Uploading can work

If you are willing to do it before 0600 in the morning – local time which I think right now matches the Azores.

So anyway – cabins on this ship –

Looking from the door into the cabin

and from the porthole toward the main part of the cabin (and the entry to the rest of the ship

as per usual, I have forbidden towel animals from invading my space and have turned down evening service….
(sorry/not sorry for the horrible pun)

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Interesting people

I am sure that there are equally interesting people on other cruises that I have taken. Wait, that didn’t come out exactly right. It is just that on cruises which feature thousands of people and crowds everywhere – it is much harder to locate those people in the absence of planned activities (stitching/knitting groups, etc) or pure serendipity. It is perhaps why I cling to all those whom I have met over the years.

Anyway – on a ship with (corrected) 133 passengers, it is much easier to chat. And no, I am not saying that either I am interesting or that everyone with whom I initiate a conversation warrants a second one. As an example – we have an older priest retiring to New Jersey. A retired US State Department official headed back to the US (I am still figuring out whether or not I should forgive him for the red U of Wisconsin Badger Sweatshirt). A guy who is aiming for at least 30,000 steps a day on the ship. Yes, I know that is insanity – he is walking round and round, not on the treadmill. Or the loose group of nine singles who met up on their various European trips and all decided to sail back since the cruise cost less than most of the flights.

If I was willing to get out of my nice corner in the lounge I might meet even more.

And the first of six Leo’s now has a head and most of his body…

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Excellent food, limited program

Unlike the bigger and fancier ships, the daily program has a limited number of entries. Other than the usual “let me get you into the spa so that we can make a living….” there was music and one round of Trivia programed.

There are 136 passengers on board – quite a contrast to the ~3k of the Quantum. The staff numbers are probably higher than the passenger numbers.

I have already decided that I am pretty much skipping anything that feels like a mass gathering. Ok, so not really mass gatherings so much as many people in a smaller space.

I spent part of the morning, after leaving the upstairs lounge trying to find a quiet space on the ship. I finally settled out in the Compass Rose on Deck 6 and had put on my headphones just as a small herd of crew came in for a meeting. They ignored me, I continued to not see them… It worked out.

But avoiding groups means that I head early to dinner and have scored a table off in a corner. (Spicy peanut & squash soup, chicken tikka with the actual appropriate condiments was my choice this evening but there were several other equally appetizing options).

Stitching –  I have finished both the Supernatural SAL – Witchy Stitcher and Halloween Countdown – Fox&Rabbit included the dreaded backstitching.  I am also caught up on the Snarky Hanukkah SAL and waiting the next release.

again – pictures if I ever get the band width

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More Rock ‘n Roll

Oh, I remember this well, the 3-4 meter seas and the ship with lots of movement.  Boarding yesterday went smoothly. Just like the last time, we 1) cleared customs – since we are leaving the EU with no planned stops in the Canaries or Azores 2) cleared security 3) hiked up the gangway and went to the lounge on Deck 5 where there were three check-in stations run by ship’s personnel. Oh – yes, luggage dropped off before clearing customs.

I spent the rest of yesterday relaxing, unpacking and appreciating the new furnishings. There were a number of us who had wondered what Windstar was doing with the ship for the ~10 days prior to this transAtlantic. The answer? A short dry dock. The furnishing are new, carpets have been replaced and a fair amount of behind the seasons updating.

Today? Absolutely no clue as to my time zone – after all I went from Adelaide to Frankfurt to Lisbon and now here. All I knew this morning is that Nanda was making great lattes in the Yacht Club Lounge and that I needed them desperately.  Otherwise, my executed plan was to hang out upstairs and stitch while listening to an audio book. I also ran into three other passengers who were on last spring’s transatlantic. Also met a Dutch couple who will be on George’s & my planned cruise through the far east next Nov.

Until I am completely time zone non-whacked, it will be early to bed.

Windstar still wins the award for the worst Internet connections at sea. The Bandwidth is pitiful. There will be no pictures uploaded till probably the day before we dock in Miami.

