29/30 April 2018 – Waikiki, Hawaii – Day 5 – Sad Day, Happy Day – The End

Today is the last day of our adventure and we have a lot of mixed emotions. Happy to be going back to our son, Paden, our home, bed and TVs. Sad that this amazing trip was ending.

We departed our home in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada 6 February 2018. We have been gone for 83 days now and won’t arrive home until tomorrow morning, 30 April 2018 for a total of 84 days. Originally this trip was supposed to be for 105 days, taking us to 21 May 2018, but as we have mentioned, we were just getting exhausted and cut out many places to visit. Looking back now, we probably should have taken a good week and just rested up at some resort, totally stress free. That way we could have continued and seen more of what was originally on our list of places to go.

We have stayed in 7 countries and 21 cities with quite a few day visits to other cities.

  • Bangkok, Thailand
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Pai, Thailand
  • Phuket, Thailand
  • Koh Phi Phi, Thailand
  • Krabi/AoNang, Thailand
  • Ko Samui, Thailand
  • Koh Pha Ngan, Thailand
  • Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • Battambang, Cambodia
  • Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • Sihanoukville, Cambodia
  • Koh Rong Sanloem, Cambodia
  • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Singapore, Singapore
  • Kuta, Bali, Indonesia
  • Ubud, Bali, Indonesia
  • Gili Trawangan, Indonesia
  • Brisbane, Australia
  • Sydney, Australia
  • Waikiki, Hawaii

We eliminated 11 cities in 4 countries:

  • Ko Tao, Thailand
  • Preah Sibanouk, Cambodia
  • Langkawi, Malaysia
  • Penang, Malaysia
  • Jakarta, Indonesia
  • Yogyakarta, Indonesia
  • Malang, Indonesia
  • Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia
  • Gili Air, Indonesia
  • Lombok, Indonesia
  • Komodo Island, Indonesia

We slept in a bit this morning as check out wasn’t until noon and our flight wasn’t until 3:55 pm today. We headed to Wolfgang Puck’s for breakfast. It was okay. Not a big fan off Cool Whip, an edible oil product, being used instead of real whipped cream. One would think with the name Wolfgang Puck’s on the sign, you would get the real thing, but not the case at this location.

Went for our last stroll down the main drag and took a few more pictures. The ABC store that seems to be every couple of hundred feet here and that the locals refer to as the “All Blocks Covered” store. That is definitely true!

Thought we would check out Alohilani Resort just for the heck of it. Talk about one massive fish tank in the lobby. Apparently it is a two story, 280,000-gallon saltwater tank. 

Time to head back to the hotel and check out. We had arranged a shuttle to the airport through the hotel. So convenient and easy to do. We arrived at the airport a little before 2:00 pm in plenty of time. If you ever need to buy a lei, the airport had lots of them. Silk and real flowers.

Came across this Mexican restaurant and decided to pass some time in here.

The happy couple. Time to order!

Doug ordered a beer, I ordered a margarita and we split some tortilla chips and guacamole. OMG this guacamole was so good. It was topped with pickled jalapeños. Yum Yum

Our gate was in another terminal of the airport so we headed over to it.

It was getting really real now and we were heading home. Still time to change our minds!

We were flying Honolulu to Chicago, Chicago to Ottawa. Our next flight from Chicago wasn’t until tomorrow at 6:30 am. However, with the time change, we were scheduled to arrive in Chicago at 5:08 am and therefore wouldn’t be waiting long for our final flight to Ottawa.

And we were off! Goodbye Honolulu/Waikiki, Hawaii. We will be back some time.

Sure miss the great meals that were free and we always got on our Asia flights. Well not all tasted great to me, but were for others. Even on 1 hour flights we usually got a quick meal. Free pretzels on this flight and we purchased the M&M and Hummus. Plus the cost of the flights over in SE Asia were so much cheaper.

We dozed a little on the flight, but didn’t sleep as it wasn’t night time for us yet. We were still on Hawaii time. We landed in Chicago around 5:00 am. No customs to deal with as we were flying from the USA to the USA. We would have to deal with customs when we got home in Canada. Made our way to the next gate and final gate of this trip.

We landed on time in Ottawa, Canada and had to line up at customs. Customs wasn’t very busy as it was morning in the Ottawa airport, which isn’t a very big airport compared to many of the airports we have now been to. Thinking back to some of the customs lines we have stood in during the last three months, this one was nothing.

We had packed all of our souvenirs, except for the t-shirts, in our daypacks in case Customs wanted to see any of them. Good thing we did, as the Customs Agent did want to see a couple items. We had bought 2 wooden flutes as gifts and a small wooden surfboard plaque in Bali. They allowed them in, but did inform us that unfinished wood is not usually allowed. Since they were able to inspect the items and they were small enough, they could tell there were no bugs in them.

We called for an Uber to take us home as Paden was working and we couldn’t be sure exactly when we would land.

