I was so excided about this trip. My dad dropped me off at the San Francisco International airport and I was off on the biggest vacation of my life.
I got some Australian currency and then when off to have dinner. I was surprised at the lack of good food at the international terminal at San Francisco International. I had heard that they had added a lot of hi-end restaurants but I didn’t see any. I had a pizza and a Corona beer and watched the 49er game.
I then listened to Nirvana on my Ipod until Karen arrived. I was rocking out to the Nirvana album Nevermind like I was a college student. It felt good to be young and free again.
I took a look at the nose of the 747 and was impressed with the size of the plane.
Karen and I lucked out that the person next to us didn’t show up so we had the window and isle seats with the middle sit for us to put items into it.
I was starting to fall asleep while the plane was taxiing on the tarmac.
As the plane took of and was starting to go over the Pacific, I could see the Golden Gate Bridge with the lights on and I knew my journey was about to begin!
The Qantas flight was very nice and we were feed well. The videos on demand were amazing. I watched “Superbad”, “The Simpsons, The Movie” and part of “Hot Rod”. Superbad was funny and I laughed out loud a few times. I liked the characters of cops in the movie. Karen liked “Hot Rod”.
There was a man laughing really loud in the early evening.
I fell asleep and woke up at around 6:00am just outside of the country of New Caledonia. I could see the runway at the airport in Noumea.
When we arrived over land in Australia, we flew over areas that had houses with swimming pools in the back yards that looked reminded me of California. The trees and hill reminded me of England when Karen and I landed in London on our way to Spain in August of 2006.
Once we arrived at the airport, we got went through customs and immigration, which was an easy process. We then went to an ATM to get cash and found a Starbucks upstairs for a coffee. We met an Australian with a snowboard that was going to Canada. We had a brief conversation with him about snowboarding, Whistler, etc. When he left Starbucks, he forgot his snowboard, which I alert him.
After Starbucks, we got a cab for Bondi Beach. The ride was nice and I started to notice the interesting architecture of some of the old apartments/flats in some t naborhoods. It had an interesting look that I have never seen before. The taxi drive was friendly and interesting and like to talk about “bushwalking”. This was the first time I heard of this term. We interpreted it as hiking or camping. He told us about places to go and see in around Brisbane and was particular keen on the Australian Zoo and theme parks on the Sunshine Coast. I spotted our apartment called, the “Ultimate Apartments” as he drove by.
Checked in apartment and had an interesting conversation with the lady, Jill, at the front desk about the differences on North American and Australia on things such as drug laws, public nudity, etc. We also, discussed my Canadian “Roots” shirt and what “Root” meant in Australian. She was entertained and amused with what Karen and I had to about the cultural similarities and differences between North Americans and Australians. The apartment was small but nice. There were tennis courts behind us that we could clearly hear.
After checking in, we dropped off our bags and when for a walk down to the main street “O’Brien” which had a lot cafes and small store fronts. We went for a walk on the beach and layed down on the grass area of Bondi Beach.
We had lunch and a smoothie on the beach which was nice. The wrap was good. The girl at the wrap/smoothie place was from Minnesota. I could understand why she would want to be at Bondi Beach instead of Minnesota during the North American winter months.
After hanging out at the beach for a while, we picked up items that we needed at the IPA and window shopped. We then went back to the apartment to unpack, etc. I could not believe how much sun I got after just a few minutes of laying down.
We had dinner at a sushi place on the main road Karen and I were not impressed with the sushi place. It was also our first experience of “BYO” of many more to come.
I noticed that the surfing was still good after dinner and how so many people were still surfing after 6:pm. The waves will still good as well.
We went back to the apartment and watch TV. There was a story on the news about a terrible head on car crash that kill a family. It was very sad. You could see all of the family belongings on the road. There was also a segment on how to properly cook a turkey and a segment on a Australia company that was not doing well.
Karen and I commented on the segment about buying a Turkey at "Woolworths". We thought that was interesting becuase in North America a Woolworths was an old department store.
We heard the tennis players playing behind our room.
