New hobby…Obsessive package tracking…Is today the day?…Sightseeing…Arabanoo…

The shoreline is packed tight with pricey apartments and condos.

As creatures of habit with a few obsessive behaviors interspersed, Tom and I are a perfect match. He tends to be more ritualistic than I, but most certainly, I can easily get sucked into copying his behavior. I suppose this happens when a couple is together around the clock.

Recently, while awaiting the package from the US, sent on February 10th, we both began obsessively watching the tracking information for the US Postal Service based on a tracking number provided us by our mailing service in Nevada. Unfortunately, the package never seemed to move much after that date.

Property prices are outrageous in Australia, especially close to the larger cities such as Sydney. with hilly terrain; many have oceanfront and ocean views.

Until we requested our shipper conduct a search for the package and the requisite 12-day process passed, the package finally was in motion again. We couldn’t have been more thrilled to see it on the move again, especially when the contents include all of our tax records for 2016, the renewal of both of our driver’s licenses, my new smartphone, and other items.

Finally, it arrived in Tasmania last Wednesday, and our prior landlord, Anne, shipped it to our address here in Fairlight. For over 72 hours, it never moved from Hobart. Finally, this morning, we noted it was shipped to a processing station near Sydney. If all goes well, it will arrive tomorrow. We’re both tentatively excited about its arrival.

A peek through the trees.

Secondly, last Monday, we ordered Tom a new laptop from the US, having shipped to our mailing service (free shipping from Amazon) since none of the companies that had that particular item would ship via international express. It made it to our mailing service on Wednesday.

After paying AU 528, US $400 for Fed Ex international express shipping plus the cost of the laptop at AU 956, US $730 (including sales tax), our total cost for the laptop is AU 1,480 US $1,130. 

Apartments, condos, and small coop-type properties are the main focus for rentals with high rents in most areas.

After checking for a similar product in Australia, we’d never have been able to purchase that particular item, brand, and features Tom preferred for anywhere near the price we paid. Based on what we found, it would have been higher priced at 30% to 40%.

Rooftops in Australia decades ago were all red clay tiles. Now that homes have been rebuilt to include second stories, spotting a red roof is less common.

Need I say that every hour (or more often), we’ve obsessively checked the tracking information on these two packages, with a tile on my laptop (which we’ve been sharing for 10 days) and links on Tom’s phone (which we’ve been sharing for months).

Today, with bated breath, we wait with a note encased in plastic taped to the mailbox, hoping sometime in the next several hours the laptop with arrive.  Tomorrow, perhaps the other package will arrive as well. 

A few areas along the coast are undeveloped or included private homes nestled in the trees.

In the interim, we’re sharing more photos from our recent outing with Bob. We’re grateful we’d gone out on a sunny day. Unfortunately, it’s been cloudy and raining every day since. This morning, on the news, we heard this had been the third most rainy season in history in New South Wales (NSW). Go figure…while we’re here. 

Views of bays and the open sea create a breathtaking backdrop.

But, no complaints here. We’re happy to be dry, safe, and immigration-ready for our cruise in 19 days. So, let’s see how the next few days roll out, which we’ll happily report here.

As for today’s photos…they were all taken from this popular tourist spot in the nearby hills. The below photo includes a portion of the story of the origin of Arabanoo, an Aboriginal man kidnapped by marines in 1788, with more below.

Interesting story. More may be found here or below.

From this site, the story of Arabanoo…

“Arabanoo (1759–1789)

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 1, (MUP), 1966

Arabanoo (d.1789), the Aboriginal man, was captured at Manly on 31 December 1788 by order of Governor Arthur Phillip, who wished to learn more about the natives. Arabanoo was taken to the settlement where a convict was appointed to guard him; he was at first pleased by a handcuff on his wrist, believing it to be an ornament, but became enraged when he discovered its purpose.

Then a severe epidemic of smallpox broke out among the Aboriginals in April 1789; several who had been found in great distress were brought to Sydney where Arabanoo helped to care for them; he caught the disease himself and died on or about 18 May. He was buried in the governor’s garden.

One contemporary account gives his age as about 30 and another as about 24. He was not tall but ‘robustly made,’ with a thoughtful face and a soft, musical voice; his disposition was mild and gentle, but ‘the independence of his mind never forsook him. During his brief sojourn among the colonists, he became a general favorite, and Phillip records that he gave them much information about the language and customs of his people.”

May your day meet all of your expectations!

Photo from one year ago today, April 3, 2016:

Tom stood on the witness stand in the old courthouse at the Taranaki Pioneer Village, a style that may be seen in more modern-day courthouses throughout the world. See the story and more photos here.

Sightseeing continues…So much to offer…Dobroyd Head…Daylight saving time ended in this part of the world…

On the 25 minute ride to Circular Quay in Sydney, It takes about 10 minutes from the Manly Wharf for the Manly Ferry to reach this spot with its rough waters. The ride is usually rough for only about 10 minutes until we reach Sydney Harbour.

Yesterday we didn’t go out after all. As the clouds picked up and it appeared it might rain, we decided a long walk wasn’t appealing. However, regardless of today’s weather, we have no choice but to get to the market since we’ll be staying “home” awaiting the two packages due to arrive Monday or Tuesday. Clouds are rolling in now, so we should head out before too long.

Once the ferry reaches this point in the bay where it meets the open sea, the ride becomes rough on most days.

We’re thrilled we’d been sightseeing with Bob a few days ago during a bright sunny day, and today, we continue with more scenic photos. Once we’re done uploading today’s post, we’ll be off to accomplish what we intended to do yesterday.

We love the simple times in our lives when we can go out or not, choosing to embark on whatever appeals to us at the moment rather than be predicated by some arbitrary schedule over which we have little or no control. 

Two passing Manly Ferries as seen from Dobroyd Head overlook.

We particularly enjoyed the recent visit to Dobroyd Head, a popular tourist spot in Balgowlah Heights. Details of this scenic area are listed here at this site and below as indicated:

Dobroyd Head is a point or headland in the Northern Beaches local government area, in the suburb of Balgowlah Heights, New South Wales, Australia. It is part of the Sydney Harbour National Park, which contains examples of ecosystems at risk, such as coastal heath. Tania Park is located to the immediate northeast and contains the 2MWM 90.3 transmitters. A lookout sited on the headland named after Arabanoo, the first Aboriginal man to live among European settlers captured in Manly Cove in 1788. (Continued below)

Tom took these photos over a railing after crawling over huge rocks and down a precarious walkway.  Bob and I stayed behind.


