Showing posts with label Sydney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sydney. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

South Pacific ~ Some Enchanted Evening

“I wish I could tell you about the South Pacific. The way it actually was. The endless ocean. . .


The infinite specks of coral we called islands. . .


Coconut palms waving gracefully toward the ocean. . .


Reefs upon which waves broke into a spray and inner lagoons, lovely beyond description.. . ."


The words above are from the opening scene of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s musical, South Pacific. I couldn’t have found a better description of sights we saw during our cruise on the Celebrity Solstice in October.

DSCF1646And there was no better way to end the cruise than by attending a performance of the musical at the iconic Sydney Opera House!

So please join us as we re-live our ‘Enchanted Evening’. . .

The Opera House’s 40th Birthday celebration was underway while we were in town -- gala musical performances, fireworks and special activities that filled both days and evenings – and it was the last week’s run of “South Pacific”.


The musical, an adaptation of James Mitchener’s Tales of the South Pacific, was first performed on New York City’s Broadway back in 1949. This,on-the-surface lighthearted song and dance tale of romance, has also been described as a 'strong progressive message on racism'. The story is of an American nurse stationed in the South Pacific who falls in love with an expatriate French plantation owner and who struggles to accept his mixed race children. A secondary story line focuses on a U.S. Lieutenant who falls in love with a Tonkinese woman but who fears the social consequences if he should marry his Asian sweetheart.


Theater-goers flocked to the Opera Bar that stretches along Circular Quay to enjoy a libation on the way to the Opera House – it is ‘the’ thing to do, we were told. We opted to have our drink inside so that we could enjoy the ambiance of this whimsical building and watch the departing cruise ships – so close it felt as if we could touch them.


I took only a couple of photos—all without flash, thus the slight blur -- inside the theater; this one during intermission.


And this one of the stage as we entered the theater:


The performance was by the cast and crew of the Lincoln Center Production, winner of seven Tony Awards, and it is continuing to be performed in other cities in Australia this fall but I doubt if any production could be half as enchanting as the one performed at the Sydney Opera House.

Let me end by providing you a sample of the evening, just click the following link. . .be forewarned you’ll be humming and smiling for the rest of the day!


We are linking up with Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox and The Tablescraper – check out the other armchair trips there today.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sydney, Australia: A taste of Watsons Bay

One of our favorite things to do each of the six days we stayed at Sydney’s Circular Quay was to hop one of those fantastic ferries headquartered there and head out to explore other small hamlets that dotted the coastline.
Sydney, Australia's Circular Quay

Watsons Bay, a suburb of Sydney, just 11 miles away, was our Sunday lunch destination because a few months ago we’d read a murder mystery novel, The Bat, by Norwegian writer Jo Nesbo. One of its scenes was set in Doyles, a restaurant operated since 1885 on Watsons Bay beach. It sounded worth a visit if we had the opportunity during our stay.

[Travel Tip: We have visited some interesting places in our travels and many of them we’ve learned about by reading novels set in those destinations. We follow up with a bit of research before the trip and then figure out how to include them in the itinerary. We don’t rely solely on travel guides.]


Our decision to go there, however, on that Sunday was rather spur of the moment. After arriving at the restaurant, we realized that we were lucky to get in to this in this beachfront, family-owned and operated (for five generations) eatery even though it has expansive indoor and outdoor seating areas.  

Doyles was one happening spot on Sunday

It seemed most of the passengers on the ferry were headed to the same place that we were – Doyles is ‘the place’ to go on a Sunday, not just for tourists like ourselves but for Sydney-ites as well. Those in the know were able to go straight to the ‘with reservations’ line whle we joined a short line of others in the ‘without’ line.

We each ordered a bowl of their seafood chowder and we knew we were in for a treat when the waiter came and set up the tools for each of us to use when consuming it. “We put seafood in our chowder. You will need to eat it,” he explained.


Soon after, he brought the bottled water we’d ordered as well as a finger bowl with lemon-scented water in which to rinse our fingers as we ate our chowder and another large bowl for the emptied shells. These were bowls – not dainty dishes.


