Archive for March, 2010

Final Update

March 8, 2010

Wednesday, March 3

Hello all,

We had a lovely stay at the Sir Stamford at Circular Quay, our British-style Sydney hotel.  We enjoyed a delicious buffet breakfast before we headed off to the Taronga Zoo.  Our main goal was to see the kangaroos since we cannot see them in San Diego.  We took the short ferry ride over to the zoo and were able to get up close to the kangaroos in a special exhibit where you can walk into an enclosure where they hop around.  We tried to see the elusive and nocturnal platypus, but we did not see any.  We did see emus; they really are quite large up close.

As we head to the airport we have to say this has been an amazing experience and one we feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to treasure together.  We look forward to seeing you all when we return.

Love, 

Jared and Matt

Sydney Taronga Zoo

Sydney Taronga Zoo

Sydney Taronga Zoo

Sydney Taronga Zoo

Sydney Taronga Zoo

Sydney Taronga Zoo

Sydney Taronga Zoo

Sydney Taronga Zoo

Sydney Taronga Zoo

Sydney Taronga Zoo

Sydney Taronga Zoo

Sydney Taronga Zoo

Sydney Taronga Zoo

Flying Home

Flying Home

Flying Home

Airbus A380 Skycam

Flying home

Cairns Update

March 8, 2010

Monday, March 1

Hello all,

We had an uneventful flight to Cairns.  As we got off the plane we got hit with the worst humidity either of us has ever experienced.  It made Hawaii or Florida in August seem like the Sahara desert.  The retro-style Hilton Cairns is fine, however the guest Internet services weren’t working, so we went to McDonald’s (a special shout out to McDonald’s for providing free wireless). 

We had a delicious waterside café dinner with Paul and Todd, a nice couple from Chicago we met at the Sydney airport while waiting for our flight.  We had a sampler platter that included kangaroo, which was delicious, crocodile, which tasted like chicken, buffalo, emu and garimundi, a local fish.  Our server told us that crocodile tastes like whatever it eats, so if you were to eat one that came from the wild it would likely taste like fish.  The crocodile we ate was likely farm-raised which is why it tasted like chicken.

Monday morning we got up, found a charming café and had a delicious breakfast.  Our Great Barrier Reef tour began with a 20-minute helicopter ride to Green Island, named after the explorer who founded the island.  The brief, but picturesque ride was smooth.  While on Green Island we visited a marine land; which featured crocodiles, sea turtles and fish.  We then took our next 20-minute helicopter ride to the Outer Barrier Reef and landed on a floating platform.  We ‘suited up’ in our stinger suits and snorkel gear and dove in.  We did see beautiful coral and some large schools of fish, but we didn’t stay in long as some salt water got in our eyes and began to sting.  We had a quick bite to eat and then boarded the semi-submersible to continue our tour of the reef.  This was far better than the snorkeling as we got to see jelly-fish and much more coral of every shape and color.  It was then time to board our final helicopter flight back to Cairns.  The flight back was the best for sightseeing as it was low tide and the reef was much easier to see.  We were happy we chose the helicopter to see the reef.

Love,

Jared and Matt

Matt and Jared, Helicopter Tour of Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

Green Island Marineland

Green Island Marineland

Green Island Marineland

Outer Barrier Reef Platform

Matt and Jared snorkel in the Outer Barrier Reef

Outer Barrier Reef

Outer Barrier Reef

Outer Barrier Reef

Outer Barrier Reef

Outer Barrier Reef

Outer Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

Jellyfish, Outer Barrier Reef

Outer Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

Jared, helicopter

Matt, helicopter

Great Barrier Reef

Jared and Matt, view from Hilton Cains room

Matt and Jared, Hilton Cairns lobby

Cairns public pool

Sydney Update

March 8, 2010

Sunday, February 28

Hello all,

We had smooth sailing from Melbourne to Sydney.  On Thursday night we enjoyed an elegant dinner in the Pinnacle Grill, the Rotterdam’s fine dining restaurant with our San Diego friends.  Unfortunately I caught a cold that was coming on as dinner was finishing.  I missed the dance party that night and the hosted cocktail party the next afternoon.  I rested so I could feel better in time to tour Sydney. 

