Monday, January 22, 2018

Eden - Not The Garden, But A Lovely Town

January 22, 2018

Eden, Australia

About half way between Melbourne and Sydney is a lovely little town (of only @ 3,000 people) called Eden.  The people are welcoming, the shops (including a shop selling local artisans works) are filled with lovely little items and we had a shuttle from the ship so we didn't have to walk up at a 70 degree angle up to the town from the dock.

Nice way to spend a morning.

Then we tackled the job of packing our bags (which need to be left outside our cabin by 10:00 PM this evening).  No surprise - we bought TOO much stuff.  I still have to weigh them to make sure they're not each too heavy, and then we'll have to move things around as necessary.

Said a lot of goodbyes to staff today.  It really feel like I'm leaving parts of my heart here - such nice people.  I truly hope we cross paths again.  I've got quite a few new Facebook friends (staff members) from this trip, so I'll be able to keep in touch no matter what.

Tonight, we have dinner in the Toscana specialty restaurant with our new friend Mary Anne Sigal (soon to be from Toronto) who feels like an old friend that we just became reacquainted with.  So nice when that happens.

Tomorrow will be our 'Groundhog Day'.  We leave the ship @ 8:00 AM; flight leaves @ 11:15 AM; 16 hour flight from Sydney to LAX; two hour layover; then 6 hour flight to Boston arriving @ 5:00 PM.  (Love fighting all the time zones...)

I hope this blog has given friends and family a peek into the fun to be had when you open your heart and mind to what is out there in the world.

Life is Good!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Burnie, Tasmania and the Last Sea Day

January 20, 2018

Burnie, Tasmania, Australia 

Tiny town.  Lovely Makers Workshop where a few artisans showed their wares.  However, the actual town was like a ghost town.  I understand small, but there were hardly anyone on the streets.  Quick visit and back on the ship

January 21, 2018

Last Sea Day

We have only one more port, Eden, tomorrow and then we’re back in Sydney on Tuesday, January 23rd and start our flights home. It's a good day to start reflecting back on the journey we’ve had over the past month.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that the special tee shirts I gave Jeff for Chanukah were a huge hit with all the guests and crew.  Everyone had to see what the shirts said each day and huge smiles ensued.  (They were a great conversation starter...) 

This one is probably my favorite. 

Side chuckle:  there is a crew member who stands at a lecturn, and greets each passenger when they go into the Terrace Cafe (buffet restaurant) each day.  His name is Erick and he has an infectious smile.  You can't help but smile back at him.   One day last week, I stopped and asked him does he dreamt "Good morning, Mrs. XXX", Good afternoon, Mrs. XXX", etc. since he says it so many times a day?  I suggested that he might get a button on his lecturn to say the Good Morning part and he could just add the name each time?  We laughed and I think he respected that we appreciated his efforts.

Well, now when we go into the Terrace Cafe, we press the imaginary button and he says his greeting.  (While in ports, we tried to find a joke gift of a button/buzzer, to give to Erick, but couldn't find one.  We're going to try and find something when we get home and mail it to him...). 

UPDATE:  found a desk bell in Eden and gave it to Erick.  He couldn’t believe we found something. 

Special people that have served us during this trip - Jeffrey from the Phillipines (server and now my adopted son); Mahabat ((who we call Mahti) - who is multi-lingual/very intelligent and beautiful inside and out (assistant server who is from Kyrgyzstan); Natalia (server from Russia who has hair past her waist but is always in a neat bun while she's working); Felix (assistant server from India who we actually first met on our last Oceania cruise); Jacqueline (the stately and lovely maitre 'd at the Grand Dining Room who treats us like royalty); Marianna (a Jr. Head Waiter who was introduced to us by our dear Ukraine friend, Marina who we met on our first Oceania cruise); Ivan (Jr. Head Waiter from South Africa), Nikola (Maitre d' at Toscana specialty restaurant and Head Waiter from Italy), Georgous (Restaurant Manager and Greek who makes me remember all the lovely Greek foods and words of my youth); Sinisha (Maitre d' at Polo specialty restaurant/Head Waiter from Croatia); and so many more.

Life is good.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Melbourne On A 107 Degree Day

January 19, 2018

Melbourne, Australia 

Lovely day at port. Took a local tram into the city to the Queen Victoria Market. We’d been there on our last trip to Australia and couldn’t wait to return. Sadly, more schlock than I recall but still had fun browsing. 

The kicker was the 107 degree temperatures. In the sun, it felt like you were being burned alive. Spent just enough time that Jeff's legs and my feet were giving out and made it back to the ship for a late lunch. Jeff earned his nap and I'm enjoying the shade on the pooldeck and taking dips if I get too warm.