 

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Another Star Legend TransAtlantic

Saturday, December 3 Lisbon, Portugal   5:00pm
Sunday, December 4 At Sea    
Monday, December 5 At Sea    
Tuesday, December 6 At Sea    
Wednesday, December 7 At Sea    
Thursday, December 8 At Sea    
Friday, December 9 At Sea    
Saturday, December 10 At Sea    
Sunday, December 11 At Sea    
Monday, December 12 At Sea    
Tuesday, December 13 At Sea    
Wednesday, December 14 At Sea    
Thursday, December 15 Freeport (Port Lucaya), Bahamas 4:00 pm  
Friday, December 16 Freeport (Port Lucaya), Bahamas   6:00pm
Saturday, December 17 Miami, FL 7:00am  
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FRA-LIS

Compared to yesterday, today was a breeze. The bed in which I slept was comfortable, the water in the shower plentiful and hot. Breakfast is included at the Hampton Inn’s which in my mind, puts them significantly ahead of the more expensive hotels. But then, I am not on an expensive account which does not encourage frugality. For that matter, in the years where I did travel (TDY) the per diem wasn’t going to cover much more than the basics anyway. So I never developed the taste for much beyond the basics. This leaves the Hampton Inn, La Quinta, Ibis and the like my most likely picks of choice. I am beyond the point where I really want to stay in hostels unless there is no other choices. I spent enough years sharing space in the deployed environment to want to be sharing sleeping space with strangers. Someone always snores. I suspect it might be me on some occasions.

The hotel is just far enough that I really didn’t want to walk over in the morning towing a suitcase, wearing a backpack and hefting a bulky but light duffle bag.  The Holiday Inn around the corner turned out to be the pickup point for the airport shuttle bus. Easy.

Most of the time I can deal with the automated check-in machines. Today? Not so much. It told me to go to the fun service counter. Ok, can do that. No line, and it took me about 2 minutes to check in, drop off bags, get my boarding card and head toward security. Just a note, no matter what anyone might tell you about German organization and efficiency, security was chaos. Too many people in the lines and very methodical people behind who had to ask ALL of their questions even when the person in front of them had quickly and efficiently dropped their coat and purse in the bin. No electronics, no fancy shoes, obviously no belt, hat, and no pockets…..

That disaster behind me, I was off to located Gate A24 followed by the lounge so that I could get more coffee… It was near Gate 22..  One has to laugh. It bests crying any day. My boarding gate was A24 until it wasn’t. Then it was A20. Ok. Still in the neighborhood. Less than 20 minutes later it was A 18, then A13 which was more than ½ way back to the main hub.

As suspected, there were also delays and a gate change involved. Oh, yes and a change to an obviously older plane lacking in charging points or inflight anything except for alcohol and not very appetizing food. The idea of providing regional cuisine? Seriously? Berliner Currywurst? Or stuffed bell pepper with smoked tofu? Right.

The Lisbon airport could be worse to navigate. There are actually signs and they usually point in the direction that is actually where you need to go. Finding the baggage carousel, I settled in for a wait. This was a good thing – in spire of having a priority tag on my luggage, it was still just about the last two items disgorged from the the underground lair.  I took a cab rather than fight crowding on the public transit system on a business day late afternoon.

Hotel? check? Lovely room? Double check.

Crash.

 

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more than 24 hours in a day

Or at least that is what it felt like. Came midnight and I am sitting in the airport in Singapore. There is something or other about the flight being a bit delayed. It doesn’t matter if the instructions are being given in Chinese, German or English. It all sounds like waaaa-waaaa-waaaa. It isn’t just masks, it is people not being able to handle a microphone at the proper distance and enunciating clearly. *
*(note, my time zones start in Singapore and end in Frankfurt)/
We finally board shortly before 0100 local. The flight is full. I am in a window seat. There is barely enough room to sit. It would have been better had my seat been just a bit closer to the outside wall so that I could lean.

Next to me is a youngish Chinese man and in the aisle seat is an older German Gentleman who was way too tall for his seat. His two traveling companions were in the row behind us…..

Food choices are chicken with noodles or beef with mashed potatoes. I went with the noodles; there were plenty of mushrooms and never did find any chicken. Tiny shreds of what might have been veg. Not appetizing, not warm…..the cheese & crackers were far better.  Please note – on these packed aircraft the window seat is a good choice for air circulation and not coming in contact with too many people. It is a horrible choice if you actually want anything from the cabin attendants who didn’t seem to be able to see anyone beyond the isle.

