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.