We were home! ♥ We are still old, but no longer lost. ♥

Did we have a favourite place? I don’t think either of us did. We really enjoyed every place that we can think of right now. Some more than others maybe.

Maybe didn’t enjoy the spiders, bugs or lizards so much! At least I didn’t!

Would we do this again? In a heartbeat! ♥♥

Did we learn anything from this experience? More than you can imagine.

82 Blog entries!

Over 17,000 photos taken between my 2 cameras and my iPhone X !!!!

We flew over 41,808 km (25,978 miles) and traveled hundreds, probably even thousands of kilometers by van, car, bus, boat and ferry. We may have put a few steps on the Fitbit also.

DateStepsFloorsKilometersCalories
     
6 – 28 February 2018247,794338184.1159409
1 – 31 March 2018317,675415232.1175336
1 – 30 April 2018280,204296206.1571171
     
Totals845,6731,049622205,916

None of these months beat our numbers from December 2016 when we were in Vietnam traveling.

Thank you to everyone who followed along, whether it was for one day or for all 84 days. Hope you enjoyed it almost as much as we did.

If you ever feel like going on a virtual trip again, please feel free to re-read the blog. It will be available for at least the next year.

Bye for now…….until next time! Maybe!

28 April 2018 – Waikiki, Hawaii – Day 4 – Diamond Head

Doug and I had compromised, I did the Pearl Harbor tour and he would do Diamond Head. I really wanted to hike up Diamond head. When we lived in Calgary, AB, we did a lot of hiking. Oh the good ‘ole days.

We grabbed breakfast at McDonalds. We had checked into how to get to Diamond Head and it was super simple. One bus and the stop was close to the hotel. We headed out around 11:00 am and took Bus #23 to the base of the Diamond Head National Park. Here is a photo of our hotel from the street.

We arrived at the entrance to Diamond Head around 11:45 and started walking in.

We came up to a tunnel that we had to walk through. Narrow sidewalks and quite busy with traffic. A little scary.

We survived and came out the other side. Thinking we should have looked into this trolley! We saw a few trolleys. It was actually a further walk from the main road than I had thought it would be, but definitely doable, since we were able to do it.

We finally got to the base and purchased our entrance tickets. I have to chuckle at the tours that list entrance fees included for Diamond Head. All of US $1.00 but no refunds now!

Had a quick pitstop at the washrooms as we had quite the hike coming up. Of course I had to take a picture of the sign. Haven’t seen a good one in a while. Do not wash clothing. I guess that means no hand washing for us here. Guess it is a good thing we didn’t bring any with us.

Saw some of the local wildlife both before and after our hike. The red headed birds are Brazilian Cardinals and the red butted bird is a Red-Vented Bulbul. I have no idea what the 4 legged animal is.

A last check before you head up.

We were off! Don’t let this level ground trick you.

It was a gradual incline at the start.

Saw a couple of guys that must be military practicing, as who else would lug huge backpacks up Diamond Head?

The path slowly started to deteriorate and get steeper and the switchbacks started.

The view was getting nicer.

More switchbacks and steeper terrain.

You can see the entrance to the park in the distance.

We were getting there.

There were even tunnels way up here. I really dislike tunnels.

We made it to one of the first lookout points. Someone felt sorry for me trying to take selfies, so offered to take our photo for us. Thank you kind person.

In the distance to the right you can see a couple of old bunkers. My camera has a pretty good zoom on it for a point and shoot camera. I never bring my DSLR as it is too bulky when traveling with backpacks only.

And still MORE stairs. By now I felt like the little engine that could….I think I can, I think I can!

And MORE!

People have a really hard time following instructions on signs. Wonder how many have fallen off?

The view from up here was pretty spectacular!

There was an old bunker up here that you could go in.

And not to be forgotten, there was a spiral staircase up here. I HATE spiral staircases!!!! I don’t like heights, I don’t like open stairs and I don’t like small spaces. Spiral staircases often have all three. But I wasn’t hiking all the way up here and not going up them.

Another bunker and yet another staircase.

The view from us here was absolutely worth the hike up. According to my Fitbit it was the equivalent of 59 floors. Not the most I have ever done, but not too shabby either. When we were in Vietnam we did over 100 floors ones day.

Now it was time to start heading back down. What goes up must come down. That includes us today.

We did it! We made it back down and it was only 1:45 pm. Doubt that was any record time, but we had hiked all the way up there.

I bought myself a “I hiked Black Diamond” t-shirt and a certificate. LOL We also indulged in a pineapple-coconut shaved ice for me and a banana smoothie for Doug. The pineapples sure did look tempting though.

Now to walk back to the bus stop. Oh my, that seems so far away now. But first, quick! Let’s get a selfie in the road in front of the tunnel. Good thing that wasn’t a lot of traffic coming in at this time and we were facing the traffic leaving, so knew if we had to move.

