Monday, February 28, 2011

A lovely little town by the sea

What a surprising day today was!!!
First off, we received the Academy Awards telecast live with no commercials from the Red Carpet coverage all the way to the choir singing “somewhere over the rainbow”. We are now only 13 hours ahead of New York so we are talking about the Oscars being on all morning here on the ship (and actually on one of our TV stations in the room). I was not particularly caught up in the whole thing – in fact went to my Bridge group at 11 then to the gym at noon; but others we know were really into the whole thing. I was pleased about the results ie ‘Kings Speech’ – which we had seen in Fort Lauderdale and enjoyed but hadn’t seen ‘the Fighter’ or ‘Black Swan’. Natalie Portman looks different than in ‘Leon - the Professional’ or ‘V for Vendetta’

Then we arrived in Bunbury a bit early and sailed slowly into the harbor. What a lovely approach this was – beautiful flat glassy ocean and a lovely little seaside town with long beaches along the coast.

At the dock we had a welcome committee – as you can see, the group were small, select but enthusiastic and the band was competent and dedicated – sitting, playing and singing in 90degree heat with flies galore and mozzies.

Took a shuttle the 1.5 miles into the town center – past some gorgeous houses overlooking the harbor. The townsfolk had set up a market there of crafts and trinkets (and a wine tasting which was free). 

At every corner there was a volunteer “town ambassador” to answer any questions you might have and point you in the right direction. We swelled the towns population by about 2%. So this might have been a big deal

Took a picture down Prinsep street – this was the E –W street leading from the market, then down Victoria Street – the N-S street we had to take to get to the Post Office. Incredibly friendly folk everywhere we went in (and believe it or not some of us managed to spend a bit here)

Outside the Post Office was the War Memorial for those lost in the first WW. There must be one in every town in Australia. This is a small town and must have been even smaller in 1914-1918 yet look at the list of those killed in Gallipoli and France it was pretty long. So sad.

Then wandered back down Victoria Street looking for a telephone booth to call Nita in Melbourne. When, surprise, across the street we see a South African Store!!!! Lovely lady inside – from Jo’burg via Knysna and PE has been here 8 years. Apparently there is a large contingent of South Africans here. Hardly surprising, there were at least four surf shops in the town center. Bought Fish Paste, Biltong ( 1Kg) and dry Sausage (Droe Wors). So happy. Then ‘phoned Nita.

Not sure who the gentleman is that posed for the sculpture but check out the hair in his ears! More detail than one usually volunteers for. Also had to celebrate those Australian greats – the Wiggles.

A trip full of surprises – what a lovely seaside town. Could be a lovely weekend place to spend time - hmmmmmm

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Oscars

For many of you tonight is the Oscars – normally we would be watching. Merle would watch the red carpet; I would check in and out of the awards themselves making sure that The Kings Speech won all the appropriate kudos – best actor / actress / supporting this and that etc.

Sadly, we will not be watching this year. Its not carried on any of the channels they have on our TV. Mostly what we see are the lectures carried out as part of the educational program on board and news programs. The news programs are BBC WorldNews – so that’s all about third world newscasters talking endlessly about Libya, Bahrain, Egypt etc. Then a few US news stations ie MSNBC et al where people shout at each other a lot and talk endlessly about Wisconsin.

Merle did want to show her attempt at the red carpet though and highlight what not to wear to the Oscars!!

As we transit westward from Adelaide to Perth it is remarkable that we entered an electronic – free zone. We have had no ‘phone or Wi Fi signal for over 24 hours so haven’t really been able to blog or get any e-mails. Do have a connection right now so wanted to get this out.

