Saturday, December 6, 2014


      It's December and we are on our way to Australia or “Down-Under.” It's one of those places that we've often considered visiting, but for various reasons it never quite happened. However, this is our time, and it seems to fit everyone's schedule. It might be a bit too hot and crowded, but nothing fits perfectly.
      We are thrilled about being accompanied by our children, including a new grandchild who at six months will never remember a thing, except through the stories and hundreds of photos that will be taken. Plus,we get the added benefit of celebrating Christmas with our nephew, Bill, who lives in Adelaide.
      I booked the flights last July which wasn't exactly easy because we are traveling during the holidays. I got it accomplished on Hawaiian Air, with a 24 hour stopover in Honolulu. The total flight time with be equal to the 15 hour nonstop flight from Los Angeles to Sydney. I think, however, the break, with the sweet smells of Hawaiian flowers and sea breezes will make the outbound trip much more palatable. We arrive in Sydney two days after we leave San Diego—24 hours just disappear due to our crossing the International Date Line.
      We plan to spend our first week in Sydney, followed by a week each in Melbourne and Adelaide. After the kids leave, Ron and I will go on to Perth followed by five days in Sydney before our return.
      December is a popular vacation time for Australians, so, I needed to get on the hotel/apartment reservations right away—they were filling up fast. We definitely preferred an apartment rental. I've had good luck booking apartments with in the past, however, in Australia, offered a much better selection and price. I was also impressed with the website, the convenience of paying with a credit card, and their cancellation policy. It's always a challenge to make lodging decisions when you don't know the area first hand, especially in large cities. I spent many hours perusing the Internet and finally reached a comfort level with apartments in each city. Sydney was the toughest, because it's expensive and most of the sought-after central locations were already booked. We finally chose a two-bedroom city-view apartment in Camperdown, about 30 minutes from the center with good bus service. The next three locations were also challenging and time consuming. I felt relieved when it was over—now we just hope for the best.
      We will be flying between cities on Qantas Airlines—I was able to use my British Air points for these flights because they can be shared with family and friends. Staying for a week at each destination will give us enough time to leisurely visit the sights and still allow for relaxing time with family. I'm more interested in enjoying the moment than seeing every recommended sight on the list.
      I will be bringing along Fodor's Travel Australia 2014 and an old DK Australia book. Then I will add library travel books to my Kindle right before we depart. Although easy to carry, kindle travel books are hard to skip around in, so I prefer a hard copy. The publication of travel books is on the decline now that people can search for just about all their travel needs on the Internet. Frommer's last book on Australia was 2012, and I understand that they are not coming out with a new version. I will always be partial to the Frommer books. I followed Europe on $5 a Day religiously back in 1967, when I traveled for eight weeks in Europe spending less that $5.50 per day.
      Unlike China, the visas for Australia are easy and cheap. You just go on line and order with a credit card ($20). It is linked automatically by computer to your passport number and shows up when scanned at the airport.

      Our daughter, Anna, has prepared a loose itinerary. Many beaches are on the list, including an excursion to Bondi Beach, the most famous of all in Sydney. I'm looking forward to the “not to be missed” Coast Walk from Bondi to Bronte Beach and a walk on the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Then, of course, there is the Opera House and ferry boat rides on the Sydney Harbor with its 149 miles of shoreline. Melbourne has outdoor markets, and great cuisine, and with the Yarra River cutting through the center, it should be beautiful. I'm looking forward to the old Victorian Buildings—I also heard they have great coffee houses. Next we will be on to the charming city of Adelaide and the best part of the trip—a Christmas celebration with my nephew Bill who will be competing with his mother in Minnesota for the best Swedish feast.
      Ron and I plan to stay on after the kids leave. We will fly to Perth in West Australia, which I understand is similar to San Diego. It will be fun to make the comparisons and to visit the nearby port town of Fremantle, Rottnest Island, and perhaps the Margaret River wine region.
      We will end our trip with a final five days in Sydney to include a visit to the Blue Mountains. It contains the world's widest variety of eucalyptus in one continuous forest and will be another reminder of San Diego where hundreds of these Australian trees have been planted.
      We are about to depart. I've made hard copies of all of the reservations. Contacted our apartment host in Sydney to confirm our arrival time and the baby bed. Double checked the flights to make sure nothing has changed. Checked in for our flights.
      Off we go on a new adventure and a chance to discover why Australians believe they live in the best country on earth.
      I will report along the way. Next Post: Waikiki.

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