Monday, January 7, 2013

Down Under Bound!

Trying to decide what to pack
We'll be heading to Australia and New Zealand tomorrow and won't return until February.  I have a pile of stuff and I'm still trying to decide what to pack.  It's difficult when you need everything for activities ranging from kayaking to ballroom dance- shorts to evening gowns!    This is the first trip in our nearly 10 years together we'll be taking that is totally for pleasure and includes no Omar.  He's already a mess.  7 years old is a tough age to do without both parents for nearly a month.  Luckily my son Jake is stepping in to take care of him and he'll have plenty of back up with the rest of the family.

Our itinerary is both adventurous and amazing.  We start with 2 days of travel flying out of Chicago, so we arrive in Sydney on Jan 10.  Not only were the tickets free with frequent flier miles, but Abdul persisted in calling every day to see if we could get an upgrade, and we managed to get bumped to business class for the flight from San Francisco to Sydney.  Yahoo!  That will make it much more comfortable.  He said the key is to hang up on anyone that says no and redial until you get someone nice.  Finally a lady in Atlanta made the upgrade.  The people in Chicago weren't as kind.

We'll be going to a comedy show at the Sydney Opera House the first night.  Hope we stay awake!  Then it's 2 days of sightseeing around Sydney, and an ecotour to the World Heritage site in the Blue Mountains for some hiking, aboriginal village tour, and a rain forest.  Unfortunately there are bush fires in the region, so we're wondering how that will affect the tours.  Obviously it's been terrible for those who live there.

We fly to Cairns where we'll drive to Port Douglas for a few days.  This will be different- they drive on the left side of the road.  We'll have to stay on our toes!  We're taking a helicopter tour to the Great Barrier reef and I'll snorkel while Abdul probably enjoys the beach or does the submarine tour.  He has a great fear of sharks, snakes, and spiders.  We've heard we could see plenty of all 3! We'll also drive to the Daintree National Park, a World Heritage rainforest- one of the oldest surviving.

We begin a 2 week tour around New Zealand starting in Auckland on Jan 18 with Silversea Cruise Lines.  This is a smaller ship so we will be seeing ports that are much smaller than other ships normally visit. The ship itself is going to have a culinary theme so there will be cooking demonstrations, along with the usual dancing, dinners, shows, and spas.  The list of New Zealand ports includes: Bay of Islands, Tauranga, Napier, Picton, Akaroa, Stewart and Ulva Islands, Milford & Dusky Sound.  Then we'll head to Tasmania, Melbourne, and Sydney in Australia.  There are day trips which include kayaking to see glow worm caves, waterfalls, beaches, bird watching, hiking, loads of cultural centers, sailing, and driving along the coast.  When we return to Sydney we'll end with climbing the Sydney bridge at sunset.  By then, we hope to be in shape enough to make the trek of 1332 steps!  If all goes well, we'll return Feb 2 and I'll have some good photos to share.  Hope you'll check back later!

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