The bowl of chowder at $18.50AUD,(then about the same in US$$) was not inexpensive, although it was one of the least expensive items on the menu. But, was indeed full of seafood including mussels, lobster, scallops, shrimp and crab.


The small loaf of sour dough bread (pictured below) that came as a side, and cost an additional $7.50AUD.


It was a delicious and filling lunch in a beautiful setting ( from some areas of the restaurant you could see the Sydney skyline off in the distance – tables in those areas had been reserved, by the way).

So we agreed that while paying $44.50 was more than we would normally pay for an alcohol-free lunch, it had been worth it.  You can image our surprise when the bill arrived at the table and we found that an additional $5 per person had been added as the ‘adult weekend surcharge’ bringing our bill to $54.50. 

Hmmm. . .that ‘ding’ left just a bit of a bitter aftertaste. Have you ever paid a restaurant 'weekend surcharge?

If You Go:

Ferries regularly depart Sydney’s Circular Quay for Watsons Bay. It is also accessible by water taxi or bus.

Map picture
Doyles Restaurant is located at:
11 Marine Parade, Watsons Bay, Sydney
phone: (02) 9337 2007 Web:  
Open for lunch and dinner seven days a week, closed Christmas Day.

The restaurant’s website offers a link to Alice Doyles’ recipes; recipes like:

 Do Drop in Salmon Spread
Fry sliced onions gently in a little butter until soft, mix in sugar.
Drain salmon, reserving liquid in case needed. Mash salmon, add onions and all other ingredients together. Make the spread very moist -if it seems too dry, add some of the juice from the salmon.
Serve with potato crisps or savoury biscuits. Makes about 2 1/2 cups
  • 2 large brown onions, fine sliced
  • butter
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 large can red salmon
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • pinch basil
  • few drops Tabasco
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
We’ll be adding this post to the Foodie Tuesday linkup over at Inside Journeys, so head that direction then and be sure to come back here for Travel Tip Tuesday when we have more money saving updates for you!.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Strolling Along Sydney’s Writer’s Walk

Sometimes the path you walk along is as interesting as what it is leading you to. . .

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Sydney Harbour ferry
As we made our way along the busy Circular Quay, Sydney Harbour’s transportation hub – buses, trains, ferries and taxis converge here -- we noted directional signs for the “Writer’s Walk”.
So, as any inquisitive traveler and writer would do, we set out to explore . . . and ‘met’ some interesting scribes along the way. . .

SolsticePt22013 172

And pondered their observations . . .

SolsticePt22013 173

And through the eyes of these writers, learned a bit more about Australia and  its history. . .

SolsticePt22013 175

The Writer’s Walk, a series of 47 metal discs the size of manhole covers embedded into the sidewalk, celebrates the lives and works of writers – both Australian natives as well as others who visited or relocated here. 

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While the lighting on Elizabeth Jolley wasn't the best, I am including this because I found her own story inspiring. Her first novel was accepted when she was ‘almost sixty’ – and she had  nearly two decades more during which time she produced 22 more works. 

If You Go:

The Sydney Writers Walk at Circular Quay

The Writers Walk plaques of honor are embedded at regular intervals along the Circular Quay stretching from the west, at its Overseas Passenger Terminal (near the bridge) along the train station walkway, then east to the Opera House forecourt. (Notice the one in the walkway above).

For a look at all 47 plaques:

Note: November 2013 marks the 15th year of the annual National Novel Writing Month ( Its a time when amateurs and professionals challenge themselves to write 50,000 words. Whew! ~ this post is only 295 words, so you see what they are up against. Good luck to you all.

We are linking up to and then doing some armchair travel at these blogs this week:
Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox,
Friday’s Oh the Places I Have Been at The Tablescraper

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Time Flies When You Travel

Just like that it is over.
A month.