Made it back to the bus stop and had to wait 45 minutes for our bus to show up. Many other routes showed, but not ours. Finally made it back to the hotel and we needed to rest up a bit before heading out again. We were going to head to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner tonight and it was a good walk away. This is a picture of where we hiked up to today. I took the picture from outside our hotel room.

We headed out again around 5:30 pm after resting for an hour or so. Thought we would walk along the beach for a bit on our way to the restaurant. The weather had been overcast most of the time we had been here, which wasn’t really what I think, when I think of Hawaii. I think of hot and sunny. Oh well, we had had lots of sunshine that past almost 3 months.

We walked along the beach as far as we could and then headed off onto the road. We couldn’t believe what we saw when we got to the road!!!!

It was a SPAM JAM Festival!!!! Yes a festival all about the canned meat, SPAM! They had blocked off a mile of so of the main road for this festival. They even had portable bank machines in vans on the side streets to get cash from. It was honestly like nothing we had ever seen before. The crowds were insane! They had live entertainment set up in a few spots. Every meal imaginable made with SPAM. SPAM souvenirs.

The crowds were INSANE!

We finally made it to the Cheesecake Factory and were given a seat beside the gardens. It was so beautiful and not crowded. Guess most people were at the Spam Jam Festival.

As the sun was going down, they went out and lite the torches. An extra added touch.

Placed our orders and got our drinks. It was so nice to sit down and relax after so much walking today. First round I had a Blood Orange Martini and Doug his usual Shiraz. It was delicious.

Dinner was absolutely delicious, but the servings were just humongous. Doug had Spicy Cashew Chicken and I had Angel Hair Pasta with shrimp. Guess Doug was already missing the Asian vibe. Actually we were both already missing SE Asia and may have been tempted to go back, except that our flights home were all booked and tomorrow.

Second round was a Lemon Drop Martini for me and Doug once again a glass of Shiraz.

We were so full, but there was no way I was coming to the Cheesecake Factory and NOT getting cheesecake. I got the Chris’ Outrageous Cheesecake (Chocolate Chip Coconut Cheesecake with layers of Chocolate Cake, Browned Coconut Pecan Frosting) and Doug ordered the Key Lime Cheesecake (Key Lime Pie in a Cheesecake! Deliciously Tart and Creamy on a Vanilla Crumb Crust). Our bill also reflected that we were no longer in SE Asia. I also had an issue with the waiter and my debit/VISA card. He somehow messed it up and put it through more than once and then had to void it. All I could think was, is this going to be a repeat of Singapore and Indonesia? Thankfully, when we got home and I got my bill, everything was good. And my card still worked.

It was time to walk back, yup, walk back, to the hotel. The Christmas store looked so pretty all lite up at night. We had already bought our Hawaii Christmas ornament a couple days ago.

The crowds for SPAM JAM were even more insane than earlier.

There was a cruise ship leaving port as we walked back.

We got back to our hotel and crashed. The bar looked pretty lively, but that a pass for us. We had done 14,632 steps today. That is along with the 59 floors recorded.

It was cheesecake and bed. Tomorrow was a travel day.

27 April 2018 – Waikiki, Hawaii – Day 3 – Pearl Harbor Tour

Today was our Robert’s Hawaii Star and Strips Pearl Harbor tour. We were being picked up at our hotel at 9:05 am, so had to get up at a reasonable hour and get breakfast. Hmmm, McDonalds? No, we headed off to Starbucks. LOL

Took a quick photo of our bus as there are SO MANY tour busses and it could be easy to get on the wrong one. So far we have never done that, but never say never. Took about 30 minutes to get everyone loaded and to Pearl Harbor. The rules are enforced and no bags are allowed.

The day was to include time in the museum, a tour of the USS Arizona Memorial and a self tour of the Battleship Missouri. We didn’t have much time at all in the Road to War Museum as our shuttle to the USS Arizona Memorial was at 10:30 and it was already 10:00. I was good with that, but I am sure Doug would have enjoyed more time in the museum area.

The USS Arizona Memorial was closed indefinitely in order to do repairs the week after we were there, due to critical structural and safety issues to the monument’s loading dock and visitor ramp. Apparently there were also cracks on the outside walls of the monument. Good thing it didn’t collapse while we were there!

The memorial straddles the hull of the sunken battleship and there is an opening in the floor where you can see the sunken decks.

The names of all those killed on the Arizona.

We headed back over to the main area, where we were given more time to explore the exhibits before heading over to the Battleship Missouri. Practiced taking a few more selfies. Only took 5 attempts to get this one with both the Memorial and the Battleship between us. You will probably have to zoom in to see them though.

This is the USS Bowfin, a WWII diesel submarine which you can tour, but was not included in our package. I’ve toured a submarine before, so definitely did not want to do another one. Once was more than enough. I don’t know how people can live on submarines.

This is a Mark 14 Steam-driven Torpedo

This is one of the anchors from the USS Arizona

There were many other displays that we saw, but you will all have to go to see them.