In January 1788, Captain Arthur Phillip noted Aboriginal people living in caves at what is now Wellings Reserve, Balgowlah Heights, and there are several Aboriginal sites recorded in the area, including a midden at Reef Beach, which was partly eroded by a storm in May 1974, when human remains were exposed. What is now Dobroyd Head was originally named “Dobroyd Point” (which is now the name of a locality in Haberfield in the Inner West) by Simeon Lord (1771–1840), a landowner in the district in the early 19th century. Dobroyd Castle, its namesake, was his mother, Ann Fielden, before her marriage in 1764. On his death in 1840, he gifted the land to the Crown with a stipulation that the name must be kept.

In 1871, the Secretary for Lands, John Bowie Wilson, set aside 100 hectares comprising the Dobroyd headland as a defense reserve but excluded all privately-owned lands, such as Reef Beach, Forty Baskets Beach, Grotto Point, Castle Rock, and Clontarf. On 14 August 1874, prominent surveyor and hydrographer Commander John Thomas Ewing Gowlland was drowned in an accident of the headland. In August 1963, the Manly, Warringah, and Pittwater Historical Society unveiled a plaque at Dobroyd Head commemorating him. In 1914, the government steamer, SS Kate, was struck and sunk by the Manly ferry Bellubera off the headland. The Dobroyd Scenic Drive, funded by the council, was opened in 1938 by Manly mayor Percy Nolan. (Continued below)

Houses located on Dobroyd Head…

Between 1923 and 1963, various small cabins and shacks were built around Crater Cove on the headland. They were for use as weekenders and retreats and remained occupied until the 1980s.

Various subdivisions for the development of Balgowlah Heights occurred throughout the next 80 years until 1959-1960 when Manly Council learned that land near Cutler Road and Tabalum Road was to be subdivided and objected to any development and sale of land below Cutler Road.

Alderman Frank Preacher led this movement to preserve the lands of Dobroyd Head for public recreation. On 17 October 1960, Lands Minister Jack Renshaw met representatives of the Manly Council on the site. Renshaw later approved removing these lands from the sale of land and transferred responsibility for its preservation to the Manly council. In 1975, responsibilities changed again when the area was proclaimed as part of the Sydney Harbour National Park. A 2015 article in the Manly Daily later revealed that Manly Council had voted in June 1997 to erect a plaque to honor Renshaw, alderman Preacher, and Manly Council’s role in preserving the headland. But no action has since been taken to carry it out.” (Continued below).

Dobroyd Head sign, located at the lookout point.

We hope today’s photos give our readers a perspective of this gorgeous location typical of many scenic overlooks in this breathtaking continent.

Another house without utilities used as cabins at one time. They may or may not be occupied at this time.

During the night, “daylight saving time” ended in New South Wales, Australia, as shown here from this site:

“Daylight saving

Daylight Saving Time (DST) is the practice of advancing clocks one hour during the warmer months of the year. In Australia, Daylight saving is observed in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, and the Australian Capital Territory.

Daylight saving is not observed in Queensland, the Northern Territory, or Western Australia.
Daylight Saving Time begins at 2:00 am on the first Sunday in October, when clocks are put forward one hour. It ends at 2:00 am (which is 3:00 am Daylight Saving Time) on the first Sunday in April, when clocks are put back one hour.

During Daylight Saving Time (first Sunday in October – first Sunday in April)
Time zone State or territory City
Australian Eastern Standard Time (AEST) Queensland Brisbane
Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT) New South Wales (except Broken Hill), Victoria, Tasmania, Australian Capital Territory Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, Canberra
Australian Central Daylight Time (ACDT) South Australia and the town of Broken Hill in western New South Wales Adelaide, Broken Hill
Australian Central Standard Time (ACST) Northern Territory Darwin
Australian Western Standard Time (AWST) Western Australia Perth

Where Daylight saving is observed:
AEDT is equal to Coordinated Universal Time plus 11 hours (UTC +11).
ACDT is equal to Coordinated Universal Time plus 10.5 hours (UTC +10.5).”

The expansive view from Dobroyd Head.

As of today, we’re halfway through the 40 night stay in Fairlight with only 20 remaining nights until we’ll board the 24-night cruise to North America.  

With all the challenges we’ve faced since arriving in Tasmania on December 3rd, when I became ill, we’re attempting to embrace our remaining time in this lovely area without too much anticipation for upcoming exciting events in the future.

Gorgeous cliffs are often referred to as “heads” in Australia.

In other words, we’re doing our best to “live in the moment,” not always easy to do in this lifestyle. However, regardless of one’s lifestyle, it’s always challenging to live in the moment when it’s our human nature to consider what is yet to come.

May your day capture good thoughts “in the moment” today and always.

Photo from one year ago today, April 2, 2016:

Kiwi Rail locomotive we spotted in Eltham, New Zealand, one year ago. For more photos from the charming town, please click here.

Counting down the days until our next adventure…

Earlier this week, while on the Manly Ferry, we were finally able to take sunny morning photos of Sydney Harbour, a cruise ship, another ferry, and Harbour Bay Bridge.

There’s an app we often use to calculate between two dates.  I must admit I probably use it everyday for one reason or another. So if this free app, Time and Date, could be of use to you, please click here. Enter the dates you’d like to calculate and voila!  Easy.

The Sydney Opera House appears to be a floating island.

This morning, contemplating upcoming travels sent me into a tizzy of unbridled enthusiasm, especially now that prior worrisome factors are behind us. Here’s a few calculations made from today’s date of March 31, 2017 that we’re anticipating for the remainder of 2017 using the above app:

22 days –  Cruise from Sydney to North America (24 days)
48 days –  Cruise from Vancouver to Alaska (9 days)
57 days –  Flight from Seattle, Washington to Minneapolis, Minnesota
99 days –  Flight from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Las Vegas, Nevada
124 days – Flight from Las Vegas, Nevada to Costa Rica
237 days – Cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Valpareso, Chili on to a back-to-back cruise to Buenos Aires, Argentina (30 days combined)
268 days – Buenos Aires, Argentina (30 days – ending January 23, 2018)

Lighthouses always create an interesting photo opp.