It seemed, back in January, when we started putting this adventure together that our departure date would never arrive. Then as we set out on October 1st, the month-long trip sounded as though it would stretch endlessly into the South Pacific.

sydney2013 007 

Tomorrow on a springtime Monday evening we fly out of Sydney, Australia and some 20 hours later we will arrive home on a late Monday evening in the midst of autumn.

While the month has gone far too quickly, this trip is one that has definitely made our Pacific Northwest life seem long ago and far away.  We’ve heard very little from family and friends.  We’ve seen bits and pieces of headline news and sports from home; a good reminder that there’s a big ol’ world out there with lots going on beyond the United States.

southpacific2013 060 

Our days at sea provided a pleasant mix of time for relaxing and introspection.  And thanks to Celebrity we had a variety of special on-board experiences like dining with the captain and visiting the bridge. . .all of which we will tell you about in  future posts.

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A warm welcome in Papeete, Tahiti

Our three days in French Polynesia was a wonderful taster plate of experiences that calls out for  a second helping of this amazing tropical paradise.

Many of you know that I was ambivalent about visiting New Zealand and Australia prior to the trip.  Not so, any longer.  We have seen stunningly beautiful parts of both countries and will long remember the warm welcomes that have greeted us ‘Down Under’. 

If the travel gods smile upon us, our next report will be written from back in Kirkland.  Hope you’ll come back later this week because our Tales of the South Pacific are just beginning!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

G’Day Mates from Down Under!

After an 18 day journey that covered more than 6,400 nautical miles we glided through Sydney Harbor Wednesday morning past the Opera House and docked at the International Terminal near the Harbor Bridge. The shadowy outlines of those two icons were  rather welcoming sights I have to admit!

 sydney2013 004 
We arrived sunburned, wind-blown (probably weighing more than when we left) and about as relaxed as one could get before entering a coma state.  The waters of the Pacific and its winds kept us rocking and rolling at times – unlike the Atlantic crossings we’ve made, so we didn't get quite as much 'lazing in the sun' as we'd hoped, but still got plenty.

This was our longest voyage. All but six had been ‘at sea’ aboard the Celebrity Solstice – a floating home-away-from-home.  However some of our fellow passengers had boarded the ship back in Seattle and had been aboard for seven weeks!

One of the best parts of such long periods at sea are those travelers you meet and friendships that are forged along the way.  We have a wonderful new group of friendships that span the globe from Australia to the U.S. and on to Greece.  (Many of these folks make our travels sound like we are ‘stay at homes’ in comparison to their adventures.)

sydney2013 009 

Our appreciation of the size and vastness of the Pacific Ocean has grown. It is amazing to go for days without seeing another ship, bird or plane.  I heard a siren today in Sydney’s early morning and realized it was the first I had heard for weeks. Although the ship was as modern as one could be, in the midst of that ocean there were times we had no television or internet signals . . .

sydney2013 007
We were off the ship and settled into our room at the Marriott Harbourside Circular Quay before 9 a.m. – a record for smooth disembarkation and check-in (20 minutes from start to finish).  We hit the deck running and covered nearly 10 miles of the city yesterday and a similar amount today.  Tonight (for those of you who didn’t see my Facebook post) we are attending a performance of the musical, South Pacific at the Sydney Opera House pictured above.  So our journey continues. . .

It was sad seeing our ship set sail last night as it begins its South Pacific season. I’ve taken loads of photos and have Tales of the South Pacific to tell you after we get home and settled back into the Northwest – until then we wish you safe travels and hope this post finds you well. That’s it for Travel Photo Thursday!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Ready! Set! Aloha!

By the time most of you read this post we’ll be winging our way to Honolulu, Hawaii, the first stop on our island-hopping route across the Pacific Ocean to Sydney, Australia.

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Approaching the island of O'ahu Hawaii
We were at our timeshare home in Hawaii last January when The Scout found this deal of a cruise while surfing his favorite cruise travel sites.  Sydney and/or greater Australia for years has bounced up on down on our travel bucket list and finally this cruise, its price and our schedule aligned.

