ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-04-04 04:40 am

Rhapsody of the Seas cruise to North Queensland and now back in Sydney

It's been almost two weeks since I posted as I didn't really have time on the ship to get on the computer. We actually got between my mom and myself 60 minutes of internet usage and we didn't use it all...probably because at each port we still had coverage on our phones.

So we went on the Rhapsody of the Seas and here was the schedule
Day 1 Board
Day 2 Newcastle, Australia
Day 3 At Sea
Day 4 At Sea
Day 5 Cairns
Day 6 Cairns
Day 7 At Sea
Day 8 Airlie Beach
Day 9 At Sea
Day 10 Brisbane
Day 11 At Sea
Day 12 Sydney

Prior to getting on the ship we booked excursions for each port but ended up cancelling all but one. The cruise was done for two different reasons...first to have some relax time between all the running around we were doing and also because it was over Easter and supposedly everything closed between Friday and Monday.

In Newcastle and Brisbane, we actually had to be shuttled because they were "working ports" meaning that where like freight deliveries came in and what not....they weren't glamorous or like some of the ports in the Caribbean where they have shops right at the dock. Basically, we cancelled our excursions so my mom could rest or because we had already done it. The only excursion I did was to go to the Great Barrier Reef..more on that later.

Newcastle is a small quiet town and the area a little further out was known for it's wineries...well we don't do that because don't drink...so we stayed on the ship and relaxed.

In Cairns we woke up late but still got a ferry to Green Island....we were only there for like 2 hours...mom had a lot of trouble trying to snorkel so she just sat on a bench and let me go snorkel...what seemed like an eternity in the water turned out to be 15 minutes...I guess because I was worried about getting back to the boat in time for it to take us back. While waiting for the Catamaran, it started pouring and we got soaked. Once back on the boat they had the air conditioning blasting. By the next morning my mom was sick as a dog....fever, shivers, nausea and vomiting. We went to the medical facility and she said she was feeling a little better so we went back to the room and I put her to bed. I went out around Cairns to explore...I got a phone call to come back and by the time I got there, there was someone with a wheelchair coming to get her....we went to the medical facility again and she was running like a 102 fever. They ended up giving her an IV of antibiotics, anti-nausea medicine and something else to keep her hydrated. By the next day we had to go back to the doctor..he put her on oral antibiotics and wrote her a note to excuse her from the Barrier Reef excursion so she could get a refund. She is doing better now.

In Brisbane, we were supposed to do Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary with the ship, but we had already done it and I remember it being extremely hilly...so my mom's friend Jan came down from Toowomba and took us to the Gold Coast....It's known for it's beaches and surfing...it reminded me a lot of Miami with the beaches and the high rises. I really wish that we would have taken a few days to go there and spend some time....but with everything we did, I guess it gives us something to possibly look into doing if we come back.

In Airlie Beach my mom stayed on the ship and I went to the Barrier Reef. This was the one port where we anchored out in the Ocean. I had to get up real early...like 7am for the excursion....What was cool was that the catamaran that took us, pulled up right next to the boat and off we went. It was an all day excursion to Knuckle Reef. Unfortunately...I inadvertently deleted all my pictures from my camera that I took. I sorta felt like it was a rip off because it was an all day excursion...but was 2 hours there and back and it only gave us 3 hours at the Reef.
The reef was beautiful....they had a pontoon anchored there and they had things roped off of where we could go snorkeling. I was going to pay a little extra and do beginner scuba...I figured since I'm at the Great Barrier Reef why not....but they wouldn't let me because I have asthma...oh well. So we got there...put on the wet suit, the mask and the fins and in I went. They actually had partially submerged platforms so you could just plop in from a sitting position. I went snorkeling for about an hour....and went through the whole area we could snorkel...the only issue was we could only snorkel around the peripheral of the reef, not over it...I did incidentally and they told me to go back...although what I was looking at was beautiful...I saw all different kinds of coral and marine life. From what I was told this reef was more for the coral.

I snorkeled for about an hour and then got out and had lunch....I was really tired after doing it...I didn't realize how strenuous it was, it really wears you out.

I made several new friends who all are Aussies. I actually enjoyed the fact that I was the foreigner on the ship....I had several people tell me I sounded Canadian...I don't know how but apparently I do....Everyone I was hanging out with that I am much younger than I am, which is a good thing. The earliest I went to bed any night was the night before we got to Airlie Beach..I was in bed by 12am...I think.....2nd earliest was the last night of the cruise at 130...other than that I was going to bed at 230. There were 4 different people that I became close with....Jo and Darren, who are married with a young boy and Laura and Emily who are cousins.

