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!


sisterJ said...

Sorry to hear you couldn't stop at one of your stops but as you say, better safe than sorry. I can't wait til you get back and we see all the pix and hear all the stories. Sounds like an 'amazing' trip of a lifetime. Take care - hugs and kisses back at ya! 'sisterJ'

Jeanne O said...

Your travelogue is mesmerizing. I imagined myself in the grotto and spa. Miss you both! Hugs and kisses to you too!