As we woke up Saturday morning we were pulling into Sydney harbor.  We watched from the upper deck as we sailed right past Sydney landmarks Harbor Bridge and the Opera House.  Once docked, we had a perfect view of the Opera House from our cabin.  We climbed to the top of one of the towers of the Harbor Bridge and saw the Sydney Opera House, although we didn’t do the full bridge climb to the top of the arch; Matt’s fear of heights surely would never permit that!  I then took a nap so that I would hopefully feel well enough to attend the Gay Mardi Gras Parade that evening.  Matt toured Sydney and saw the Botanical Gardens, including the trees with all the bats in them.

We had an early dinner and walked to the parade.  With 500,000 spectators and 10,000 participants the Sydney Gay Mardi Gars parade is significantly larger than the San Diego Gay Pride Parade which draws about 150,000 spectators.  We decided to purchase a stool for $10 which I used to sit on while we waited for the parade to begin and to stand on to see the parade.  The parade itself was similar and even a bit more conservative to that of the San Diego Gay Pride Parade.  The Dykes on Bikes were fully covered vs. in San Diego where they are nearly bare breasted.  The other main difference was the crowd; most of the attendees were straight adults in their 20s.  Around 8:45, I was tired and we sold our slightly used stool for $5 and walked back to the ship.

On Sunday morning we got up fairly early, had a leisurely breakfast and just about as we were to go back to our cabin to brush our teeth and collect our things the captain made an important announcement.  Evidently the 8.8 Chilean earthquake that struck early Sunday morning cased a tsunami and we were ordered to pull up the gangway.  We thought it was a joke, but quickly realized it wasn’t.  The captain spent the next 30-minutes contacting other ships to determine the actual size of the waves and once he determined they were very small, he figured out a way to get us off the ship in a timely manner using the ship’s own gangway rather than the port’s gangway, which was prohibited to use during the tsunami warning.  We were very grateful since we needed to get to the airport to catch our flight to Cairns . 

Best,

Jared and Matt

San Diego friends Joel and Jay, Pinnacle Grill

Jared and Matt, Pinnacle Grill

Pinnacle Grill

Pinnacle Grill

Pinnacle Grill

Pinnacle Grill

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Jared and Matt, Sydney Harbour Bridge

Matt and Jared, view from Sydney Harbour Bridge

Matt and Jared, Sydney Opera House

Sydney Botanical Garden

Bats

Bats

Sydney Harbour Bridge

Sydney Botanical Garden

Sydney Botanical Garden

Sydney Mardi Gras Parade

Jared, Sydney Mardi Gras Parade

Sydney Mardi Gras Parade

Dykes on Bikes

Sydney Mardi Gras Parade

Sydney Mardi Gras Parade

Lifeguards

Sydney Mardi Gras Parade

 

Melbourne Update

March 8, 2010

February 25, 2010

Hello all,

After over two days of very rough seas we arrived in sunny and mild Melbourne.  The harbor to the city is very long and it took four hours from the time we entered the harbor to the time we docked.  We arrived four hours later than anticipated due to the rough seas.  We went ashore around 6:30 p.m. and walked around the city to orient ourselves for today’s adventure.  We did see the Federation Square , a public complex of buildings where they were showing an outdoor movie.  The evening views from the Yarra river are beautiful.

Today we took the tram into the city and went to the top of the 92-story Eureka Tower to see all of Melbourne.  We then did a little shopping and visited the National Gallery of Victoria, which is Melbourne ’s main fine art museum.  After the museum we wandered into the Arts Center and saw an exhibit about Australian-based rock band AC/DC.  The exhibit was a retrospective of their career.

Evidently drunk driving is a serious problem in Melbourne, as we saw officers pulling folks over at a ‘breath checking’ station at 1:30 p.m.!

Tomorrow we’ll be at sea, hopefully it will be calmer and then we arrive in Sydney on Saturday.

