Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Scandinavia and Russia here we come!

4 days until we leave for our next great adventure.  All new locations for both of us.  I am going to do my best to update photos and I am hopeful that the wifi on the ship will be good. I'll try my first post from Copenhagen on Sunday afternoon.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Monday, May 5, 2008, Tuesday, May 6, 2008 and Wednesday, May 7, 2008
The next 3 days were at sea in our quest for Hawaii. We started each day with breakfast, then some sun, then maybe we played some 4 handed cribbage with Naomi and Rebecca. Then lunch, perhaps a massage at the spa (one of the days). Some more sun in the afternoon and then a bunch of us joined up at the hot tub for drinks at 5:00pm. Even Mr. Ferguson has been known to buy the first drink in the afternoon and hop in the hot tub. I absolutely love this! We then will have dinner either by ourselves or with the women from Ottawa. Just some lovely times!

Thursday, May 8, 2008
Today we were in Honolulu and had a great day. We got off the ship early and walked around the port looking for souvenirs but found none. Or at least none that we wanted to purchase. I did find a few options for Lori for the matron of honor dress. Lori, you are gonna luv them! We got on our tour bus and headed out to Pearl Harbor and the Arizona memorial. Even though we have been here before we thought it might be worth a second look. You often see things you did not on your first visit. Thank goodness we had been here before because it was very crowded and hard to see things. We did still get a god seat on the launch and lots of great photos of the memorial. All in all it was a good trip. After Pearl Harbor we did a ride around the island and got some great shots of beautiful vistas and waves, etc.

When we got back to the dock we did not have enough time to go to Hilo Hattie’s, which has the absolute best Hawaiian shirts and stuff. Oh well, save my pennies for more better stuff! I don’t need good English I am on vacation.

We did have a little sail away party in our cabin. Rebecca, Naomi, Sue, John, Andrew and Susan all showed up with champagne, some from Tasmania and around the world. Not a bad evening. We had great fun and stayed up late and laughed and missed dinner and who could care less. Great times here. After the party we went up to the buffet and grabbed a bite to eat and then headed back to the cabin and went to bed. Tomorrow is the last stop on our trip and probably the one tour we have both been looking forward to the most!

Friday, May 9, 2008
Today we are on the big Island of Hawaii in the 2nd largest city of Hilo. Actually there are only 2 cities in the entire state of Hawaii so of course Hilo is number 2 because Honolulu is number 1. A very small port and very unassuming. Basically enough amenities to service cargo and oil ships that deliver what they need to survive. Obviously we have not been home for almost 2 months and it appears that prices, especially on gas have sky rocketed. Oh well, we’ll deal with that when we do get home. Our day started off with a short drive to the Royal Botanical Gardens which were most likely the best gardens we saw on the entire trip. The orchids and so many exotic flowers we had never seen before growing outside in rainforest type conditions or by the sea shore or in the open sun. We only had about an hour and a half and we were not the only folks who wanted a bit more time. I have so many pictures from here that I must come up with a cool way to display. Perhaps a piece of artwork……

We left the gardens around noon and headed back to the ship. Once there we grabbed a quick bite and then off to our final tour of the trip. A helicopter ride over and active volcano! Man was this cool or what! After a short safety briefing and weighing in, we boarded our helicopters and took off. We were in the air for a god 45 minutes which is how long they said it would be. We left the airport and flew over some small town type areas and then hit the lava fields.

It was amazing to see how the lava flows go. In one instance all you see is the harden lava and destroyed forest then you come across a 10x10 foot patch o f land with green lush trees growing. Incredible! As we got closer to the crater the sulphur spewing out of the volcano was quite intense and of course we could not fly through it. We did pretty close and Raja got some great shots. After we circled the edge of the volcano we went over to the shore line and actually got to see lava flowing into the ocean and forming ne land mass. Pretty spectacular I’d say. Our pilot, Hank, then flew us over an opening in the lava flow that will eventually be a tunnel. What we saw was the most amazing deep orange red color. Hank said that the temperature on there would be around 2900 degrees Fahrenheit.

We flew over an abandoned area due to the lava flows. There would be a road going past a few homes and of course a street sign and a stop sign and trees and then there would be nothing! The lava just cut off the entire area from the rest of the island population. Hank did say that they had filmed an episode of “Lost” in this area and I can see why it would work well. Kind of eerie to see all of those abandoned homes. Well the flight was too short, he did swing by some cool waterfalls and we got some great aerial photos of the cruise ship as we headed back to the airport. We did purchase the DVD that they film on each flight so we get to hear the commentary Hank was making during our flight. I understand there is also footage of them strapping us into our seats. Looking forward to watching that!

After all of the day’s events we returned to the ship and it started to pour. We just cleaned up and went and had dinner and a show and turned in for the night.

Saturday, May 10, 2008
Another 4 days in a row at sea. Food, sun, pools, hot tubs, drinks, cribbage, puzzles, I got turned onto Sudoku’s so another obsession is in place. We did have a wonderful group of performers who boarded the ship somewhere in between Tahiti and Hawaii. They are called the Westender’s and they are 6 performers and their musical director. They all met in the West End’s production of “Les Miserabes”. They formed this group and they do all Broadway music and they are very good. What a treat to get talent of this caliber on a cruise ship. They are scheduled to perform another new show on 5/12 so we of course are looking forward to that. Great fun

Sunday, May 11, 2008
Mother’s Day today. Just more of the same, relaxing and eating and drinking and sunning and swimming and hot tubing. Tonight was our last formal and we had 9 people for dinner. We drank Champagne and laughed and again missed the show because we were having too much fun. Never a problem to miss a show when we are having such a good time.