Life is good.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Hopping past Kangaroo Island and A Fine Time in Adelaide/Hahnsdorf

 January 16, 2018

Kangaroo Island, Australia (To Tender Or Not?)

The ship has had a few mis-adventures (three medical emergencies where we had to turn around to drop off a passenger or a crew member to a medical facility - one person was even air lifted onto a helicopter for transport) and quite a few missed ports where we were supposed to anchor and use the tenders to get into port.

The most recent event was Kangaroo Island.  We didn't have anything planned for this stop, but it was still disappointing to not get off the ship as planned.  The ship anchor wouldn't hold and the seas were too rough for the tenders to operate.

January 17, 2018

Adelaide, Australia

Because of missing Kangaroo Island yesterday, we arrived in Adelaide last evening and had a planned privately booked excursion for this afternoon.  In the morning, we just walked off the ship to see what was there and realized that the train station was right across the street.

Now you must realize that I planned all of our excursions back in August, 2017 and printed out my receipts and overview of the itinerary for each and wrote notes as to where to meet the tour, etc. on the front page.

For Adelaide, I clearly wrote "Meet At The Main Adelaide Bus Station at 12:45 PM".  However, my brain said 'Meet at the train station at 12:45 PM'.  So, just before 12:00 noon, we walked out to the Train Station and started to wait - - I kept re-reading my paperwork - - finally my brain and my eyes stated working together and I stated "*%&$# - we're at the wrong place".  There were lots of security and volunteers around, so I snagged one and he said that the BUS station was about 45 minutes away.  %&$# - now what. 

There was one lonely cab sitting in the parking lot.  The driving was dozing.  We woke him up and asked frantically - can you take us to the BUS station and get us there within 45 minutes?  He said it would be a tight fit, but he'd do his best.  He was also nice enough to call the tour company and tell them we might be a moment or two late but that we were on our way.

50 Australian dollars and 42 minutes later, we arrived at the BUS station and found our tour.  We were not the last ones to arrive - and when the 10 of us got going we had finally calmed down and were looking forward to a lovely day.  (There was another couple from the cruise on the same tour and they had taken a TRAIN - from across the street from the ship - into town (for $0) and had then walked to the BUS station from there...)

The tour drove around Adelaide and then headed out of the city to a lovely town called Hahnsdorf (very German - lots of shops and eateries).  There was a lot of traffic in the city since the Tour Down Under which is similar to the Tour de France.  Thought of my son-in-law, Chris, and his Pan Mass Challenge participation of the past.  Bicycles EVERYWHERE!
Our ship in port
 Overlooking the City of Adelaide from Mount Lofty

 Pretty flowers in a parking lot...

Now, who can tell me why this photo is included? 

          Hint:  Think of Jeffrey and his favorite 'Christmas' song...

Enjoyed browsing around the town of Hahnsdorf, made a few purchases (of course) and enjoyed the ride back into Adelaide.

Then (with the help of our fellow cruisers), we quickly walked from the BUS station to the TRAIN station and got a free train ride back out to the ship.  They have amazing train service - it stops almost every mile or so.

Now, 'All-Aboard' (when you're supposed to be back on the ship) was 6:30 PM - we walked onto the ship at 6:30 PM - the last passengers to get checked back in for the day.  It was a fun day and then we enjoyed a lovely buffet dinner (poor us - grilled lobster, shrimp, baby lamb chops and so much more) since we didn't feel like 'cleaning up' and getting dressed for the main dining room.

January 18, 2018

Day at Sea on our way to Melbourne, Australia.

We've met some amazing fellow travelers and crew on this journey.  I will miss their daily interactions.  The tee-shirts with funny sayings that I gave Jeffrey for Chanukah have been a huge hit.  I should get a commission from the tee-shirt company for all the referrals.  There's lots of love - there's lots of laughs - there will be some tears as our journey starts to wind down.

A special mention to a loving new friend that we met on this trip.  Her name is Marianna and she is a Jr. Head Waiter (a Head Waiter in training).  On our first Oceania cruise (January, 2014) we met an amazing woman named Marina Lada who I've stayed in touch with since that time.  She no longer works on the ships, but keeps in touch with friends and former co-workers and has been kind enough to refer us to these friends on our subsequent trips.

Marianna is one such 'referal'...  A lovely, intelligent, beautiful person who lights up when she greets you.  She's from the Ukraine (as is Marina) and I know she will continue up the ladder on her quest to rule the seas!

