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

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