Monday, May 12, 2008
Today Raja and I are having our last massage of the cruise. I would like to bring our masseuse home; I believe every household needs one. We will probably catch the show we missed last night, watch the passenger talent show and see the navigational chart of our trip auctioned off. It is very cool but I am sure it will go for a tidy sum of money. After all of this will head to the hot tub at 5:00pm. Then we have reservations at the steak house for dinner to celebrate my birthday with the ladies from Ottawa. We’ll all go see the Westenders after that. Should be a great day!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008
This will be our final day of the cruise and I am sure I will be sending as much time in the sun as possible. It has been getting a little chilly though as we get closer to LA. This trip has been amazing and wonderful and I still can’t believe we have been so fortunate enough to experience it! Looking forward to seeing everyone upon our return!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Today we will disembark in LA and board a 1:30pm flight back to Boston. The trip is complete!

Until our Next Great Adventure!
Chris & Roger

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Today we are in Rarotonga which is part of the Cook Islands and actually a republic (?)of New Zealand. We did a 4wheel drive tour into the forest and our vehicle had some problems and something got bent, like the drive shaft or axel. Our driver was pretty nervous about it because he stopped several times. We got to one of the scheduled stops and we went off to look at some waterfalls and when we returned all of the drivers were fixing the car. It appeared that some of them were lifting the car while the rest were on the ground bending the broken piece of car. Before we stopped the car/jeep was making a sound that none of us had ever heard before.

We did see some amazing scenery beautiful landscapes it just keeps getting better. Everyone keeps telling us to wait for Bora Bora and Tahiti because they are even more beautiful than what we have seen to date. We did get a chance to stop at one of the many gorgeous beaches. You could walk out several hundred if not thousand yards and it was only up to your knees or thighs. The water was on the warm side, easy to get in. Clear and you can see so many fish and shellfish, lots of crabs too! The island has very beautiful scenery and flowers and trees and mountains. Just another good one!

Back to the ship for sail away which we did from the hot tub on the stern of the ship with the ladies and long island iced teas! The only way to travel folks! After that we got cleaned up and ready for dinner and had another fun night.

Thursday, May 1, 2008
A day at sea. I started off my day with s deep tissue massage from Reggie. He is quite good and I feel amazing afterwards. Spent the day by the pool and reading and watching movies and walking at least 2 miles around the promenade. (This is our attempt at exercising when we are not off trekking thru rain forests or walking on beaches). We played some 4 handed cribbage, had cocktails and dinner. I am getting quite used to all of this.

Friday, May 2, 2008
Bora Bora. Oh my Gawd!!!!!!!!!! The best Island to date. It was absolutely beautiful. We were able to get into the little village prior to our afternoon tour. Bora Bora is small enough and that means no dock so we have to tender in to shore from the ship. We did a bit of walking and saw some of the little village which seems to do a lot of fishing. The ocean is great but almost too warm to swim in. We did stop into a very beautiful shop/art gallery where we bought a very unique vase. It has a fairly unique shape and the artist painted the inside. Such amazing colors and a pattern unlike anything we had seen. Of course we bought this one, no 3 for $10 tee shirts for us! It’s only money. We decided to take the vase back to the ship before our afternoon tour so we did and then grabbed some lunch and headed back to shore. Our tour took us up the mountains on some muddy roads. We did see some 7inch guns that were put in place by the Americans in 1942 to shoot at the Japanese. They were still in pretty good shape. Of course we had to take some photos with them. The cool part is that we were at the top of one of the mountains and could see both sides of the island. That of course is why 2 guns were placed there for a good look out position. The roads to get there were steep, filled with mud ruts, rocky, bumpy, I thought I was going to die! Not really, it was a blast; we even got a bit of mud on us from it splashing up. Our driver, Carin, was a transplant who was half Italian and half Spanish, quite a combo and just lots of fun. She reminded me of Kendall with a great accent who spoke French!

We stopped at a very nice jewelry store where they sold basically black pearls. We did get to see how the pearls are made. I believe these would have been cultured, black water pearls. We did look in the store and I saw a few nice necklaces for me. One of the clerks noticed my necklace and commented on how beautiful it was. Of course I was able to say it was made by my jeweler, Miss Ginny of Alexandria. Ginny I am always looking for sales opportunities for you! You have now been seen in Bora Bora, Tahiti! Can you put that on your website?

There was just amazing great scenery during the ride! We had a great guide! It just ended too quickly. We tendered back to the ship. We did had Rebecca, Naomi and Sue to the cabin for a sail away party. We got some wine, whisky and munchies. They arrived with wine, beer and munchies too! Very funny. We had a great time and they loved the suite and our big balcony. Once out to sea we all went to dinner. A good day all around!