Love,

Jared and Matt

Arriving in Melbourne

Melbourne

Federation Square

Melbourne

Federation Square

Federation Square

Melbourne

Melbourne

Melbourne

Melbourne

Melbourne

92-Story Eureka Tower

Eureka Tower

Ford Pursuit

View from Eureka Tower

View from Eureka Tower

Window Washers, Eureka Tower

Trains go under the Yarra River

View from Eureka Tower

View from Eureka Tower

Matt and Jared, Eureka Tower

View from Eureka Tower

Jared, Eureka Tower

Matt, Eureka Tower

Melbourne

National Gallery of Victoria

Arts Center

Melbourne, 1:45 p.m.!

Melbourne, 1:45 p.m.!

High Seas

March 6, 2010

February 21, 2010

Hello all,

Today, Monday, February 21 is a sea day.  We’ll also be at sea tomorrow.  While the onshore weather has ranged from slightly cool to perfect, the sea has been consistently rough.  From the beginning of the cruise up to last night we have experienced six-to-ten foot swells.  In all the cruises I have been on, I’ve never experienced such consistently rough sea weather.  As we left sunny Dunedin, our captain made a special announcement.  He indicated that we’ll be heading into multiple storms with strong winds and rain that will produce swells of between 18 and 27 feet!  The following precautions were taken:

  • Guests were asked to remove all glasses, bottles and anything else that would slide off horizontal surfaces in their state rooms.
  • Guests with balconies were asked to remove all items from their balconies.
  • Windows toward the front of the ship were boarded up with steel because ‘steel is stronger than glass.’
  • The pool was drained, deck chairs were tied down and we were prohibited from going outside.
  • Bonnie, saltines and green apples were given out to help passengers cope with the rough seas.  Green apples as a cure for motion sickness is something I’d never heard of before.
  • Vomit bags were placed on each floor by the elevators.

I wore my Sea Bands, ate a green apple and we both took Bonnie.  Amazingly neither of us has felt sick.  Although, last night I was woken up by the large swells, strong winds and the associated noises the ship makes when stressed.  Evidently our position (46 degrees latitude) is part of the ‘roaring forties’ and is notoriously rough.  The sea weather is projected to improve by midnight tonight.

 Despite the rough sea weather we are having fun attending various on-board activities and chatting with new and existing friends.

 Love,

 Jared and Matt

Dunedin Update

March 6, 2010
February 21, 2010
Hello all,
 
We had amazing weather in the beautiful city of Dunedin.  We toured Olveston House, a turn of the century estate owned by a Jewish musical instruments importer.  We then toured the Cadbury chocolate factory.  So far, this is our favorite small New Zealand city and reminds us of the bay area.
 
Dad – The green car is a 1922 Fiat.
 
Best,
 
Jared and Matt

Olveston House

Jared and Matt, Olveston House

Dunedin

Dunedin Row Homes

Dunedin

Cadbury Chocolate Factory

Jared and Matt, Cadbury Chocolate Factory

Olveston House

Olveston House

Olveston House

Olveston House

Olveston House, 1922 Fiat

Lyttelton and Christchurch Update

March 6, 2010

February 20, 2010

Hello all,

Today (Saturday) we began our morning by walking around the small village of Lyttelton.  We toured the Time Ball, an ancient clock used by mariners to help navigate the seas.

We then toured Christchurch, which is a modern city.  We enjoyed the Botanical Gardens, Victoria Park and of course saw the church.  The weather is in the mid 60s and breezy.

Love,

Jared and Matt

Lyttelton Timeball

MS Volendam

Lyttelton Timeball

Lyttelton Timeball

Lyttelton Timeball

Christchurch Botanical Garden

Christchurch Botanical Garden

Christchurch Botanical Garden

Christchurch Botanical Garden

Matt and Jared, Christchurch Botanical Garden

Christchurch Botanical Garden

Christchurch Botanical Garden

Christchurch Botanical Garden

Christchurch Botanical Garden

Christchurch Botanical Garden

Christchurch Botanical Garden

Matt, Christchurch Botanical Garden

Christchurch

Christchurch

Christchurch

Christchurch

Christchurch

Christchurch symbol

Wellington Update

March 5, 2010

Friday, February 19

Hello all,

Today we arrived in sunny and 65-degree Wellington.  We got off the boat and toured the city on our own.  This modern city is spotless.  We began with a ride on the Wellington Cable Car.  The cable car is a cross between a typical San Francisco style cable car and the Palm Springs Arial Tram ride.  The cable car is a parallelogram and goes up a steep slope.  At the top we enjoyed views of the city and then took a slow walk through the stunning Botanical Garden.  While on our walk we came across a playground and decided to take some photos in honor of Otis.    

