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.

19 April 2018 – Brisbane, Australia – Day 2 – Stayin’ Alive

We had such a great night sleep and woke up around 9:00 am. Enjoyed a leisurely cup of coffee and breakfast on Paul’s wrap-around porch, while chatting with Sue and Joe. This is the life. What a wonderful view from the porch.

EDIT: Since our visit, Paul has refurbished the whole porch and installed an inground pool. It was paradise when we were there. Can only imagine now.

We took our time this morning, but our first stop once we got going was at an ATM to get some AUD $. Thankfully, no problems getting cash here from the machines. From the mall we headed off to an area called Redcliffe. It was a beautiful drive there.

Me (Joanne), Joe, Doug & Susan at the Coffee Club

We stopped at The Coffee Club and had lunch. Doug and I had just really had breakfast, so Doug ordered a smoothie and we shared a nachos. Joe and Sue and their breakfast/lunch.

The clouds were moving in, and we were lucky that we did not get rained on. Only saw this beautiful rainbow.

Not far from where we ate was a place called Bee Gees Way. It was opened by Barry Gibb on 14 February 2013 and is a walkway filled with photos, short narratives and other items donated by Barry. At night the laneway comes alive with a light show set to music every 30 minutes from 7pm till 9.30pm.

Life size statues of Maurice, Robin and Barry

The boys as young kids.

On the way back we took a small tour around looking at the different styles of homes here. Totally different from our back home. Saw lots more coastline also, but did not see any kangaroos.

Saw a school. Again, nothing like ours back home.

And even a huge horse sculpture in this front yard.

For dinner tonight, we went to what they call The Cavery, at the Village Garden Bar & Grill located in The Samford Hotel. The buffet portion tonight was a roast beef dinner. Really delicious and reasonably priced. They also had a regular menu if you wanted that. Included with our roast been dinner was dessert. When we went up to get our dessert the lady commented on our accents. What accents? We don’t have accents, they do! Anyways, it turned out they had an employee working with them who was from Canada and they brought her over to say “Hello”. Had a bit of a chat and back to work she needed to go.

Back to Paul’s to went and enjoyed more chatting, a little watching of TV while chatting and last, but not least, some wine drinking. Oh yes, earlier this afternoon, we did do a pit shop at the local Liquorland Shop to replenish the wine supply.

Tried Vegimite and “Stayin’ Alive” to tell about it. Oh my, that stuff is gross!!!!

18 April 2018 – Travel Day – Bali, Indonesia to Brisbane, Australia – Day 1

Today was a big travel day, as we were leaving SE Asia and heading to Australia. We had booked with Jetstar Airlines and had never flown with them before. We had an early afternoon flight, so didn’t have to get up at any obscene hour to get to the airport. Plus our hotel was less than 20 minutes from the airport. Everything went smoothly and we got all checked in.

You have to apply for your Australian Visa before you get there. At least we did and that was done, paid for and approved months ago online. The cost was AUS $20.00 which was less than CAN $20.00 The approval for mine took 20 seconds. Doug’s on the other hand took twenty or so minutes. Still fast compared to the countries where we had to take passport, pictures, forms and money into the embassies. At least we live in a city, where most of the embassies are located.

Boarding was supposed to be at 12:15, so we had time to look around the airport. Bali Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar International Airport is not a big airport, but then Ottawa International Airport is not big either.

Orchid Display

The flight from Bali, Indonesia to Brisbane, Australia takes a little over 6 hours. The flight was very uneventful and we landed in Brisbane approximately 8:15 pm. There is a 2 hour time difference between Bali and Brisbane. I was really slacking off and took no pictures of our food, or did we even get fed? Who knows now?

We were being met by my cousin Susan and her husband Joe. They had moved to Australia quite a few years ago from the UK. The last time I had seen them, I was in my very, very early twenties. Just a few years ago. Thank goodness for social media, otherwise we may never have known who to look for. Recognized them right away and it was a great reunion. We were staying with them, at their son’s Paul house in Samford Valley, just northwest of Brisbane. It was a great relaxing drive back to the house. Paul’s house is amazing and I have to share a picture of the floors. I absolutely fell in love with them.

Doug was asked if he would like a glass of wine? Of all the wines out there and available in Australia, it turned out that Joe was quite fond of Shiraz and that is what he had in stock tonight. That is also Doug’s favorite. They had a bond forever now.

The rest of the night, we spent drinking a glass or two or more of wine and catching up into the wee hours. It was absolutely wonderful, but time for bed.