Archive for February, 2009

Melbourne: Holland America Cruise Port

February 28, 2009

We are in the port of Melbourne today..

The weather is fickle. At 10:00 am, I was wearing my scottish wool hat. Three hours later, I changed into a sunhat and sunglasses. Now, I’m closer to the water again and I’m freezing. I have to carry a little bit of everything with me.

Ray keeps chatting with a fellow cruise friend (Father Paul) who lives in Melbourne. Father Paul says, “If it’s hot, the wind is coming from the Outback in the north. If it’s cold, the wind is coming from Antarctica.”

Truth: I believe in Bob Dylan more than ever, “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.”

We saw the Melbourne Central Business District…basically the touristy area. It’s got some brilliant old buildings. The architecture from the last century is fab.

It’s been difficult to really get a feel for Melbourne because it’s a Saturday. However, we’ll be back in a few days with our Aussie land tour and we will get an official “LUXURY COACH” overview. I’ll know more about Mellie soon.

The City of Melbourne has a great mass-transit system. There are little trams everywhere. They feel like Frisco Cable Cars….only no hills in the city. The Tram’s go, “ding ding,” to warn of their onset of movement, just like the cable cars of San Francisco. Very cool.


Burnie,Tasmania OZ:Holland America Cruise Port

February 26, 2009

We just got into the port of Burnie, Tasmania, Australia and we are going on a short tour to see some animals. Tasmania is the former “Van Dieman’s Land” and it has a very interesting history. I hope to update with pics for various posts when we disembark in Sydney and have good computer access in the

Dunedin NZ: Holland America Cruise Port

February 23, 2009

Our ship is now in Dunedin and it is raining about like Scotland or
I am hardly ever able to get online because cruise ships
hold us captive. Besides, they don’t want us to learn about cheaper
vesions of their excursions. But, we have lucked out because in
Dunedin there is high-speed internet access. I believe this is due
to the fact that there is a large university or two. Lucky us. More info later.

Napier NZ: Holland America Cruise Port

February 19, 2009

Napier and the Surrounding Towns:

Today we took a tour and saw May, the Shetland Sheepdog,
herd some frightened, naked sheep in a “peddock”. Tommy, the
younger sheep farmer, let May out and told her to “fetch” or
whatever one says to a sheep dog. And May blurred by like
a bullet as she circled the pasture looking for strays. I
swear, May sounded like a galloping horse.

All of this was done by voice control. Tommy told us that 2
or 3 of these obedient and intelligent dogs can herd 2,000
sheep, even up in the nearby rough terrain.

Next, we went into the barn with the loverly sheep shit odour.
We saw Bob the Shearer denude two sheep, one with old-fashioned
shears, and next, using an electric shearing device. Bob was
one big muther and he just popped these huge sheep up and
flipped them on their backs. The sheep didn’t fight him much,
but when they did, their little sheepie hooves flailed
ferrociously. Bob the Shearer needed to wear special shoes or else
he would slip on the “grease” (lanolin).

Bob said that the top 5 sheep shearers lived right here around
Napier. Hooray! I always wanted to know that for which Napier,
New Zealand was known.

I grabbed a sheep-show brochure and the farm also sells dog
beds. “KiwiWool pet beds keep your pet warm in winter and
cool in summer. The unique properties of wool create a micro
climate for your pet…blah blah blah… and help prevent and
alleviate the sympoms of rheumatism and arthritis.” The
brochure neglects to report the psycho-dogical benefits of
sheep-aromatherapy… which is somewhat scientifically proven
to send pups directly into rem sleep and doggie dreams of
frollicking in a poofy pile of sheep droppings and lively
lanolin licking. Make your pooch happy at

Next we went up to the top of some scary, steep mountain.
Then we came down and saw miles of grape, apple, olive,
strawberry and everything farms/vineyards/groves. In the Greater
Napier area, they grow food and old-age housing.

Tip o’ the Day: If someone in NZ says they are looking for a
“bear”, in actuality, they are looking for a “bar”.

Auckland NZ: Holland America Cruise Port

February 18, 2009

The New Zealand Story So Far:

This is the third day at sea. It has been difficult and expensive to blog during the last few days.

Auckland, New Zealand:

I love the Aucklanders and their friendly civility. They go out of their way to help. I first encountered this with the Qantas stewardi, who were not old and snippy like the usual airplane servers. I chalked it up to the fact that all “Qantas Help” seemed to be under 30 years old.

Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour Tour was what sold me on NZ.

Usually, I refuse to go on most Tourist Trap Tours, but Ray had already paid for the harbor tour. There was something intangible, but I felt like I could live in Auckland. It’s just the right size.

If the US falls apart, this could be my new home…however, the flight to get to The States is BRUTAL.

Holland America, The Volendam:

The name of the ship sounds like a swear word, ie “Volendam You!”

We’ve had fun hanging out with our tour friends. As I’m typing this…I…woosh…am…swoop…get…ting… sea…arf…sick…umpf.

I’m Ok now. I put on my wristbands.

The White Island:

Yesterday at sea, we spent an hour going around White Island. It was a virtual Mt. St. Helen’s as that mountain was about 5-10 years back. Presently, White Island is a blown-out rock with the spewing steam happily happening at sea-level and with most of the “mountain” below the water line.

There were white puffs of sulphurous steam seaping out of cracks, then the steam would rupture out in a giant whoosh, then slow, then woosh again. It was like the “rock” was breathing.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Though, it was not as regular as breathing, which was a bit unnerving. It gives the viewer new meaning to the words “Active” and “Dormant”.

Holland America Cruise Port: Tauranga, New Zealand:

The name Tauranga is easy to remember if one thinks in 60’s terms. The Taurus lives in Topanga. And this little burg is a bit like the 60’s.

