Saturday, 19 January 2013

New Zealand - Post 14

Friday 18 Jan
The forecast for the day in Sydney was 39oC (it turned out to be 45.8oC) so we headed off reasonably early to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. 

We rested the other side, then looked for Darryl's great-grandmother's (Elizabeth Anne Walsh nee Trembath) house at Milson's Point, and found it was a Terrace House. 
Darryl in front of the house (the one with the red balcony)

We walked down to the bay, then back to Luna Park for a look. 

From Luna Park we caught the ferry back to Circular Quay. The heat was really severe, so we ended up back in the Hotel room in the air-conditioning and having a nap. Storms followed in the evening. There were still storm winds and sharp showers when we strolled through the Chinatown Markets. Dinner for me was baby octopus on a stick, while Darryl had dim-sims on a stick and we followed with a strange Taiwanese Dessert.
Saturday 19 Jan
Darryl decided to tour Sydney Harbour on his $2.50 ticket and I went to NSW State Library to do research on Sydney burials, after shopping at Myer. My research day was a burnout with no hits at all, but I enjoyed the air-conditioning and even felt cold towards the end of the day – when I emerged into the real world I discovered it was because it had been raining and was quite cool outside too. Unfortunately, Darryl's plans also didn't come to fruition as it turned out his card didn't apply and they wouldn't give him the discount he had the previous day. He enjoyed walking around Hyde Park. In the evening we went to the Dixon House Food Court for dinner, and had Peking Style Pork Ribs and Lamb Kebabs, then went to another Chinese Dessert place for Durian Dumpling, Mango Sago, and Grass Jelly. We wandered down to Darling Harbour, watching street theatre and the other people, saw the huge duck, and the excellent fireworks.

Sunday 20 Jan
Flew home! Great to be back, even though we had a great time.

Some extra Hot Glass Photos - these are the ones that sold at the auction - the large purple one for $1300, down to $750 for the purple urn:

Thursday, 17 January 2013

New Zealand - Post 13

Tuesday 15 Jan – Sydney

Woke up to the Sydney Opera House going past our window, so headed up for breakfast. We spent quite a bit of time securing packaging, and looking for Australia Post to mail our glass home, and eventually found that they didn't have a box big enough to take it, so decided that it was now packed well enough to take on the plane. We booked our accommodation for the next 4 nights, walked around the Royal Botanic Gardens and Opera House, and came back onto the ship for lunch, dinner and the final show - “A Voyage to Remember”. We have thoroughly enjoyed the cruise, and made some very good new friends, so all-in-all a fantastic experience.
Wednesday 16 Jan
We disembarked and caught the free circuit bus to our accommodation – The Pensione Hotel (fantastically cheap, central place) in George Street. After settling in, we walked to Paddy's Markets, then through Chinatown, before catching the free bus back towards the Quay. 
NSW Government House

ChinaTown Mall
Anchor and Cannon from "The Sirius" - flagship of the First Fleet

We had lunch at Australia Square then walked to the Customs House Library before joining the Free Walking Tour with Greg. He took us, and two other ladies one from Hong Kong and the other British, around The Rocks and some of the other historical sites of Sydney. 
This flag marks the site of the First Fleet landing

Our ship "Celebrity Solstice" docked at the International Passenger Terminal

Greg (the Tour Guide) and the site of the first hanging in Australia

Apparently you rub the nose of the Boar for luck! (And donate a coin to the Hospital)
Dinner was at Dixon Street House Food Court...I had a really fantastic Laksa and Darryl enjoyed a very hot chicken dish. My Laksa was so hot it made me cry...
Thursday 17 Jan
Smith side cousin, Graham and his lovely wife Diane, picked us up mid-morning, introduced us to their daughter Sarah, then drove us all around the North Sydney suburbs and beaches (Dee Why, Curl Curl, Manly, Palm Beach. 

It was pretty amazing to see all the places, including all the beaches we had only ever heard about before. 
We had lunch at a very picturesque location at pub by a bay. 

Sights included the Baha'i Temple – one of only 7 in the world. 

