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February 23rd 2011
Published: February 23rd 2011
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Wednesday Feb 23rd, 2011

Tasman Sea- Latitude 38 degrees 02 minutes south- Longitude 149 degrees 34 minutes east

Imagine a land where the minimum wage is twenty two dollars an hour, the streets are all clean, everyone is friendly, well dressed and have a healthy outdoor look. The harbors of Auckland, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia were both beautiful, clean and just such places. Their economies seem to be doing great and everyone we met went out of their way to make us feel welcome and wanted. We rented a car in New Zealand and went out into the countryside to visit quaint little vineyards and picture perfect small towns. It took Jane a while to get used to riding “shotgun” while sitting on the left side of the car, since the steering wheel is on the right. Driving on the left hand side of the road was fine for me and the roads were all very modern and efficient. There were lots of Parks and we visited a Wildlife Refuge for the endangered Kiwi Bird that was completely surrounded by an 8 foot tall “predator proof” fence that was designed to keep out dogs, cats, rats and snakes- all of which have decimated the kiwi population. The wines from the Matakana Region were very good and we purchased several bottles from a sweet old lady that was the most soft-spoken person we have ever met. We left New Zealand and cruised west to Sydney. Arriving in the famous harbor from the ocean is truly magical. The weather was misty and not that clear so the famous “Coat Hanger” Bridge and the Opera House seemed to appear out of nowhere as we slowly cruised west into the harbor. It had been rough on the crossing from New Zealand, so the tranquility of the calm water in the inner harbor only added to the pleasure of the moment. After tying up we boarded a bus for a full day excursion west into the Blue Mountains. As we climbed up through the Eucalyptus forests the skies cleared and the sun revealed a beautiful landscape of mountains and the “Grand Canyon of Australia”. We stopped at an overlook and the panorama was truly majestic. The oil vapor rising from the Eucalyptus trees has a bluish color and that gives these mountains their name. The day also included stops at more traditional tourist spots like an animal park and a thrilling cable car ride down into the valley. We had a very interesting tour guide named Peter, a professor of Medieval History from England, who made everything fun and interesting. The next day Jane and I walked all over Sydney exploring the harbor area, talking with locals and seeing the sights. We finished our time ashore at a great pub we heard about, the Lord Nelson, drinking beer and eating fish & chips. Then it was time to get back on the ship just before they cast off the lines and we sailed out of the harbor as the light faded. As the lights of Sydney were lost on the horizon we felt the ship rise and fall in the high seas outside the protected harbor. Our time in Auckland and Sydney was wonderful and our timing has been lucky also. The terrible earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand happened just a few days after our departure from New Zealand and we were in the safety of Sydney Harbor when any Tsunami might have come. Now we are pounding through the roughest seas of the trip so far as we head west along the southern coast of Australia. Jane and I actually like the heavy action of the ship’s motion because it really feels like we are sailing around the world, not just drifting through time and space.

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23rd February 2011

It sounds so wonderful there. And, how nice that the economy is thriving and the people seem healthy and happy... what a great experience! Cindy
6th March 2011
Australia 126

I'm green with envy! Thats so cool :)

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