Sunday 26th February:
This is definitely going to prove to be one of the best days of the entire cruise as we
met up with Kathleen, my ex boss, here in Melbourne. she flew in from Adelaide and
managed to get a photograph, from the plane, of the ship arriving in Melbourne Harbour.
And talk about perfect timing, she got to the dock gates just as we were clearing
Customs and it was a fabulous and highly emotional reunion. Kat got tearful on the
plane and I got tearful as we left the ship and then we both cried properly when we had
that first hug. When Kat worked for the bank in Reading, we often talked about our
plans to visit Australia on a world trip and how we would meet up. But the words are
easy. Turning them into a reality takes a bit more effort. And we are all so thrilled
that we did manage to get together again here.
Kat gave us a magical tour of the city and we made great use of the trams here -
especially the free one even though it did get stuck behind a broken down tram. But
then we just jumped into an air conditioned cab to our next destination. I had really
wanted to visit the Victoria Market here so that was our first stop and it won't
surprise anyone to know that we headed for the food court first! That gave us time to
sit down and talk, talk and more talk. Not all our talking for the entire day of
course; just the first healthy dollop of it! Typical work stuff: whatever happened to
..., and did I hear right that ... left, did he/she jump or were they pushed, is xx
still with yy, how's xxx getting on with lots of "no!" and "wow" and "oh my goodness"
along the way. You can't beat a decent dishing of gossip!!
Melbourne has a vibrancy that New Zealand cities seemed to lack. There is a fabulous
variety of architecture here, many glorious parks, exceedingly modern buildings, cute
old ones and the best way to see this lovely city proved to be to get up high. That is
fast becoming a theme for this world trip and Melbourne has the highest observation
platform in the southern hemisphere at 88 floors! The views from the top are stunning
so we could see the grand prix circuit, the Melbourne cricket ground, the Australian
Open Tennis venue plus a great view out to the docks and the Queen Elizabeth. Not even
while she lived here did Kathleen get up to the top of this building so it was lovely
that we did something that was new for her too.
We then made it to her favourite restaurant in Melbourne for lunch - which was another
great opportunity for more talking. Then after a short walk along the river we jumped
in another taxi back towards the boat. And there we had time for a drink and another
I had expected to get quite tearful as the time came to say goodbye but we all realise
that nothing is for ever and who knows, if I manage to get my lovely sister and her
husband to come with us on another trip, we may yet get to see Kathleen again.
So now we are just cooling down in our cabin as it was up in the 90s today and pretty
humid too. Then it will be a lovely dinner and I know it will be lovely 'cos I've seen
the menu: lobster and veal medallions!
Last night we had a brilliant event on the aft deck of the ship. It was a star gazing
session run by the two main navigation officers on board. They turned all the ship's
lights off at that end and waited until the sun sank below the horizon. And then they
used an amazing laser light and pointed out all the various planets and constellations
so you were never in any doubt about which stars were which. They told us we were
incredibly lucky because 3 planets were aligned which is rare, we could see the 3
brightest stars visible from earth which is also rare and we could see the Clouds of
Magellan which is extremely rare. You have to be a long way south and the sky has to be
exceptionally clear - both of which were true last night. There is zero light pollution
out at sea so the number of stars visible was incedible. And it was really exciting to
see constellations that you just can't ever spot from the UK; things like the Southern
So we really have had a magical 24 hours. Tomorrow won't be so magical as we need to
start packing. We have 2 days in Sydney on board this ship but we've arranged to go on
a Cunard trip up into the Blue Mountains on the first day so we need to get some of the
packing done sooner rather than later. By the time we dock in Sydney on Tuesday
morning, we will have done over 20,000 miles. Wow!
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