Karen went for a run in the morning. While Karen went for a run, I cleaned up my desktop on my computer and checked my email. I received an email via Facebook from Karen's brother Steve to check her email. Right then, Karen walked in and I mentioned this to her.
Karen mentioned that her run was a on a beautiful path along Bondi beach and south into some coastal headlands. I later found out that this was the Bondi to Bronte Ocean Walk, which is Australia 's most popular coastal walk way.
Karen was impressed how healthy that Australians were. She saw alot of Australians walking, swimming, running, practicing yoga and exercising.
Had breakfast at a cafe called the “Skinny Dip”. Had pancakes that were doused in syrup and had a scoop of ice-cream. I soon learned that having a scoop of ice cream on your pancakes was common in Australia . The place was a nice relaxed, local, café. Very liberal type place. There was some cool American R&B on the radio. The place had a a lot of interesting paintings on the wall.
After breakfast we went for a walk on the "Bondi to Bronte ocean walk" that Karen had run so that she could show me the how beautiful it was.
We first walked by the Bondi Baths and then on to the path. I was amazed at the the rock as sand stone formations on the Bondi to Bronte ocean walk. It was spetacular. I took alot of photos on the walk.
We made it all the way to Tamarama which is another beautiful beach. There were alot of boogy boarder surfing the breaks near the rocky shore just north of Tamarama Beach .
I watch a young Australian couple hanging out at the beach at Tamarama. They looked very happy.
I read a sign on the meaning of Tamarama which is Aboriginal for "Gamma Gamma".
As we started to walk back to Bondi, I saw a tour bus with watch looked like some young fashionable type musicains. The tour manager was telling them what Tamarama meant. She also reminded them not to throw their cigirette butts on the ground as one of them just did.
On the walk back to Bondi beach, there were some outdoor exercise stations with bars and benchs. Karen really like the idea of these outdoor exercise stations. I read some of the instructions and performed some of the exercises, like the pull ups and stomach crunches. According the instructions, I was an expert for being able to perform 5 pullups.
On the way back to the apartment, we went through a few back streets of Bondi. Karen thought it was cool that some residential neirborhoods were so close to the beach and looked fairly normal and not overly expensive.
We saw a freindly cat that we petted.
Went for a swim at the famous Australia beach pool called Bondi Baths. Right above the baths is the world famous Bondi Iceberg Club, which is a swim club. The pool was a salt water pool that was on the south edge of Bondi Beach . We paid for a day visit, got a locker, changed and went for a swim. The water in the pool is salt water. I have a few good laps in the pool. On one break for doing laps, I noticed and active lady swimmer smiling at me. She was wearing a red bathing suit (a one peice), was in really good shape. I smiled back at her. The waves were big that day and crashing over the wall into the pool, which made it challenging to stay in your lane.
After swimming, we then went into the sauna for a few minutes. Inside the sauna, you could get a nice view of Bondi Beach and surfers riding the waves. While in the sauna a little boy kept coming in and out. Also, and man in his speedo kept getting a little to close to me.
After our swim at . Lunch at a good Middle Eastern Café called Sabbaba. I had a really good chicken falafel. Karen and I also had a our first Bundaberg drinks. We both really liked the drinks. I had a Lemon Lime Bitters and Karen had a Ginger Beer.
Dinner at a Thai place in Bondi Beach . The place was called Thai Flora. It had and interesting atmosphere that mixed Thai, Christmas and Australia beach culture. It had a look of elegance and some of the customers looked like wealthy locals. None the less, it was BYO and I had to go next door to get a few beers for dinner.
Went for a run in the morning around Bondi Beach . It was a nice run. We went north on Bondi so that we could see some Aborigine carvings but we could not find them. Karen was kicking my ass on the run as well. I needed to take a bathroom break at the Bondi pavilion.
After the run, We had breakfast at the Le-Paris Café a Go Go. It was a cool little café that was popular with the locals and seemed to be always crowded. The waitress was a pretty girl with a Led Zeppelin t-shirt.