Of course, of all of the above dates, we’re most excited to head back to the USA to see family and friends. By the time we arrive in Minnesota on May 26, 2017, it will have been (again using the app) as follows since we left Minnesota on October 31, 2012:

“From and including: Wednesday, October 31, 2012
To, but not including Friday, May 26, 2017

Result: 1668 days

It is 1668 days from the start date to the end date, but not including the end date.

Or 4 years, 6 months, 26 days excluding the end date”

Wow! That’s hard to believe! We won’t have seen our three adult children, their partners, and our six grandchildren since they visited us in Hawaii during Christmas time in 2014, a total of 875 days (as of January 2, 2015, when most of them left Hawaii). That’s a long time.

Beautiful scenery.

As for son Richard who lives in Henderson, Nevada, we won’t have seen him since January 3, 2013, when we sailed away on our first international cruise. So it’s been a total of four years, six months, and four days since we’ve seen Richard, and it’s slightly longer for sister Susan who lives in Las Vegas. So, unfortunately, Richard wasn’t able to join us in Hawaii, but we’ve all stayed in close touch over these years as with the others. 

Sandy beach on a sunny day wasn’t populated early in the morning.

Between Skype phone calls, interaction online, and chat in Facebook and email, we’ve been able to stay in touch with all of our family members and friends. Had the Internet not been available, a journey such as ours would have been heart-wrenching, if not impossible.

Across the bay from the ferry.

Instead, we anticipate seeing everyone and spending as much quality time together as their schedules allow. Of course, we’re excited, as is evidenced by our frequent calculations of the number of days until we arrive.

In the interim, with the sun finally shining here in Fairlight/Manly with the after effects of Cyclone Debbie hitting our area last night. The cyclone has since passed leaving a wake of destruction in its path. Also, check out this video of a shark that made “landfall” during the cyclone, which Aussies are now calling “sharknado!”

The Sydney Opera House took on an entirely new look in the sunshine, especially after our own opera experience at the world famous venue.

On a more serious note, please click here for details regarding Cyclone Debbie. We pray for the safety and recovery of the many citizens who suffered the ravages of this destructive storm that hit Queensland this week.

Perhaps this was a tourist helicopter ride?

Today brings us partially cloudy skies with snippets of sun peeking through. Should this continue through the day, a sightseeing expedition may be on the horizon.

Happy day to all!

Photo from one year ago today, March 31, 2015:

There were several refrigerate cases with a wide array of New Zealand-made and Fonterra Cheese Factory-made cheeses.  With cheese suitable for our way of eating, we often seek to visit cheese factories when we travel. For more details, please click here.

An inside peek on the joy of meeting people along the way…Smiling and blushing at the same time…

Bob explained this single red bloom, a type of lily, is growing out of season.  The photo was taken on a cloudy day.

There’s no doubt our hearts are filled with appreciation and joy from the kindness and love we receive from people we meet along the way, whether it’s in a town, a quaint village, or on a cruise.

The curiosity and interest in our lifestyle are often coupled with an abundance of warmth and friendship we can hardly believe comes our way with such ease. We often ask one another, “How did we get so lucky to meet so many fine people?”
Now 11 days since the last cruise ended, we have received emails from passengers we met during the 12 days at sea. Again, we were asked for our web address prompting us to hand our business cards more times on this shorter cruise than when we sailed on the 33-night cruise when we’d attached ourselves to the same two fine couples for happy hour and dinner every night. 
We had a lot of fun with Lois and Tom and Cheryl and Stan, remaining in touch since the cruises ended on December 3rd via Facebook. It was a memorable experience during the lengthy cruise, which circumvented the entire Australian continent, which we’ll always remember fondly.
With the steep drop in the yard of the holiday home, there’s a protective fence, as shown with this pretty succulent leaning against it.
However, we learned a valuable lesson…mingle. The depth of the meaning of our world travels enhanced by having a wide array of experiences; meeting people from all walks of life, meeting people from many parts of the world, while hearing their often exciting and unique experiences of not only travel but of life itself.
Mingling with many people provides us with the added opportunity to learn even more about human nature, a process that hopefully will continue through the balance of our lives regardless of where we may be at any given time. 
We’ll never delude ourselves in stating, “We’ve seen and done it all.” But, in many ways, we’ve just begun with so much more of the world to see ahead of us. If we continued to travel for 10 to 20 years or more, we’d barely have touched the surface of what this world has to offer. 
We remind ourselves daily to remain humble and in awe of the world and our opportunity to live this life, often through challenging and difficult times, which to date have not deterred our enthusiasm in any manner.
Tom took this photo of the center of the above succulent.  Simple beauty with dewdrops.
When we receive an email such as the message we’ve included below, we share it not to “toot our own horn” or to “brag” about people “liking us.” That’s not us, as those of you who have followed our candid and vulnerable story for any length of time is most assuredly aware.
We share this email with our readers to join us in the pleasure we glean from meeting wonderful people along the way. After all, our loyal readers seem to empathize with our trials and tribulations as well as in the memorable happy events we encounter day by day.
While aboard the recent 12-night cruise ending on March 13th, we met a lovely couple, Christina and Harold (whom we’d mentioned on a few prior posts) on the third day of the cruise during Cruise Critic’s “cabin crawl,” an event where various members volunteer to show their cabins in other categories.

In this particular case, Christina and Harold kindly hosted a lovely event with food and drinks in their penthouse cabin, which even we’d never seen after 17 cruises in the past four-plus years. 

Coleus, an excellent shady area plant.

Little did we know we’d hit it off so well with this special newly engaged couple, considerably younger than us (by about 25 years), world travelers in their own right, with Harold having visited many of the exciting countries we’ve stayed in our travels.

It wasn’t just the commonality of our experience that connected us. It was the warmth and kindness we all exuded in one another’s company.  
Yesterday, we received this beautiful message from Christina that warmed our hearts, prompting us to ask if they’d mind if we share it here today. Christina wrote back promptly saying they love for us to share it, and thus, here it is, presented with a bit of modesty and surely a blush on our faces:  
“Hello from sunny Florida!!!
Harold and I went to Christchurch, Auckland, Vegas, and Houston before my return home to Tampa last night – It’s been a fantastic adventure!! 