I got to play the Quest, the adult scavenger hunt, the thing I love playing on RCL. I told my friends about it and they came to play with us...I actually got there 30 minutes early to get a seat....what I found out is that Australians love to sit and wait....when I have cruised before I would go to music trivia 5 minutes before hand and people would just be getting there...this time...there were no seats so we would have to get there early. Oh...played disco trivia and won...got all 15 songs...go me...I ended up with some kind of magnet thingy....anyway....getting back to the Quest.....I asked the cruise staff if many Aussies knew what was going on and they said no.....I then asked them which way there were going to play it.....apparently the way I like to play it they don't do anymore where they have a gazillion teams....they just had sections...so Laura and I were our team captains.....when they asked how many people had played before I think there was maybe 3 of us who had. Long story short, I FINALLY won the Quest...I was so happy....I got a gold medal and a baseball cap...but that's fine...I just wanted to win it once.....
As quickly as the cruise started, it ended...when we were packing to get off the ship, I was just in shock...I felt like we had just gotten on the ship. That night it was really quiet in the night club and my friends were a bit disappointed, but I told them...most people don't go out on the last night because they have to get their luggage out and be off the ship early and that's exactly what happened...my mother and I were walking off the ship at 730 in the morning.

After getting the taxi, we realized it was a miserable day out....we are staying at the Sydney Harbour Marriott...unfortunately we don't have a view of the Harbor, but it's a really nice room...I'm really grateful that they let us check in early in the morning. We actually slept for a little bit and had an afternoon tour that took us throughout Sydney, Kings Cross, Bondi Beach and then through Paddington and Darlinghurst. I got to see Oxford Street...basically gay mecca of Australia...it was pretty cool...I'm planning on going there tomorrow night to just explore.

Today we went to Taronga Zoo and did a Wild Australia Experience and got to see all kinds of animals, Koalas, wombats, Tazzies. We took the ferry back which was nice, short but nice...we got to see yet another perspective of the Opera House.

So after being on the cruise for almost 2 weeks we had to do laundry again...we have done it a total of 3 times since we have been here...this time was the most expensive, but I actually took it to a wash and fold place. I have to tell you Aussies are so nice...I was walking to the place and I got a little lost so asked this guy who was delivering bread if he knew were it was...he said no, but he offered me a ride to it....OMG....that would totally not happen in the states. He was so nice...I couldn't believe it. After I got to the cleaners I walked back to the hotel.

When we got back from the tour at Taronga, our clothes were in bags folded in our room.....So I had to repack all the suitcases...I don't think we will have to do it again before we leave.

Tomorrow I'm doing the Sydney Bridge Climb and I'm praying for good weather.

It's a crappy night out tonight in Sydney, it's drizzling and icky...I can't believe I have already been in Australia for a month....and I'm leaving in 8 days...insane. I'm ready to come home...I miss my pookie and the dog and my bed....but I don't want to come back to reality, work, and my commute.

I'm just grateful that I can have this experience....that my partner is ok with it and that my work is allowing me to do this...I'm also grateful that my mom was able to do this and fulfill her lifelong dream of being up close and personal with a koala. She is still trying to figure out how to smuggle one out of the country but that's not a happening thing. I'm really glad that she is able to have this experience...it's really taken a toll on her as I can see that her mobility issues are starting to get worse. :(

After we leave Sydney we head to Hamilton Island for 4 days up in Queensland for R&R...it's a beach resort...we have no schedule there....we know we went to take a helicopter ride over the reef....and possibly get a fair back to Airlie Beach to walk around since we didn't get to go on the cruise...and hopefully we can get a reef tour in so my mom can experience the natural beauty it would be a shame for her not too...she wants to actually get in the water, but I don't know if that's going to happen, she may have to settle on a semi-submersible or a glass bottom boat.

Anyway I have written waaaay to much...plus it's time for dinner.
ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-03-22 07:10 am

Sydney, Australia....wow

Well today is Friday night, I have been in Sydney for two nights already and this is our last night before our cruise.

The flight from Brisbane to Sydney, oh my god...we were put in a row between children...one in front of us and one behind us. The kid in front of us...did not shut up I wanted to put a muzzle on the child. It was ridiculous....as soon as we got off the plane the kid shut up.

We are staying at the Sofitel Wentworth on Phillip St. It's a beautiful hotel. Once we checked in, I went to the Opera House to pick up our show tickets and then went to the grocery store to pick up a few things.

When I walked from the hotel, I saw the Harbour bridge and it was amazing...but as soon as saw the Opera House....I actually started getting a little emotional...I mean..I always have seen it on tv...but to actually be standing in front of it....like in the flesh, it was just surreal.

We went to see Orpheus in the Underworld at the Opera house, which is an operetta, but a funny one...it was very twisted with lots of bawdy humor. We got back to the hotel around 11pm...and then on Thursday we had to be up at 710am for a tour to the Blue Mountains. At 705am our tour bus was there. We get on the bus and the operator told us that our tour scheduled for Friday which was an outback experience, was going to be cancelled and that they wanted to swap it to Thursday and then do Blue Mountains on Friday. We opted to do the Blue Mountains yesterday and then have a free day today.