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Waikiki Beach - Honolulu, Hawaii

OVeniceSanJuanIsl 068ne of our favorite ways to travel is to mix a bit of the old familiar with new experiences.  We are doing that on this trip, with a couple days in our old-favorite, Honolulu, prior to boarding our ship, the Celebrity Solstice. The Solstice is also an old-favorite as it was the first Celebrity ship we ever sailed. What a fabulous introduction she provided to that cruise line.

The Solstice will be our floating home-away-from-home for 19 nights, as we travel to French Polynesia, to New Zealand and then on to Sydney.

PicMonkey Collage
Inside the Celebrity Solstice 
We’ll have a dozen heavenly days ‘at sea’ – one of our favorite parts of these ‘repositioning cruises’ that move ships from  summer to winter routes. 

For those of you wondering how we pass the time on  sea days, I’ve included the photos above which were taken aboard the Solstice as she transported us from Florida to Europe two years ago.

I’ll be posting updates here about our South Pacific adventure as internet connections permit. We hope you’ll come along with us as we island-hop our way to Sydney. 

VegasHawaii2012 067Next update will be from Waikiki. . .until then,


Monday, December 26, 2011

Planning to Head “Down Under” in 2012

You know you are hooked on travel when you are making airline reservations before opening gifts on Christmas morning. 

But then, at our house, we think travel is the best gift we give ourselves. . .so in a way, we were opening a gift.

Our plans are to head “Down Under”  in 2012 to explore areas we’ve never been and along the way we will visit an old favorite, Singapore, a place where we celebrated New Year's Eve 28 years ago. 

It’s a trip that will guarantee we won’t  be home for Thanksgiving and will barely be back and over jet lag by Christmas. (Note to friends: the cards and gifts will be late).
DSCF2235It’s a long way off, or so it sounds right now, but it was even more futuristic back when we set the trip in motion eight months ago. It began with a $200 deposit on a future cruise, paid while we were sailing across the Atlantic in May on Celebrity’s Solstice. 
Frequent Flyer Seats

The reason we were making airline reservations on Christmas Day is because we are using frequent flyer (FF) miles to get us to Singapore and back home from Bali, Indonesia.  As those of you who use FF miles know, you can’t sit back and wait if you want to nab those precious seats – especially for flights around the holidays.

DSCF2366Thanks to Joel’s diligence  (it took calls made over a three-day time span to book the flights because of  time changes we’ll experience on our return flight)  we will fly to San Francisco on Alaska Air and there connect with Cathay Pacific which will take us to Asia. That airline will also return us to Vancouver, B.C. and we will fly Alaska Air home.   The Asia flight is some 14 hours so we’ve each used 100,000 Alaska Air miles to secure Business Class seats. . .which will make the flight almost fun.
Money Saving tip: we spent 100,000 air miles each and about $100 in taxes and fees.  To put that in perspective, a Business Class round-trip ticket from San Francisco to Singapore costs $6,018.75 per person! We got a good deal to our way of thinking.

The Cruise

The cruise will depart Singapore and over the course of 17 days will take us to Sydney, with several  ports of call along the way. We’ll spend a few days in Sydney then head to Bali. It’s a six hour flight between those two cities. . .somehow I thought it was closer. 

Money Saving Tip: We’d made reservations for a cabin in Concierge Class – the one that offers a some special amenities on board – but a recent cruise sale email from our travel agency caught Joel’s eye . . .with a quick phone call, he got us  moved to a regular cabin – same size  as Concierge Class – saving us $1,800 on the price of the cruise. (We can buy a lot of ‘amenities’ with that savings!)

We know ‘life happens’ and plans can change – final payment for the cruise isn’t due until next September which means changes can still be made until then. The airline seats can be cancelled (for a fee) and the FF miles returned to our accounts.  But for now our gift is open: the planning, reading, research and dreaming begins. 

So blogosphere friends, do you have some recommendations for us as we begin to plan? If so, please send us an email, or jot a comment below.


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