You were the most memorable couple we had the pleasure of meeting – We looked for you in your designated spot on the last day, went to the lounge, called your room a few times, and didn’t get you – you were like beautiful angels who had now disappeared. 

Harold is a world traveler (I’m brand new to his adventures). He has never met anyone who traveled for pleasure more than he did until he met you, and he’s been raving about you ever since – We’re honored to have met you!!!! 
We want to say THANK YOU for being so kind and open, telling us about your lives, giving the great life lessons and advice you gave (we kept looking at each other in shock because you were honestly speaking to us), your travels, your healthy eating lifestyle (as I’m trying to convince Harold that that’s the way to go.) and inviting us to meet you someday out on your adventures. These excellent chapters of your life have genuinely impacted us!! 

I finally got a chance to look at your website and the fun memories you share!! We love what you’re doing in your retirement and look forward to seeing you again someday, hopefully sooner than later. 

We will keep you in our prayers for safe travels and excellent health throughout, and we’ll be watching with admiration and love!!

It’s back to reality here on the home front – work, work, work – However, now the plan is to fund a perfect retirement, vacation more, and enjoy life!! 

You’re our heroes!!!!

With love,
Unknown variety of red berries.

We wrote back expressing the appreciation we feel for having met them, the time we spent together (including dinner served by butlers in their suite) and at various times throughout the ship and, the hope that our paths will cross again someday. Thank you, Christina and Harold, for sharing a part of your lives with us and for your heartfelt, meaningful message.

It’s not only a breathtaking scene, an exquisite animal in the wild, or a blissfully colorful flower we encounter in our travels that fills us with an appreciation for this magical world… it’s the people we meet who open their hearts to welcome us for a moment, for a day, or a lifetime…
P.S. I couldn’t resist including contact information for Christina’s real estate business in Tampa, Florida, USA.  We have no doubt she is a highly competent real estate professional.  Please contact Christina at this link
Thanks, dear readers and friends, for sharing another day in our lives!
Photo from one year ago today, March 23, 2016:
When seeing these fish prices in New Zealand one year ago, we felt they were quite reasonable. For example, one TV guru Gordon Ramsey’s favorite, is the John Dorey and red snapper (which we purchased).  At the NZ price of 37.50, the US $25.33 for a kilo is 2.2 pounds! What a great price! For more details of our visit to the seafood market, please click here.

Working on our immigration issue…Five days and counting….

The sun peeked out for a few hours while we were in Manly making our way to the ferry.

When we left the Australian Immigration office in Sydney nine days ago, we were told to watch for the Bridge Visa we’d received via email by the end of the day.  The officer at immigration had given us a phone number to call if we had questions in the interim.  We had many questions when we’d had a difficult time understanding the vague and complicated instructions given to us by the immigration officer who, with the best of intentions, was unsure as to how to handle our case.

Later in the day the email arrived stating we had another appointment at the same office on March 27th at 10 am. That was clear to us.  Thus, we didn’t call the phone number which we’d left on the kitchen table which continued to nag at me.  Should we call?  Or should we wait until our appointment?

Yesterday morning, we decided to call to see if there was anything additional we could do or prepare for the upcoming appointment on Monday.  After waiting on hold for 20 minutes in the queue, finally a friendly rep came on the line.

Sailing on a windy day.

In reviewing our file, she adamently stated we needed to apply for Visitors Visa #600 before our appointment on Monday.  When we asked this same question to the rep at the immigration office “Should we apply for the visa online?” the she wasn’t sure if we should or not, leaving us confused when we left.

Calling might provide us with an answer.  There was no way we wanted to show up on Monday having failed to do something required in this complicated process.  Yesterday, we were relieved we’d called when we were told we better not show up on Monday without having applied online for Visitors Visa #600, a necessary adjunct to our Bridge Visa which was in place for only two weeks (ending on March 27th).

If we didn’t get the Visitors Visa, we’d be in big trouble next Monday when the Bridge Visa expires at midnight.  The phone rep immediately sent us the link to apply for the Visitors Visa. 

An appealing candy kiosk in at the Manly Ferry station.

We each followed the link in the email deciding to complete the form simultaneously on each of our laptops in order to aid one another in ensuring accuracy.  There was no margin for error in this process and lately, as error prone as I had been (you know…wrong day at the opera), following along together made sense.

Before we could even begin the 20 page process, we had to sign up for an online immigration account which required a series of seven or eight security questions. 

Having to deal with answering security questions can be a tricky process.  If an answer is off by only one letter, one number or a single aspect of the answer, it may result in total frustration when trying to recall what was originally intended.  

Manly is a charming beach town with shops, restaurants and water activities.

We didn’t want to make a lengthy handwritten list for each of us.  We’d already written down the complicated passwords including all types of characters, capital and lower case letters and numbers.  You know how that goes.

It ended up taking at least a half hour to getting our individual accounts set up.  As we’ve mentioned, its been very rainy and humid since we arrived.  When we were 10 minutes into this process, I suggested we turn on the air con.  We were both drenched in sweat.  Oh, I don’t like this stuff.

Immediatey Tom turned on the air conditioning.  Besides, we’d done two loads of laundry hanging it indoors on the portable rack making the humidity all the worse in our little apartment. The air con was a welcomed relief.

Yummy looking mounds of interesting flavors of ice cream at the Manly Wharf.

Once we’d established the accounts, we proceeded to begin the 20 page online document.  It was a slow process when we continually received error messages for entering words in unacceptable formats.  We plodded along.

Once we completed page 4 and hit the “continue” button for page 5, we both received an error message, “You cannot continue from this point based on your current status.  Call the immigration office immediately.”  Oh, oh.

We called again, waiting on hold on Skype for another 30 minutes only to be told, when a different rep came on the line after looking up our file, that were not supposed to fill out this form.  We were to wait and see what transpires on Monday. Oh.  She was very kind and apologetic that we were told otherwise.  We asked her to note the conversation in our file which she promptly handled.

After dark this cruise ship headed out to sea from the Sydney Harbour.  Hopefully, that will be us one month from today on April 22nd.

In one way we were relieved to avoid completing the remaining 16 pages but in another way, we were further concerned as to the outcome on Monday.  There was nothing more we could do at this point.

Worse case scenario…we could be told to leave the country immediately and not return for three years, missing our cruise on the April 22nd, forcing us to fly to New Caledonia, book a hotel  for almost a month and wait for the ship to arrive at a port of call three days after the cruise begins and then have to load our bags on a “tender boat.” 