The Blue mountains were amazing, we took the skyway and cable way across the canopy of the valley...absolutely beautiful and got great pictures of the 3 sisters. We also got to see an aboriginal show and we ended the day at Featherdale Wildlife.

This morning, Friday, I got up early and hunted down a self service Laundromat. I had a bit of an adventure. I had to take the subway from Martins Place to Kings Cross. The subway system is sorta like Metro in DC in respect to the tickets that go in and out of the machine.

After I got back from that mom and I walked down to Circular Quay and then made our ways to The Rocks and had lunch....then we saw a double decker bus that said Sydney <3 Ellen....apparently Ellen is in town and here is where the fun times starts.....she apparently is going to be doing a show on Friday at the Opera House. I have a tour at 7am for a backstage tour at the Opera House and then go back at noon with my mom for an accessible tour...so it's going to be a mad house at the Opera House tomorrow.

After we got back from lunch on the Rocks, I left my mom to rest and I went back to Kings Cross and walked around just to see what it looked like...I couldn't exactly go exploring with a full size piece of luggage in tow.

After we do the tours, we will come back to the hotel, get our luggage and then head to the cruise. We are getting on the Rhapsody of the Seas for an 11 day cruise up to Queensland to go to Airlie Beach and Cairns.

What's funny is that when we were in Brisbane, one of the cabbies said that Sydney was really dirty....from everything I heard, it sounded like Sydney was like NYC. Well I beg to differ. I find Sydney to be like NYC, but extremely clean and no honking horns.

Anyway, I have to be up at the crack of dawn tomorrow..I have to be at the stage door of the Opera House at 645am.
ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-03-19 06:08 pm

Brisbane or Bris Vegas...it's so Cosmopolitan

We got to Brisbane, and checked in the hotel...and it was so nice compared to a few of the other hotels we have been in...we stayed at the Stamford Plaza at the corner of Margaret and Edward streets. We ended up getting a corner hotel room so we have a view from two sides.

When we got here...we checked in the hotel and the staff there told me that we left a phone on the plane. Basically what happened, was the plane staff found it, turned it into baggage services, they then called one of the Australian numbers and they gave Qantas our details. So the hotel staff told us this...so after we checked in, I had to go back to the airport. It cost roughly $50 for a cab each way.

On Sunday, my mom's friend Jan drove down from Toowomba and took us around sightseeing....it was really nice, we had lunch with her and it was nice seeing Brisbane from a locals perspective. Although it was freakin hot...probably in the mid 90s

On Monday, we went to Steve Irwin's, Australia Zoo, which was really cool....we got to cuddle koalas, see crocs and all types of cool wildlife....it was really nice. Luckily enough the weather broke and it was in the high 70s.

On Tuesday, we went to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary...that was awesome as we took a specialized tour where we got to go into some of the enclosures. I got to pet/play with the dingos, feed the platypus, go into the koala enclosures and get really close up with....chat with the keepers and get answers to questions.

Today is Wednesday and we are flying to Sydney today.

Melbourne was beautiful for us old architecture, where as Brisbane is very contemporary and cosmopolitan.

Anyway time to get ready to check out and head to the airport....next stop Sydney

Wednes
ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-03-16 07:40 pm

Uluru and on to Brisbane

So the base tour at Uluru was so peaceful....I woke up at 430 am and was at reception by 510am to go to the dune...we watched the sun rise on Uluru and then were driven over to the base where we were told Aboriginal stories as we drove around and had several things about "the rock" told to us....we then went for a little walk to see drawings on the monolith as well as a water hole there...it truly was beautiful....as I said, Mom stayed at the hotel. As it was because of her mishap, they not only refunded the Sounds of Silence dinner, but her Base tour that she was supposed to go on...As I mentioned before, the Sounds of Silence dinner was amazing and I would recommend it to everyone.

The rest of the 2nd day in Uluru was spent just relaxing and getting packed for the trip to Brisbane. Mom is pretty banged up from the spill she had, really large black and blue mark. In any event, we cancelled the highlights tour in Brisbane and her friend Jan is going to meet us on Sunday and take us around...nothing like having a tour from a local. Right now sitting in the airport in Sydney waiting for the flight to Brisbane.

The one thing I'm happy about is the fact that I can download tv shows from the states to my kindle...so I'm caught up on Walking Dead and I am on the Rupaul Roast one for Drag Race...right now trying to download Smash...

We have put in a request to cancel the catamaran lunch cruise in Sydney and the Cabaret dinner cruise in Sydney just so that we can do it on our own and relax and maybe just take a ferry ride...we got that insight from some people that were sitting at our table at SoS dinner the other night.

More to come.
ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-03-14 10:41 am

Uluru and the Northern Territory

Today we flew from Adelaide to Alice Springs and then from Alice Springs to Ayers Rock.

We are staying at the Desert Garden Hotel, which is nice. Oh my god desolate...truly in the outback.