After going along the coastline on the way back we stopped back in the city. We had been discussing a restaurant we had seen where there was a long line of people outside, and decided that must mean it was good. So we decided to eat there, and lined up for 45mins to eat at Mamak - A Malasian Roti and Satay Restaurant. The food 'was' really good, Roti, Hot Curries, and delicious chicken. It was a really enjoyable day.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

New Zealand - Post 12

Thursday 10 Jan
The highlights of the day were the 3 Sounds – Dusky, Doubtful and Milford. The weather was not bright and sunny, but the clouds and mist made them seem magical, and each progressively was more impressive. 

At Milford Sound there was a harsh heavy downpour, which completely saturated my jeans in a few seconds, then it hailed and there was even lightning, but, the misty swirling clouds gave the mountains a mystical feel and it was possible to believe that we were in a 'Lord-of-the-rings” story. We saw thousands of waterfalls and even some snow. (The photo below shows a waterfall being blown upwards by the strong winds).

Although the ship didn't quite go into the Sound as far as we had hoped, we were delayed by some medical emergency which meant we had plenty of time to thoroughly enjoy our surroundings. 

In the evening we went to a Gameshow: “The Countdown” and enjoyed Jane Cho in her performance Elektra. Jane is a violinist, but she only played one Classical piece, and included Hip-hop, Led Zeppelin's “Black Dog”, “Stairway to Heaven”, and AC/DC.

We ended the evening enjoying a comedy game show with “Newlywed/Not-so-newlywed”.
Friday 11 Jan
The clocks were turned back an hour overnight, and we slept in, so had a late breakfast. In the morning we, once again, enjoyed the “Hot Glass Show”. 

They make different pieces each time, so there are new techniques each time, and it is amazing how easy they make it seem. We watched “Battle of the Sexes” which seemed to get quite competitive (and certainly asked some intimate questions). I gave some starting genealogy tips to a friend, before learning to make some cocktails. We then went to the theatre to watch the movie, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”.
Saturday 12 Jan
Another sea day, so we started at the gym, before Morning Triva, hand-washed some clothes and then played Scattergories. Excitingly, Darryl spotted some whales out from our balcony. I took some photos, but only the first one worked out. 

The show was put on by Mario D'Andrea and when he first started out with Dean Martin songs, I was looking for the exit, but we were in the middle of a row and I couldn't escape. Luckily he soon started singing more modern ones, and he plays the guitar very well, and does have a very good voice. 

We also went to the Late Night Comedy Game Show – Liar's Club which was quite entertaining, but the small theatre was packed and it came close to a punch-up at the back, near us.
Sunday 13 Jan
We docked at Constitution Dock in Hobart, along with Diamond Princess, so there were a lot of cruisers in town. I took the ferry to MONA (Museum of Old and New Art) while Darryl walked around to get some good views of the city. MONA was fantastic, and I really enjoyed the experience although some of the art was very challenging. 

You have an iPhone which tracks your progress, allows you to vote, and see what works are near you, all-in-all a full experience with notes and media, which can then be emailed to you. (The following 2 photos are from the Mummy exhibition, which has the Mummy and a scan through the body).

I got the 3.30pm ferry back to the city, then headed for a Cafe to get some WiFi, and headed back to the ship just after 5pm. It was about this time that the ship called Darryl, in our stateroom, concerned for me knowing the correct time to board. Outside I was talking to one of the ship's crew for a while, not realising that Darryl was getting really concerned for me. When I arrived at the stateroom it was 5.35 and were weren't expected back on board until 5.45, so I thought everything was well under control (they were still waiting for 20 when I boarded). I found out that 2 people were left behind in Dunedin, as they had lost track of time in a Casino! They were able to rejoin the ship in Milford Sound. Once again we went to the Hot Glass Show, which had the additional benefit of lovely views of the cliffs as we saw the last of Tasmania. 