I managed a bit of sleep, then gave up and went to reading. The USB plug in for power worked beautifully, so my phone lasted through the entire trip without problems.  Late leaving meant late arrival. While still in the lounge waiting for the flight, I managed to reassure the woman seated next to me who was traveling from Auckland to Manchester that missing her 0730 flight was guaranteed but there were two more at reasonable times so not to worry too much. (less than 90 minutes between flights? No way would I ever sign up for that…..)

Arriving in Frankfurt at 0730 it was the usual walk to the end of the earth to get to immigration followed by baggage claim and 80+ minutes wait for luggage. I figured that the late flight plus the fact that the flight number was continuing on to JFK meant that there was luggage to be sorted. It arrived on the carousel in dribs and drabs. Five bags here, a dozen there. Mine finally showed up intact for which I was more than relieved. 

The next stage? Walk or taxi to the hotel? It was a couple of km and I was tired. Went with the Taxi. The desk people at the Hampton Inn were lovely, as soon as a room was cleaned they let me in (before noon even) so by 1230 I was headed to bed. …..  (short bit of wakefulness at 2230, then back to bed)

My flight to Lisbon is tomorrow. This turned out to be a smart way to travel – I was just so wiped that continuing on today would have been more than I could have managed without wiping out completely…

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flying Virgin Australia

Oh joy, while a partner to United, and Air Canada – they are not a partner to the European members of Star Alliance (read Lufthansa which has been my frequent flyer affliction for decades). Especially since flying cattle car, I really don’t like losing any miles….

[Detour here – all countries but three have adopted the metric system. Turkish Airways is still Miles & Smiles, Lufthansa is still Miles & More…. Most of the other countries just call them frequent flyer programs under various names….  A number of otherwise purely metric countries still use air miles when discussing carbon offset]

The Gold Coast airport – OOL which I think might just be derived from Coolangatta – is most definitely a regional airport. It is a long, flat building with two wings spreading out from the mandatory central food and shop area. The waiting areas are rather confusing due to the design – rather than check-in podiums inside the terminal area – there is an outer glassed in area which is sectioned off. When it was opened at “boarding time” there were the usual poles and ropes to provide orderly lines of people. Two lanes – priority and the rest of us. And then we stood, and stood and hung out some more just because. The plane are on the tarmac, the boarding ramps are portable structures which means that there are challenges in getting non-ambulatory passengers on & off the plane.

Also of note, in spite all of VA’s warnings about 7kg limit for carryon luggage – there was the full complement of roller bags, backpacks, shopping bags etc.  The flight was a bit on the rough side. There were maybe about five of us on this full flight wearing masks.

Arriving in Adelaide – if you disembarked from the front of the plane – it was out through a jet way and through the terminal followed by the usual escalator to the lower level and baggage claim. If you were in the back and chose to escape early, it was down a set of outside portable stairs, across the tarmac and directly into the terminal near baggage claim.

The final challenge of the day wasn’t reclaiming luggage – it was trying to make contact with Helen who was picking me up. She has an android phone; mine is an iPhone. There is free wifi in the terminal but SMS don’t go over wifi. Email is effective only if read. Solution? iMessage Jill who could get an SMS to Helen. She, of course was stuck somewhere back in the approach line…..  Meet a terminal while has a combined pick-up/drop off area which includes ride share…. Did I mention that this is Adelaide? Population 1.3M plus with a significant use of Uber?  Chaos – complete chaos in an area that might be considered three lanes wide in a squeak.

We managed to connect and the rest of the day (what was left of if) was wonderful.

 

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Packing up

While US residents are indulging in overeating turkey with various trimmings, I was enjoying the views of the Pacific Ocean (yes, to the East) and avoiding the contents of my suitcase, the bed, the floor…. oh yes, and the need to accomplish some laundry.

But, by the time all was said and done, I was checked in for my flight tomorrow, the suitcase was packed, backpack organized and the duffle repacked. That duffle had been just about empty before a “few bags” courtesy of Royal had been added Since these are the really sturdy nylon bags with reinforced bottoms and rope handles, I am loath to ignore them. They make such wonderful shopping bags etc. And gifts, let us not forget that sharing is caring while lightening my load.