Now I see why everyone needs the netting for their hats....the flies here are ridonkulous.

After getting settled in we went to the Sounds of Silence dinner, where they took us onto a dune to watch the sun set overlooking Uluru and Kata Tjuta where we had had drinks and canap├ęs...while someone played the didgeridoo. After the sun set they took us down to the dining area....because there was a hill to get to the dune and then down to the dining area, they took my mom in a wheel chair.....when we were almost done getting to the area, they hit a bump and my mom got knocked out of the chair. It was not fun...and she had a lot of difficulty getting back in the chair...so this was like the 3rd incident that she had whilst on this trip. In any event, it was on soft sand so she is just sore from getting back in the chair.

I got to try kanagaroo, which wasn't bad....after dinner they dimmed all the lights and we star gazed. It was truly amazing. After that we came back to the hotel.

We have an excursion tomorrow to go around the base of Uluru, but my mom isn't going to do it. I tried calling the tour company earlier today to see if I could cancel hers and they said no because it was too short of notice. After the incident tonight, she is definitely not going...so I talked to someone at the front desk of my hotel and they were going to leave a message for the manager. I'm still going, but she isn't...I'm hoping that they will refund the money for her.

In any event, it is absolutely beautiful out here and I would highly recommend the dinner.
ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-03-13 07:46 pm

Adelaide in a blink of an eye....off to Ayers Rock

We have been in Adelaide for the past few days...it's been crazy but just haven't had time to get on the computer that much.

Our first day in Adelaide, on Monday,it was Labour Day here and we actually changed our excursion so we took the city tram to Glenelg, which is the beach near Adelaide. We went down there and walked around for a little bit and then came back to the hotel.

Tuesday we took our excursion to Kanagaroo Island, which was just a comedy of errors. We got up at 5am in the morning and was picked up at 640am...took a motorcoach to the ferry then took the ferry to Kanagaroo Island. My mom has a lot of problems doing steps as she has issues with the muscles in her legs. So apparently while getting on the coach on Kanagaroo Island, she busted her toe nail and we didn't know it until we got to Seal Bay..and had to take care of it. So we didn't see the seals. Then the air conditioning on the bus went out. It was just a really bad day...So they sent another motor coach for us since we flew back from Kanagaroo Island. When we got on the airplane, I got stung by bee. Of course it was a turbo prop and the door was open hence the reason why that happened.

We got back to the hotel around 8pm and just took care of my mom's toe and what not. So it was just not a good day.

Wednesday was an awesome day...we went to Cleland Wildlife Park...we saw wallabys, kanagaroos, wombats, Tasmanian devils and koalas. I'm partial to the wombats. In any event, we had an up close encounter with a koala and then we got to hold one. It was awesome...we had pictures taken with the koala....totally adorable.

Today is Thursday and we are back at the airport. We are heading to Ayers Rock (Uluru) for two days.

Adelaide was nice, I wouldn't have minded staying here an extra day but oh well.

Tonight, we have the Sounds of Silence Dinner and then tomorrow we have the Uluru base tour.
ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-03-09 07:55 pm

Last day in Melbourne and onto Adelaide and the language barrier

So for our last day in Melbourne we spent it with my mom's friend Maralyn...she drove us around...I got to meet her daughter Tiana and to see her house. Maralyn then took us down to St. Kilda, which is the beach in Melbourne. We had a nice lunch and then coffee....let's just say that even though we speak the same language there is still a barrier. After coffee, Maralyn took us back to the hotel we said our goodbyes and then mom rested since her feet were pretty swollen from all the running around.

I repacked the suitcases and then headed over to the Casino...it was mobbed, but I made $40...which is a good thing.

The trip from Melbourne to the airport was $68...I guess I shouldn't complain. Oh my god, security for domestic flights is a joke within Australia, it's like what it used to be like in the states. You don't need to take off your shoes..the liquids don't have a restriction...you don't even need to show them your ID. It's wild.

In any event we are sitting at the gate...of course we got here like 2.5 hours early for the flight, thinking that security was going to be like it is in the states...apparently not...no wonder there is no line to get through security.

Otherwise, I'm learning new vocabulary, the following is Australian terms and then there American counterparts

Toilets Bathroom/Restroom
Rubbish Trash
Rubbish Bin Trash Can
Car Park Parking Lot
Chips Fries
Trolley cart, like a smart cart for your luggage
buggy cart for you to ride to your gate in
taxi rank taxi stand
bugger Damn!!!

Additionally we have changed one of our excursions in Adelaide...we originally were going to do it on Monday but now we are doing it on Tuesday and I'm going to see about renting a car to go to the wild life sanctuary.