Saturday, May 3, 2008
Papeete, French Polynesia
This port was quite a bit more built up than any of the other Islands, but still very clean. We again had an afternoon tour so we walked around the capital city for a bit and got some tee shirts. They did have this huge market which we thought would be all tacky souvenirs but it turned out to be that and their food market. We saw some of the freshest fish you will ever see at an open market. Tuna, swordfish, sashimi, sushi! It just was amazing. Unfortunately it was a bit difficult to get the conversion from francs to dollars so we did not buy too much. Being Saturday there were a lot of street vendors and mostly locals walking around and shopping. I liked that.

One fact that was a bit sad and interesting. Prior to 2001 they enjoyed about 240,000 visitors a year. After 9/11 it dropped to only 150,000. 2007 was the first year they broke 200,000. Now in an effort to keep all Tahitians employed the government is targeting a goal of 300,000 visitors a year. Sp folks save your pennies and come to Tahiti! You can rent a 2 bedroom apt furnished for about $12 to $1400 US a month. I think our next long trip?

We had some lunch and then went on another 4x4 adventurer. This one had only 6 people in back and they took off the canvas roof so we could stand up, once we got off road. We drove thru some valleys and went up some good hills, but because there had been very little rain the dirt roads were hard and really bumpy, felt each and every one! We did make it to a spot by the river where we went swimming and had some fresh pineapple and coconut for an afternoon snack. The water was quite clean and very refreshing! I was the only one from out jeep that went swimming until our driver jumped in too! He was a blond haired native whose mother was Polynesian and his father was Swedish. He was funny and did give a bit of history as we drove thru the mountains. We also had a really good group of folks with us so we had fun and just laughed a lot.

When we got back to the ship we headed up to the pool and hot tubs for another sail away party. Raja ordered 2 more long Island iced teas for us and the girls joined us and we had a great time!.. Time to get cleaned up and then we met for some more 4 handed cribbage and then dinner. It was an early night. I think all of the thrashing around in the back of the jeep today exhausted me! That’s ok though, I don’t have anything else I need to do.

Sunday, May 4, 2008
This is the first of 4 days at sea before we get to Hawaii. I of course have updated the blog. Now I am going to head to the pool then lunch and then more pool and sun. Then we’ll get ready for dinner and go see the big floor show tonight which is a salute to Broadway. I promise I’ll be kind in my review. I do get pretty mellow on vacation. Will bring the last update to you in about 6 days after we leave Hawaii and are on our final leg of this incredible journey!

Take care
Chris & Roger

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Sunday, April 27, 2008 (the first time)
Today we awoke and were in Suva, Fiji. Beautiful landscape and green mountains! Not pine anywhere, all Ferns and lush, lush, lush! We were in the city of Suva and had a tour scheduled for the afternoon. We got off and walked around the city. Unfortunately this part of Fiji was not very pretty. They don’t recycle here and there was a bit of an odor. Oh well, you can’t win them all. After a few hours we headed back to the ship to grab some lunch before our tour. I must admit, I was not looking too forward to it.

We get on the tour and within 5 minutes we were away from the city and started to see the beauty of the island. The lush mountains we saw from the ship were now next to us. We saw some of the neighborhoods and worked our way up to the top of a mountain and the rainforest. We did quite a hike, about 2 miles in total down the mountainside past about 17 pools and waterfalls, big and small. Very lush and beautiful! Some of the bridges we had to cross over water on were not the sturdiest and freaked me out a bit. Other times we had to walk in the water to cross over. Got great photos of this walk. After we finished the walk and people swam and swung off the old rope that was hanging off a big ole tree. There were several locals there having picnics and swimming.

When everyone was finished swimming and jumping off we headed to a small resort for some afternoon refreshments. It was a cute little place in the rainforest with a small pool, bar and a good size deck. While we had juice and fruit we got a little show from 3 local dancers. They looked like Hawaina lua dancers to me, same type of background I assume. A little corny but very fun and by this time Roger and I were both thirsty so we needed a little libation. After ther performance we headed back to the ship and got ready to sail away. Another great day!

Sunday, April 27, 2008 (the second one)
During the night we crossed over the international dateline so we gained another day. Works for me cause we did loose March 27th when we flew to Australia. Today was at sea and it was lovely. Just hung out by the pools and played cribbage. Our lady friends play cribbage and we have started playing 4 handed cribbage. Lots of fun. We have made plans to dine in a couple of the specialty restaurants towards the end of the cruise with them. A good thing because for those of you who have ever traveled on Princess know that their Italian restaurant is good but they serve so much food and it’s much more fun with a large group.

Monday,April 28. 2008
Today we were in American Samoa. What a beautiful place. There is a little bit of a litter problem, but for the most part it is really gorgeous. We had a tour scheduled for the morning and it was a driving tour around the Island. This was great to see. We started off in the harbor which is naturally deep because it was formed by one of the walls of the volcano that collapsed. Our large ship comes right in. Pretty amazing thing to see and experience.
We boarded our first class transportation. No AC, the floor and seats were unpadded and made out of plywood. The windows were acrylic and you had to lift them up and then slide them into a slot to lower them. Pretty fun. We had a very cute guide who was probably all of 18 but she seemed to know a lot about her heritage and the Island. We traveled around and saw some great surf and crashing waves. The shoreline is mostly volcanic in nature so not a lot of sand, but just lovely. We were able to stop a ew time and take photos of houses and flowers and of course the surf. We stopped at Isabelle’s house. We think she is a woman who owns this amazing piece of property and gets money from the tour company by opening her home. She serves refreshments under her pavilion and she lets the tourists use the 2 bathrooms in her gorgeous home. She is on a piece of land overlooking the ocean and the surf was wild. Waves were crashing 20 or 25 feet up in the air to fill small pools. Really cool and I could stay there for a month or two and not tire of the scenery. This is what paradise should be like, in my mind. Roger and I both felt this island reminded us of Hawaii.