It was now time to head over to Ford Island and to tour the Battleship Missouri. Back in July 2008 we had had a private tour of the Canadian frigate, HMCS Montreal in Halifax, NS, so touring another ship was not on the top of my to do list. But Doug enjoys military stuff.

And of course there is a gift shop at the end. It was after 3:00 pm by now and time to head back to the bus as we were departing at 3:30 pm. It had been a long day already and we still had places to see on this tour. We had a few drive by places and I took lots of pictures of who knows what now. National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, Hawaii State Capitol Grounds, Honolulu City Hall and Kawaiahao Church.

But this place I know from watching Hawaii Five-0. Iolani Palace and King Kamehameha Statue

Saw some great graffiti and some not so great.

We finally got back to the hotel around 5:00 pm and went to rest up and freshen up before once again heading out for dinner. We had also been told about the possibility of fireworks tonight and wanted to see them.

Headed out for dinner about an hour later and we weren’t going too far. Found this place, Cheeseburger in Paradise and thought it would be perfect. Drinks were great. My burger not so much

We had to sit at the bar first while we waited for a table so of course ordered a couple of beverages. After all, it had been a long day. I had a Blue Hawaiian and Doug had a Mojito. We may or may not of had another one or two at the table with dinner.

It’s All Good

After dinner we headed across the street by the beach to hopefully catch the fireworks. Unfortunately we could not see the fireworks from where we were. We did have a nice chat with 2 Australian ladies. That was until a cranky vagrant on the other side of the rock wall yelled up at us that we were keeping him awake. AND he threw sand at us.

We grabbed a couple of Haagen-Dazs ice creams at the ABC store and took them back to the hotel. Enjoyed them while we relaxed and watched tv. Another busy day tomorrow.

26 April 2018 – Waikiki, Hawaii – Day 2 – Luau Night

We took our time this morning as we had no plans yet. We had seen a McDonald’s just up the street, so headed there for breakfast. Bet everyone is surprised at that! NOT! Can’t believe I forgot to take pictures. Just kidding. I have lots of McDonald’s breakfast photos already. No need for more unless it is some unusual food item.

We wanted to book a couple of tours so went in search of some place to do that. Found an Expedia kiosk close to the hotel, actually attached to the hotel, so that was very convenient. Chatted with the guy for a while and managed to book a luau for tonight. Roberts Hawaii – Oahu – Chief’s Luau. Hawaii’s #1 rated luau on TripAdvisor which is produced by Chief Sielu, the original world champion fire-knife dancer. What more could we ask for? Well, we splurged and went for Royal Experience. This included

  • Seating in Royal Section (closest to buffet)
  • All-You-Can-Eat Hawaiian Luau Buffet
  • Fresh flower lei with Mai Tai greeting
  • Two Adult Beverages
  • Souvenir gift, which turned out to be Chief’s Luau t-shirt
  • Round trip transportation from Waikiki

All for the low price of US $374.00 We must have been out of our minds! I think our Sucker tattoo must be back on our foreheads.

We also booked the Robert’s Stars & Strips Tour at a more reasonable price of US $198.00 for tomorrow.

We headed back down the main strip just like tourists do, since our pickup time for the luau wasn’t until 4:00 pm.

Duke Paoa Kahanamoku August 24, 1890 – January 22, 1968

OMG SPAM is everywhere!

And we came across one of my favourite restaurants. We will be back to eat here.

Don Ho August 13, 1930 – April 14, 2007

We headed off the main road and came across a food truck section and decided we could use a good smoothie.

These trees were so beautiful, but I have no idea what they are.

Time to head back to the hotel to rest up and clean up a little before the luau tonight. Pickup was in a couple of hours and we would have to head over to the Waikiki Beach Marriott, a few blocks away for pickup.

Our guide was very personable and like most good tour guides, had a lot of stories to tell us. Many were about his heritage, but the most surprising story, was about him as a child. I don’t remember all the facts now, but it went something like this. He was a performer at one of these luaus along with other dancers and guest performers at times. One time they had a guest performer who everyone thought was just great. This guest performer was a young Peter Gene Hernandez. AKA Bruno Mars, before he became famous. Wish I could remember more of of the story now as it was quite fascinating.

It was probably a good hour drive before we got to the luau location and passed through a great variety of areas, some residential.

We finally arrived and we weren’t expecting the luau to be held at a water park area. This was quite disappointing as you could see the water slides in the background of the show. We thought luaus were held on beaches.

Our welcome.

Doug got lei’d (The act of putting a lei (pl. leis) over someone’s neck).

And we were shown to our table. Since we had the Royal Package we were at the front by the stage, but off to the side as our bus obviously arrived much later than some of the other busses did. View was still good. Probably could have saved a lot of money, as I don’t think there was really any bad location of the tables.

Almost as soon as we got there, it started to rain. They handed out rain capes to everyone, but it still put a damper on it. After getting our rain capes we headed off to see the exhibits. You were supposed to be involved in them, but I am guessing due to the rain, not too many were getting involved.