That's it for now...more later.
ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-03-08 08:24 am

March 7th and 8th, Day 3 and 4 in Melbourne, Australia

So the adventure continues.....so yesterday we went to a cattle ranch an saw wombats, and kangaroos and were able to feed the kanagaroos.  The wombat was totally adorable...I have decided I want to take one home. We then went to the Koala Conservation Center and got to see our first real koala.  We then headed to the Penguin Parade.  Basically these penguins come up from the water every night to go to their burroughs.  We get to watch them shuffle up the sand...the ranger put it an interesting way...it was like a reverse zoo...we are the ones in the cages and we get to watch them.

Today we did the Great Ocean Road...for those who don't know...I consider it like the Road to Hana...but from what I understand it's Australia's version of the Pacific Coast Highway.  We got to see the 12 Apostles which are these huge monoliths of limestone that have been eroded from the water...the views were breath taking.

The past two days have been extremely tiring for myself and my mother....they have been really long days....yesterday we were gone from 1pm to midnight and today we were gone from 730am to 9pm....it's a little much...we have one or two more excursions on the trip like this but it's a little much for my mom...so I have to call the tour companies and see if they can make some accommodation for her because getting on and off the tour buses area a bit of a challenge.

Tomorrow is a open day that we are probably just going to take it easy as we fly to Adelaide on Sunday. My mom's friend Maralyn is coming to pick us up and do a few things...Maybe go to St. Kilda, which is a popular beach here.

The best way to explain it is, day 1 was about seeing buildings, day 2 was about seeing animals and day 3 was about seeing water.

Anyway it's late and I need to get some sleep.

There are pictures on my Facebook page as I don't think I can post them on here as I'm too cheap to get the advanced account.
ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-03-06 12:35 am

March 6, 2013 Day 2 in Melbourne

We got up early this morning for our tour.  We did a city highlights tour of the city...which was nice...we got driven around to see the different buildings and the architecture, which is truly beautiful...although I didn't take any pictures...I didn't feel it was necessary and I truly feel that I shouldn't be living my vacation through a camera lense.  We then did a cruise on the Yarra River which runs through Brisbane...it was very nice and calming.

After that we had lunch and then came back to the hotel...I think we are tired and still trying to get used to the time change....I had to run back to the Telstra store because our phones couldn't get on the internet, but then we got them fixed.

Mom is in the room resting and as soon as I'm done posting this I'm going up to lay down.

Mom's friend Maralyn is coming over a little later on today to pick us up and I think take us to see the beaches...probably St. Kilda's.

Just gonna take it easy...I'm just glad that tomorrow we have a late start with the excursion tomorrow....we don't need to be ready until 1245pm.
ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-03-05 05:05 am

G'day from Melbourne

The past 24-48 hours have been interesting.

We got to the airport in Las Vegas and was at the gate by like 430 pm...our flight was to be at 630 and arrive San Francisco at 820.  Well because of fog they delayed the flight....they finally loaded the plane and we sat on the tarmac around 730....they came on the loud speaker and said that we probably wouldn't leave till 830 or 9.  I was freaking out thinking that we were going to miss our flight to Sydney.

Luckily because we were in first class they had someone waiting our gate to get us.  Needless to say we had like 15 minutes before they were supposed to close the doors to get on that plane.  That was not fun.  But the flight was great.  Honestly if I ever had to come back here this is the only way I would fly....we had our own pods where the seat changes into a bed.  Got to watch Hotel Transyvania and Life of Pi.
I slept well on the plane and was quite refreshed when we got to Sydney...or flight from Sydney to Melbourne was delayed about 2 hours.  So we probably didn't get done with everything and get to the hotel til 4pm...Luckily enough my mothers friend Maralyn not only picked us up, but spent the day with us and then we went to dinner.

My friends Lee and Mark didn't like...ship ain't cheap here.  $4 for like a 20 oz bottle of diet soda.  it's just unreal how expensive everything is.

At this point, I'm falling flat on my face and we have an early morning tomorrow.  So that it's for now.
ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-03-03 06:23 pm
Entry tags:

uh oh

Just found out that our flight to San Francisco is delayed due to air traffic control. Needless to say I'm a little freaked. O just need to remember its  out of my control. The gave agent assured me that we should be fine.

ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-03-03 05:43 pm
Entry tags:

Leaving Las Vegas


We are at the gate in Las Vegas, getting ready to head to San Francisco. We were in Vegas for two days and had a great time. Once in San Francisco, we will get on a plane for 14 hours to Sydney.

 

I just called Claude and we chatted for a little bit and I told him that I would talk to him Monday night since it will be too late one I land in San Francisco. Needless to say he was a little upset. It's one thing to go to Vegas for a week or two since its on the same continent, but to be on the other side of the world.

 

so the adventure truly begins.

ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-03-02 08:20 am
Entry tags:

The adventure begins


Everything went off without a hitch last night and the flight was uneventful to Vegas. all our luggage made it and we actually arrived an hour early.

 

I was up until 4am playing. I then got up at 730 got ready and am now getting ready to go play bingo.