I am otherwise being a responsible stitcher and just working along the frame on the WitchyStitcher Supernatural SAL. Since the Ghost has been completed, I really have no excuse. I would like to see how many finishes I can have before I get home…

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a drive back

We checked out early with a plan. First, the bakery around the corner for coffee and pastries. I managed the pastries – but their coffee machine went out yesterday afternoon and was out for service. But the Retro Expresso was open for walk up right along the main road. Caffeine problem solved.

A stop at the information center netted post cards and a fridge magnet or two. And then we headed back to Labrador. None of us have any clue as to WHY the GPS decided to route us along a number of the QLD major roads rather than the M1. The M1 is smooth, it is the Australian equivalent of an autobahn, autostrata, interstate, or motorway (pick your country…), that state road was not. Reading was out, stitching was out. But the view from the backstreet was lovely for all the trees as we through forests and national parks. 

Upon returning to Labrador – it most definitely was nap time….

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Two Museums

There were two museums left on my list that I really wanted to see: The Whistle Stop (Train Museum) and the Military & Colonial Heritage Museum. So after stopping at the bakery just around the corner – excellent coffee and buns – the three of us headed into Maryborough at a reasonable time of the morning.

Now, I don’t know if any of you are interested in model trains, the history of the railroad (pick your country or another), or transportation in general. There are train enthusiasts, automobile enthusiasts, and aviation enthusiasts, Maryborough has two important historical bits – The Walker Company (now a different company) built railroad cars and engines here – and there was. lovely station right downtown. 

[side bar – that station is still there, the train is not. the closest the passenger line comes is on the outskirts, but there is a courtesy bus that runs from the old station – leaving from Bay 4 – to get passenger to the new station. Less expensive that redoing the spur?]

Now there is an active group of volunteers who run and staff the Whistle Stop and the associated Mary Ann steam train. The hours are a bit limited so it was our first stop this morning.  The place was crammed from floor to ceiling with this & that from the local railings. There was everything from staff uniforms to signage to engine books. to heavy sections of tie. The visit cost a whole whopping $2au. Yes that is correct. One of the volunteers spent significant time with us, both describing the various bit & bogs and provided a tour of the station master’s office as well. They still have the original station clock, the teletype machine, the switchboard……

there is a model (close to G gauge) of the trains the local company made for the last Olympics here. Pictures of trains made for other countries. And we were treated to a description of that companies new expansion a bit further from town that will take their number of employees from 400 to almost a thousand. 

there was the obligate model set up – donated by a community member after her husband died. It was pretty English in character and set up.

We have an invitation to stop back in the morning when a couple of the volunteers will be opening a back shed or two and working on both the Mary Ann and Engine #299.

From there it was on to the Maryborough Military and Colonial Museum – the Wiki article is here and their website. This area of Queensland has disproportionately contributed military service members over the decades. Unlike many military museums – this one is not focused on weapons, machines, but rather on the soldiers.

The three floors are well laid out, organized and clear. It is all about the individual stories of those soldiers and sailors, expanding to include the airmen with the onset of aviation. I spent more than a couple of hours there just reading the stories, looking at the mementos contributed by family. The second floor has a section on Gallipoli. The Australian dead numbered almost 9000….  

After that – it was errands – and – oh – just about forgot!

the walk signs in town!

 

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Maryborough

It is not an unreasonable drive from Labrador to Maryborough. Not if you start early enough and have patience with the traffic as you by-pass Brisbane. Any other route would involve at least double the time and a lot of backroads.  I would have also missed all the interesting murals along the route including people, Australian animals, botany and ocean creatures galore. Of course, sitting in the backseat on the left side, I was free to observe as much as I wanted.

We arrived on the outskirts of Maryborough shortly before noon.  The wiki article is the usual dry facts. This advert type article promoting tourism. A google search will net you more. The local population is about 25k with all the positives and negatives that can bring. If you have never lived in a small town, you won’t have a clue as to what I mean. For those who have – well, you understand completely. 

Jill & Graeme have long standing friends here. But I am the one who really wanted to head up here at this point. There was a wonderful woman I met 11 Nov 2013 in Esperance, Western Australia at the Remembrance Day Memorial Service. She was in town for a while due to family matters and offered to show me the local museum. We have stayed in intermittent email contact since. 

Glenda picked me up at where we are staying and we headed into town. Maryborough is located near Wide Bay on the banks of the Mary River. A particularly slow flowing tidal river, the town has been repeatedly subject to flooding. The most recent in this past fall following major flooding the previous year unto the banks of City Hall. Google Maryborough 2022 flood for incredible pictures (more so I am sure if you didn’t live there).

