Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Australia, New Zealand, South Pacific Islands Cruise - 11/2/2010

This is the first of a series of about 25 posts covering the 32 days that were on our adventure to the "down under". The blogger stacks posts from the bottom up, so if you want to see the posts in chronological order, you have to start at the bottom of the list and work your way up to a newer post. For those who have been following our Face Book posting, you will see some of the same photos and comments. We used Face Book on the ship because it is much faster than blogging and Internet time cost was $0.44/minute. As I re-post on the blog, I will be adding more photos and commentary that was not practical for Face Book. Hopefully, there will be enough new here to make it worth looking at a second time.

We left for the airport around noon on November 2 so we would have time for a nice lunch in preparation for the grueling trip ahead. Our United flight took off from KCI around 4:45pm. We stopped in Denver for a short time (1 1/2 hour flight) and then headed for San Francisco (2 hour flight). We had several hours layover in S. F. and time for another meal. We left for Sydney at 7:30pm CA time. The San Francisco to Sydney flight was the longest we have ever had at 14 hours. We landed in Sydney at 7:20am on November 4. We lost a day as we crossed the International Dateline.

Once in Sydney, we had prearranged for a shuttle bus to our hotel. Unfortunately, the shuttle made us wait for nearly an hour to accumulate enough riders to fill the the bus. As it turned out, it was really a bunch of little buses so why we had to wait, I will never understand. We finally got to our hotel in Sydney about 11:00am Sydney time. We had been traveling for about 24 hours at that time. We were tired and a little smelly.

We were in Sydney a day before the embarkation day for the ship. We wanted a little slack in case the airlines failed us and some time to explore Sydney. So, instead of sleeping, we showered up and walked the mile from our hotel down to The Rocks through downtown Sydney.

Sydney is a nice city with a mix of old and new. Its founding was recent enough that many of the original buildings are still standing in what is called "The Rocks" area. The city is very vibrant with lots of people shopping and dining in the city's core. It is clean and appears to be fairly safe. There are parks and gardens everywhere around the city. One is in the photo below.

I should mention that all the photos can be enlarged simply by clicking on the photo. To return to the blog after viewing, click on the "Back" arrow at the top left-hand side of the screen.

I don't recall what this attractive memorial was about, but it is just one of many we saw as we walked.

This is part of The Rocks area. The Overseas Passenger Terminal is located here and is the place where we will board our ship tomorrow.

Fabulous flowering trees lined the wharf area.

The Circular Quay area is next to The Rocks and has a number of excursion boats and ferry boats operating from its docks. It is a transportation hub since the city train system and the bus system all have stops here.

A cruise ship (not ours) has the famous Harbour Bridge as a backdrop.

Sigrid was pretty excited about the sight seeing and the lack of sleep didn't slow us down. We still had a one mile walk uphill back to the hotel.

Our first look at the Sydney Opera House....a spectacular building.

We were hungry, so we stopped at a restaurant that was located in an old military barracks. Wolfie's was fairly upscale but what the heck....we are on an adventure.

Sigrid had Crocodile and Kangaroo while I had plain old fish and chips. The food was expertly done. I don't know how to explain the taste of Kangaroo but it isn't gamey at all. It looks like beef or bison in color but it tastes a little more like lamb....sorta. It was good. The crock was a little chewy, but not bad. With a bottle of Aussie beer and a glass of wine, lunch was $100. Australia isn't cheap. Australian dollars were pretty much equal to U. S. dollars while we were there.

Interesting perspective.

Australia is very European in architecture and culture.....not too surprising.

Every big city park has to have its "bird man".

A better view of the Harbour Bridge.... an engineering marvel in its time.

It goes without saying that we slept hard once we got back to our hotel. Tomorrow is "get on the boat day".

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