 

This part of the trip is familiar. After we leave Vegas tomorrow; that's when the real adventure starts.

ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-02-28 01:09 pm

Planes, trains, automobiles, cruise ships, koalas, kangaroos, bridges and opera houses.

I figured I would post the schedule that we came up with for our trip to Australia...it's pretty exhaustive....thoughts and comments are always welcome.

Australia Trip

Friday March 1, 2013

Leave Dulles 10pm 3/1/13            Arrive Vegas 1220am 3/2/13

Las Vegas, Nevada

Sunday March 3, 2013

Leave Vegas 113pm 3/3/13      Arrive SFO 255pm 3/3/13

Leave SFO 1035pm 3/3/13          Arrive Sydney 810am 3/5/13

Leave Sydney 940AM 3/5/13    Arrive Melbourne 1120am 3/5/13

Melbourne, Australia March 5th through March 10th

Tues 3/5/13 Arrive, spend day with Maralyn

Wed 3/6/13 Melbourne City Sights Morning Tour with Yarra Cruise 810a-130p

Thur 3/7/13 Phillip Island: Penguins, Koalas and Kangaroos Day Tour from Melbourne 1245-10pm

Fri 3/8/13 Great Ocean Road Small Group Eco Tour from Melbourne 7a-930p

Sat 3/9/13 Open Day

Sunday March 10, 2013

Leave Melbourne 105pm           Arrive Adelaide 155pm

Adelaide, Australia March 10th through March 14th

Mon 3/11/13 Kangaroo Island in a Day Tour from Adelaide 6a-715p

Tuesday Open Day

Wed Open Day

Thurday March 14, 2013

Leave Adelaide 1105am             Arrive Alice Springs 1210pm

  Leave Alice Springs 155                  Arrive Ayers Rock 245pm

Ayers Rock, Australia March 14th through March 16th

Thurs 3/14/13 Sounds of Silence Dinner

Fri 3/15/13 Uluru Sunrise and base tour

Saturday March 16, 2013

Leave Ayers Rock 1225pm            Arrive Sydney 455pm

  Leave Sydney 605pm                     Arrive Brisbane 635pm

Brisbane, Australia March 16th through March 20th

Sun 3/17/13 Best of Brisbane Full Day Sightseeing Tour ~8a-5p

Mon 3/18/13 Austalia Zoo by Croc Express Coach ~8a-3p

Tues 3/19/13 Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary, need transportation

Wednesday March 20, 2013

Leave Brisbane 1025am                 Arrive Sydney 100pm

Sydney, Australia March 20th through March 23rd

Wed 3/20/13 Orpheus in the Underworld Sydney Opera House a@ 730pm

Thurs 3/21/13 Blue Mountain Nature and Wildlife Day Tour From Sydney 710am-545pm

Fri 3/22/13 Tobruk Australian Outback Experience including Aussie BBQ Lunch 730-245pm

Sat 3/23 Sydney Opera House Backstage tour, 7am Sydney Opera House Accessible tour 12pm, Board cruise ship

Rhapsody of the Seas, Royal Caribbean March 23rd through April 3rd

3/23/13 Board ship in Sydney

3/24/13 Newcastle Australia

3/25-26 At Sea

3/27-28/13 Cairns, Australia

3/29/13 Willis Island (scenic cruising)

3/30/13 Airlie Beach

3/31/13 At Sea

4/1/13 Brisbane

4/2/13 At Sea

4/3/13 Debark ship in Sydney

Sydney, Australia April 3rd through April 8th

Wed 4/3/13 Sydney Bondi Beach and Kings Cross Afternoon Tour 145pm-545pm

Thurs 4/4/13 Wild Australian Experience Taronga Zoo starts 10a conf#116124

Fri 4/5/13 Sydney Bridge Climb, Sydney Jewish Museum, need transport, Sydney Showboat Cabaret dinner, need transport

Sat 4/6/13 Taronga Zoo with Lauren

Sun 4/7/13 Sydney Harbor Lunch Cruise by Catamaran 1230pm boarding time

Monday April 8, 2013     

Leave Sydney 945a                   Arrive Hamilton Island 1220pm

Hamilton Island, Australia April 8th through April 12th

Mon 4/8/13 Arrive Hamilton Island

Tues 4/9/13  Helicopter ride over Great Barrier Reef with stop over at Whitehaven Beach

Wed 4/10/13 Open Day

Thurs 4/11/13 Open day

Friday April 12, 2013
Leave Hamilton Island 1255     Arrive Sydney 315pm

Sydney, Australia April 12th through April 13th

Fri 4/12/13 Sydney Tower Buffet 630pm

Saturday April 13, 2013

United Flight 870              Leave Sydney 245pm 4/13/13   Arrive SFO 11am 4/13/13

United Flight 102              Leave SFO 130pm 4/13/13         Arrive National 947pm 4/13/13

ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-02-27 12:34 pm

Vegstralia or Ausvegas

Everything is lined up for us to now leave Friday March 1st versus Sunday March 3rd.