Best case scenario…we’ll get another Bridge Visa, good until April 22nd when we’ll board the ship in Sydney.  There’s another possibility that we’ll have to leave the country, fly to another country and return a day later.  Also, there are possible fines, penalties and circumstances we aren’t aware of at this point which by Monday, we’ll be well informed.

Kookaburra atop the roof of neighboring house.

We’re surprised how we’ve been able to still enjoy our time in Fairlight, Manly and Sydney based on our concern over this situation.  We’ve taken many photos, seen so much and have been out and about reveling in this beautiful area.  Also, we’re still able to laugh and maintain a hopeful and positive perspective. 

After all, the results of this scenario whichever way it goes, won’t cost us more than money, time and inconvenience.  In the realm of things, as we always say, “If we have our health, we’re safe and we have one another, we can handle it.”

So it goes.

May you have good health and be safe with those you love.


Photo from one year ago today, March 22, 2016:

Many farms in New Zealand have ocean views adding another layer of beauty to the scenery.  For more photos, please click here.

A Night at the Opera…Mixed reviews from this couple…

Luna Park at night.

What can I say?  Tom didn’t love it. But, of course, I didn’t expect him to. Although, in the past, I’d noticed him listening intently when a few opera singers performed on various episodes of “America’s Got Talent.”

Last night, he didn’t express a glimmer of enthusiasm over the performance at the Sydney Opera House other than his pleasure at seeing how much I was enjoying it. That’s worth something.

Cloudy night at the opera house.

He didn’t grumble or have a scowl on his face, nor did he dose off.  It lasted less than two hours, during which I was totally engaged and enthralled. I’ve always loved opera after being introduced to it by my Harvard-educated, musical genius, doctor uncle who could sit at his baby grand piano and play any aria from memory. He left quite an impression.

When it ended, we made our way to Wharf 3 to catch the next Manly Ferry, which takes off every 30 minutes. Little did we know the treat we were about to receive in taking the photos we’ve included today, too many for one post.

Tourists chose the upper deck to take photos as we did.

As we entered the ferry terminal in Circular Quay, Sydney, I suggested we climb the steps to the outdoor upper deck to sit outside to cool off on a humid night. It was a great plan when we found suitable seating and views that literally left our mouths agape.

Sure, we knew Sydney had a lot to offer. We’d reveled in it on six past occasions when our cruise ships sailed from the exquisite harbor. Over the past week, on four occasions, we visited Sydney, three by taking the ferry.

But, nothing we’d seen earlier could match the perspective from the top of the ferry, even on a dark cloudy night after seven cloudy days and nights in a row since our arrival one week ago today. Thus, we share today’s photos with excitement over this amazing city, in many ways, the most beautiful city we’ve seen so far in our world journey.

The interior of the Joan Sutherland Theatre of the Sydney Opera House. 

As for the remainder of the evening’s photos, we took several from the interior and the grounds of the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House, which we’ll continue to share in posts to come. 

Having ordered the tickets almost a year ago, we had perfect seats, four rows from the stage, dead set in the middle. See our photo below taken from our seats.

Our seats were only four rows from the stage and dead center in the theatre, seating for 1507. There are two large theatres and several smaller theatres in the complex. The cost for these two excellent seats was AU 190.15, US $146.50.

No doubt, the theatre is beautiful and interesting. However, there are many steps to navigate to get inside the theatre. For those who may have difficulty with stairs, there are elevators and a few escalators. For the full experience, we did the many flights of steps, making our way through tourists who were sitting on the steps, as shown in yesterday’s post.

As for the remainder of the day, we’d left the house at 1:30 pm to catch the bus arriving at 1:59 pm. We made it to Manly in time for the 2:15 pm ferry. With the recent inclement weather, about 10 minutes of the 25-minute ferry ride was particularly rough, but we didn’t give it a thought.

The building of the Sydney Opera House has an interesting story. Click here for details.

Arriving in Circular Quay, we walked through crowds and commotion to make our way back, the second day in a row after our flub showing for the opera one day early. We’d decided to dine early, before the show, since we hadn’t eaten earlier in the day. 

With a 3:00 pm meal, we’d be set until returning “home” when the evening ended, and if hungry, we could have a snack of homemade coconut bread with butter with a small bowl of organic Greek yogurt on the side for me. (I’ve been taking “big guns” probiotics and eating yogurt twice a day since my recent two-week round of antibiotics).

The Sydney Harbour Bridge after dark.

We’d considered the same restaurant as the prior day since they were able to accommodate my diet.  But, we tried to branch out and try something different. Shortly, we were seated in a high-end Asian fusion restaurant only to discover there wasn’t a single item on the menu that would work for me, except plain steamed veg and chicken, which held little appeal.

We thanked the waiter but decided to leave. I wasn’t sure the pans they’d use would be “gluten, starch, and sugar-free.” Why take a risk? We meandered back down the boulevard checking menus along the way, only to discover the only restaurant that would be suitable was the same where we dined the prior day, Searock Grill.

I ordered the same grilled chicken salad, and Tom had a steak and chips instead of the prior day’s fish and chips. The steak was perfectly cooked medium rare and was thick and juicy. We didn’t order beverages.

The Sydney Opera House at night.

What surprised us was the fact that the prices were higher on Sunday than they’d been on Saturday, plus a 10% weekend service fee was added. But then, we recalled a mention on the news of increased prices on Sundays due to many workers receiving higher wages on Sundays.

Our bill was AU 41.80, US $32.20, still not too bad for the high-end area, which surely would have been considerably more in the evening. The food was good and fresh, although yesterday’s service was sketchy. 

With tips not necessarily rendered in Australia due to higher wages than in the US and many countries, we didn’t hesitate to leave the restaurant with nary a token tip left on the table. While in Australia, we followed suit as per the locals, tipping only for exceptional service. 

View of a small portion of Sydney’s skyline at night.

Once back in the US, we’ll be tipping in the typical US manner, from 15% to 20% of any restaurant bill. Add state and city taxes, and a meal may be as much as 25% to 30% more than the cost of the meal and beverages. I guess we’ll be heading to Costco for pre-made meals to bring back to our hotel when not out dining with family and friends. 