After the tour we got back to the ship did a little soveneir shopping on the dock, fortunately American Samoa is fairly untouched by the tourist industry. We found out that only about 9 or 10 cruise ships stop there as of now. I am sure that will change because it is just beautiful. I got my pin and was happy so we got back on board, had lunch and then went to the pool. Met up with our friends and scheduled a cribbage game after dinner. We are playing 4 handed cribbage and it is great fun! Didn’t go to any shows tonight but it was more fun playing cribbage!.

Tomorrow is another day at sea. We have to change our watches yet again, this time forward 1 hour. I think we are now about 8 hours ahead of home. Not sure, I know when we get to Hawaii we will be about 6 hours ahead of home but that is not for another 8 days or so.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Started off as a very overcast and cloudy day, Rain thru the night. We headed up for breakfast and I can’t eat any more. I had a banana and yogurt and that was it. I am sure it is only a temporary didlike for breakfast but one day of sensible eating is better than no days of it. We headed up to the upper sundeck and even though the sun was not out it was quite nice and we didn’t have to put sun block on. I took advantage of an empty hot tub and Roger worked on Sudoko’s, we are both content! Finally the sun did come out and Roger went in. I stayed out for just a bit until lunch time. Afterall, I don’t want my skin to burn off altogether!

Tonight is another formal evening so will head to the sauna and steam room around 4:30pm then back o the room to shower and get dressed. Then we will head down to Croner’s bar and have a cocktail before dinner. Will do the show after dinner and just have a nice night. Tomorrow we arrive in Roratunga. I don’t even know where that is, well I know it is in the South Pacific, but I don’t know the country. I will find out soon enough.

Hope everyone is healthy and happy. Did I hear there was a big water main break in Boston? Katy, did our house flood? JUST KIDDING! See you all soon.

Chris and Roger

Friday, April 25, 2008

The next update

Greetings from the South Pacific!

Wednesday, 4/23/08
A day at sea and it has been pretty rough through the night but getting calmer today. Just kind of hung out, watched movies, played scrabble and cribbage. We enjoyed meeting new folks and eating. I have been enjoying the spa and the saunas and steam rooms. Just a little decadent but why not!

Thursday, 4/24/08
Finally after 5 days at sea and inclement weather, we landed in Auckland, New Zealand. We scheduled a bush and beach adventure in hopes of seeing the natural landscape of New Zealand vs. a city view. After all a lot of the cities are pretty much alike. I have been taking photos of all of the PWC buildings we have seen so that when we go international I’ll know right where they are. (Sorry Irene, I saw them first!)

Our tour ended up being a lot of fun. We ended up doing the tour with Sue, a lovely intensive care, surgical, you name it nurse from Ottawa, we met her because she is one of the roomies of a woman, Rebecca, that Roger has been doing puzzles with on the cruise. We ran into them in the morning and Sue hooked up with us. We really enjoyed having her along. We started out driving thru the city to get away out to the beach and we went over to the west side of the island and were in the Tasman Sea. The surf and waves and rocks and the black sand beaches were incredible. All of the beach sand was volcanic ash and there was a lot of titanium in it so when the sun shown it sparkled. We had time to walk on the beach for a bit and have a snack before we headed off to our second stop.

Our second stop was at a fern forest, almost a rain forest but not quite. Beautiful scenery! We did quite a hike up into the woods to get to a very picturesque waterfall and a swimming hole. None of us went swimming but it was just beautiful. The hike was pretty steep too. Thought I wouldn’t make it, but I did. I don’t know what is happening to me but I am really enjoying all of these nature walks and hikes. Who knew?

After the forest hike we then proceeded to a visitor center that had history and artifacts of the Mari tribe who are the indigenous people of New Zealand. It was quite interesting and the lookouts provided us views of both bodies of water, the Tasman Sea to the west and the Pacific Ocean to the north east. This portion of New Zealand is an isthmus, like Panama, so it is a very short distance between both sides of the island. New Zealand is made up of two major islands one very big where Auckland is and one smaller and further south which is where the Fiordland’s and Dunedin are located. At the look out we saw a black bird with these little white tufts under the bill and they called it a reverend bird. I’ll have to look up the real name and get back to you. It was very cute though.

We got back to the ship and just walked around the city of Auckland long enough to pick up a New Zealand Pin for my hat. That is what I decided to collect during our journey. A pin for every stop we make on the cruise. A small momento to keep that isn’t expensive and doesn’t weigh very much when it is time to pack up the suitcase for the journey home.