Tomorrow at 2pm we will be arriving in Bunbury, Western Australia. No-one is quite sure why. We will however take the opportunity of taking a shuttle bus into town (Pop 30000). Just wander around. We’ll follow up tomorrow with our adventures

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Day In Beautiful Adelaide

Arrived in Adelaide this morning at 7am. Weren’t quite sure what we were going to do with our time here – originally had a tour of the wine areas in the Barossa Valley but that was cancelled because we had insufficient time in port; then had a tour of the city and chocolate factory but decided that was a bit tame. We had heard that in Port Adelaide (where we dock; 40 min drive from Adelaide itself) there were a few interesting museums – a Railway Museum, the South Australia Aircraft Museum and the Seahorse factory (don’t ask) but turns out they weren’t close either.
When we came off the ship out of the terminal there were lots of lovely local volunteers who were very helpful and they suggested the free shuttle bus into town which we duly took. It was a great idea.

Adelaide is a lovely little city, lovely parks, its called the City Of Churches; also the City of Festivals. Was a wonderful day – warm but not humid. Ocean like a millpond. Lots of boats – speedboats and sailing boats of all sizes.
It was founded by religious dissenters and was free of “the convict stain” of Sydney. The city was built to a plan on the banks of the Torrens River – there is a one mile grid of City Center Streets then terraces to the north, south east and west of parkland. Saw the cricket stadium with a statue of Sir Donald Bradman (look it up ignorami), also a Sir D B street. He was a local biggie obviously.
Found a pedestrian area with shops, statues everywhere and buskers and sidewalk entertainers. Called the Rundle Mall. It was great – walked around for two or so hours. Took some pics of the sights – four bronze pigs are immortalized and the kids love them and play with them – they have names that unfortunately escape me.

Lovely fountains, in the Mall and all over the city – where is waldo? I mean Michael? Lurking with bags full of glass chickens!!!!!!!

You meet the most amazing people in a Mall – heres a Startrooper (or whatever) with whoever; heres Michael with Michael (Farrell that is).

 BTW those silver things you can see to mb's left are another artwork - the mall balls!!!!!!
Came back to the ship in time for a bit of grub then, at 4pm we were off again. Escorted out by Scuffy the TugBoat.

We’ll be back to Adelaide for sure. Lovely lovely city

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Trip Down Memory Lane ………. I think…..

This afternoon at 3.45pm I discovered what happens to people after they leave the public eye. This picture is from a movie that was watched by 106 million people. Until last year and this years Super Bowls the most televised entertainment in history.

Who is the actor on the right? Where is he today? Not even Providence!!! (thats a trivia comment)

Well, here’s the answer – he’s part of our  lectures at sea program. He told us all about how he got into MASH, what it was like being part of the ensemble, and gave us vignettes about the experiences. It was a wonderful career-defining opportunity indeed but this gig does make it seem a bit poignant.

Here is how he looks today, on stage, Pacific Princess, somewhere between Sydney and Adelaide, Australia.

Talking of Adelaide, we have to change time-zones tonight again – usually a self respecting time-zone is one hour. Poor Adelaide – we only change our watches 30 minutes for it.

Next news will be from South Australia and its capital – Adelaide. A city created by free men (and women) not by convicts like those lesser cities to the East

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The Mystery of Easter Island Solved

After much consideration of the evidence at hand Bubba (Aiden) Berelowitz has arrived at a decision we heard about today – to quote Jenn ….”He thinks Superman is definitely involved in moving the statues on Easter Island…..“

I like his hypothesis in particular because it allows a logical explanation for the cessation of their placement and their random location – Kryptonite. The Man of Steel just lost his powers.

Love you Bubba and miss having a chance to talk. Same to all………… g’night from the Bass Straight

Monday, February 21, 2011

Special Sights Seen in Sydney

Today was our second day in Sydney – end of the first leg of our cruise; many passengers disembarked – among them people we had got to know and like; new passengers embarked and are currently mooching around looking lost. What it is to be a veteran! Perks include not having to do the lifeboat drill which has just completed.

Thought we would compile a small series of pictures of things that caught our fancy.
Walked through the Rocks this morning on our way to doing nothing special. Saw this nest and new-laid egg – can you imagine the size of this bird my friends? Is it an ostrich or a Moa? Hmmmmmmmm

Then passed the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel established in 1842 – Sydney’s oldest hotel it is said.