The Teenies and the Twenties are all around with their backpacks. Hoards of backpackers are running round here because February is

Tauranga is a sleepy little seaside town, and the locals are frighteningly friendly and helpful. The “adults” who are my age are pensioners.

After stocking up on non-durable goods such as nail polish and mouthwash in Tauranga proper, we strolled the narrow beach on the
way back to the Volendam-you. We watched a class learn to scuba-breathe in the shallow waters.

We took a few pics of the conicular “Mount” (where a tour gal-friend was climbing), and a lovely retired couple walked up to chat with us. Their names were Ron and Nancy, just like the Reagans they said… and I love easy names to remember. (I’ve decided that everyone should be required to wear a sticky paper with their name on it.)

Anyway, Ron and Nancy asked us if we were from the ship, blah, blah, blah, and I had a lovely opportunity to find out about the Tauranga area. R&N live on the other side of the something? mountains. They came to NZ 30 years ago from England. And, boy they certainly did look like proper Brits. We asked about NZ’s socialized health care and now I (think I) understand that there is a two-tiered system, where one has the option to have private insurance or government insurance.

N&R did give the impression that the fancy-dancy medical machines and procedures were more difficult to come by… though I may be reading too much into the conversation. R&N would have stayed and chatted all day, and they were so friendly and truly interested in our story, however, it was too hot and humid for me and my new, current medication, so we ambled on down the beach.

Well, 100 yards away was another couple (pensioners also) sitting on a bench in the shade of a tree of foreign origin.

Almost to Napier:

At sea now. The ocean is so blue. The clouds are so pluffy (yes that’s the correct Bush-Speak word). And, we are so far away from the “civilized corporate corrupted corraled” world that I find myself thinking, “Madoff who?” and, “Who gives a volendam about Afghanistan?”

In an hour we will be at the port of Napier. I have signed us up for the Sheep Show. (No, nothing like that!) We get to watch the critters get haircuts and we get to watch some little pup yap at the sheep until they behave. It sounds so much like one of my favorite movies, Babe the Pig, that I had to check this excursion out.

Normally, I like very cheap vacations and I don’t pay for many excursions. I like to stay away from Luxury Coaches (buses…people they are BUSES ! ). However, I decided I’d like to go inland a little so I could see more of than the NZ coastline. And, watching the pooch and the sheep sounded like fun.

There are tons of winery tours, but I can’t drink while taking my current meds and Ray only downs fou-fou drinks with umbrellas and tons of sugar.

Right now, the gawd-volendam ship is slowing down and we are at port. Ciao, baby.

Auckland NZ: Waitemata Harbour in Auckland

February 15, 2009

It was a grueling flight including some unexpected layovers, but we finally landed in Auckland.

Ray and I explored the waterfront part of the city and took a Waitemata Harbour tour. One can easily get the feeling that he or she is in Vancouver, Seattle or Frisco, but Auckland is warmer than any of them.

The Aucklanders are fab, friendly, intelligent, and gorgeous. Ray made a comment that all the women are gorgeous and that no one is fat here. I’m sure it’s true, but I would add that all the guys are gorgeous… even the straight ones. Brilliant.

I could live here.

When we were out on the harbor, I told Ray that someone forgot to put the “lid” down on one of the buildings. (In other words, the architect had to be a male because he left the toilet seat up.) Look at the blurry pic and it will make sense. I lay claim to this observation. (By the way, my Uncle Herbie is the person who said that the IBM building in Seattle looked like “The box that the Space Needle came in”.)

I suppose people from a construction family notice unusual things.

I included the bridge pic because we saw 2 people bungy jump from it. We were exactly under the bridge And boy did they look scared! We could see one guy shaking.

This Auckland place is awesome!

Seattle: What are the Antipodes?

February 11, 2009


The Lesson for Today:





“In geography, the antipodes of any place on Earth is its antipodal point; that is, the region on the Earth’s surface which is diametrically opposite to it. Two points which are antipodal to one another are connected by a straight line through the centre of the Earth.”

(And, why are we having this Geography Lesson today?)

“In the British Isles, “The Antipodes” is sometimes used to refer to Australia and New Zealand.” (Wikipedia)

In scientific terms, “If one digs a hole through the Earth, he or she will end up in China.” In actuality, one would start in Salto, Uruguay to dig straight down to Shanghai.

To see more, click the link: ANTIPODAL POINTS of the world.

Seattle: Australian Lingo – Pronounce the word Cairns?

February 8, 2009

kangaroo1I have been wondering how to pronounce Cairns, which is a city we will be visiting.

Click this link for the correct Aussie Pronunciation. However, several Americans have said it is pronounced Cans.

I have been pronouncing the word “Aussie” wrong. It is “Ozzie”.

“Fair Dinkum” means something like, “Absolutely!” And if someone says you are fair dinkum it is (usually) a compliment. Nice to know, so I won’t tell people to “piss off” if they say “fair dinkum” to me.

Seattle: To Make the Print Larger

February 7, 2009

I’m doing everything I can to make the print larger, but my html is rusty. (Actually, I can make the print larger but I also need to make the spaces between the lines bigger.)

To make the page larger yourself, hold Control (Ctrl) key down while hitting the Plus key.

If that doesn’t work CLICK HERE.

I’ll keep trying to find the right code to enlarge this.

Seattle: Australia and New Zealand, the Antipodes

February 7, 2009

Australia and New Zealand

Australia and New Zealand

I’m packing for a New Zealand / Australia trip.

The difficulty is that it is similar to packing for a trip from NYC to Florida. There are a lot of different weather ecosystems involved.