After breakfast, we went surfing at Bondi Beach . At the surf place was a older man named Earl and a young guy named Christian. Earl was a friendly interesting man that liked to talk. He told me all about sharks, the weather in Cairns and made fun of America , George Bush, Yanks, etc. I asked Earl about the marching routines that the young women were practicing on the beach and he also informed me about the Bondi Beach Surf life saving club and what a important history that the club had. He mentioned that now the routine is more of a pageantry than an actual practical life saving practice. I rented my surfboard from Earl and he loaned me a beach chair for Karen.
After surfing we had lunch at Sabbaba café again.
In the afternoon, I walked around Bondi Beach main street (O’Brien) to take photos of the interesting old flat building and some of the café that I had visited. I felt a little bit nostalgic for a place that I had just come to know and though I might not ever be here again. Karen wondered the same thing.
Dinner at a nice modern Italian restaurant, called Pompei’s. Karen was happy with the ambience and the decorations of the place. The food was really good and the gelato by the cashier station was amazing.
We got up early, packed our bags and took a taxi to the Sydney Airport for our flight to Cairns . The taxi made a stop for gas. The taxi went the Olympic football stadium and by a place for crichet matches that had a interesting pub across the street from it. You could tell that the pub was a "crichet" sport pub.
We stood in the queue for JetStar and security. The lady made a comment on my luggage being so large.
Once in Karen and I were "jonesin" for a Starbucks coffee. Karen complained that this part of the Sydney Airport didn't have a Starbucks, so we settled for a Illy coffee which Karen said was good. The lady behind the counter was kind of rude to Karen, which Karen noted. The lady looked like she was a lesbian.
After getting our coffee, we walked toward our terminal and right around the corner was a Starbucks. I dumped my Illy latte and got a Starbucks one.
We got to the terminal which case I went back to Starbuck to get a sleeve for my coffee because it was so hot. When I tried to put on the sleeve at the Starbucks counter, I clumsy spilled my lattee all over the counter. I felt really stupid about this but the ladies at the Starbucks were very helpful in cleaning it up and made me a new Latte.
We made it to our seats and Karen noticed some candy like stuff smeared on the headrest of my seat and notified the stewartess, who promply laughed with us and cleaned it up. We ended up switching seat to the exit isle since they needed some adults in that isle.
As the plane left Sydney Karen could see the Opera House and Harbour Bridge and I got a quick glance at them as well.
When we arrived in Cairns , we felt the tropical heat when getting out of the plane. We really felt like we were on vacation now in some exotic tropical place.
People were dress approrpiately for the tropical weather.
Karen purchased 2 tickets for the Airporter and a asked the airporter were the bus stop was.
We pateneintly waited outside for the Airporter. I was anxious to go and thought we should have taken a taxi.
An older gentlemen arrived with the Airporter. I could tell he was not happy about his job. We stopped at a few places to drop off some Asian tourist with kids.
Karen was worried that the dive trip would be filled with Asian tourist with kids.
Once we arrived at the hotel, we dropped our bags off in a room, changed into shorts and sandals and went for a walk to check out Cairns .
Walked around town to discover the main esplanade area, while waiting for our room to be available.We had breakfast at a café on the esplanade. After breakfast, Karen and I went down to park by the pool. We noticed what an interesting outdoor pool it was. It had a man made beach.It was very warm. We went under a tree on the park grass and talked and relaxed for a while. Karen was in a good mood and we had a friendly conversation. We talked about the interesting birds, the nice weather , etc. Karen mentioned how she liked the park bench, that the design was style over functionality.
We also checked into the Pro-Dive store and tried on our wet suits, put them in our bins talked about the dive trip with the lady. We went back to see if our room was available at 1:00 but it was not. We went to look for a smoothie place. I was a little bit particular with the smoothie place. I did not want to have a smoothie at the non-organic looking place at the food court that Karen was looking at. She got a little bit miffed and mentioned where was a better place. I found a better place down the street. The smoothie and banana bread was really good and the place had a nice relaxed counter-culture vibe.
After we checked into our room, we walked around the downtown. I noticed a large Billibong advertisement th Taj Burrow in the main intersection. It was a really cool photo of Taj sliding on top of the wave and I know there would be a Billibong store near by. Sure enough it was just a few stores down. Karen and I went in.
We went window shopping in the area for a hour or so.