When I called United this morning I got an offshore agent who told me that because I booked one way tickets I couldn't deviate my travel plans...it can only be done on a roundtrip purchase.  I hung up and called back and spoke with someone in the US...and explained the situation that because of the length of the trip, I had to book two separate one way tickets, but it was a roundtrip.  So she worked her magic and got us out to Vegas.  On top of all of that she didn't charge us the change fee...typically on an award if it's within 21 days of date of travel they charge $75 a ticket...It was just meant to be.

So we fly out Friday from Dulles at 10pm and arrive in Vegas at 1230am....we leave Vegas at 130 on Sunday and arrive at 3pm in SF....we will be hanging out in the United Club for several hours it looks like which is fine with us.  It just worked out.

The hotel room in Vegas is free...thank you to my playing at the hotel....we will only be responsible for taxes.

I also rented a vehicle...that way we weren't tied to the hotel....got it through Hotwire...got a mini SUV to handle all the luggage....so it works out well.

So I have told mum that we need to have her completely packed tonight...so that maybe all 4 of us can do dinner as a family tomorrow night since Friday will be pretty rushed.

This truly is a whirlwind trip.  First slot machines and bingo and then kanagaroos and koalas.
ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-02-27 07:44 am

The countdown continues

Last night we booked our last two excursions....Sydney Harbor cruise and the Sydney Tower.
We have been looking to change our flights to fly out to Vegas Friday night and finally the seats came up...so guess who is going to Vegas for 2 nights before heading off down under.
Looking forward to that...but the luggage is going to be a cluster.
ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-02-26 06:53 am

5 days and counting

The drama that was occuring with the customs issues has been averted.  Mom had put all her pills in weekly planners for 8 weeks...and then we found out that the pills need to be in their original bottles...she took care of that last night thank god...considering I didn't want to miss our connecting flight to Melbourne from Sydney.

I just called the airline and found out that unfortunately, our flight will not have wifi on it...pooo.
ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-02-25 10:51 am

Australia Trip cities, dates and activities

So, this next installment are the actual places we are going, the dates and what we are doing there. We leave Washington Dulles at 530pm on March 3 and arrive in Melbourne at 1130 on March 5th Melbourne
March 5th through March 10th
Melbourne City sights tour with Yarra Cruise
Phillip Island day tour at the Koala conservation center and Penguin Parade
Great Ocean Road day trip

Adelaide
March 10th through March 14th
Kangaroo Island Day trip

Uluru (Ayers Rock)
March 14th through March 16th
Sounds of Silence Dinner
Desert Awakenings Tour

Brisbane
March 16th through March 20th
Full Day Brisbane Sightseeing tour
Steve Irwin's Australia Zoo
VIP tour at the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary where we get to feed and hold Koalas.

Sydney
March 20th through March 23rd
Orpheus in the Underworld operetta at the Sydney Opera House
Sydney Bridge Climb
Blue Mountain and Wildlife day trip
Tobruk Outback Experience
Sydney Opera House Backstage tour

Rhapsody of the Seas Queensland Cruise
March 23rd through April 3rd
Newcastle Australia
Cairns (overnight stay)
Airlie Beach
Brisbane
With these I know we are doing the Great Barrier Reef, Lone Pine Koala sanctuary again

Sydney
April 3rd through April 8th
Sydney, Bondi, Kings Cross tour
Wild Australia Experience at Taronga Zoo
Sydney Jewish Museum

Hamilton Island, Whitsundays
April 8th through April 12th
Helicopter ride over the reef, including the heart reef with a stop off at Whitehaven Beach

Sydney
April 12th through the 13th

April 13th we fly home.

The reason that Sydney was broken up was because of the cruise we initially booked so we had to fit it back in and the reason we have one night in Sydney before we leave is because the flight back from Hamilton Island on the 13th would have made it so we couldn't make our connecting flight back to the states....so we spend the one night in Sydney before we get home.

One thing I would really like to do while I'm in Sydney is go down to Oxford St...since Sydney is like the equivalent to the gay mecca of San Francisco...I also would really like to go to the Imperial as I want to see where Priscilla was made.
ermago: (Me on NYC ferry)
2013-02-25 10:32 am

Well hello LJ

It's been almost 2 years to the day that I have posted something on here....on the recommendation of [livejournal.com profile] eurodancemixI am dusting it off to post about the trip of a lifetime coming up....I am heading down under on March 3rd. I will be there for 6 weeks. It is just my mother and I going on the trip, my father and Claude are staying behind. We initially were supposed to do this trip about 3 years ago, but had to back out because of some surgery that my dad needed. Intially we were just going to do a cruise from Perth to Sydney...but alas we had to cancel it.
So back in January of 2012 we decided to reboot the trip...but this time, we decided that we were going to fly everywhere. So we cracked open a bunch of different books and started the process of booking the trip.

