The beginning of 2016 was quite filled with writing assignments and research work. Currently we are writing two guidebooks, a new book on Tyrol (Austria) and a Central Asia guidebook that will focus on history, architecture and art. Both will be published in Germany by MairDumont. We also started writing content for the German-language homepage of the Japan National Tourism Organisation (JNTO), a work we tremendously enjoyed because it gave us a chance to write about our second home in a very free format.
In mid-January we finally escaped the European winter and went to Sri Lanka for four weeks. We had for years wanted to see the remains of some of the oldest Buddhist cities in the world, and when we found an affordable airfare with Qatar Airways we booked it, with a three day stop-over in Doha.
As it was our first stay on the Arabian Peninsula we were a bit nervous whether three days in Qatar would be too long and too expensive and whether we would perhaps find Doha too clean and somehow artificial – but we thoroughly liked our stay there.
We were very impressed by the stunning modern architecture and we had some of the best and freshest food in Doha's Souq Waqif. This time we spent our three days in the city of Doha, but it seems to be quite easy to rent a car and drive through the country. So we are planning to come back and see more of Qatar.
Sri Lanka, our next stop, had a bit of everything: great sightseeing, beautiful beaches (with not enough swimming and snorkelling opportunities, though) and a more limited choice of vegetarian food than we had expected. During our last week Natascha fell down some stairs and strained her arch, resulting in a swelling on her foot the size of an egg. As we feared that it might be broken we went to the hospital (rather an adventure!), and an X-Ray confirmed that she just had to rest it for a few days. Four weeks later her foot is almost as before.
While we met many people who visited Sri Lanka for the second and even third time, we do not feel compelled to return there in the near future.
By far the most exciting part was the double looping water slide (not really a vertical looping, though) we tried in Wörgl in the WAVE swimming pool. The scariest part was the so-called "rocket-launch," when a trap door opens and you have 14 m of almost free fall before you go into the first looping with a speed of around 60 km/h. The whole ride lasts about 12 seconds and we even tried it a second time (but that was enough then).
In the beginning of March we attended the ITB (International Tourism Fair) in Berlin, met a lot of people and made new contacts. As last year, we gave a talk about Japan as a travel destination for the Japanese National Tourist Association.
Meanwhile we have both left for the cherry blossom season and spring tour-guiding work in Japan.
And here is an overview of the last three months of blog posts
As always there were also some posts about our home country
Another post about UNESCO sites – we visited Luoyang in 2006 on our big overland trip from Japan to Germany