One store caught my eye. It was a Shelly's shell store, a cute little arty little shell store. It was exactly what I was looking for in San Jose for a prop to use for the mock ring.
We also went shopping at the Woolworths for towels and items for the dive trip.
We went back to the hotel and Karen got some rest.
I went for a walk and found an backpackers internet location. I checked my email. I responded to Ken's email about the Nortel Lunch.
At Around 6:00 I went to take some more photos of Cairns . While walking arcoss the street from the hotel, I stumbled apon some funny looking birds hanging upsided down in a tree. As i got closer I noticed the sound that they were making. It turns out, they were Bats! Very large bats! I took alot of photos of the bats.
After my encounter with the bats, I went back to Shelly's Shell store and pick out a nice little shell for my prop.
I told the lady at the counter my plan, which she loved.
Karen looked great and all dressed up for dinner that night. She was wearing high heels and this tropical looking dress. She looked great. After walking around to find a place to eat, we ended up eating dinner at a Thai restaurant across the street from our hotel. We sat outside on the sidewalk under the awning. Half way through dinner, it started to rain really hard and the gutter and trees were temporarily gushing with water. We also noticed a didgeridoo shop next to the Thai restaurant that had interesting fusion of didgeridoo and dj trace music playing. The place had didgeridoos and other like items but also had modern dj type items. Young people were coming in and out and seems to be more of friends of the people their than actually customers.
We got up early and waited outside of the hotel for about 30 minutes for Pro-Dive to pick us up. It was such a short drive, we should have just walked.
Karen was anticipating that there would be a lot of Asian tourist on the dive trip, which was not the case.
When we arrived, there was a good group of people for the dive trip. They all looked like adventurous backpacker types.
Since we had already got our tub of scuba items together the day before, we just needed to check in and load the tub onto the truck.
I met Steve the dive master while trying to figure out if I needed to rent a camera for the Dive trip. Steve made the comment of calling me a “Dude”, which made me laugh.
We made it onto the boat, took off, were introduced to everyone and were told the logistics, rules, safes items and were assigned our rooms. We also had breakfast.
We then went out to the upper deck to get fresh air. I was not feeling well and was feeling a bit sea sick. I could not believe how many people smoked on the boat, which made it difficult to stay outside on the nice warm day and not get second hand smoke. It was also adding to my feeling of nauseous-ness. On the way out, I threw up twice.
You could see the waves breaking as we approached the Great Barrier Reef. I was in elated to see the Great Barrier Reef and finally being here.
We got to our first dive stop, called Milln Reef. Our first dive was at a dive site called Petaj. I was a little nervous for my first dive.
Had breakfast at a Café called “the Coffee Club”.
Went to Turanga , Australia today on the last minute decision. As it turns out, it was a good decision. Kuranga the is a little village in the hills above Cairns . The area is a tropical rain forest with a lot of tall tree, many birds, butterflies and a river. We took a tour bus get to the base of the hills leading up to Turanga. From there we took a Sky Tram up to the top, which was just like a sky gondola that you would see at a sky resort. It’s a scenic ride up. Near the base of the SkyTram was an interesting site of a small man made lake that had boatless wakeboarding, so no wake either, it had a aerial pulley going around the lake and some rails and jumps.
The SkyTram went over the rainforest on it's way to Kuranda. On the way up I saw a beautiful blue butterfly which is called, Blue Ulysses….
On the way up you see barron falls, which is a beautiful site. The SkyTram went over a river before ending up in Kuranda.
Once in Kuranda, we walked around town on the many trails around Kuranda. Karen and I had some good discussions while hiking. We had a lunch break. I ordered a pizza while Karen got a hot dog.
We walked around more after lunch. I got a smoothie that was good but a little bit different. I was pinnapple flavored and closer to a milkshake than a smoothie.
We took the very scenic old train ride back to Cairns . The train ride went through the mountains and had a stop at Barron Falls and a town called Redlynch.
