Australia

Vacation is over and now the journey home begins

Well the vacation is just about over…sigh, we’ll have to start planning the next one in ernest soon. We had a fabulous time at the Conrad Maldives, and even though it’s sad to leave it’s always good to go home, sleep in your own bed and see these two great characters hanging around (Jack and Milo’s first appearance in the blog).

Milo

Milo

Jack

Jack

We had a terrific time here and had an opportunity to recharge our batteries plus get a chance to spend quality time as a family. With as much travel as I normally do, coupled with all the extra time in Australia this summer and fall, getting 15 days together was just what the doctor ordered. Now vacation is not over yet, we still have four flights, one on the seaplane which truly is a treat. Who knew I’d have two different vacations in my lifetime where I got to fly on one. Wow. Then our flights on Singapore Airlines, the best airline I’ve ever flown, all the way back to San Francisco, and as an added bonus in First class. Truly a decadent experience. It was a treat getting here, and I’m hoping for the same amazing service going back, Singapore really knows how to spoil someone.

Here’s a few more shots of the resort, working on the review and hope to post in the next few days.

The beach entrance to our villa

The beach entrance to our villa

The beach

The beach

Sunset from the main island

Sunset from the main island

The beach in front of our villa

The beach in front of our villa

Palm trees

Palm trees

Palm tree by the pool

Palm tree by the pool

Categories: Australia, Hilton Hotels, Hotels, Pets, Travel | Leave a comment

Random pictures from the Sydney Opera House

Last week I had a chance to visit the Sydney Opera House and during the tour I took a few random shots that I just had to share. Not some of the usual things you’d see but a few close ups of the outside and a few interior shots.

Categories: Australia, Travel | 1 Comment

I might be an Aussie

Vegemite is now a part of my diet. Don’t knock it till you try it on toast with butter and cheese. Mmmm mmmm mmmm.

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The Summer that was Winter

The summer that was winter is over. Many of you may know that I’ve been very fortunate to work with a client in Sydney, Australia and have made the long trek from San Francisco to Sydney three times since July 1st and am on my way there for the fourth time. So far I’ve spent 6 weeks there, and this next trip will make it eight.

 

I’ve enjoyed my time in Sydney and feel incredibly lucky to have had the opportunity to visit a continent and country that has been on my wish list for as long as I can remember. There have been many wonderful things I’ve been able to do and many amazing experiences I’ve been able to share with my wife and 15 month old daughter on their one visit. As a family we had an opportunity to see the Blue Mountains, The Opera House, Taronga Zoo (which in my opinion is one of the best I’ve ever been too) and a whole slew of other fun stuff. I also went to The Daintree National Rainforest and The Great Barrier Reef and had an incredible weekend visiting North Eastern Australia. Seeing the reef was all it was cracked up to be and more. The sheer size and beauty of it is hard to put into words but if you get to Australia it MUST be on your to do list. 

 

Spending so much of the summer in the Southern Hemisphere in winter without my family it was just great to be able to spend the evenings with them and see my daughter learn to say and do new things. When you’re a traveling fool like me these are some the big things you miss, and don’t realize till you’re on the road and something happens. Hearing her learn to say koala, moo recognize animals and sit down when asked may seem so mundane but still so amazing. Watching your kid develop right in front of your eyes is one of the benefits of being a dad I didn’t even think about let alone realize I’d be missing.

 

I look forward to traveling for my job it’s tons of fun and I get to occasionally go to amazing places like this one, and sometimes not so glamorous ones like Fresno (no offense). And who would give up a trip to Australia? But with the summer slipping away in the Northern Hemisphere and enjoying Winter downunder, I look forward to enjoying Winter back home with the family getting to see my daughter do the next great thing!!!

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Damn tasty gelato

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The boss aka my wife doing this amazing gem in Darlinghurst called Messina. We will be going back.

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Sophia’s first stamp

Well it’s finally here, the first vacation with 14 month Sophia where she gets to show off her new passport, and finally get her first stamp. Instead of heading to someplace close like Canada or Mexico, that would be boring, we decided on Australia. Yeah I know some of you may think we’re just nuts for subjecting her let alone ourselves to 14-16 hours in a long metal tube , but hey if we’re going to rip off the Band-Aid it might as well be epic. I am nervous but, in her short life she’s already flown to Dallas 2x, Alabama 2x and Anaheim once, so it’s now time to go global. We were at least smart enough to get her her own seat and we’re bringing along her car seat to stick her in while she sleeps (cross our fingers).  I’ll let you know how it goes once we make it there, but let’s hope for a smooth and fun trip and a chance to see a bunch of amazing sites, and if we’re lucky a wild kangaroo or koala.

