast islands with moats separating the animals from the visitors. This park is so big that you either drive or ride a bicycle.

    On the way to Dubbo we stopped by the beautiful Jenolan caves, we visited the car museum and racing track in Bathurst, the famous Dish in Parkes (as in the movie: The Dish) and many other points of interest.

  • Italy - November

    Shira usually comes to Sydney in November for holidays as it is between her summer and winter seasons. After completing her previous assignment in Turkey and before being in charge as Chief of Village in her new resort in France, there were three weeks pause and we were expecting to celebrate her 30th birthday together in Sydney.
    There was one catch though: In the middle of the three weeks she was due to be present at an important 4 day meeting in the French Alps!
    So, once more, a quick decision was made for Sylvia and I to meet Shira in Rome, travel together to Florence and Venice, drop Shira in Torino were she hired a car to go to her meeting, while Sylvia and I admired Torino, Genoa and Cinque Terre.
    We returned to Torino to pick up Shira after he meeting and continued to Pisa, Siena, San Gimignano and then drove to Napoli from where we did day trips to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.
    We definitely had a fantastic time together which we will remember for many years to come!

    A special thanks to our Roman relative, Federico, who guided us to the main Roman sites, invited us to visit the Vatican and took us out to eat amazing local food!

Sylvia was blessed with another grandchild in March, Sara Jes, to daughter Laura.
Sylvia and I are now in our 15th year together!
In January 2018, Sylvia had an unfortunate bicycle mishap and fractured and dislocated her foot.
She ended up being wheelchair bound for two and a half months.
She has since recovered (not fully). It did not stop us from having marvellous trips together to Japan, Dubbo and Italy.

Jake Sylvia Ruth Sara Nathan Saul and Zeke

2018 Guests:

We again were blessed with lots of guests this year. Some of them friends from the past, some via HIT (Host Israeli Travellers), others via SERVAS, an organisation that matches travellers with willing hosts to encourage culture exchange and peace amongst nations through it.

Daniel, Franco and Maxo.

These three admirable Argentinian boys decided to come to Australia and circumnavigate it via bicycle!
On their way through Sydney, and recommended by a common relative, they booked to stay one night at my place, and ended up staying for a week!
They started in Perth, then rode via Adelaide and Melbourne to Sydney, continuing all the way to North Queensland.
Unfortunately, their visa was not renewed and they failed to be able to complete their trip through the north of Australia back to Perth.
They chose to continue their journey in far East Asia and are now on a mission to ride from Malaysia all the way to China instead!
A description of their adventures can be followed on here

Servas visitors:

It was fun hosting people from so many different countries and cultures from 3 continents and learn about their way of life.

Yvonne and Johan from South Africa, Alexandra from Rumania

Briga and Fridjof from Germany, Joan, Carme and Benita from Spain, and Hannah on a repeat visit from the USA

HIT visitors We again had many Israeli youngsters visit us during the year. Some for just one night, others for a few weeks.
They all seemed to enjoy being at their 'home away from home' and we enjoyed having them and pampering them a little. Of course, Shabbat dinners at Sylvia's or her siblings were special occasions for them too!

See more about HIT here

Shira - Tal and Noam - Tsiki - Rotem
Omer, Ariel, Ofir and Yonatan - Anat and Amos

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By Bo Strachan from London
Date: 2019-03-13

Oh Daniel and Sylvia, how lovely to be able to keep up with goings on this past year!
It is wonderful to read about how your travels, family and selves are doing (including exercise of course!) and of course your many beautiful stories of being generous hosts.
So happy to hear how well you're both doing and about all of your exciting adventures, I dream to continue travelling for as long as possible as you both do!
Thanks for keeping me in the loop, sending my love and keep in touch :)

By Jacqui and Shaul from Tel Aviv
Date: 2019-03-03

It is so lovely to receive your yearly updates. Glad to hear that full retirement suits you. We came back last night from a fantastic tour of Madhya Pradesh where we spotted 4 tigers, 2 sloth bears (1 with a cub), 2 leopards, giant squirrels, etc.

Date: 2019-02-26

Well really content for you and Sylvia that things rooling on smooth ....just remains like this!

By Shizue Hideshima from Japan Saga
Date: 2019-02-25

Dear Daniel &Silvia
I was impressed your excellent life surrounded by wonderful family and relatives.
Your life is our model to live life.
We are fine and we are waiting for spring cherry blossom blooming.