When back at Cairns , we went shopping at surf clothing stores, Billibong, Rip Curl and some other place that had all of the brands. I bought a shirt and shorts at the Rip Curl store. The store clerk's name was Luke and seemed like a nice person that I would be friends with had I lived their. At one place, I sat in a chair and watched surfing videos that we on the television. I actually enjoyed sitting their while Karen tried on clothing. It was very relaxing/no stress moment in my life for some reason. I joked with the lady working at the store that all I needed was a beer. After buying clothing, I got the photos from my disposable camera developed. We also walked around the main esplanade looking for a place to eat dinner. Karen was interested in eating a falafel place, but I was not interested. This upset Karen and we augured over where to eat dinner. We ended up eating at a Chinese restaurant and went back to the hotel room.
Went for a run in the early morning on the esplanade with Karen. It was a good 35 minute run. We then went for breakfast at the usual place on the esplanade.
While having breakfast, a bike riding group had finished their traditional Christmas day bike ride and were sitting down to have breakfast. Their bikes were decorated with Christmas reefs, streamers and other items. In general they looked older, (50 to 70) but looked healthy and in very good spirits. Karen was impressed by the group.
After breakfast we went to the infinite pool in the esplanade part in Cairns. It was an interested experience sunny and swimming in the topical heat on Christmas day. A New Zealand family was sitting by the pool and asked a same Asian tourist to massage their father.
Had lunch and at Sinbad’s kabob place on the esplanade. According to the sign, it was the best kabob in Cairns. It was a very good kabob.
I then went the internet café to upload my many picture to flickr, while Karen took a nap.
Karen and I then meet up at the pool at the hotel for an hour. We then went for a walk and got gelato. For me, another two hours of uploading photos onto flickr.
At around 7:30, we went to an Indian restaurant on the esplanade. Karen was pretty uptight about Christmas and how to behave for Christmas. The food was good. Karen and I then went on a walk on the boardwalk area. It was a very festive evening for Christmas with people playing in the Cairns Esplanade lagoon/pool and park and walking around town.
Another early morning run. Karen and I ran separately. I did some stomach crunches on the grass. We waited for the airporter for about an hour. We found out that they had lost our reservation and sent us a limousine. While at the airport, Karen went shopping while I logged onto the internet. There was free wireless access for Qantas Airlines.
Karen, bought a pair of Uggs at the airport shop. She was so happy and I was happy that she was happy and in a good mood. We took our flight from Cairns to Brisbane . Once at Brisbane , we got our rental car and drove to Byron Bay .
Driving on the left side of the road and the right side of the car was interesting. One common mistake that I made was I would turn on the windshield wipers when I meant to us the turn signal. Driving though the circles was fine. I did make a mistake on my fist right hand turn once we got to Byron Bay . When in rural areas and making a left hand turn, I typically cut the corner of the other lane. Well I did this for the right hand turn and Karen thought I was on the other side of the road. A car was coming and that scared her.
We had a late lunch at the place called Fresh. The food was good but I can tell that Karen did not like the atmosphere. Karen really liked the lanterns, which were configurable.
Karen and I went to the main beach, walked around and took photos. It was a little overcast that day but the water was still warm.
We had breakfast at a café called Julian Rocks Cafe. I had the pancakes again with ice cream. The breakfast was good.
We went surfing.
I rented a surfboard from a place called Maddogs. The music was cool in the store and the guy whom rented me the surfboard was a cool person.
I had fun surfing althought It was hard for me to catch a wave.
Had dinner at the Thai place called Thai@Byron. The food took along time and Karen and I didn’t say much to each other. After dinner, we had gelato, which was good.
Went surfing in the morning, once again, I rented it from Maddog. Relaxed at the beach in the afternoon and watched Karen Surf. We had lunch at the bookstore. The food was good. Karen and I went for a hike to the top of Cape Byron in the late afternoon.
We had dinner at O-Sushi, which was a hip little sushi place at the Woolworths plaza. It had a train set with sushi dishes going around the central sushi making station. All of the sushi makers were of Japanese descent and had the earthly hip look to them with their headbands and do-rags. All of the wait staff were typical young white Byron Bay hippie/surfer chicks that this was not their main reason for being in Byron Bay and was simply a job for the time being to help pay for their rental apartment. It’s funny how in North America, you would never find a white person working in a sushi restaurant.