The town’s famous people include Helen Lyndon Goff (you probably know here as P.L. Travers). So a visit to the Story Bank was obviously in order. It is her original home as well as one of four major banks at that time. 

The museum is primarily set up for children, both to explore and to learn the art of story telling. As I understand it, the downstairs was the bank, the upstairs the living quarters of the banker and his family. But there was a desk 

which is placed in front of a cabinet of Curiosities. I want the desk. It has cubbies, wings, draws, a writing surface. Do I need a desk? Not really, but this one is worthy of avarice. Upstairs, among other things was a measure stick obviously designed for children, except for where I measure in

We walked the Anzac Memorial which plainly and brutally tells the story of the Gallipoli invasion attempt and then follows with the land war in Europe where ANZAC troops served. 

Then, although this was more the start of the afternoon than the finish – I will leave you with the Cistern Chapel (rest rooms behind city hall) which are guarded by volunteers and not actually in use.

The Mens – (and I skipped the tired king on his throne)

the Parent Room (where I found the bird song too shrill & too loud)

and the Women’s 

We also made a quick stop at the Peace Poles – which were dedicated just this September, and the Brolga Theater. Stopping by friends of hers after the theater stop, I was treated to meeting Lola (a tired but happy black&white Shepard who had apparently spent a goodly part of the afternoon at a local airfield. And disappointedly, she didn’t manage to catch a plane. She lives at what it locally referred to as Rapunzel’s Tower – a 130+ year old house with an upper balcony, extensive gardens, and amazing rooms. 

Not surprisingly – I was wiped by the end of the day.

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Sailing back to Brisbane – 1

As you might expect – other than stitching this was a quiet day on ship.

So I will just leave you with a picture of a lovey caprese salad

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Hobart

We had most of today in Hobart. It was raining and frankly I was still tired from the previous evenings outing. Since the ship was leaving mid-afternoon or so, I elected not to try and catch a bus anywhere. Did I mention it was raining?

Anyway – I elected to relax and stitch…

Oh yes, and have a delightful salad at lunch time.

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Tasmania 2/2 – Bonorong

Don’t fall over from amazement or anything – but I actually took a ship’s tour this evening (yes it is still Monday) to the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. They care for, treat, and whenever possible, return species to their native environment.

The distance from Hobart was too far and it is normally not open in the evenings which sounded like a great idea as many of the native wild life are nocturnal. Let me just introduce to – Kangaroos –

Various Birds –

Plus Fred – who will outlive everyone there…

there are lizards –

and echidnas

and of course, Tasmanian devils –

IMG_0311

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Maritime Musem – Tasmania 1 of 2

We sailed in early this morning and docked at Sullivan’s Landing promptly on time. I spent a few hours just walking around Hobart. I discovered some trivial things here – Woolworths still exists – as a downstairs supermarket. I bought chocolate bars….

Of note, like most harbor towns, there is a fair bit of up and down. The streets are all carrying classic UK names (some English, a fair number Scottish) and I see no evidence of renaming. 

If you are ever coming here – it is worth noting that if you want to tour the Synagogue – it has to be arranged ahead of time.   (the link will take you to their loading page). The history of the building is actually what you would expect given the attitude of that time and governance. Like many historical records – I don’t think ignoring or coloring it over does any of us any good.

Since I wasn’t exactly organized (or did any research ahead of time)… I moved on to the Tasmania Maritime Museum – which is located closer to the harbor. It is a two story building which provides both an incredible old detailed hardwood stair case as well as a lift for those who might not be as mobile. 

I spent more than an hour looking at the exhibits which detailed exploration, had some fascinating maps, and a replicated captain’s cabin from an Australian Navy Vessel decommissioned in 1994. Amazing amount of space considering all…

Only other thing of note in the morning – there was a bit of damp and the occasional mist/rain drop. All the locals were carrying umbrellas. Really? There wasn’t enough moisture in the air or coming down to make anyone from the US Pacific NW think it was anything other than a lovely day.  I decided to skip the Tasmanian Museum of Art & History.  I just wasn’t up for finding out how much of the ugliness of the colony and genocide was recorded.