The show was a Variety performance featuring Jane Cho and Mario D'Andreas.
Monday 14 Jan
A sea day, so a late start and late breakfast, then we headed to the Hot Glass Show. After lunch there was an Art Auction which we went along to, just out of interest (we could have bought a Chagall, 3 Rembrandts, a Picasso pot, and a set of steak-knives for only $71K!), and the Hot Glass Auction was at 3pm (the pieces went for between $700 and $1300). We went to the evening show, but it was standing room only, so Darryl went back to the stateroom, and I followed him about 20 minutes later. It was excellent and reminded us of Circe de Soleil. The photo is of the lift-well in the centre of the ship, featuring the library.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

New Zealand - Post 11

Sunday 6 Jan
A busy day while the ship was at sea. First up after breakfast was Morning Trivia. We teamed up with another couple we met earlier and performed abysmally (with a score of 6 out of 15)...obviously geography was not our strong point. Darryl competed in Lawn Games (golf) and made the semi-finals. Next was 'Heartbeat of the Operation: Galley Tour which started with a glass of champaigne and ended with “Taste of Solstice Cooking Demonstration”. A typical cruise (of 16 days) goes through 25,500 lbs of beef, 58,500 lbs of fresh vegetables, 52,500lbs of fresh fruit, 35,000 litres of beer, 96,300 litres of milk, 18,500 bottles of wine, plus lots more. All leftovers are processed and then used to assist to fuel the ship. We watched a Destination Presentation, about Wellington, Akaroa, Dunedin and Milford Sound, which really was trying to sell the shore tours. Once again we enjoyed the Hot Glass Show for the afternoon, where the 3 craftsmen made different pieces to the previous show. I went to a Whiskey Chat (tasting) and learned that I quite like Jack Daniels! Then I enjoyed a “Memories @ Sea Scrapbooking” session, while Darryl watch some people lose lots of money at the Casino. This evening was a formal dinner, which we didn't want to attend, so we went to the buffet and enjoyed Sushi and other delicacies. In the evening we had the Captain's Welcome Toast, with a free glass of champagne, a Guess the Gemstone competition – it was an opal but we still didn't win, we had about an hour in the Whirlpool Spa, I attented the second Captain's Toast to get another glass of wine, while Darryl enjoyed the Impreza String Trio: Classical Strings, before we went to watch the movie “Hunger Games”.
Monday 7 Jan

A beautiful day in Wellington, no wind and lovely blue skies. First we walked to Te Papa – the National Museum – as we had enjoyed it so much in 2005 that we wanted to see it again. 

There were some new exhibitions, but even the old ones were still interesting. They now have a giant squid, the largest invertebrate in the world, and the only one on display anywhere in the world. It was interesting to see the geologic history of New Zealand again. We then went our separate ways, Darryl walked up Mt Victoria, and I went on the Cable Tram up to the Botanic Gardens, before going to the National Library to do some family history research.

Tuesday 8 Jan
We were anchored in Arkoroa Harbour and tendered in to the beautiful little French town where cousin James and his wife Liz were waiting for us. We had a coffee at Bully Hayes (named after the notorious American pirate of the 1800s who used to frequent the bays) ,then Darryl made for a walk up the mountains around the town, while we had a lovely time looking through shops, the markets, lunch and then to the Giant's House, a wonderful, colourful, fantasy garden mosaic sculpture.

We relaxed there to French music and chatted until time came to head down to the dock for the tender trip back to the ship. 

It was a really enjoyable day for me, as I had good company, and Arkaroa is such a lovely place to be. Darryl had walked up past the Lighthouse, a historic landmark from 1879 which had been relocated to its current position in 1980. He took photos at the cemetery above the lighthouse, After dinner we headed up to Deck 15 the lawn deck for the Hot Glass Show again, and were once again enthralled by the making of a huge black and white apple, a turtle hatching out of its shell, and a crackle goblet.
Wednesday 9 Jan
A bit of a miserable day to start with, and I wasn't feeling the best. Combined with us being docked 2 hours walk from Dunedin, I decided to stay on board. Darryl, of course, headed for the nearest mountains! He found Scott of the Antartic's memorial, Flagstaff and Sculpture Gardens Beach Road Walk, tasted some wild-growing wild.

I was chatting to a lady from Taupo and we ended up going to the Bistro together. Darryl was there and he didn't take much to convince me to go into Port Chalmers to check out “The Barking Fish” a jewellery store where the pieces are pretty much all hand made by the man who runs it...I bought earrings and a ammonite neck ornament. In the evening I went to a liquor tasting and found a liqueur I really like – Amarula. After dinner we participated in “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire” and really didn't do very well, but it was still quite fun, before heading to the show - “Michael Harrison” a very funny ventriloquist and comedian.