So, There I was* Forced by my cruel family and friends to take a vacation and visit Australia and New Zealand. The things we do to keep peace and tranquility in our home. I can feel the sympathy from you readers just FLOWING through the Internet. /Sarc
Flew into Sydney and spent 4 days on the ground there. The Family had been there in 06 for a week, but Mrs. Juvat and Little Juvat had a conference to attend. The Beautiful Daughter (TBD) and I had a blast exploring the town. So, for all intents and purposes, this was a first time visit for all but she and I. Rented a very nice B&B in Watson’s Bay which was quaint, quiet but conveniently close to a water taxi so getting around was easy.
By the second day, both other couples had arrived and we were doing the turista thing.
The Taronga Zoo was quite enjoyable and the day trip to the Hunter Valley Wine Region was fabulous.
|We brought Professionals with us to drink wine|
Day 4 had us boarding the Solstice at Circular Quay.
Mrs Juvat and I sprung for a cabin on the back of the boat, and the extra deck space allowed for all 9 to consume some Champers whilst taking in a view that “didn’t suck.”
|No, This view didn't "suck".|
A day at sea, and awoke the next morning in Hobart Tasmania. Strolled around for a bit, visited the Cenotaph overlooking the harbor.
Followed with a visit to a local Whiskey distillery. (Most of us would call it a Scotch distillery, but I was corrected. Since this was not Scotland, this was not Scotch I was drinking.) The liquid nectar of the gods was excellent, but at $160 US for 500Ml, it was priced above my comfort level.
|Whiskey, Not Scotch!|
Left Hobart, and spent two days crossing the Tasman Sea, arriving at Dawn at Milford Sound. I’m pretty sure I know where Heaven is. Words don’t describe.
|Milford Sound, Lord, you did well here!|
Other Ports included Dunedin, Akaroa, Wellington, Tauranga and Bay of Islands. Finally, we offloaded in Auckland. All completely different. All beautiful beyond words.
|View from the table at lunch|
(Russell, Bay of Islands NZ)
There were a couple of very special side trips we took that will be included in future posts. However, there were some big lessons learned, that I wanted to share.
We arrived at Sydney just after dark theit time which corresponded to about 1AM body time, a VERY long day. Cleared Immigration, grabbed our bags and joined the Taxi Queue. Got to the head of the line and asked the supervisor for a van which he quickly hailed. Loaded our bags, got in and I sat up front. Gave the driver (I’ll name him Vlad the Mad Serbian) the address and watched him enter it into his GPS. I did the same thing. And We’re Off!
Now, I like Speed. 700K @ 100’ no problem, bring it! However…
Suffice it to say, I’d like to blame my hysterical laughing on excitement about being in Australia, but I must confess to sheer terror. We managed to arrive at the B&B in one piece, but there is probably at least one motorcyclist who is still cleaning out his pants.
In any case, we’re offloading our bags and I put my backpack down on the back of the taxi to help with the conga line. The family is moving bags into the house as they are offloaded. We get the taxi unloaded, I turn and all the bags are in the house. Pay the cabbie and head inside.
Only to find that my backpack didn’t make it into the house.
Lesson #1. Don’t move the bags until all are unloaded. Everyone accounts for all their luggage, then the cabbie gets paid.
Lesson #2. Cell Phones have cameras. Take a picture of the Cab, and especially the phone number.
Why was this important? Fortunately, when we’d cleared immigration, I had stuck the passports in my pants pocket, so that problem was avoided. However, my backpack had my iPad, Tablet and Camera in it. Bad, but replaceable.
But…My backpack had my medications in it. Medications I can’t afford to not take for 2-3 weeks.
Stayed up for about 3 more hours calling Taxi companies that had that type cab. No joy.
The next morning as we head to breakfast, I notice a mom and pop pharmacy and stop in. I explain my circumstances and ask their advice. Well….they can’t sell me the meds without a prescription and my Doctor isn’t licensed in Australia, so I’ll have to make an appointment with an Aussie Dr and have him write the prescriptions. Oh Sierra Hotel!
We decide to go back to the airport and see if we can talk to the Cab Supervisor and see if they might have any ideas on which company we used. As we exit the train, I see a cop off to the side and ask him directions to the cab queue. He gives them to me and asks why I need a cab (we’re still in the train station). I explain my lost backpack and he says “Mate, you’re unlikely to get that back.” “I know, but it’s the meds that are in it, I’m worried about.”
“Mate, that happens all the time. There’s a doctor on the third floor of the terminal. She’ll write you the scripts right there.”
$80 AUS later, I’ve got my scripts. Turn them in to the pharmacy, pick up the meds and pay for them. Holy Socks! The following morning, I’m back on my regimen and things start to smooth back out. Now, if I can just figure out how to get reimbursed by TriCare…That was an EXPENSIVE lesson.
The next evening, there’s a knock at the door, and there’s Vlad with my backpack, with the iPad, Tablet, Camera and Meds.
Travel to Sydney is a 19 hour non-stop from Dallas or Houston. We didn’t want to experience that. Having done it once we recognize that the trip is not for the faint of heart.
Side note: I’m pretty sure that the Old in OldNFO is a direct result of the numerous times he had to make the trip. Chronologically, he’s probably 40 something. As the adage goes, it’s not the years, it’s the miles! 16,875 give or take, out and back.
in order to avoid 19 straight, we decided we’d make a stop each way in Honolulu. Just a one night stay to break up the flight. Good idea, but would have been better with two nights each way. We were too spun up and worrying about the early wakeup the next morning to get much useful sleep.
Finally, the Daughter In Law had to be back Monday which dictated flights and airlines. Since we left last Friday US/France time, we picked a terrible day to fly on Emirates. Took off from Auckland, no problem. Landed at Brisbane and although we had been screened in Auckland and never left the secure portion of the international terminal, we were all ushered into a separate room and rescreened. Mrs. Juvat had bought a bottle of water in the international terminal in Auckland (after screening there). It was in her purse. Alert! Alert!
Ah well! Such a world we live in.