Friday, 4/25/08
Another day at sea and today it is rainy but not too cold. Just not a very nice day to be at sea on a beautiful ship with 4 pools, etc. However, we did run into Sue and Rebecca and some other folks after breakfast, all from Canada. We ended up chatting with them all morning. We went and had lunch anf then down to one of the lounges to play a game of scrabble. After our game of scrabble we decided to play cribbage. Before we could even play our first hand a really neat couple for Sydney sat down next to us and we talked for the next three hours. Bill and Leslie are on their way to see their sun row in a major collegiate towing competition in New Jersey. He currently is a senior at a university in Seattle. Once they travel to NJ and watch him they head back to Seattle to see him graduate. Both Bill and Leslie are retired but work part time as rowing coaches for private girls schools in Sydney. Bill has been a coach for a long time and was an Olympian back in his day. They were just filled with interesting information.

One thing we have found is that a lot of Canadians and Australians ask about the elections. They are very interested in hearing about it from an American’s point of view. I think it is probably the number one topic we discuss with every person we have met. It’s amazing, but traveling abroad for this period of time you learn how much a lot of the rest of the world is so in tune and in line with the US. Many economies depend and rely on the US. It has been very interesting to see this from a first-hand perspective.

We ended up having dinner with the 3 ladies and then going to the hypnotist show at 10:30. We are having so much fun. Tomorrow is another day at sea and then we start our South Pacific Island portion of the cruise!

Saturday, 4/26/08
This morning awoke at 7:00am and it was sunny and bright out our windows! Just a gorgeous day. We went up and had breakfast and then headed to the sun deck. Finally a chance to lay in the sun. I have probably done too much but you know me. I like to get a good tan to show that I have been away, and after 8 weeks I need a really good tan! After about 3:00pm, I decided it was time to come in, Roger went in before 2, but he did really well staying out so long. It has been about 83 degrees here all day and just a few clouds here and there which were most welcome after the hot sun.
After dinner we will most likely do a show and I will probably go see the movie tonight. It’s “Sweeny Todd”, which I did not see and would like to. We have seen a few good movies which is nice because we never go to the movies at home. A good change of pace for us. Tomorrow is our first Island stop, can’t wait! More in a few days!

Chris and Roger

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hello Everybody!

I am hoping to get current with our adventures to date with this entry. Lots to tell today.

Saturday, 4/12/08
Today we got up early again and headed over to the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Today is the day I am going to face some of my height fears and Roger is right there with me. The climb takes about 3 1/2 hours in total because of the safety prep you need to go thru first and I was happy to oblige. First you have to where one of the dopey looking jumpsuits, but there is a good reason, they have all these hooks and stuff to hold all of your parafanalia, your hat, glasses, handkerchief, fleece, lifeline, etc. Because I was a little nervous the guide had me follow him so he could let me know when things might get a bit edgy or downright scary! The climb was incredible. There were only a few spots that made me nervous but the actual climb up to the summit of the bridge was easy and breathtaking. Roger did have to keep reminding me to look up and out, not down at the steps! Hey I was out there! A helicopter flew right by us which was kind of cool and the views are something you don’t get to see too often. Just awesome amazing and incredible, FANTAZMAGORICAL!!

After the climb, pretty much the rest of the day was, well you know, not quite as exciting. We did go thru one of the local open markets, had lunch and kind of chilled for the afternoon. We had dinner reservations at a really nice steak house on the harbor over looking, you guessed it, the Opera House. Good meal, great views and a lovely evening! Back to the hotel and call it a night

Sunday, 4/13/08
Today we got up and went to Starbuck’s for breakfast. I needed a mild cup of coffee. The Aussies love their coffee and most start with a shot of espresso and work up from there. Just keep adding water to get your different strengths. Roger has loved the coffee, too strong for me though. Once we had coffee we got our ferry tickets to go to the Torango Zoo. Quite a nice zoo on the harbor, overlooking, you know that building. Great exhibits, we spent about 5 hours there. While we were there a big rain storm blew in and everyone was running for cover. Fortunately Roger was in need of the facilities just before it hit and I was standing under a large pavilion when the rain hit so we had cover. Even better was, we were standing right next to the elephant exhibit and there was a young elephant playing with a large ball and he came right up to our side and there was a waterfall and pool for them right in front of us. He played the whole time. We have never seen an elephant play that much. It was great fun to watch.

With the storm, colder weather also came in. We went back changed into long pants and sweaters and went over to Darling Harbor to check things out. Rode the tram around Sydney twice, it was small only took about ½ hour for both loops. I got some great shots of dusk over the harbor while we took the ferry back to Circular Quay. We had dinner at a little Italian restaurant which tasted really good after almost 3 weeks away from home. This was our last night in Sydney so we headed back to the hotel, packed and got everything ready for the cruise. They were picking our luggage up at 7:30am so we needed to be ready. Once we were packed we went down to the bar and had a drink to toast farewell.

Monday, 4/14/08
Today is the day we sail but not until 9:00pm. We checked out of the hotel early and checked our carryon bags there. We went to the Rocks and had a great breakfast at this little bakery and there were all these wild parrots flying around and sitting on the railings. It was great! We then went to the Pylon Lookout which is a museum of the Sydney Harbor Bridge plus a great lookout at the beginning of the bridge climb and this morning our cruise ship was docked so I got great shots of the ship with the Opera house behind it. We don’t often get a bird’s eye view of the ships we sail on. Very cool!