First we looked at all the different cities and made lists of what we wanted to do in each city. Then we figured out how much time we would need in each city. Then we had to determine when we wanted to go...we wanted to go after the holiday season and Mardi Gras...so we figured sometime in late February early March. We then had to wait until the flights started becoming available. Oh, I forgot to mention, we were using miles to fly there. My mother is with American who partners with Qantas, and I'm with United. We called American and the flights they had were crap. So I checked on United and found good flights. I ended up having to buy up about 80,000 miles, because we wanted to fly first class. We used my miles to fly too and from Australia and my mothers within Australia, because Qantas does give away first class seats across the water.
So our flight to Australia, is from IAD>SFO>SYD>MEL....we decided we wanted to go in a clockwise tour. Keep in mind, I am booking everything myself...flights, hotels, tours. We couldn't book the return flight because it was too far out. So now that we had the flight out there...we needed to figure out how much time we needed at each place. While we were figuring that out, one of my friends said that if you are going to be there during Easter, make sure you have something to do because everything closes down between Friday and Monday. So I figured we would go on a cruise from Sydney up to Queensland for jumping off points to the Great Barrier Reef. Initially we had booked on a Celebrity cruise, but then changed it to Royal Carribbean.

In any event, after checking out the activities we wanted to do we started looking at dates for each location. Basically this was an iterative process trying to figure out how much time we needed for activities....and then we added an extra day or two just to be on the safe side. Whilst reading through the books we realized that middle of March is the rainy season for Queensland so we were going to bounce around...we were debating on where to stay in Queensland....Cairns, Port Douglas, Gold Coast...but then just finally decided the cruise would be perfect. My mother fought me on going on the cruise, but then later came around because she can relax.

Once we figured out the dates at each location, we started booking hotel rooms...most of them were booked on Hotwire....there were about 3 of them that we booked directly because we had points or they just weren't on Priceline or Hotwire. Now that the dates were set in stone we had to look at the things we wanted to do and how we would get to them. My biggest concern was getting to activites where we needed transportation since we are not renting a car...we are doing public transit...I refused to drive in a country where not only they drive on the other side of the road, the steering column is on the right side of the car...I have driven on the other side of the road in St. Thomas, but it's a small island and the speed limit is only 35 mph max....I didn't want to tempt fate. so I found by happenstance Viator.com and noticed they offered tours so we have combed that for the different trips.....

Next...where we are going and what we are doing....

I guess I will use this for the next month or so to document the trip of a lifetime.
ermago: (Default)
2011-03-15 07:30 am

Waking up in Vegas

It's been a few days since I have posted. The flights to Vegas were uneventful. We got in on Thursday. Friday we went to see Blue Man Group at the Venetian, it was weird but really good. Saturday we went to see Human Nature, which is a Motown Tribute group at the Imperial Palace, and it was really good. We also saw Diva's which is a female impersonator show...I saw it years ago at the Riv, it seemed to be much better than. Both Thursday and Saturday night we ate at Hash House, the one on Sahara on Thursday and the one at the IP on Saturday before the shows.

Friday we went over to Lowes and purchased appliances...I needed a washer, dryer and refrigerator. I was told they wouldn't be delivered until Friday...they were going to try and get them earlier, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.

Sunday night I went to see Purple Reign at Hooters. It is a Prince tribute show...and I actually really enjoyed it. It had a slight bit of cheese too it, but it could be because of the hotel it was at. I could see Candy, loving the show. I could totally see her yelling up to him to sing Violet, the organ grinder since she loves that song so much.

Monday we went to sign the paperwork for the house. It took all of 20 minutes. The thing about Nevada is that they don't need lawyers to do closing. I just went to a title company. Everyone has been giving me congrats, but it's not a done deal yet. I have to wait until it's recorded with Clark County before I get the keys. It doesn't look like I will get them until Wednesday. There is a possibility I will get them late tonight, but I'm not sure. Once I get them then the real fun starts.

I have to meet with the house cleaning service to let them know what I want done but then I need to see when they can do it. I also have to meet with the property management company and my home insurance. It sucks that Erie doesn't have coverage in Nevada, because that's who I have in Maryland. So I went with Farmers...the guy was nice and seemed to know what he was talking about.

At this point everything is in my name as far as utilities, gas, water, electric and trash. I just pray that when I get there the power is on...because I started the service online. I guess I will find out when I get over there.

At this very moment, I'm sitting in the coffee shop at the Orleans working on my computer, right off the casino floor.

Today I have a a few conference calls. I will probably end up taking them on the road. Last night we were supposed to go to Fremont Street, but we just decided to come back to the hotel and chill since my mom had to get up early. Every week day I have been getting up at 5am so I could work for a few hours.

Tomorrow we are going to see O at the Bellagio and Saturday my mom is seeing Barry Manilow at Paris.

That's it for now.