At the end of the ferry ride back to Manly, we crossed the busy street to a taxi stand and grabbed a ride back to our holiday home at the cost of AU 7.40, US $5.70. Then, we maneuvered our way up the long steep, winding walkway to the house in the dark. Luckily, Tom had his LED flashlight attached to his RFID wallet, lighting the way for the uneven walk up the hill.

View to Circular Quay from an upper deck on the Manly Ferry.

Amid our immigration worries, overall, it was a good weekend and first week in Manly. Unusual for us, we dined out four times, once with Bob in Manly, another in the Rocks area of Sydney with friends Linda and Ken, and twice in Circular Quay near the Sydney Opera House.

Today, we’re making a favorite dish and staying put planning this week’s menu. We’re trying to figure out what we need to purchase to last only through next Sunday night, just if we have to leave the country for good, as of next Monday’s immigration office meeting. We shall see.

Be well. Be safe. Be happy.

Photo from one year ago today, March 20, 2016:

One year ago, we got a kick out of watching cattle wander back and forth through the barren vineyards Okurukuru Winery in New Zealand. For more photos of the winery, please click here.

Oh, oh, we screwed up again!….Photos from the Sydney Opera House…

There are many interesting dining spots with exquisite views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House walk.

After all these years of meticulously planning our travels, we’ve screwed up once again, once for our current dreadful immigration status in Australia and again, my error only, on the night we’d booked tickets for the Sydney Opera House…I failed in carefully reading our ticket confirmation to discover it was on Sunday night, not Saturday.

This was Tom before he knew we’d arrived at the opera on the wrong date. The ship in the background is the Emerald Princess, a line we’ve never experienced.

I’d booked the tickets last April, receiving an online confirmation which I’d copied and pasted into my online calendar, placing it under Saturday, not Sunday. If I’d reviewed it carefully lately, as I should have, it would have been easy to determine the tickets were for Sunday night (tonight), not last night.

The Opera Quay building along the walk.

Off we went with Bob dropping us at the Manly Ferry in the pouring rain with umbrellas and parkas keeping us relatively dry. We waited for 15 minutes for the ferry and boarded for the 30-minute ride in rough waters due to the stormy conditions.

As we approached the Sydney Opera House, we noticed almost everyone had a camera or phone in hand.

Upon arrival at Circular Quay in Sydney, the sun had peeked out, and we walked for 20 minutes on the esplanade along the bay to the opera house. Then, climbing the zillions of steps to the entrance, we found our way to the ticket office, where our tickets were awaiting us.

There’s no doubt that after dark, these tables will be filled with diners.

Alas, we were informed that the opera for which we’d purchased tickets didn’t occur until today. So we were one day early. Oh, my. Mr. Overly Grumpy reared his ugly head for about 10 minutes while I racked my brain as to how I could make such an error. 

Bennelong Lawn, Royal Botanic Gardens is located next to the Sydney Opera House.

I could have made all the excuses in the world, such as not feeling quite well yet, the immigration thing, the missing package from the US, and my sister’s recent possibility of recurring cancer (a scare, after all) that kept my brain flooded with worries during the recent cruise and since our arrival one week ago.

I was dressed too warm for the humid weather.

But excuses always fail me. I tend to leave them in the dust instead of simply admitting my mistake and cheerfully, in my usual “overly bubbly” manner, move on. But, unfortunately, Mr. Grumpy was having none of that. For 10 minutes, he was rather annoying. 

Visitors sitting on the steps of the Sydney Opera House enjoying the view.

Suddenly, I suggested we make it fun that we were already in Sydney and enjoy the amazing area and views of the bay, Circular Quay, the Opera House, and the people watching. “How about if we go to dinner, have a drink, smile, and have a good time?” I asked. He was game.

Moments later, we were seated in a lovely restaurant, Searock Grill, with mouth-watering smells wafting through the air, ordering a beer for Tom and a wine for me, while the mood became uplifting and cheerful. After all, this was no big deal in the realm of things.

Grilled chicken salad with tomatoes, radishes, and sprouts with a side of garlic aioli.

I apologized for my error. Tom apologized for being “overly grumpy,” and we ended up having a great time.  Today, we’ll return to the Manly Ferry to give it another try. This time, we’ll take the local bus to the ferry since Bob isn’t available. 

Tom’s double filet fish and chips. He ordered ketchup on the side for the chips.

We plan to dine early again, before the 5 pm opera, since it’s less crowded in the restaurants. Lately, with my condition, dining earlier rather than later seems to serve me well with less discomfort into the evening. 

Tom’s beer, Great Northern Brewing Co., was named the same as one of the predecessor railroads he worked for many moons ago.

Oddly enough, we’d like to return to the same restaurant today after we’d read menus for every restaurant along the esplanade. Yesterday’s restaurant was easily able to accommodate my diet with a delicious grilled chicken salad along with a satisfying plate of fish and chips for Tom, photos of which are included here today.

Ferry arriving at the wharf.  There’s a constant flow of ferries heading to and fro many areas around the bay.

Based on the early arrival time, we were allowed the benefit of the lunch menu pricing, and our total bill with one glass of beer, one glass of wine, and our two meals totaled AU 50.60, US $38.92!  The same items were priced about 40% higher after 5:00 pm. That works for us!

This is the pier where we boarded our past six cruises with hopefully, one more to go with the immigration situation hopefully resolved.

After dinner, we enjoyed the leisurely walk back to Wharf #3 with only a short wait for the next ferry. Back at our cozy house in Fairlight, we settled in for the remainder of the evening, watched a few shows, and dozed off by 11:00 pm.

Happy face back on…

We’ll be back tomorrow with the results of our second foray to the Sydney Opera House, hopefully getting it right this time!

Happy day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 19, 2016:

The beach in Opunake, New Zealand, one year ago. We’ve experienced plenty of rainy weather in our world travels. But, we try to take it in stride and make the best of it. As indicated in today’s post, bad weather prevents us from planning activities, although we may not venture out if our plans are open.  For more details, please click here.

Horrible weather in Sydney…Opera House tickets tonight…Happy St. Patrick’s Day!…

This cockatoo stopped by for a visit, alighting atop Bob’s medicinal Papaw tree in the yard.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to those who celebrate. Today, March 17th in the US is also eldest son Richard’s 50th birthday. Happy birthday, Richard! It’s hard to believe you’re 50!  Richard is a highly successful real estate agent in Henderson/Las Vegas, Nevada with nothing but five star reviews in Zillow. (See here for details). We wish you continued success and much happiness and look forward to seeing you in July!