Love,

Jared and Matt

Matt and Jared, Wellington

Wellington Cable Car

Jared, Wellington Botanical Garden Playground

Matt, Wellington Botanical Garden Playground

Matt, Wellington Botanical Garden Playground

Matt, Wellington Botanical Garden Playground

Matt, Wellington Botanical Garden

Wellington Botanical Garden

I can honestly say that my Star Fire Lillies' do look like this in the late summer.

 

Wellington Botanical Garden

Wellington Botanical Garden

Wellington Botanical Garden

Wellington Botanical Garden

Wellington Botanical Garden

Matt and Jared, Wellington Botanical Garden

Wellington Green House

Wellington Green House

Wellington Green House

Wellington Green House

Departing Auckland and White Island

March 5, 2010

February 18, 2010

Hello all,

Yesterday (Wednesday) we had breakfast at Sierra coffee, our favorite Auckland café, did a little shopping at the Westfield Mall; yes, they really are everywhere.  We checked out of our hotel and boarded the ship, the Volendam.

We were pleasantly surprised at the size of our stateroom, the large amount of closet space and the bathroom even had a full-sized tub!  I overhead someone say that this ship was specifically designed for longer voyages, which explains the ample closet space.  We enjoyed warm weather during the sail-away cocktail party and had dinner with some fun folks from New York .

Today (Thursday), we saw White Island , which is a volcano that has steam coming up from it.  As we watched the volcano we saw sharks in the water below!  We had fun at the Military Party. 

Love,

Jared and Matt

Departing Auckland on MS Volendam

Safety Drill

Charlie from New York and Jared

Matt and Jared Departing Auckland

Jay from San Diego, Jared and Charlie

White Island Volcano

White Island Volcano

Matt and Jared, White Island Volcano

White Island Volcano

Military Party Performers

Military Party Performers

Matt and Jared, Military Party

Cabin Steward Art

Auckland continued

March 5, 2010
Hello,
 
We had a great day on Monday.  We went to the top of the Sky Tower and visited the Botanical Gardens.  It only rained as we were finishing up at the Botanical Gardens so that worked out well.  On Monday night we had dinner with the son of a friend of Diane and Doug’s.  We sat at an outdoor cafe and had tapas and delicious Sangria.
 
Today (Tuesday), we took a gentle 40-minute ferry ride over to Waiheke Island.  The island reminded us of a less commercial Hawaii.  We got a bus pass and toured four wineries.  We enjoyed a gourmet lunch with breathtaking views of Stonyridge Winery.  We did a lot of walking (yes, Mom even for me).  Tonight we are going to a welcome cocktail party from Atlantis, the tour group that chartered the ship.
Love,
Jared and Matt

Auckland Sky Tower

Auckland Sky Tower 1

Auckland Sky Tower 2

Auckland Sky Tower

Auckland Sky Tower

Auckland Sky Tower

Auckland Sky Tower

Jared, Auckland Sky Tower

Matt, Auckland Sky Tower

Auckland Sky Tower Elevator

 

Auckland Sky Tower, Chinese New Year Display

Auckland Botanical Gardens

Auckland Botanical Gardens

Auckland Botanical Gardens

Why can't I get my Hydrangeas’ to look like this?

Magnolia Tree

Auckland Botanical Gardens

Matt, Auckland Botanical Gardens

Auckland Botanical Gardens

Auckland Botanical Gardens

Auckland Botanical Gardens

Wild on Waiheke Giant Chess Board

Wild On Waiheke Wine Tasting

Stony Ridge Wine Tasting

Stony Ridge Wine Tasting

Lunch at Stony Ridge Winery

Stony Ridge Winery

Lunch at Stony Ridge Winery

Lunch at Stony Ridge Winery

Waiheke Island

Merrick Vineyard's Wine Tasting

Waiheke Island

Matt, Cable Bay Wine Tasting

Jared, Cable Bay Wine Tasting