Wandered around the shopping areas – so what’s new – and went into the Strand Arcade. A beautiful building, well maintained. Lovely stores – eclectic – modern design, antiques, old watches. 

As is usual you can see people drinking their tea or coffee – some more stoned than others. Flat white as usual is the best coffee to order and, while its best in Melbourne, its pretty decent in Sydney.

Note the decorative steel girders holding up the roof – decorative is SA ie Strand Arcade, the Magen David is what keeps the roof up

Walking back to the ship we pass the cut through the rocks bordering Hickson Street. At the start of the Hungry Mile is a big hairy spider. Whats really scary though are the stairs to nowhere……..oooooops

The wharf beyond our in Darling Harbor is Walshes. Took some pics of the condos and their playthings. This is how I want to spend my retirement – Oz; the water; height of luxury. Time to disembark and recalibrate. Change of Address Card to Lael and Niki will follow. this will be where we will be living!

So sad to hear about the Earthquake in New Zealand………

Sunday, February 20, 2011


How I love this city, it is so beautiful.

Even though the weather was not ideal today (started off overcast and rainy – even a bit cool and ended up threatening warm and humid) spent the day exploring the city center.

Sailed in this morning at 7.00am. I was not really aware but we have a Bridge Cam on board ship – you can see everywhere the nose of the ship is pointing on the web. Its on the Princess Cruises website, the ship is Pacific Princess.
For those of you that did watch, and for us, this was what we saw – the iconic Sydney entrance – Opera House on the left – the way to Circular Quay where we have stayed before; Sydney Harbor Bridge to the right (Starboard) pointing the way to Darling Harbor – the way we went. 

Past the “Luna Park” carnival – great pics – under the Sydney Harbor Bridge – to our mooring at Wharf 5

Turns out the Holland America Line ship (Amsterdam) and the Cunard ships – Elizabeth and Mary are / will be occupying Circular quay so we got Darling Harbor.

Soon after we arrived we got the all clear to disembark. First time we had to collect our passports from the Pursar and show then face-to-face with immigration. Then walked into the Central Business District and began our walkabout.

As we walked up Pitt Street we noticed a Medical and Dental Clinic at #70. Just decided to walk in and ask if they could fix my tooth (instead of waiting till this afternoon for my 2.50pm appt). Not only did the dentist ( Dr Tijana Nesic-Fisher) see me within 10min – no insurance, no paperwork – but she repaired the problem with a temporary filling, was fantastically professional and all this at NO CHARGE. Unbelievable. Feels great now

In the City strolled up George Street, back down Pitt street and then into the original Sydney location – the Rocks. Had a lovely lunch of pies (pepper steak, yum) and a Heineken.

Back in the ship at 4pm – I have dinner with Pfizer colleagues at 6.15pm – more tomorrow

Tasman Sea – rollin’ and tumblin’

If you look at a map of the world it looks like New Zealand and Australia are pretty close, and in the world of flight they really are, but on the ocean at 14 knots you can feel a distance between them. Also the Tasman Sea has been a little rougher than we have been used to. Not good for those on bad hips or brittle pegs!!

Today was the last day of the first leg of our trip – passengers are getting off in Sydney (about 200 of them) and will largely be replaced. Next leg is Sydney to Singapore. This is also the end of the contract for many of the crew – Rommel, our trusty steward will be going back home; the replacement will have to get used to the cabin 8019 idiosyncrasies (don’t ask). It is not important to ask why i might have 3 bottles of wine stashed away under the bathroom counter or why there will be more come my return from shopping in Sydney.

Yes!!!! Sydney tomorrow. Looking very much forward to spending time in this beautiful city I love. Got a dentist appointment at 2.50pm – go figure the accuracy of his schedule.

Had pictures taken at last nights formal occasion – Merle wearing her embroidered necklace; me my idiot grin. 

Rodin’s the thinker I thought; just bumped into Italian lady from the dinner table last night – she said she just saw great photos of us on display – Merle looked lovely and I look like Donald Sutherland!!!! Is he still around? Does he do the Rodin thinker pose?

More from New South Wales will follow………..