Evening walk through a portion of the shopping area near the Manly Ferry.

Today around 3:00 pm, we’re off to the Sydney Opera House in this outragous weather; windy, rainy and cold.  Bob will drive us to the Manly Ferry which will bring us within a 20 minute walk to the venue. 

Fish Cafe in Manly where we dined this week.

The only part of the trip that concerns us is that 20-minute walk from the wharf to the opera house in the event the pouring rain continues. We’re not concerned about getting soaked on the return walk to the ferry. It won’t be fun to be soaking wet while sitting in the theatre during the performance. 

Daily specials posted outside the restaurant where we dined with Bob this week. The highest-priced items on this menu at AU 36.90 is equal to US $28.42.

Bob has supplied us with an large umbrella which along with our hooded parkas we hope to stay dry.  Unfortunately, our parkas aren’t necessarily stylish for the opera but we have nothing else to wear. Plus, the only shoes I have that are appropriate for my outfit and the long walk are black sandals. So it goes.

We were early and the rush of diners had yet to arrive at the popular local restaurant.

This is a reality of our lives of world travel…if we chose to partake in a more dressy affair, we don’t necessarily have the appropriate clothing. As always, we’ll make the best of that which we have on hand. It’s worked on formal nights on cruises and will certainly be sufficient for the Sydney Opera House.

My plate of grilled barramundi, vegetables and a side of sour cream.

According to the theatre’s website smart casual is acceptable although they say many attend wearing formal attire while others may be dressing more casually. It was a relief to read this comment. Overall, Australians tend to dress casually for most events although they certainly can “dress to the nines” when they so desire.

Tom, with little interest in grilled fish, ordered the fish and chips.

Although no photos will be allowed during the performance, we’ll bring the camera in a waterproof bag and take as many photos as possible of the exterior and interior of the world renowned theatre which we’ll share in tomorrow’s post.

Bob dined on the grilled swordfish and salad.

Today’s photos are from a night out to dinner with Bob at a popular seafood restaurant in Manly. The beachfront area is rife with shops and restaurants which we look forward to browsing when the weather improves. Since our arrival five days ago, its been raining each day. 

Aquarium in the Fish Shop Restaurant where we dined  with Bob earlier in the week.

A week from Monday, we have a scheduled appointment at the Australian Immigration office in Sydney, after which we’ll know what we have to do in order to be able to board the cruise to the US on April 22nd. We’ll keep you updated on how this rolls out.

Manly Beach across the road from the restaurant.

For those who celebrate, have a safe and fun-filled St. Patrick’s Day. While in Ireland in September, 2014, we didn’t kiss the Blarney Stone after we heard dreadful stories about it. 

Us, in front of the Blarney Castle in Ireland in September, 2014.  Click here for this link.

Instead, we kissed one another with Irish on our minds although Tom kissed it twice on previous visits to Ireland (before I came on the scene). According to DNA test results Tom is 99% Irish, certainly sufficient to warrant celebration on this special day.

Happy green beer day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 17, 2016:

For a heartwarming and equally heartbreaking story of a favorite alpaca we so much loved, Mont Blanc, please check our year ago post.  Please click here for the details

A visit to Circular Quay and ride on The Manly Ferry…A Sydney Harbour tradition and popular means of local transportation…

The esplanade, a walkway along the shore in Circular Quay.

Traveling from Manly Beach to Sydney couldn’t be easier. The Manly Fast Ferry offers five location stops; Circular Quay; Darling Harbour; North Sydney; Pyrmont Bay: and weekend sightseeing ferry between Manly, Watsons Bay, and Rose Bay. For details for the Manly Fast Ferry, please click here.

While in Sydney a few days ago, Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas was in port. We’d sailed on this ship April 16, 2016, from Sydney to Singapore.

The slower ferry route taking about 30 minutes is the Manly Ferry, in operation since 1855, from the wharf in Manly to Circular Quay, the popular wharf. There are shops, a newsstand, and electronic machines from which to purchase more money for the Opal card used for Sydney transportation. 

Video during the ferry ride to Circular Quay in Sydney.

In addition, there’s an array of restaurants and fast food shops at the Wharf. Bob showed us a “drool-worthy” candy kiosk where candy lovers can find many of their favorites if they so chose.

Entertainment at the Wharf in Circular Quay in Sydney.

Circular Quay is a harbor in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on the northern edge of the Sydney central business district on Sydney Cove, between Bennelong Point and The Rocks. It is part of the local government area of the City of Sydney. For information on this ferry, please click here.

Ferries ready to be boarded.

For our purposes, the slower Manly Ferry will serve our needs. Tomorrow night, when we’ll attend the opera at the Sydney Opera House, we’ll use the slower ferry for the round trip as we did when meeting friends Linda and Ken in the Rocks area of Sydney a few days ago.

The ride is easy and pleasant with breathtaking scenery with many popular points of interest greeting us along the way. Getting on and off the ferry is seamless especially with its frequent departures every 30 minutes.  There are multiple decks, both outdoor and indoor seating, and restrooms on board. 

Between the launch area to a view of the cruise ship.

Considered one of the top ten sights to see in Sydney at many tourist sites, the ferries themselves are a popular attraction. Plus, it makes no sense to pay the high taxi fares when it’s much more economical and faster to use the ferry. 

Sales area for Captain Cook Cruises, a tourist company.

We paid AU 100, US $77 for the round trip taxi fare from Manly to Sydney whereby it’s only AU 28, US $21.50 for the round trip ferry for both of us. It’s a no-brainer when we can easily visit the beautiful city as often as we’d like during our remaining time (yet unknown due to immigration) in Fairlight/Manly.

Tom on the Manly Ferry which was clean and well organized.

Taking the ferry requires a ride on a bus to return to the holiday rental but the Hop, Skip, Jump bus is free and arrives at the stop outside the Manly Wharf every half hour or less, stopping within a few blocks of where we’re living.

The cruise ship, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and a small ferry boat.

Typically in our world travels, we haven’t used a lot of public transportation when we’ve lived in more remote areas of the world where public transport schedules were erratic and stop too distant from our location at the time. Instead, we’ve either had a rental car or used a taxi. Neither of these options was necessary for this area.

