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Published: April 3rd 2018
On approach to the Sydney airport I started to get excited. The final segment of this trip was ready to unfold and I had turned over the itinerary to Dancing Dave and his wife Denise. To keep myself honest, I went back to my email to make sure I had agreed to this. “Glee, trepidation and a thrill of the unknown by having accepted placing myself in your hands. I will view this as a reality show in which unwitting travelers are put through the paces of a modern-day city. Jo and I will compete for the best photos, stories and there will be no losers, only an incredible time on which to look back, smile and/or shudder and think how amazing that was.” Yup, those were the parameters I placed upon this portion of the trip, and it was time to see what I had gotten myself into.
While trying to see which carousel my luggage would be on, I heard someone ask if I needed help. And just like that, there was Dancing Dave
in person. He and his wife Denise Hooper have traveled a couple time with D MJ Binkley
, so I knew him through TravelBlog and their
stories. I had no doubt that we would hit it off or that Denise and I would be completely in tune with each other. We chatted easily as we walked out to meet Denise at the car. Jo Trouble
was arriving from Auckland in about an hour, so we drove over to the International terminal and waited for her. When I sent my flight details to Dave months ago, he passed them on to Jo and she had her flights booked within 10 minutes. Travel-bloggers are nothing if not on top of things. Unfortunately, Jo was in a motor scooter accident, not her fault at all, and broke her femur, but was mobile once again and ready for this adventure. Can one call something a reunion when we hadn’t previously met? I am throwing caution to the wind here and am going to say yes. Since I have communicated online for several years with all three of these people, this was an airport reunion. Smiles and hugs all around as we met.
The three of them had met before, so once we were all in the car it was a gab fest. We drove down to Mrs. Maquarie’s Chair, a
park on the opposite side of the harbor from the opera house and bridge. The views were amazing. This was the postcard view of Sydney and I made good use of the glorious scenery . It was sunset and the colors were vibrant. Well, heck, don’t take my word for it, check out the pictures. Once we had warmed up the cameras, it was time for food and the Hoopers had a place up their sleeve. It was a Korean BBQ that they frequent and are friends with the chef. Ordering was simple as Dave saying a few words and out came bowls of pickled vegetables and kimchee. Oh man was it good. Then came sizzling pork and I was in heaven. Right on the heels of that came a fried chicken platter and finally spicy shrimp still in their shells. As prove that this food was amazing and exciting, all I have to do is say this- I had to be reminded to take pictures of it. Yeah, let that soak in. Me. Not taking pictures of food. Wow!! This was a true feast. And to top it all off, the chef brought his saxophone out to play for
us. What an incredible first evening in Sydney. If we were on the reality show I mentioned in the email we all would have been immune from elimination.
Ah, Sunday morning. Quiet, calm and, well, none of that. I knew that Jo had her sister and her family coming over, so I had in my mind that Dave, Denise and I were off to do something. How truly gullible I can be. They had arranged a TravelBlog brunch. Denise was cooking up a storm in the kitchen and I helped in the best way possible. I made us both a nice cocktail, left her alone and wandered the house, drinking and enjoying the day. Jo’s brother in law excitedly pointed out the window at a huge black snake hanging from a tree in the yard. I had taken some Facebook ribbing from my friends about the Vemillion Room before this trip. The Binkleys have the Vermillion Suite, yes, they really do and it has a plaque on it saying just that, so the Hoopers put a picture up of the Vermillion room they had prepared for me. Please take a minute and really look at the picture. You can
see how I would have been a bit skeptical of this. That being said, this huge snake was right outside the Vemillion room which made me question what I would have done had I run into it in the middle of the night. I don’t want to keep you in suspense, so I am jumping ahead to the next day to when I was in the yard with Dave and realized it was rubber. For frick’s sake. I really believed that it was real. So, this is how the Sydney portion of the trip was going down huh? Fool me once. The judges on the reality show in my head frown upon this, so I made mental note to step up my game. I was playing in the big league with professional troublemakers now. Where is Outback Brenno when I need him?
So, back to the TravelBlog brunch. We had michelleandkev
, John and Sylvia
, Nomad Old Farts
come over to spend the afternoon. How luxurious it was to sit, drink wine and talk with people that I have known from online. There is a unique bond among travelers, so meeting all of these people was like catching up with old
friends. We talked about where we have been, where we will go, where we want to go. During lunch Ali
, the founder of TravelBlog and the Binkleys skyped in so we could all chat. How amazing is it that we had 15 of us all talking at once. Difficult decisions had to be made on my part. Did I talk, be social and engaging, or did I stuff my face with the incredible food that Denise had made while savoring the wonderful flavors? I opted to take turns doing both. Salads, prawns and chicken gave way to sinful desserts as we talked and before I knew it, the afternoon had to come to an end. I am grateful that I was able to meet these people. As they travel and blog, I will be following along with them and can guarantee that they are reading this as well.
Before I could catch my breath, David, Denise, Jo and I were off and running to our next surprise. There had been murmurings of stadium, sports and such. I didn’t know what we were going to do but didn’t believe that we were off to watch footie or cricket. Sure enough,
aka Happy Happy Yum Yum!!!
we wound up at a music venue called the Basement for a show by Andrew Strong. This was the 20th
anniversary tour of the Commitments, a movie in which he starred and for which he won a Grammy. In person, he was an intense, pure showman with a commanding stage presence. While he stepped off to catch his breath, his sister would sing and darn could she sing too. It was an adrenaline filled evening. The venue was small, filled with people enjoying the show and musicians working their magic. We were only about 8 feet from the stage, so were able to watch everything that was going on with them.
Before going home, we went to a park underneath the bridge. It was a beautiful evening, cool, quiet, deserted. The views were stunning. Across the harbor was the opera house, above us was the bridge. What a great evening to enjoy each other’s company while taking some postcard worthy shots. And then, it was time to head home to recharge for the next adventure. It was a big one, so I will give you some time to catch your breath and will have the next blog up shortly.
Korean Fried Chicken aka The chicken of dreams
Until then, ciao.
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