This is where we picked up our free drinks. Royals only!

Soon it was time to get our food and thankfully it had stopped raining by now. It was supposed to be an all you can eat buffet, but as soon as everyone had gone up once, they started to clear all the food away. Not sure if it was because of the rain or whether they always do this and therefore really isn’t an all you can eat buffet.

Show began as soon as everyone had their food. The show was over 1 1/2 hours long, but much of that time was spent acknowledging birthdays, anniversaries and any other special occasion possible. We could have done without this part. Otherwise the show was pretty good. Also enjoyed a few costume changes which was nice. Dancers were enjoyable and apparently some world champion Hawaiian dancers amongst them. The fire dancers were good, but we have seen some equally as good on our travels and they were free to watch. Here are quite a few pictures of the show. Remember it was over 1 1/2 hours long = LOTS of pictures.

This was all the people on stage celebrating something or the other.

Now it was time to head back to the busses for our drive back. Talk about herding cattle!!! Took in a quick bathroom break before getting on the bus. Why are the woman’s washroom line up ALWAYS SO LONG? Must be because we wash our hands longer. Ha Ha Ha

We got back to our hotel shortly after 9:00 pm and we laid our leis to rest. We had had a great day.

25 April 2018 – Travel Day – ANZAC Day – Sydney, Australia to Waikiki, Hawaii – Day 1

Today was going to be a long day. We were going back in time, literally, going back in time. We were leaving Australia and flying to Hawaii. If all goes as planned we will technically land in Honolulu, Hawaii earlier on 25 April than we leave Sydney, Australia on due to crossing the International Date Line.

Our flight to Honolulu isn’t until this evening, so we have most of the day to spend in Sydney. Today in what is known as ANZAC Day in Australia, a day for commemoration and for thanking the veterans. Remembrance Day is soley about remembrance. A statutory holiday here, so a lot of places and work places were closed today.

We headed over to a restaurant that was across the street to grab breakfast. This place was so busy with everything that was going on today. I ordered waffles and Doug had French toast. Even though you don’t tip here in Australia, because they have to pay the staff more to work on statutory holidays, that extra cost is passed on to the customer and there was a 15% service charge added on to all food and beverages today. From what I can see, the minimum wage for a permanent worker over the age of 21 is $18.29 an hour. Apparently casual workers get paid more. And from what I can tell, they seem to get double time on statutory holidays.

As we ate, we watched as motor scooters were towed away. There had been signs up the whole time we have been here in Sydney about NO PARKING on many of the streets for today. They obviously enforce it here. It was priceless to watch them load the scooters onto the tow trucks.

After breakfast, we headed back to the hotel to finish packing and checked out. The hotel would store our bags until it was time for us to leave for the airport. We would be taking the train to the airport since our street was closed and we had no idea how long it would take a taxi to get to us. They could not guarantee anything with the crazy traffic today.

Rydges World Square – the hotel we stayed in while in Sydney, Australia

We still had lots of time, so we decided to walk around and see some more of Sydney.

Here is another one of the faux pas we have seen on our travels. The sign clearly states “Sorry we’re Closed” with the door wide open welcoming patrons.

After stopping back at he hotel to pick up our bags, we made our way over to the train station. We knew exactly where we needed to go as we had checked it out earlier. The station was also only 2 1/2 blocks from the hotel. We purchased our tickets, found the stop and boarded the train. It was so easy.

We arrived at the airport with lots of time to spare, so decided to grab a snack. A couple glasses of wine and a couple orders of french fries. What more could a person want?

We were flying Qantas. First time for us with them. Boarding was supposed to start at 1830 hrs, for a 1915 hrs departure, but didn’t get boarded until 1920 hours. It wasn’t full so that was great, especially since it is approximately a 10 hour 38 minute flight.

Didn’t take them long before they came around offering up drinks and dinner. Both were good.

Since the plane wasn’t full we were able to stretch out. Doug stretched out across our 3 seats and I moved one row back where there was a vacant 2 seat row. Neither of us slept much, but I never do. Doug can usually sleep on flights though. We made up some time for our late departure and landed in Honolulu at 0450 hr, 26 April 2018, Sydney, AU time, but 0750 hrs, 25 April 2018 Honolulu time. There is a 21 hours time difference.

We grabbed a shuttle from the airport to take us to our hotel. We had booked the Aston, Waikiki Beach. Price was reasonable for last minute in Waikiki and it was across the street from the beach. We checked into the hotel around 1045 hrs but our room wasn’t ready. We had figured as much, since we were so early.

We just walked around and ended up sitting in an area around the pool waiting for our room to be ready. What? They have bar service here?

The wait was worth it and they upgraded us to a ocean view. Room 1502. Wasn’t straight on ocean view, but we could still see the ocean from our balcony. From the other side of our room, outside was the view of Diamond Head.