From almost any point in the area, it’s easy to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Ken asked if we were going to do the bridge walk. Maybe not.

The weather has been rainy, windy, and cloudy since our arrival on Monday. We’ve only been able to wash clothes once with the high humidity. It took three days for the clothing to dry indoors on the rack. As a result of inclement weather, we haven’t had much of an opportunity to walk the neighborhood, although we’ve been out and about on several occasions.

Soon, we’ll visit The Museum of Contemporary Art located near the wharf.

Yesterday late afternoon, our kindly landlord Bob took us to a local mall with dozens of shops and restaurants, Stockland Balgowlah, where we rounded out our grocery shopping at Cole’s Market, visited a pharmacy, and stopped at the local health food store. 

We had to walk to find the pub where we were meeting Linda and Ken.

We’re hoping the weather will improve by tomorrow’s ferry ride to Circular Quay especially considering the long walk to the Opera House from the Wharf but it doesn’t look hopeful. Rain or shine, we’ll be on our way for what surely will be a fabulous performance at the world-famous venue.

Have a fabulous day!

Photo from one year ago today, March 17, 2016:

Two bottles of New Zealand wine we’d purchased and savored in New Zealand. We seldom purchase wine for “home” use but have done so twice in the past year. No wine for me recently with this medical issue, yet to be fully resolved. For more details, please click here.

Facing the biggest challenge of our travels to date…Telling it like it is…Arrived in Sydney to a fabulous vacation home…

View from the veranda of our new holiday home in Fairlight/Manly, a suburb of Sydney.

As we discussed in prior posts, we never fail to “tell it like it is,” although, at times, we may wait to post a troublesome situation after we know more about it. This was the case when, on March 6th, while already onboard the cruise for six days when Tom received an email from Australian Immigration stating that he violated immigration laws. Oddly, this didn’t include me at that point.

When we met with immigration upon boarding the ship, an issue came up at that time in regard to Tom’s visa, here again not mine. They let us board saying we could deal with it later. Perhaps it was some glitch, one we could deal with after we disembarked the ship on March 13th.

The sky’s been overcast since our arrival yesterday morning. 

We never gave it another thought until the email came through on the 6th. The email requested documentation of our travels in Australia, particularly recent cruises to which Tom quickly responded, providing appropriate documentation.

On March 9th, four days prior to the end of the cruise, the ship’s immigration officer called us in the cabin stating they were putting a call through from the immigration department in Sydney regarding “both” of our immigration violations.

When the rep came on the line, it sounded as if we were in serious trouble. Apparently, according to their records, we’d violated the maximum 90 day period we’re allowed to stay in Australia, thus canceling our one-year visas entirely (our second in these past two years). 

Reef Bay, our views from the veranda.

According to their records, we’re currently in this country illegally. Ouch. Rather than spend paragraph after paragraph trying to explain the immigration laws of Australia, we’ll simplify how this happened, as we’ve now discovered may be entirely our fault from misunderstanding the immigration laws in this country.

As meticulous as we’ve been over these past years to maintain the highest level of compliance for all laws, rules, and regulations, we’re stunned to find ourselves in this predicament.

Bob, our amazing landlord and new friend came running to tell us the Kookarburros were on his veranda. We couldn’t believe our eyes for this up-close view of these huge beautiful birds.

Here’s what transpired in a nutshell. First, we’d assumed (yes, we know the word “assumed” shouldn’t be in our vocabulary) that sailing in and out of various countries during a cruise would restart the 90 days we can stay in Australia. 

How wrong we were. In Australia when sailing from and ending up in the country, its referred to as a “closed-loop,” with none of the countries we’ve visited counting toward restarting the 90 day ticker of time allowed in Australia.

On the phone call with immigration on March 9th, we were instructed to show up immediately at the immigration building in Sydney upon our arrival without stop or delay.

The size of these beautiful birds is astounding when up close and personal. We’d seen them in Trinity Beach in 2015 but never this close. They didn’t fly off when we approached, but they certainly checked us out.

As much as we wanted to comply, it was impossible to bring our three heavy bags and two carry-on bags into the building with us. Surely, security would have had to go through everything in the government building. 

Instead, after disembarking the ship, we decided to take a taxi to the vacation rental (30-minute ride), drop off the bags, and immediately return to Sydney’s center to the Australian Immigration Building. 

By 10:45 am, we were waiting in a queue to speak with someone who’d hopefully help us figure out the best solution to our dilemma.  Our options were few:

1.  Leave the country for good: We’d lose the money for the vacation rental for 40 nights plus a portion of the cruise fare for our return to the US on April 22nd, having to board the ship during a port of call in another country.
2.  Apply for a “bridge visa” only good for a short period while we attempt to find a solution while working with immigration.
3.  Fly out of the country with a “bridge visa” in place and also apply for a new one year visa hoping it would be approved (but not guaranteed) for our return to board the cruise.”

The Kookaburras were squawking at Bob for a treat. He complied while we watched in wonder.

Fortunately, the kindly rep we met with was willing to help us put some of the above options in action. She directed us to apply online for the “bridge visa” and scheduled an appointment for us to return to immigration on March 27th, the last day the “bridge visa” will be valid. 

Yesterday afternoon, after returning to the vacation rental, we spent hours applying for the bridging visa, which was approved later in the day when we received the online confirmation. Unfortunately, this doesn’t warrant or guaranty in any manner that we can stay until the cruise on April 22nd. 

At this point, we have no idea what will transpire on March 27th. We can only be patient and wait and see. In the interim, we’re making every effort to stay upbeat and positive, neither of which will impact the outcome, both of which will aid us in maintaining our sanity in the process.

Last night’s cloudy view in the shopping and dining area of Manly Beach.

As for the property in Manly…its outstanding, as is our fun, funny, thoughtful, and generous property owner with whom we dined out last night and have already spent considerable time hanging out together. Both the property and owner are exceptional.

Tomorrow, we’ll share more photos and details on the fabulous accommodations and surroundings in this very special beach town of Fairlight/Manly. We’ll keep you updated on our immigration status as we learn more over these next weeks.

Be well.

Photo from one year ago today, March 14, 2016:

We never figured out the source of smoke in these photos but the scene was gorgeous none the less. For more photos, please click here.