The sushi was good and Karen and I generally had a good time. We ordered the incorrect sushi item but the tuna and salmon were good and we enjoyed it.
Walking back from dinner, Karen and I stopped by a Bar called “The Rails”. She liked the vibe that was there. The band was called Max Jodu. The singer also played didgeridoo. There sound it little like the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Incubas. They did a nice version of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall”. The crowd was fun and a mix of aging hippies, locals and tourist.
Had breakfast at a place a café called ?????(Esspressohead?) at the Woolwooth center. Karen picked it out and really like the place.
Went on a hike to the top of Mt Warning. The hike was a pleasant hike in a rain forest type area. We saw the usual red headed turkey on the way up. Near the end of the to the top, it was really steep and on rocks. There was a hand rail and cable to help you continue. Once on the top it was a nice view of the area. We sat down and eat our snacks and drinks. We talked to others who said they saw a snake on the way up. I mentioned to them that I encountered a rattlesnake as a kid. We discussed how they are not deadly unless you are a small child and that there are anti-venoms readily available.
On the way down we saw a lizard in a coiled circle. Another person on the trail said it was a “Blue Tongue Lizard”. The lizard was interesting in that it didn’t run away when we got close to it. I know that it saw us because I could see his eyes.
Karen and I looked for the snake on the way down but could not find him.
After the hike at Mt Warning, we drove home. When we arrived at the outskirts of Byron Bay, Karen wanted to drive the rental car to see what it was like to drive on the opposite side of the road. She made the common mistake that I also made which was to click on the windshield wipers when she meant to click on the turn signal. We stopped at the earthly whole food place near our place and got some hummus and crackers. Karen did a good job of driving and parking.
When at the motel, Karen and I relaxed and ate crackers and hummus. It was a pleasant afternoon.
Karen and I looked for a place to eat dinner. We had a usual walk around to find places to eat and after a while of walking around, Karen got upset and decided to go back to the Motel. I walked around for a little bit to look at the Italian place, and then decided to have a kabob a Bay Kabobs. Bay Kabobs seems to be the favorite with the surfers and always seem to have a line of people. The staff were young white males, which was the first time I seen this at a Australian Kabob place and the food looked very fresh.
Karen happened to walk in after I ordered. While Karen was ordering her Kabob, I talked to a local surfer who ordered about 5 kabob about the how in California, this would be a burrito stand and that how similar the foods are to each other. He seemed like it cool person that I would be a friend with had I lived there. Karen and I walked to the rocks near the beach and eat our Kabobs. I noticed that a couple had their mini van versed parked on the beach and had the rear door open to the ocean and sitting in the back of the van eating take out pizza. This provided a inexpensive ocean side dinner experience that looked fun.
After dinner, we saw a band called Da Karpo at The Rails.
Karen and I walked around Byron Bay after breakfast to shop for a gift t-shirt for Steve. Karen got a shirt for Steve at the same place I bought my Byron Bay t-shirt. After shopping, we went to the beach to watch the surfer. You could tell that a storm was coming in. The waves were very large and crashing down hard. You could see a mist trail when the wave would curl and the tube would shoot mist out of the mouth of the tube. The surfers were having some monster crashes that looked like they would not survive.
We drove back to the airport for our flight from Brisbane to Sydney.
On the way back to the airport, about 20 minutes outside of Brisbane, we saw a warning sign on the Pacific Coast Highway with Koala silhouette on it. The area was full of Eucalyptus trees and looked like a natural park reserve. Karen and I decided to pull over at the next exit and give ourselves 10 minutes to search for a Koala. We pulled off at the next exit “Old Cleveland” road in the town of Belmont Heights. We made a few turns after exiting the freeway and drove by the area with the Eucalyptus trees. The area was typical suburb area with houses that looked like they could be from California. We parked over by a utility station that had a parking lot next to it with a path leading up into the Park Reserve. We walked up the path and began looking around up into the trees for Koalas. I saw some beehives but no Koalas. Karen saw one from a distance and began running through the park towards the Koala. She was very excited. I followed her as we approached the Koala. I was interesting. We got pretty close to the Koala and began taking photos. I also filmed him. The Koala just looked over at us? He was probably sleeping. After finishing getting photos, we walked back to the car. Karen was very happy to have seen a Koala in the wild.