View of Diamond from just outside our hotel room.

We were really tired, so once we got into our room we decided it was nap time. I couldn’t sleep, but Doug certainly did.

Received a free bag of goodies which include sunscreen.

Once Doug woke up from his nap and I had rested up, even though I didn’t sleep, we headed out to walk around and see what was around us. We didn’t go too far, as we were still tired and jet lagged, but I felt like I was in a Hawaii Five-O episode.

Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole 1871 – 1922

We decided to head back towards the hotel and eat at the Tiki’s Grill & Bar, the restaurant that is attached to the hotel. It has a great view and we were given a great table to view the sunset from. Plus they had live entertainment.

Doug order Fresh Island Fish Sticks & Fries, and I had Chicken Tenders.

Doug had the Six-Layer Chocolate Cake (a bombucha 3/4 pound slice of chocolate cake, raspberry coulis, fresh whipped cream) and I had the Haupia Crepe Cake (twenty layers of crepes, fresh berries, and house-made whipped coconut crème). You could definitely tell we were in the USA now. Even from our bill.

But the sunset certainly made it worth it.

It was going up for 8:00 pm and we were tired!!! It had been a very long 25 April 2018.

24 April 2019 – Sydney, Australia – Day 3 – Royal Botanic Gardens & Opera House

As per our usual habits, once we find a place we like to eat, we stick to it. Off to Starbucks again this morning to grab some breakfast, which worked perfectly as we are off to the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Opera House, both in that direction.

We always seem to find something new and amusing to us.

Looks like a portable news stand. Something we would see in a movie.

And a portable fruit stand.

I have no idea why I looked over this wall, that was by the train tracks, but I did, and was shocked to see all these bikes thrown here. To me, the look like the bikes that you would rent from the city to ride around on for the day.

Is this a stone graveyard? Looks like a stone graveyard. Random stones discarded, but not disposed of.

We arrived at the Royal Botanic Gardens and went in what I think is a side entrance. Don’t recall any signs saying where we were.

Sorry to say, but the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney are a very pale comparison to the gardens in Singapore and didn’t get many great pictures.

This was a cool tree though.

They certainly have an issue with bugs eating some of their plants here. Good to see that they aren’t using insecticides though.

These must be a couple of the culprits.

This guy was making a racket in the bamboo trees. A Kookaburra! Such a beautiful looking bird. Not sure if the Aussies would think so though, as they can be pretty noisy.

From the Botanic Gardens grounds, there was certainly an amazing view of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I asked Doug is he wanted to do the bridge climb, but it was a hard “NO”!

We headed over to the Sydney Opera House which is very close to the gardens. It was difficult to get a good picture, as the sun was shining so brightly today. Have I mentioned lately how hot and humid it is? Well it isn’t! Not like SE Asia was. This is April and Australia’s fall. It was perfect weather for us and we were still in our shorts.

We did not go in it, as neither of us were interested in doing that. Maybe if Sydney had of been at the start of our trip we would have been interested in doing a tour, but not today. Next time…..maybe. Just like we didn’t get any pictures from the water side as we didn’t do a boat trip either. Next time for sure! This was the best I got for water side.

We walked along the Sydney Harbour boardwalk? I actually have no idea what this area is called.

Trying out the fish eye lens again today. I often forget I have it.

A P&O cruise ship was in port today.

Had to get this picture of the girl taking pictures of their food. Doug always thought it was weird that I take pictures of our food. I told him, some people like to see the food. Others, not so much. She was going for a real close up.

As we headed back to the hotel, we walked back through a different park of the Botanic Gardens.

We just headed back in the general direction of the hotel taking what ever street caught my fancy.

Public Library of New South Wales
Sydney Hospital

I just loved the name of this café, Legal Grounds Café

We decided to change things up today and grabbed KFC for dinner. It was HORRIBLE and so GREASY!!! Worst KFC we have ever had. My chicken fingers were the smallest I have ever seen.

Good thing we had picked up a couple of small bottles, single serving size, of Shiraz for Doug and a Cooler for me. Another quiet night in our room, me working on our blog and Doug watching whatever.

23 April 2018 – Sydney, Australia – Day 2 – Lots of Walking – AGAIN!

Headed off walking this morning with no particular destination and stumbled upon a Starbucks. As good a place as any to grab some breakfast. This was after all our first Starbucks in Australia!!

Can’t say I have ever seen rainbow bagels before.

There was a little excitement going on as we exited. Fire engines and emergency vehicles arriving at the next block. Looked like there was fire starting in the apartment building.

We also saw articulated busses here. Have never seen them any where but at home in Ottawa before. Guessing they don’t have the same issues here in Sydney that we do in the winter with the busses getting stuck and jackknifing because of the Snow and Ice!

That was enough excitement for one day and we headed over to check our Hyde Park.

Is HP for Harry Potter? That was actually my first thought when I saw this though.

Here is the Anzac Memorial that commemorates the courage, endurance and sacrifice of the Australian men and women who serve their country in war.