Saturday, February 19, 2011

and on the seventh day he rested........

.........from the blogging - if you will forgive me (?) -- today was a quiet day. not uneventful. quiet. I had to play bridge with the experienced group for four hours this afternoon - played in virtual silence; very serious.
Formal dinner tonight; Thanks for the delicious strawberries, Niki. dressed up. many comments regarding beautiful necklace - photos will follow

Friday, February 18, 2011

Where the Maori spirits leave New Zealand

A day at sea – the first of a few before we reach Sydney. Left Auckland – on the East coast of the North Island of New Zealand and sailed Northish along the coast until we reached the most North-East point (abeam of North Cape) then started sailing due West. At this point we were sailing along the most northern coast of New Zealand a coast from which the Maoris believed their spirits left the island.

Only a few things to report – of course lunch was one of them – a dolce vita extravaganza luncheon buffet was the description. Lovely antipasti, the gentleman with a parma ham (on shabbas) beautiful fruit and lovely cake. I gained scorn and many derogatory comments for the fact I announced a two meal fast – breakfast and lunch – its all just too much. I am now ready for dinner big time.

David led his choir through a 40min repertoire today. It was great – they did a fantastic job. The lounge was packed. Applause was huge. Sadly I lost the photos Merle took – the memory card wont load in the reader. Blast it!!!! I must have messed up the card somehow. We do have a bigger n better backup – fear not

Gotta go for dinner – then movies tonight. Penn State beat Minnesota in mens BB tonight – they are 7:7 and middle of the Big Ten. Miracles do happen!!!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

A Taste of New Zealand – Auckland

I haven’t checked any maps but Auckland is on a similar latitude – friends, please correct me, to Melbourne and CapeTown. It shares many similarities. British heritage; Victorian architecture; Diverse population; beautiful location by the ocean.

What struck me most about Auckland? The general air of laidback, the natural beauty and the unpretentiousness of the city. Its called the city of Sails because every second person owns a boat here – the marinas are packed – being a weekday there were not many boats out in the bay until this evening when it became busy.

I went on a tour of the city today (alone – had responsibility for the camera – hence the lack of decent photos). You get a sense of the city by what they had to show. First, we drove over the Auckland Bridge to get a view of the bay and the city from the bay (bagged the photos) didn’t stop, then drove back. Second, we went to Auckland Monument and Museum – which is a combination War Memorial and Heritage Museum. 

Then we went to Mount Eden which has a great set of city views– got photos of the city and, MOST important Eden Park – Rugby Stadium and venue for the 2011 World Cup Rugby Final 

and finally did a drive through beautiful waterfront areas including the most gorgeous residential areas and Mission Bay.

The Auckland museum had two emphases I wish I had more time to examine – First, as a War Museum, it provides great exhibits of Aucklands martial past – The Maori War, Boer War, First WW, Second WW, Vietnam and subsequent lesser skirmishes. South Africa looms prominently – as foe – in the Boer War and as ally – in the First WW. It was the First World War that seems to have really forged an identity for Australia and New Zealand – especially Gallipoli.
Second, as a repository of Polynesian and Maori history, culture and NZ natural history – ever heard of a Moa, or an Emu. Seen a kiwi (bird not fruit)? I was taken particularly by the Maori carving skills – the war canoe carved from a single tree – huge and the storehouse with its rendition of the owners family tree carved in a line from the peak of the roof down the center of the front wall – their way of maintaining their history.

Maori adornments were also on display - just wanted to point out - given my ongoing dental issue - the necklace on the right ------ human teeth!!!!!

Met Merle after my tour and went to do a bit of shopping – Rugby World Cup looms large in the offerings. Importantly went to a supermarket to buy wine.
Had pics of me schlepping wine back to the ship; our companion ship at dockside – the Queen Elizabeth which towers over us

When we were in French Polynesia I wrote about their Nuclear testing program and its consequences - here was another!

Tonight had a group come to the ship to do a cultural presentation – song, story dance and finally the Haka. 

A great farewell to Auckland until my next visit (which is already in the planning)