We boarded the ship and our luggage arrived very early so we unpacked and separated our laundry. We have to do it sometimes! It started raining again, which was good for Sydney because they have gone thru a severe period of no rain, bad for us. We ate on the ship and it cleared so we walked over to the Botanical Gardens which are huge and quite lovely. We walked around for quite awhile and we ended up back at the Opera house, did a final walk around there and then went to their gift shop and picked up a few knick knacks for ourselves. Then, because 2 women we had met said we must have a drink at the Opera Bar, we did. We were sitting there with the Opera House looming over us and our ship right across the harbor. This was a great way to end our day in Sydney and our travels to Australia, although we still have Tasmania and Melbourne to visit.
We got back on the ship, grabbed a quick bite to eat and then got a cocktail to take back to our suite for sail away. The harbor at night is magical and our suite’s balcony afforded us a splendid view of everything! It was exhilarating and memorable. What a day!

Tuesday, 4/15/08
Our first day at sea. Just got used to the ship and settled into the suite. Checked out the spa and the amenities we get with our suite. We can use the thermal grottos which has these amazing warm beds you just lie on and rest. Heaven for my back! There are also 3 types of steam rooms, aromatic, mild and really hot! There is also a room where you can do all these treatments like seaweed scrubs etc. We’ll see about that one. Very relaxing day.

Wednesday, 4/16/08
Today we visited Melbourne, Australia and took a city heritage tour. Saw many of the historical neighborhoods and great Victorian architecture. Our first stop was at the jail. At first I thought this would be lame but it was quite interesting and very cool. There equivalent of our Jesse James is a fellow by the name of Ned Kelly. I guess he was a pretty mean dude. He was hung there along with 135 other criminals. Only 4 women were hung. The actual beam was still there that they hung them from, or so they said it was. Not much different from our current day jails, enough to keep me honest!

After the jail we went to the Fitzroy Gardens and the Captain Cook cottage. Actually it was his parents cottage that the society bought and brought over from England. Beautiful place and I have a few good photos. The cottage reminded me of Sturbridge Village or Plymouth Plantation! It is fall here now and some of the trees were starting to turn already! Glad we get to come home to spring!

After the gardens we went to the Cuomo House which was just gorgeous!. We were able to walk through the entire place and take pictures, just no flashes. I loved the furniture and the stories we were told about the 3 old spinster women who lived there right up until 1959. The Aussie history is even younger than ours. It was all very interesting and enjoyable. I absolutely loved the house and the grounds. These 3 women also were quite advanced in their thinking. They left part of their property to the state for playing fields for the people of Melbourne with stipulations like no fences or gates would ever be erected, they were to be open for all to enjoy all the time. They are in pristine condition and well cared for.

Thursday, 4/17/08
Another day at sea. We got room service for breakfast. Went to one of the lounges and played Broadway Trivia, we won but had fun and met some people. Picked up a book at the library and relaxed. We had dinner with 2 other couples, one form Chicago and one from Newcastle which is outside of Sydney, about an hour north. He was an elected city councilor so we talked a lot about the real problems with the aboriginal people, it is very sad and a difficult problem for Australia, not just in NewCastle. That was Laurie and his wife Patsy, was a housewife for 35 years and then she went back to work so they could travel. The other couple were from Chicago and were very nice too, just not as interesting. What can I say about those mid westerners (sorry Roger, not you!)

Friday, 4/18/08
Today we were in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
We got off the ship in the morning and walked around the wharf area and headed into the business district. After lunch we took a tour of the city. We were the youngest on the tour by about 20 years. I don’t know if I feel old or young. I’ll let you know when we get back. The tour was good and our guides were very knowledgeable. We went to a maritime museum which I enjoyed, especially all of the ship models. Their harbor has a lot of twists and turns in it and they set up a semifor system of flags from the entrance of the harbor right up to where the city lies. Very smart back in the olden days. Went to the Botanical Gardens and they have and Antartic house for plants that are indigenous to the Antartic. It was very cold but amazing to see what grows in that environment. Great gardens these Australians keep for themselves. Just beautiful.

After the gardens we went to another historical house called Runnymeade. A beautiful “cottage” type of home, certainly built and owned by wealthy people, but not so wealthy they didn’t build the house for their families. It was beautiful. It held a great collection of late nineteenth and early 20th century artifacts. Headed back to the ship and the Hobart Policeman’s Bagpipe Regiment were there to give us a concert and play us out to sea. Very cool. Dinner had us at a table with couples from Sydney, Melbourne (although transplants form Germany) a Danish couple, Roger and me and a couple from Barnstable, MA. Great conversations, learned more about Australia. We have not had a bad table yet! Knock on wood to keep it that way. There are still 27 dinners to go!

Saturday, 4/19/08
Today is at sea and we just relaxed. I read and did crosswords, went to the spa and spent time in the grotto. Roger of course got lost in the passenger puzzle. They set up a big table and start a jigsaw puzzle and people stop by and work on it for a bit and then walk away. Roger of course can sit down for a ½ hour and have it mostly done. We are just enjoying ourselves!

Sunday, 4/20/08
Today we splurged. We both did a facial, shave, face massage and a haircut in the Spa. It was really nice. I could get very used to that once a week. After the shaves we had massages and a seaweed wrap. Once wrapped you are kind of submerged into a warm cocoon like contraption. Very neat and it was like floating. It was the first time I was laying down without any back pain in a longtime. I want one of them for home. Great day! Days at sea when it is cold out does not lend itself to sunning, but that is all right we will get to warmer weather and waters by the end of the week, so they say.