Looking at the Anzac Memorial across the Pool of Reflection

YININMADYEMI
Thou didst let fall

This memorial on the land of the Gadigal clan pays tribute to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have defended our country – the unsung heros, our brothers and sisters, our mates.

Can’t say I have ever seen a sign stating this before.

St Mary’s Cathedral and there was a wedding photo shoot going on.

The inside was spectacular.

To all Australians who died in war

It was such a beautiful area.

“This fountain is the gift of the Late J.F. Archibald to his fellow countryman and is intended in terms of his Will to commemorate the Association of Australia and France in the Great War 1914 -1918. It was erected in 1932 and is the work of Francis Sicard, Sculptor, Paris”

From here we started to head towards Darling Harbour. Came across another church, St James Church. St James is Sydney’s oldest surviving church building.

St James Church
This church, intended in 1819 as a court house, was designed by Fancis Greenway and consecrated by the Rev. Samuel Marsden
on 11 February 1824

We made it to Darling Harbour and decided it was time for a bite to eat and maybe a beverage. Still haven’t quite got the hang of ordering in restaurants here, with no waiters/waitresses serving you, so we sat and observed for a few moments until we figured out what we had to do.

And we both opted for the Greek Salad. It was really good. Nice to have a good salad as it had been a while. Didn’t really eat salads in SE Asia, as we couldn’t trust that the vegetables were washed in good water.

We also had a nice view.

After lunch, we continued to explore the area, taking lots of pictures.

We walked through the shopping mall that was here and came upon The British Lolly SHOP and they had so many candies. So many that I remember from our trips to England.

But these really caught my eye. Who names their candy Acid Drops?

It was time to head back to the hotel to relax. We grabbed ice cream cones and crossed over the Foot Bridge heading back.

All rested up we went in search of dinner. But before dinner, we decided we would go to the hotels bar, The Cidery, for our free drink. One free glass of wine turned into purchasing a second glass. It was quite nice in here and relaxing in comfortable chairs. Quite busy as there appeared to be an office party going on here.

Time to head down to the World Square below the hotel.

Found a Coles store there. Turns out this Coles is a grocery store and not a book store like at home. They had the cutest cake though.

A vending machine for flip flops, or as they are called in Australia, thongs.

We came across another Guzman Gomez “take out” or as they would say “take away” and once again chose to have Mexican for dinner. We took it away, back to our room, ate and relaxed watching tv and Netflix.

Our day isn’t complete until we have used a public washroom. This one was actually in the area of St Mary’s Cathedral. SE Asia signs would tell you NOT to place toilet paper in the toilet. Here they tell you NOT to place toilet paper in the garbage.

14,651 steps today. Goodnight.

22 April 2018 – Travel Day – Brisbane to Sydney, Australia – Day 1

No sleeping in today as we had a morning flight to Sydney, Australia. We all piled into Kim’s SUV and headed for the Domestic Terminal at the Brisbane airport. Got all checked in and through security.

You know what we found was really weird here? Bruce, Kim and Erin were allowed to accompany us all the way to the Departure Gate! We all enjoyed a coffee and breakfast together in the airport waiting for our boarding time.

It had been so great catching up with old friends and we really hope to see them again sometime. Thank you Bruce & Kim for your wonderful hospitality. We all waved goodbye to each other, with Kim and Erin giving Doug their special wave, which he returned with a big grin. Both Kim and Doug text with their middle fingers, so it became their special sign.

We were off to Sydney. We will be back to Brisbane one day! BEWARE!

We landed in Sydney around noon and grabbed a taxi to our hotel. We are staying at Rydges World Square, 389 Pitt Street.

We got all checked in, dropped our luggage off and decided we would head down to the Circular Quay and cruise port area to check it out.

Here are a few pictures that I took on our way to the cruise port area. There is lots of amazing architecture. Both old and new. I may have taken a few pictures.

We made it to the cruise port area and the Royal Caribbean ship, Explorer of the Seas was in port.

Had a great view of the Sydney Opera House from over here, but we will go over there another day.

We continued to wander around. Just took whatever street took our fancy at that moment.

We wandered into a large building and stumbled upon a food court on the 5th floor. After checking out all of the offerings, we decided to get Mexican. It was quite good. If you can’t tell yet, we are not ones for fancy sit down restaurants. Takes too much time and I don’t see the sense of spending all the money for food that I probably won’t be that crazy about. Take out Mexican was perfect.

On our way back we spied a Woolworths Store. We use to have these stores when I was growing up. We didn’t go in it, but the sign says Woolworths the fresh food people, so I am guessing it is a grocery store over here and not a department store, like we had.

Stopped at a small store and I spied these Cheetos – IMPORT !!!! They cost a small fortune, but oh my, they were so worth it. The Cheetos that are made on this side of the world have a totally different taste. Not one that I was too fond of.

