One More For The Road and We’re Out

Winding down has been different but enjoyable fir all. The tee totalers opted out of the Yarra Valley Wine Tour. It was all they hoped it would be; wine, food, good conversation and fabulous scenery. This was the day for our coming home covid test and I for one was stressing. I wanted it over with and negative. This would be my 5th coming home stressful test day post pandemic We stress to be able to go and stress to be able to return home. Now thank God as of tomorrow the return home test is a thing of the past.

After the test a few of us walked over to HO CHI MAMA, a very lively Vietnamese Fusion Restaurant. Their selections had a little heat but it was all so very good.

Our farewell dinner was at Pure South Kitchen in Southbank; another very happening part of Melbourne. It was a good time but a little sad as we said our farewells. What is hip? Melbourne!

The Great Ocean Road

In a word, ”spectacular”! Our capable driver and guide took us a few hundred miles from Melbourne to see some of the most amazing scenery. It was a cold, rainy day but by the time we reached Lorne the sun was shining and it had warmed up a bit. Lorne is a quaint little village with boutiques, cafes and lots of cockatoos walking around. If I was 20 years younger I could see myself here with a holiday home that the locals call ”shacks”. (very expensive shacks).

We headed to Apollo Bay where we had a lovely 2 course lunch. Each selection was perfectly prepared and so tasty.

We made our way to the Twelve Apostles but now less than 12. Rising out of the Southern Ocean are limestone pillars that were once connected to the mainland cliffs. Waves and wind have battered them down to 150 ft tall columns.
We made our way to the London Bridge. A massive structure that collapsed in Jan 1990 leaving 2 tourists stranded for hours waiting to be rescued by helicopter. It is said the man was there with his mistress and their cover was blown.

On our way back to Melbourne we had a sighting of tons of kangaroos hopping all over the place.

It was a beautifully full day. Hunger and rest needed attention. Phil, Katrina and myself had reservations at the Bamboo House and taxied over. Its a lovely restaurant that was filled with gentlemen and a few ladies. Service was great and the food was delicious. We had lightly dusted calamari, spring rolls, Peking Duck and shrimp fried rice. Wow! what an amazing day!

Marvelous Melbourne

Melbourne (pronounced mel-bun) has so much to offer from Formula 1, to the Australian Open to Boxing. Our hotel the Park Hyatt is 8 mins from the Marvel Stadium, in the exclusive part of town, 1 mile from the Crown Casino.

Today will be a full day’s tour exploring the Great Ocean Road. We’ll see some of the most fascinating and diverse coastal scenery that Australia has to offer. We’ll journey through Torquay (Australia’s surfing capital), Lorne and on to Apollo Bay where we will have lunch at the nautical inspired Bistro, taking in the spectacular views of the Apollo Bay shores.

Stay tuned for more!

3 States, All So Very Different

The time has come to say goodbye to #2. Australia has several states and territories. Sydney in New South Wales; Cairns & Port Douglas in Queensland and Melbourne in Victoria. Australia is the world’s largest island but the smallest continent. It has 6 states and 2 territories. After Marilyn and Barbara extended to Melbourne last trip and so raved about it; I knew I had to get there. So this morning I bid farewell to my lovely 2 bedroom apartment at Sea Temple and fly to trendy Melbourne where the Park Hyatt awaits us. We already know its chilly and probably deserted; they are all here enjoying this fantastic warm weather. Australia… a beautiful country… 88% of their population vaccinated, less than 9,000 deaths.

Congrats to Van Washington, Carol Motte, Phil and Katrina for having now touched all 7 continents and mostly with Kattrax.

The Journey Down Under Continues

We boarded our Quantas for our 3 hour flight to Cairns. We were met by a rep, ushered to a waiting bus for a 1 hour ride to Port Douglas. Port Douglas is a sophisticated escape in a tropical environment filled with boutiques, alfresco restaurants and the Great Barrier Reef. Our hotel, Sea Temple Resort centers around an expansive lagoon pool and island bar.

Because of Covid-19 we were blessed to postpone to 2022 but not our usual March but June. It’s winter and the snow birds are here making it difficult to get restaurant reservations but we are working it out.

Quicksilver picked us up yesterday for a fun-filled day at the Outer Reef. Some took the helicopter, some did the scuba thing, others the oceanwalk or like myself and Carol; just chilled. Quicksilver runs an organized operation which by the way included a very tasty lunch.

This being my 3rd visit will more than likely be a wrap but happy to arrange whatever your heart desires.

Goodbye Sydney! Its Been Fun

The group has enjoyed their time in Sydney bd VIVID was an extra bonus. They have seen all that Sydney has to offer; the world famous Sydney Opera House, stunning beaches, national parks, fine dining and the playgrounds of the rich and famous. They closed out the afternoon with the Premium Harbour Experience cruise. The views from the comfort of the cruise are amazing. They sipped on sparkling wine and nibbled on snacks. The time has come to say bye bye as we fly to CAIRNS (pronounced kanz) which gets us closer to PORT DOUGLAS and THE GREAT BARRIER REEF.

We Are Down Under Y’All!

Pre pandemic we had over 20 waiting for this tour. We were blessed to be able to postpone from 20 to 21 to 22. The determined hung in there including 3 returning amigos from Miami Beach; Professor Stacks, wife Cynthia and Madame Cooke. We are 12 deep and here to have a good time, hitting 3 states: New South Wales, Queensland & Victoria. We came from all directions. Carol Motte, Myron Stokes & myself flew the longest route on Singapore Airlines from SFO Business Class and they never disappoint. They held #1 for years but now neck and neck with Emirates. Nonetheless, our 2 flights were super sweet.
Our first hotel is the Four Seasons in Sydney; some rooms with views of the harbor or Opera House. We are right on time for Vivid Sydney. Its an annual festival of light, music and ideas. It includes outdoor immersive light installations and projections. Because of Covid-19 they haven’t seen it since 2019 and the city is so full of life about its re-emergence.

Day 2 was a full day; Morning tea at the Calmsley Hill Farm; home to Koala, Emu, Wombat, and Kangaroo. Man, our animal lovers were in heaven while those of us who have other interests shared conversation and laughter while trying to stay warm. Next was the Blue Mountains, Wentworth Falls, Botanical Gardens, Govetts Leap, and lunch at the Boiler House.

Back at the hotel we had a few hours to rest before our welcome dinner at The Mode Kitchen & Bar inside the Four Seasons. Dinner was most enjoyable and the service was impeccable.

Tomorrow will be a half day tour at the Opera House followed by lunch at the Opera Kitchen. It’s difficult to find a better venue in Sydney to dine.