NOTE:  By the way - if you're reading this post and would like to leave a comment - I'd love to hear feedback.  Be honest, please.  I'm enjoying documenting the trip and know that it will be a useful tool as my few brain cells leave me clueless on what I've done in my life!

Life is Good!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

What A Lovely Little Town/Geraldton and Fremantle/Perth With A Bonus Day

January 10, 2018

Geraldton, Australia

Didn't want to go on an organized tour, so took a hop-on hop-off bus around the town.  Of course, we found a shopping center - so stocked up on all kinds of nibbles (--you'd think they didn't feed us on the ship, right? --) 

We also stopped at a pawn shop where Jeff found a few more DVDs and I bought a small wooden serving tray with a tea cup motif.  I think it's going to be for sale at our Duxbury Antique Show in March!

January 11, 2018

Fremantle/Perth, Australia - Rottnest Island

Just a brief walk from our ships' dock, there is a ferry service that takes passengers out to Rottnest Island.  This is a bicyclists dream since there are only bicycles, buses and trains to get visitors around the island - no private cars.  On the ferry there, you can actually rent your bicycles and helmets so you don't even need to bring one 'from home'.  Beautiful paved road goes completely around the island and the bus tour we took made just a few stops where we got off to look around/take photos - the rest of the time was minute or two breaks just for photos from the bus (which was totally okay).

One of the major animal sitings on Rottnest Island are the Quokkas - this animal looks like a cross between a very cute rat (what the Island was named after) and a miniature kangaroo.  They have no natural predators on the Island (and it's one of only 3 places they can be found).  They'll come right up to people - no fear at all - and they're just adorable.


The Island is almost completely power self-sustaining (wind and solar power) and has its own 10 student school (for those children of parents that work full-time on the Island), shops and amazing natural beauty.
January 12, 2018

Fremantle/Perth, Australia

Originally, today was supposed to be a sea day and tomorrow we were to be anchored off Esperance.  However, weather reports led our captain to believe we wouldn't be able to use our tenders again, so we stayed a second day docked in Fremantle - will cruise for three days and then on January 16th, we'll be docked at Kangaroo Island.

Fremantle is a VERY tourist friendly city.  They have two free bus routes that cover the majority of the business/tourist areas that run every 10-15 minutes.

Therefore, today we went to the Fremantle Markets - - it's an indoor market with lots of different stalls (food, clothing, souvenirs, and even antiques/vintage items).

We started out buying some porcelain teacup three-piece sets (which will be going into my eBay store when we return home).  Had a lovely conversation with the dealer.  Hope to do business with her again (either buying or selling!).

Also purchased a lovely small 'bird' made entirely of glass.  He'll be able to keep my glass penquins from last year company at home. 

The Fremantle Markets makes you feel that you're back in the 1960's - - and it feels really groovy.  The people in Fremantle are very laid back, super friendly, and love to chat.

Then back towards to ship, a little more shopping at Coles (chain store/mainly groceries with some clothes - not touristy, but loads of fun to walk around).

Dinner tonight with our shipboard friend, Mary Anne Sigal.  We feel like we're old friends who are sharing this journey together.  What a joy!

January 13, 2018

At Sea - Indian Ocean

Inbetween 'food o'clocks' - truly relaxing. 

Now the news of the day - - we just booked our next cruise (July, 2019) which will go from Oslo, Norway to London, England.

The itinerary is:

Day 1   Oslo, Norway                                         Day 13  Cruising the North Sea
Day 2   Skagen, Denmark                                  Day 14  London (Southampton), UK
Day 3   Haugesund, Norway                              Day 15  Cruising the North Sea
Day 4   Flam (Sognefjord), Norway                    Day 16  Edinburgh (Newhaven), Scotland
Day 5   Hellesylt, Norway                                   Day 17  Invergordon, Scotland
Day 6   Geiranger (Geirangerfjord), Norway      Day 18  Cruising the North Sea
Day 7   Alesund, Norway                                    Day 19  Glasgow (Greenock), Scotland
Day 8   Kristiansund, Norway                             Day 20  Dublin, Ireland
Day 9   Bodo, Norway                                        Day 21  Dublin, Ireland
Day 10 Harstad, Norway                                    Day 22  Cork (Cobh), Ireland
Day 11 Cruising the North Sea                          Day 23  Portland, UK
Day 12 Bergen, Norway                                     Day 24  London (Southampton), UK

The ship we'll be on is the Marina which has 1,250 passengers (800 crew) versus our current ship, Regatta which has only 684 passengers (400 crew).  The plus to the larger ship is twice as many specialty restaurants and more activities (like a cooking program) aboard.