Monday, 4/21/08
Today we are cruising the Fiordlands. We got up at 7:00am to see them out our cabin windows. Just beautiful! Got dressed quickly and headed up for breakfast and then just enjoyed all of the waterfalls and the sheer cliffs that soared up to 5,000 feet. The clouds were very low and a storm was out there brewing. We did have some great shots and we even saw a seal or two playing in the sound alongside our ship. The second sound we went into was a little rougher. The seas started getting rough and we watched the storm come right at us. Did we go in, only after the rain soaked us! We got into dry clothes and went to lunch. The seas got progressively worse and the captain came on the loudspeaker and told us because of the storm we were heading into, it would be too dangerous to try and navigate the third Fiord we were to view. Better safe than sorry. It was ok because we would be in Duneidun tomorrow for the day.

After lunch I went back to the spa for some more time in the saunas etc. and just enjoyed the afternoon. The ship really rocked and rolled and items were actually sliding off tables and many people were getting ill. Roger started to feel a bit bad but he thought it was his headache that was making him not feel to well. So we just had a quite night. He went to bed and I went to the lounge, had a drink and enjoyed the piano player and people watching. Trust me when I say there are some sites to see on this trip. When I say hair color, you can only imagine! Colors crayola never heard of, that is for sure.
All in all a fine day.

Tuesday, 4/22/08
We got up at 6:00am because we were to meet at 7:30am to go on our tour of Duneiden. While at breakfast the Captain came on and said that during the night we had sailed with 40 knot winds to our back and that the small harbor was too risky to dock at. There is also a hurricane force storm slated for this area in the afternoon with winds up to 60 knots, so that if we docked and did our day trips we probably would not be able to sail out this afternoon. The captain made the decision to forgo our stop in Duneiden. We are very disappointed but I trust the captain’s decisions and I am sure he does not make them lightly. Without a stop his crew has to service all 2600 passengers again, no crew gets time off, food and trash are not picked up and gotten rid of. The weather must be very serious out there. It’s about 1:00pm now and the sea is calmer and we actually saw a fin whale off the port side of the boat. Totally cool and I watched his blowspot for a while before I headed back in to the internet cafĂ©.

Well that’s it for now. Another day at sea tomorrow and then hopefully we will get into Auckland on Thursday. Will let you know at the next update.

Hugs and kisses from us both!

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Second Update

hey all!

I still have to pinch myself sometimes to make sure this is real!

Friday, 4/4/08
We last left off that we were flying to Cairns and then driving up to Port Douglas on the north east side of Australia. After the stretch limo picked us up at the Cairns Airport we started out on the hour drive up to Port Douglas and to the Sea Temple Resort and Spa. Oh My GD! It was gorgeous. Our bathroom was as big as our room. We also had an amazing lanai off our room that went right up to the pool. It was a swim up place... I literaly could walk out our room onto our private lanai, walk into the water and swim over to the resort bar. Talk about heaven!. After traveling we were both pretty tired so we ate at the hotel and of course that was outside by one of the lagoons of the pool. Just amazing. I felt like a star!

Saturday, 4/5/08
We got up fairly early this morning to head out to the Great Barrier Reef! Man this was pretty cool. I absolutely loved it. The ride out was about an hour and half and we ended up at a pontoon complex that was for both research and fun. The fish were huge and amazing. So many colors and the coral and the clams were huge. I'm talking they looked like they were at least a foot long or more. Would not want to get my foot caught in one of those. Saw spaghetti and staghorn coral and so many others. Got lots of sun and just had a blast all day.

Sunday, 4/6/08
Today we got up and went to the Kurando forest. Took an old train up the mountain sides through 15 tunnels and 20 some odd trestles and bridges. At several points in the trip up we could see the engines at the front of the train and the caboose at the back. A fairly tight curve going up the hill. The total climb up the hill was over 400 meters high! You figure it out, we had to! We did get to stop at Baron's Falls that were spectacular. There was a little village at the top where we had lunch, walked around and then took a skyrail down the mountain. We did go over a small river that we had seen crocs in. Yes, I saw a real live crocodile in the wild in Australia! Amazingly cool! On the river cruise we did feed fish and turtles which was fun too. This was a very long day but we headed into town for dinner. Had a great meal at the Watergate (couldn't resist the name and one of the hotel people suggested it as one of the better places in town). Had a great waiter and a lovely evening. Port Douglas is a very Ptown type of locale, a bit bigger but very quaint and many restaraunts to choose from.

Monday, 4/7/08
Spent the day in Port Douglas walking around. Good shopping though we have bought very little to date. I did get a great pair of red shorts, I know me and color, who knew.

One thing that really amazes me is that the mountains come right down to the sea and they are built up with homes and hotels, but nothing more than 3 or 4 stories high. I believe they have a city ordinace that says you can not build higher than the trees. A very good rule to have! We stopped at a grocery store and bought stuff for dinner, wanted a break from going out. Had cocktails on the Lanai as the sun set and it was just perfect! We are styill having an incredible time!