We headed back to our hotel as we wanted to do some hand laundry. Why did we not do laundry at Bruce’s house? I have no idea why not. Probably, because we never thought about it at the time. Just relaxed and enjoyed some tv for the rest of the night.

21 April 2018 – Brisbane, Australia – Day 4 – Gold Coast

Bruce made us a delicious breakfast, while Doug played with Molly. Molly may never be the same once we leave.

Their daughter, Erin, needed some new Netball shoes, so we all headed off to the outlet mall for those. Outlet mall was pretty much the same as back home. After the shoes were purchased we headed off up to the Gold Coast area. Can’t say I have ever seen a beware of Koala sign before. I have no idea what a Slip Lane is, but you can apparently walk on it. Looked up Slip Lane. It is the same as many of our turn lanes that are divided from the straight away lanes.

Stopped in a place called Surfers Paradise.

It wasn’t easy to find a good picture of us. Kim apparently takes pictures like Doug use to, but Doug has improved. Kim needs a lot of practice as most of them had a finger in them.

And then there was Bruce trying to take a group selfie shot of us. We have numerous shots like this one or worse.

But finally got one with all of us in it.

Bruce, Doug, Me (Joanne), Kim with Erin in the front.

Lots of kite flying going on here and they were BIG kites. Guess it was kite surfing and not just flying a kite. Don’t think I have ever seen kite surfing before. Looks pretty cool!

Doug and Kim dipping their toes in the water.

And of course we had to get a shot of our feet in the Gold Coast water.

Grabbed a bite to eat at the Golden Arches, as Erin had a netball game this afternoon. We definitely hope to get back to the Gold Coast some day and spend a few days or more there.

We headed back to Bruce’s and the guys relaxed with some wine, while playing on their phones and ignoring Molly. Poor Molly!!!!

Doug would say “he was letting Molly rest up”. Not sure if Molly would agree with that or not.

It was too cool by Aussie standards to be able to enjoy the pool today. Too bad.

Bruce made us a delicious leg of lamb dinner. It has always been one of my favourites and my Dad use to make it for me when ever we came home to visit. YUM YUM

After dinner the port and TimTams once again reappeared.

Called it a night quite early. Had to pack as we are heading to Sydney tomorrow morning.

Had it not been for the fact that we already had the rest of our itinerary planned and booked, we may have headed back to SE Asia at this point, as we were getting our second wind, so to say. We had had a few great days taking it easy and relaxing. Just what we had needed.

20 April 2018 – Brisbane, Australia – Day 3 – And they thought we would NEVER Come!

This morning was a repeat of yesterday morning. Slept in and it was so great. We then enjoyed coffee and breakfast on the porch again. Would never get tired of this porch. This is only a portion of the front porch area. The porch goes around the whole house.

Here is a portion of the back porch. You can see the renos going on. This house is amazing!

As mentioned yesterday, the views are amazing from all around the house.

Since we were leaving and moving on today, Paul had arranged to meet us at their Club for lunch and to say goodbye to us. Had a great lunch and a chance to say ‘Goodbye’, then back to the house, to wait for our cruise friend, Bruce to pick us up. Bruce and Kim told us, when we met on the Oasis of the Seas cruise back in 2013, that if we ever came to Australia to look them up. We had stayed in touch and had cruised with Bruce again in 2017 on the Harmony of the Seas. Bet they never thought we would show up in Australia one day!

Before leaving we tried our hand at getting a selfie. Not bad. With a little editing, I was able to cut out the extra ceiling in the picture. LOL

We had an amazing time with them all and really hope to be back there sometime and not wait another 40 years to see them again. Thank you so much for all your hospitality, Paul, Joe and Susan.

Bruce arrived around 3:00 pm to get us and we would be staying with them for 2 nights before flying out to Sydney. We had a pit stop at their local WalMart to pick up some items for breakfast tomorrow. Thank goodness that Vegemite was not one of those ingredients. It was even on sale! A definite PASS though.

Spied our favourite beer in WalMart! If only they sold this back at home in Ottawa, Canada.

We finished up our shopping and headed to Bruce and Kim’s place. Said hello to Kim and Erin and then Doug met up with what would be his new best buddy, Molly.

Relaxed for a bit, while Doug played with Molly and then we all headed out for dinner to the Norman Hotel, Brisbane’s worst vegetarian restaurant.

Meal was good, but pricey, considering they don’t serve you. You have to go up to the counters and order your own food and then wait for it. I guess that is the ‘price’ you pay for not having to tip in Australia. Mind you, it probably works out to be about the same total as in Canada and the USA after we add tip on. However, they don’t serve you.

We headed back to the house and sat around chatting for a while as Bruce broke open the port and brought the Tim Tams out. He showed us how to take a small bite out of two corners, kitty corner to each other, of the Tim Tams. Then you suck the Port through the Tim Tams as if it was a straw. Only in Australia you must think!

It was a fairly early night as they had worked today. Not retired, like we are.