By shmuel nahmias from sydney
Date: 2019-02-25

happy to know to you are okay.
where are you now?
we will miss you on Tuesday.

By Michael Abadi from Charlotte, NC (USA)
Date: 2019-02-25

Wow, what I year...your blogs never cease to amaze me. You may remember I told you about a friend who moved from NJ from the same Congregation as Eddie Szteinbaum, a small world indeed. My regards to everyone in your family, especially Claudia whom I have not seen since Colombia but remember fondly. It was nice to see her picture!

By Bing from Parramatta
Date: 2019-02-24

Wish I had your talent foe languages. Went to Japan last year. Thought about trying to learn the language but gave up. Hoping to visit Spain and Portugal this year. Should I try to learn those languages? Perhaps not.

By Peter from Deal, Kent, UK
Date: 2019-02-24

Dear Daniel, We are all well over here, with most of my part of the family within a few miles of each other, but some in London and others in France.
Helen is now 96 !!!, I am 94 and sister Gina is 91. We have two children, 5 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren, ranging from 21 years of age to 4 months.

By Joan i Carme from Argentona
Date: 2019-02-24

Hello from Barcelona
We enjoyed very much our hollidays in Australia

By Lorna from Sydney
Date: 2019-02-23

Enjoy discussing (and envying) your travels with Cheryl Moran and Susan Davis. Hopethisyear brings more good things to you and yours.

By Amosea and Anat from Israel
Date: 2019-02-23

Dear Daniel what an exiting year and so many exiting plans ahead. We hope you keep the good health and happiness. We have a new grandson. His name is Dan and we are so happy with him. Send our love to Sylvia. We shall be more than happy to host you both when you visit Israel. Love Amosea and Anat

By Peta from Israel
Date: 2019-02-23

What a year!

Keep well and keep enjoying life.
Lots of love
Peta and Neville

By Scot from Kibbutz Ketura, Israel
Date: 2019-02-22

So much fun reading your blog. When are you coming to visit your old army buddies again?

By Steven from Melbourne
Date: 2019-02-22

Loved sharing all with you. Hope Sylvia goes better with her health. Regards to her, well done Daniel

By Morel from France Loire valley
Date: 2019-02-22

Happy to have receive you
Your travels serve and save the peace our hope
Best regards

MARIE Catherine

By Drew Hayes from Coffs Harbour
Date: 2019-02-22

What a life you have, Dan !

You must be very proud of your family.

I would love to travel as much as you do. Very jealous.

By Martin Seidner from Miami
Date: 2019-02-22

Daniel it's been great to hear from you and your family. Kind regards !

By Hels from Melbourne
Date: 2019-02-22

Hi Daniel

when you were a university student in Colombia, you had the opportunity to share experiences in the most important period in life. If you can catch up with those people yearly, or even 5 yearly, the sharing and memories go on. Of course you will all need lots of photos now, since the grey matter gets a bit slushy in your 60s and on.

Thank goodness my high school and uni have formal reunions every 10 years. But then I live in the city I grew up in... you did not. Neither did my beloved, Joe.

Helen W
\"Art and Architecture, Mainly\"

By Ami Bodan from Sydney
Date: 2019-02-22

Very nice presentation , I was enjoying reading this. thank you for sharing your experience. enjoy this year and good luck in the future. Shasta la proxima .😎

By Paolina from Sydney
Date: 2019-02-22

Love Reading your annual blog. Such a full and active life. May we enjoy many more of your wonderful adventures.
Much love to you and Sylvia.

By Gerty Grotte (now Nassi) from Miami, Florida
Date: 2019-02-22

Nice to hear from you and Claudia. Best wishes to all.

By Neil Mulveney from Turramurra
Date: 2019-02-22

Daniel and Sylvia
Firstly - I feel very honoured, to have received you\"blog\". Thank you.
All so very interesting - even exciting. What a family you share.
We sit with another person in a meeting - YET - we know so little about
each other. Rather a pity really.
Daniel you kindly shared your experience with Probus, regarding you trip
to Japan - but there is so much more.
Your presentation - fantastic. My sincere thanks. NEIL M

By Laura from Melbourne
Date: 2019-02-22

Aba, you really are amazing!!

By erwin from sydney
Date: 2019-02-22

First time to view your blog, Dan. So happy to hear from you. Love the photots! Keep us updated!