Tuesday, 4/8/08
Today we went to the Daintree Forest. What a trip! We started at the Daintree Rainforest Center where we were given a guided walk through the forest and up to a look out. Flora and fauna abounded and frogs and birds and so many ferns and trees and plants. It was beautiful and amazing. Sorry I keep using the word amazing but that is all I can come up with. This is even more exotic than Hawaii! And for Roger's trivia seeking friends, the Daintree is probably the oldest rainforest on the planet dating back some 120 million years. They believe its older than the dinasours! Very educational so I won't bore you here.

Our guide for the day, Greg, was great fun and had lots of stories to tell. We left the rainforest center and headed to the Cape of Tribulation. How beautiful! A great beach on the egde of a rainforest, great flowers and species to see and photograph. Lots of spiders, big spiders in great webs here. I did not know. After the beach we headed to a secluded spot on a little river for lunch. It was wonderful, again they served lots of wine and good food. After lunch we headed to the Daintree River.

At the Daintree River we boarded a little boat and went crocodile hunitng. We saw 5 all together. The biggest was called Fat Albert and he was trying to hide from us in the shallow waters. I was on the correct side of the boat and was able to get photos of him before he stirred up the mud and silt to hide from us. It was really neat to see how these creatures are so very smart, and big! Man he was huge. They were saying he was probably 5 to 6 meters long! (That's 15 to 19 feet!)

All in all it was an amazing day. We did meet a young woman on this adventure and she is also going on the cruise from Sydney to LA. Can you believe it, we still have that to look forward to!

Wednesday, 4/9/08
A leisurely morning by the pool today before we travel to Sydney! We again were picked up by a car and taken to the airport back in Cairns. Flew to Sydney and were picked up by another car and taken to the Four Seasons, Sydney. Yes, I could get very used to traveling like this! Roger just shakes hes head and says the last trip like this. If he thinks I am going to Holiday Inns after this......

We arrived in Sydney and it is a great cosmoloitan city. A perfect place for the two of us city boys to end up in! Oh yeah, today our travel schedule was all messed up. Our flight from Cairns was delayed. Man I thought, no different from home. We were delayed 9 minutes, count them nine whole minutes! Instead of taking off at 13:10 we did not have wheels up until 13:19. I don't know. Can you imagine a nine minute delay in the states that reallly was nine minutes? Amazing. Quantas has been a great airline to travel with. By the time we checked in and got settled it was dinner time so we went out walking, yes asked the concierge where to go and Luke did not steer us wrong at all. We walked around the harbor and saw many wonderful boats and sites and of course the Opera House. Can't wait to see it inside.

Thursday, 4/11/08
Today we slept in and had breakfast at the hotel to devise a game plan. We arrived in Sydney with nothing planned. Just a list of things we wanted to do and see. We decided to go to the Opera House first and see if we could get tickets to any of the performances. The ballet was sold out thru it's subscriptions so we ended up getting tickets to do the tour. While on the tour of this incredible building we did get to see part of Swan Lake being rehearsed for that evenings perfomance in the Opera Theater. It looked to me like an understudy was going in. Very interesting and great to watch. Our guide than took us into the Concert Hall and the Sydney Symphony was rehearsing for that afternoons performance of Brahm's 5th. The accoustics were impeccable. When the conductor spoke we could hear him as though he was standing right next to us and we were probably 300 feet away. Beautiful hall and the sound was, you guessed it AMAZING!

Leared many facts abut the building. One of the coolest is that the Sail structures are independent of the recital and concert halls within. The halls are actually individual buildings built within the confines of the sails. Truly and engineering fete that was before it's time. We have so many pictures of this, you will all be bored. Roger really enjoyed this building. Everytime we rounded a corner and you could see the Opera hOuse we had to take a picture.

After the Opera House we went to the Sydney Towere\ which is kind of like the needele in Seattle. Very high up and great 360 degree views of the city and the harbor. Headed back to the hotel for dinner and bought another suitcase, not that we are buying a lot, but we had too much weight on our way over and we did not want to have to deal with it on Domestic flights at home. It was on sale and was the same color as our luggage so it was good.

Had a great dinner in an area called the Rocks, which is the oldest neigborhood of Sydney. Very good food!

Friday, 4/11/08
We did 3 tours today which was too long, but we did see a lot. In our bus/walking tours we did get to go to Manly Beach which was very beautiful. Had a monring tea and snack, ok it was a diet cook and a slice but it sounded better the first way. For lunch we did a harbor lunch cruise. The food was surprisingly good and the views of all the coves and inlets of Sydney Harbor was great. It is a huge harbor! After lunch we headed to east Sydney and Bondi beach! We went though Hyde Park and got to sit in Mrs. McQuaries chair! A story I'll save for when we get home.

We got back to the hotel late and hustled up town to make it to the theater to see Elton John's "Billy Elliott" Great fun musical and a very good adaptation of the movie. We had time for an appetiser in Chinatown berfore the show. After the show walked back to the hotel and enjoyed a late night room service dinner. It's kind of fun doing decadent things we don't normally do at home. We are both having the time of our life!

I will sign off now and hopefullly have this updated again in the next few days. I am almost caught up to where we are today! Today we are in the South Sea on our way to New Zealand.

Take care and see you all soon!

Chris and Roger