Since my evening was spent out with wildlife – that is in a separate post.

 

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All those stairs

I have been trying to be responsible this cruise – that has meant stairs rather than elevators. Of course there is the added benefit (in this case) of the size of the ship – most of the time where I want to be, or what I want to do is at the other end of the ship.  The other passengers can’t avoid the distance, but it is rare than I see anyone else on the stairs. Now, if you are using a chair, walker, scooter, cane – I can completely understand that stairs are neither feasible or safe. Elevators (or Lifts for you Brits) are the only way to move between decks (floors…). But the younger people?  Hello? One floor up or down? Elevators? Seriously? Oh – there is a drink in your hand…

As this was a sea day which went from pleasant to fog, to storm complete with thunder and lightening, I headed back to my cabin early so that I would have enough light. Other than that? Not much happening today. Well, at least from my point of view. Tomorrow is Hobart, Tasmania…

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Man O’War Steps

Since Princess Cruise Line’s current plague ship – the Majestic Princess arrived today and was berthed at the Overseas Passenger Terminal, my ship moved to anchor within easy site, sound, and travel of Sydney. Very smartly, instead of fussing with tenders, they contracted with Captain Cook Cruises for the use of some boats of a style and build completely suited not only to the bay, but much better passenger support (latrines, real seats, an observation deck on at least one of the vessels. It made the loading, ride, and disembarkation run much more smoothly.

Initially, there had been talk of two drop off locations: one being the above named location to the non-Circular Quay side of the Opera House and the other around the far side of the Bridge. That second one made no sense. Yes, it is on The Rock, but nowhere near as accessible to the CBD (Central Business District) and would involve the water shuttle having to cross all of the ferry lanes. Not smart on a good day.

I drifted over early and wandered the city with the added benefit of little traffic and few pedestrians. Most locations don’t open till 1000 on Saturday. The Queen Victoria Building was open early and the first level coffee shops were doing a decent business. I hiked up a couple of stairs to be able to have some peace while waiting for my two target locations to open.

Then there is the clock –

 

Once I had made it through the book store and Morris & Sons I headed back to the ship. Both are located on York Street – the bookstore past the QVB and the yarn/needlework store a couple of blocks before – as counted from the OPT.

 

The jacaranda are in bloom.

 

(and thank you all for the reminder that Man O’ War is also a huge jelly fish. But anyway – here in the Wiki Link

 

 

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Remembrance Day

None of us remember WWI. In fact, most of those who served in WWII are gone. I am  of the Viet Nam & Cold War generation. Only one of my four is old enough to remember a divided Germany and the Berlin Wall.

Like many other remembrances, the US seems to have turned Armistice Day into an excuse for retail sales.  The name change to Veterans Day actually happened in 1954. I had thought it was much more recent.  It is one of the few US federal holidays with a fixed day (not floating) although there is a tendency to grant a floating day off. In the Commonwealth – it is Remembrance Day.

I had the privilege of spending the day with Val & Ian, two lovely cruisers I first met in 2013 on the Radiance of the Seas Circumnavigation. We connected again on at least one Transatlantic cruise and have stayed in touch by email.   They picked me up this morning and we drove south to the Royal National Park,

then to the Sea Cliff Bridge which we walked part way after stopping at this monument (not all aviation originated with the Wright Brothers….)

and along to shore to more lookouts…

 

It was a lovely day and I am hoping to be able to host them in the future.

My balcony faces the Sydney Opera House.  I was able to watch the concert, see the building lit with Poppies in remembrance

 

and watch the fireworks.

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Exploring the ship

I forgot to share the following with you: 

Yesterday I decided to adventure to Decks 15 & 16 having not bothered to go there while on the last two cruises. And yes, there are bumper cars –

Gaming stations with more of the animals peeking in the windows

over all I guess it might be fun for a minute or twelve. On the other end of the ship, there is an amazing fitness center. The outdoor running track circles just about the entire ship on Deck 15. According to the markers, it is over one kilometer long.

Ok – still haven’t bothered with any of the shops. Haven’t been in the theater or the bars or the casino…

Since I am at sea (literally as well as figuratively) it seemed like a good idea to listen to cruise ship mysteries. Since I am in Australia – I started with Kerry Greenwood’s Death by Water which is one of the Phryne Fisher novels

back to stitching. 

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