Hard to believe we'll be home in 10 days - this has been a wonderful adventure.

Life is Good!

Sunday, January 7, 2018

It's Always Food O'Clock

January 7, 2018

At Sea on our way to Exmouth, Australia

We're in the middle of these amazing 34 days on the Oceania Nautica + it's a day at sea + it's a Sunday.  All this adds up to a great excuse to have a decadent Sunday Brunch in the Grand Dining Room.  (This cruise line does not have 'mid-night buffets' like in the 'old days', but when they put together this brunch, they pull out all the stops!)

Amazing freshly made rolls, breads and croissants

Smoked/Cured Meats and Serrano Ham

Cheeses and Nuts

Carving Station (and our three cabalerros)

Fresh fruits and a lovely ice carving

This gentleman is hand-slicing 'home made' gravlax - and there are multiple platters of delicious smoked salmon (and other smoked fish) on the table.  Jeff truly enjoyed his other favorite - smoked white fish!

Desserts A (to absolutely die for) and another ice carving.
Desserts B (anyone for apricot strudel and black forest cake?)
Now that I've whet your appetite, who's coming with us on our next adventure? 

Did I already say "It's always food o'clock"....

Saturday, January 6, 2018

And Yet Another Pin On Our Travel Map - Indonesia

January 4, 2018

Bali, Indonesia

Back in 2002, we were supposed to visit Bali as part of a 'Taste of Asia' tour with our favorite land tour provider SmarTours.  However, there was an issue with the bombing of a nightclub and SmarTours substituted Phuket, Thailand - we stayed at the Dusit Laguna (which was definitely a little bit of heaven on earth - but I digress...)

Fast forward to 2018, and we visited Bali for two days.

On Thursday, we docked early afternoon and had no excursion planned, but VIOLA - there are little shopping stalls with local merchandise, right on the other side of the security building at the dock.

Such fun - I purchased dresses, blouses, a purse and Jeff purchased lovely batik shirts and (suprise to no one who knows him) DVDs.  The local vendors were very friendly and a few bargains were definitely acquired.  Jeff's bargaining skills were enlisted by fellow travels and smiles were plentiful.

Here's us at dinner - in some new attire - and a 'dinner cruise/pirate ship' that pulled up next to us while we were dining in the Polo restaurant.


January 5, 2018

Bali, Indonesia

Now it's Friday and I've prebooked an excursion - just for the two of us - via Trip Advisor/Viator/Bali Sun Tours - called All About Ubid Full-Day Tour.

Our new friend, Nyoman (the 3rd most popular name in Indonesia - he actually has a brother with the same name), picked us up at the dock and took us to
  • A silver jewelry factory and show room
  • An amazing Hindu Temple
  • Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary
  • Coffee Plantation
  • Rice Terraces
  • A marketplace like no other
Yes, as you may have guessed, I purchased some (more) jewelry, but watching the artisans actually making pieces of jewelry was fascinating.  We had the whole place to ourselves and the artisans so it was a very unrushed experience.  The name of this amazing place was Angel To Angel.

The Hindu Temple was from the 16th century and speaks for itself.  Nyoman is pictured with Jeff at the Temple.



Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary - let's just say, the monkeys are everywhere (and we love monkeys)



Coffee Plantation - Jeff got to taste Luwak coffee (yes, the Luwak animal eats the raw beans, poops them out, they're processed and made into a very special coffee.  Ridiculously expensive, but we're bringing some home for Jeff to enjoy.

They also introduced me to some new teas that were delicious.

The Luwaks are nocturnal, so we didn't get to see them moving around!

Rice Terraces - how we take the production of our basic foods for granted.  These are some of the fields where the original rice plants are started.  They grow for a short while and then are pulled up, divided into single plants, replanted in other water logged fields and then they grow.  Once they have the final harvest, they go through multiple time consuming processes to end up with the rice as we know it.   They grow white, red (as we know it brown) and black rice in Indonesia for their own consumption.  They are not known to export their crops.

A marketplace like no other - Jeff was itching to stop/shop an outdoor market, however, the skies opened up (monsoon style rain - flooding) and it wouldn't have been safe to walk around outside.  So, our fabulous Nyoman found us an indoor market.  The first floor was 75% all snack foods in bags.  All kinds of yummy goodies and we helped the economy, yet again, and brought bacik a bag full.

A truly wonderful day - - LIFE IS GOOD!

Now for two days at sea and then to Exmouth, Australia.  Can't wait to see what adventures await us!