 

Oh yeah United if you’re listening, I’m cashing in all my chips, all my good deeds and karma, please find it in your heart to upgrade us. I know the list is long and we’re some 10 names down it but a family can dream can’t it. That coach seat is definitely not as inviting as a business class one would be.

 

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….I didn’t find Nemo

So I had a really nice trip to Port Douglas, Queensland Australia. PD is about 70km North of Cairns (the closest airport), and took about 1 ½ hours to reach due to curvy two lane roads hugging the coastline, although I may have gotten there faster were it not for the kind police office that clocked me doing 92km in and 80km zone. Thankfully he let me go with a warning and no ticket, so I was sure to follow the speed limit the rest of the way up the coast.  Although I was not able to enjoy the scenery on the way up cause it was almost midnight, I was on the way back, and it really was beautiful. I would liken the drive to Highway 1 in California from Marin County to Sonoma County lots of turns but beautiful. The big difference was the ocean was azure blue and the beaches sand super white. The other great part about Northeastern Australia is that it was warm, about 80 degrees, whereas Sydney is fully in winter in the mid 50’s and rainy. It was a nice change of pace and reminded me of summer back home.

I stayed at the Sheraton Mirage Resort in Port Douglas, although an older resort  built in the mid 80’s and the first Mega Resort in PD the grounds were amazing. The rooms or at least mine was not dingy but very very dated. I realized I didn’t take any pictures of the room, I should have because the pink marble in the bathroom matched the pink toilet and sink perfectly. The room was well maintained, it was just dated, lacking wireless internet  (they had a cable though) and free wireless in the lobby, it also had limited power plugs, so keeping technology powered up was a challenge. The room was spacious and had a great view of the pool and beach. According to the website they have five acres of pools, and they sure were amazing, but very empty. I suppose there’s so much to do in the area, including  a stunning beach on property as well as all of the Great Barrier Reef activities in the area, the pools were just not busy. As for hotel amenities, I didn’t use any besides the internet. I was only there for 1 ½ days and one day was spent on the reef so I just didn’t do much there. Would I stay here again if in the area, probably, it was nice enough.

The main purpose of my trip was to visit the reef, and boy what an experience. I went on a medium sized catamaran that held 35 passengers and three crew, but on this day we only had 27 passengers. Because of the small group and small boat we went to three different snorkel sites on Opal Reef (about 50km East of PD), the one way trip took about 1 ½ hours. There are other ways to get to the reef are helicopter, private yacht and even mega catamarans with 200+ people on it. Although those other options have their own appeal, I wanted a smaller group and less people to have to navigate through to see the reef.

Giant Clam

My boat for the day the Calypso

Stag coral

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Hi

Wrasse

 

Let me just say that the reef was amazing, and I feel one of those potential once in a lifetime experiences, although I hope to go back someday with my wife and daughter. But the best part was seeing three Humpback wales two were calves breeching for about 15 minutes on our way to the reef. The calves were coming completely out of the water and the other whale halfway. This was truly amazing, and I felt so lucky to see this. I did take a ton of pictures but we were about 300 yards away and I just couldn’t get a good one. But just the image was incredible, it just makes me want to take an Alaskan Cruise to see more of these beautiful creatures.

See the tiny calf in the distance

 

On the reef I saw tons and tons of beautiful coral and clams and tons of fish. The water was incredibly clear and visibility was like 20-30 feet and at some points only a few feet deep. The star of the show was definitely the coral. There is something like 200 varieties of coral here, and I swear I saw it all. The fish varieties were top notch too, it was like being in a tank at a really nice aquarium, except this was the real deal.

 

Categories: Australia, Travel | Leave a comment

Jaimie’s Italian kitchen

Well I had an excellent meal here.

To start (yes I was hungry). Ciabatta with olive oil.

Fried Polenta Cakes and chili calamari. They were both divine.

Dinner was squid ink pasta and cuttlefish ragout. Yummmm.

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Categories: Australia, Food, Travel | Leave a comment

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