We continued on our drive back to the airport. We needed to get some gas and exited after going over the river. There was no gas station after exiting. I was stressed out and thought we should have got gas earlier Pacific Coast Highway when we had a clarn opportunity. We lucked out that there was a gas station on the road at the Brisbane airport, most likely for rental cars. We filled up on gas and dropped the car off and got on our flight to Sydney.
Once in Sydney, we took the train to Circular Quay. On the train, I noticed all of the people carrying surfboards on their shoulders. The train ride was interesting and we went above ground right before getting to Circular Quay. Once we made it to Circular Quay, Karen, point to the Sydney Harbour Bridge, which we had a beautiful view from within the train.
We had breakfast at a local café at the corner of South Steyne and Wentworth St . I think it was called Café Sino. I was a causal place with some interesting photos of Muhammad Ali, the Monkey’s Movie Head, etc. The food was good and Karen really liked like place.
Went shopping at the stores around town in the morning. I was kind of bored of shopping at the same beach stores that we have already seen in all of the other places. (Quicksilver, Rip Curl, Roxy, etc.) I was patience with Karen and generally, we had a good time.
After shopping, we went back to the hotel to change.
Played Volleyball with the Samoan guy. It was fun. I met some others players who were from Australia . They seemed really nice. One guy complained about his service with PayPal when I told him that I worked for eBay/PayPal.
After volleyball, I went for a walk from Manly beach to Shelley beach and into a park reserve called "Parkhill Reserve" which is part of Sydney Harbour National Park and also called "North Head". It was a beautiful walk along the coast to Shelley Beach. Shelley beach is the only ocean beach in Australia that faces inland.
Karen and I got ready for going to the New Year Eve fireworks in the Harbour.
As we left the hotel, I mentioned that she should bring a hotel key as well in case we got separated on the way back, etc. About a block away, Karen realized this and went back to the hotel to get her key.
On the way down to the ferry terminal, I thought I had a shortcut to the ferry at Manly Harbour , but I was incorrect. We made our way, none the less and made good time.
At the ferry terminal, Karen and I got some sushi at the sushi hut at the ferry terminal, and we sat down and eat it. The line of people to get on the ferry was long and Karen was frustrated be the lack of movement of the line due to a few people in the line who seemed to be confused and needed a lot of help.
We made it onto the ferry and got some good seats.
Halfway on our ferry ride, Karen got up to get a view of the Harbour. I listened to the conversation of a young couple talking about, going to California to become an actor, etc. I was an interesting conversation to listen to.
I told them that I was from San Francisco and he mentioned he was traveling to San Francisco soon.
Once at Sydney , we got out to a massive crowd. Most of the people were sitting by the harbour to stake out a good spot for the fireworks.
Karen and I decided to go over closer the harbour bridge to see if there was available space over there. We made our way towards the bridge by going through the well know and historic section of town called “The Rocks”. The “Rocks” was party central on New Years Eve. All of the main bars were packed full of people and had roped off areas into the street to allow for extra the capacity. People were drinking and singing in the streets. There was a guy playing/singing AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” on acoustic guitar on the roof of one of the bars.
We then tried to walk up to the Sydney Harbour Bridge on the walk area but that was closed due to the fireworks. We then walked over to the
We walked under the Harbors Bridge to find a good spot to see the fireworks.
We then tried to get onto the Cahill expressway which had an excellent view of the harbour but that was closed as well and only way up looked like a prearranged section that you had to have tickets for.
Karen and I then walked through the Rocks again and towards a park under the Bridge called Dawes Point Park . I thought the park would be a great place to see the fireworks but Karen had a better idea. Near the Dawes Point Park on the walkway near the harbour, was a small pier area that had a small peninsula that when out into the harbour and had an excellent unobstructed view of the harbour and bridge. This pier peninsula was about 10 ft x 10 ft.
Karen and I decided to stake out the pier peninsula. Another couple joined us on the peninsula with a picnic basket, blanket, bottle of wine and cheese.
This pier peninsula was a good spot for the 9:00 fireworks.
Others tried to join on the pier peninsula, but we would mention that the spots were taken.
Karen went for a walk to take some photos. While on the walk, a young town drunk name Mike began talking to me about crazy stuff. He seems to make up alot of things.
I went to the bathroom and was impress with how clean the porta-potties were. I had a good time talking with another young Australian while in line and we started to count outloud when a woman entered into the porta pottie, which made everyone laught.
Karen got us some coffee at around 11:00 which was a great idea. I was so happy when so show up with coffee. It's the little things like this that makes me love Karen so much.
There was a guy and his partner acting the the village idiots trying to get everyone attend by threatening to jump in the harbour after 12:00 midnight for the new year.
At 12:00, the firework went off. It was amazing. At the finally, there was so much smoke come down from the bridge, you could barely see it. Also, we could feel the debris from the firework come down on us.
Links to the video
On the walk back to the ferry, people were generally orderly and in the festive mood.
The line to get on the ferry back to manly was long.
Played Volleyball with the Australia local named Mike. He was good a I could tell he wanted to play was someone better than myself. I watched for his next match. Met Mark.
Went to the gym, got hair cut.
Played Volleyball with Mark. Met Tony and DeDe. Got photos.
Went to the Blue Mountains, saw the three sisters, had lunch in Katoomba, saw a kangaroo in Glenbrook at the Blue Mountains National Park .
The lunch was at a place called the Coffee Box Cafe in Katoomba. It was a hip little café with vegetarian options and some bakery items. The lunch was fantastic. Karen was happy that I picked this place out.
The kangaroo at Glenbrook park in Blue Mountains National Park .
The eco-tour dropped us off at the Olympic Park ferrier terminal for a ride back to Jackson Cove and the Main Ferrier Terminal at Circular Quay. It was a very scenic ferry ride that allowed us to see some very nice houses on the harbour, a section of the harbour called Darling Harbour and a view of the downtown that we haven seen yet. I saw some waves a head of the ferrier and warned other passengers in the front that we were going to hit some waves. Some of the passengers got doused with water.
When we got back to Sydney from the ferry, we walked around Sydney Cove, the Rocks, over the Sydney Harbour Bridge and to the Royal Botanical Gardens.
It was a nice evening for a walk. While walking through "the Rocks" section to get to the Sydney Harbour Bridge , a group of young ladies walked by us and one of the ladies’ breast popped out from her shirt. It was funny and Karen and I started laughing. We couldn't figure out how it popped out? The breast didn't pop out from the side of the shirt but from the top!
While on the bridge, I took alot of photos of the Sydney Opera House. Karen when for a run on the Bridge in street clothes to say she ran the Sydney Harbour Bridge . We saw the bridge climbers as well.
We then walked to the Royal Botanical Gardens.
For whatever reason, on the way back to Manly beach, I had a craving for a gourmet hamburger at the Manly Grill. My mind was made up. When Karen and I got back to Manly, I stopped at the Manly Grill to get my burger to go ("take away" as they say in Australia ), but they didn't have to go orders.
I ended up getting a slice of Pizza and a Corona to eat out on our balcony of our Hotel.
Went to the gym, relaxed. Had lunch at a cool place on the north side of Manly beach.
Eat an ANZAC cookie.
Karen and I went to dinner at a Thai restaurant.
Went for a morning run. Karen went for a separate run.
We ate breakfast at the usual place, the café at the corner.
We went shopping to purchase some board shorts.
Karen and I took one last walk on Manly Beach. I watched the volleyball practice on the beach while Karen went and bought Steve and t-shirt.
Karen saw a dog that looked just like Cleuonie, talked to the owner and took photos of the dog.
We took the ferry to back to Sydney and took one last walk around the harbour area near the Opera house.
We took the train to the airport.
We had lunch at the airport.
I sat down and read email while Karen looked for an item to buy with her left over Australian dollars. She found something and showed me it. She was very happy about finding the item and so was I.
As the plane started to move back from the ramp, I closed my eyes and started to cry. I could not help it. I could tell that people could see me, but I didn’t care. I had one of the best times of my life and I was going to miss Australia very much.