Monday, October 17, 2011



We had a pleasant three-hour flight to Sydney. Again, a beautiful airport, so clean you didn’t want to walk on the shiny floors. We found our luggage and then looked for our shuttle driver. A grouchy-looking man stood by the door. He didn’t seem to be looking for anyone. He held a sign, but it was turned toward him and we couldn’t read it. “Norwood party?” I asked. “Yes,” he growled, “follow me.” He took our luggage, all 200 pounds of it, and began walking. And walking. And finally I hollered up to him, “Excuse me, sir, are we walking to our hotel?” He turned around, gave me a hateful look, and said: “No Madam! You didn’t order a private shuttle. I had to park two blocks away!” Sheesh! What a grouch. “What country are you from, Mohammad?” I innocently (not really) asked. I knew he was from the Middle East by his accent and his grouchy face. I really just wanted to say, “Khale shoma chatore” which means, hello, how are you? hoping he might be nicer. He turned again to face us: “Australia!” he growled,” then turned and kept walking. Ouch! I’d hit a sore sport. Ginger was afraid I was going to start a Fatwa and gave me a pained look that said, “Shut T.. F… Up!” Mohammad spoke no more, and drove like a mad man to our hotel, while we flew around in the back of the shuttle.

We finally arrived at the front of The Shangri-La Hotel, the most beautiful hotel I’d seen. He dumped our luggage on the ground, and took off. Ouch again! We walked along in awe. So ornate, all glass, gold and granite, with dark mahogany wood and enormous windows everywhere. Then we were led to our room. The bellman opened the door and the first thing I saw was a King bed. “OH NO!” I cried. “We ordered two Queens. I can’t sleep with her, she snores!” The poor bellman looked bewildered. “Call the desk, please, and get us another room with two queens.” Ginger stood at the window overlooking the harbor and a most incredible view of the city, skyscrapers, blue sky and white thunderheads. “No!” she cried. “I won’t snore, I promise. This is fine. We’ll take it.” “No,” I cried, “She snores.” The porter stood rooted in the hall, waiting for a final directive. I finally picked up the phone and spoke to the reception desk. “This room is unacceptable. We ordered two queen beds.” The desk sent another porter up to move us to a room with two queen-beds. Ginger pouted, I smiled, and we were led to another beautiful room with the same amazing view. The sun was pouring in through the immense windows as we stood admiring the scenery below, when we noticed the room was very warm. I asked the porter to turn on the AC before he left the room, which he did, but added that the room was warm because the sun was beaming in the window, and would cool off as soon as the sun moved on. After we unpacked, hung clothes, put our things in the bathroom, the room still felt warm. I called the desk yet again. This time they sent up an engineer who discovered that the motor to the AC had burned out and could not be fixed until the next day. He called the front desk to report this, and I took the phone from him. Helloooooo, we are not happy. Ginger’s in the background hissing: “Get us a free dinner, get us a free dinner!” The manager apologized and told us she was upgrading us for our troubles to new room with a view of the Opera House, which I thought we were going to have in the firs place. I told her she might want to assuage our pain by offering us a complimentary dinner. She acquiesced, but only 50% off. Ginger was pissed. Later that night, we accepted her offer. The restaurant was beautifully appointed, glass floor to ceiling on three sides to enjoy the beautiful city of Sidney at night. I politely ordered just a small bit of food, Ginger ordered the beef, lamb, and pork, as well as the potatoes, veggies and wine. It was a lovely dinner at $134 for the two of us, but of course only 50% did we pay. Our third and last room, was lovely; now we not only had the opera house view, but were fortunate enough to see a fireworks display from our huge window that first night.

The first few days we cruised the beautiful harbors; Sydney and Darling. The Sydney Harbor is often referred to as the most beautiful natural harbor in the world, and we could see why. The Circular Quay is the hub for the ferries that carry hundreds of tourists around the 149 miles of shoreline every day, all day. As we cruised along the miles of beautiful water, the captain pointed out an area along the way, where homes were worth upwards of $30M. We could live here.


We also took a one-hour guided tour of the famous Opera House, the largest in the world, and were amazed at its vastness and splendor. The building was begun in 1957 and finally, after many setbacks, was completed in 1973. It is admired internationally and proudly treasured by the people of Australia. It is a graceful piece of urban sculpture in patterned tiles, glistening in the sunlight and invitingly aglow at night. The acoustic are world renowned, with the seats specially made to grasp and contain the sound coming from the stage. The way it was built, every seat in the house receives perfect audio, while the actors on stage use no microphones. Amazing!

Because I can normally make friends on an iceberg, I picked stranger’s brains everywhere we went. Never know what you might find out if you ask. All of the people we talked to were most helpful, happy to give us names of places to see and directions. One couple told us about a ticket we could purchase which would give us transportation on bus, train and ferry for one week. We learned a lot about the city, the country, and its people; things that most tourists might never know.

The next few days we did trains, planes and automobiles; well, not really planes or automobiles, but we did ferries, buses and trains. One of the trips was a two-hour train ride to the Blue Mountains, where we stopped at several small cities, circa 1800s, with old churches, shops and homes. In one restaurant, in a back room, they had an RCA Victrola with a Caruso record on the turntable as if waiting to be played. The restaurant was built in the 1800s, and the owners had kept the original decor, with wood carved benches and tables, cash registers from the early 1800s, and pictures of visitors from days gone by. We also managed to scarf up some of their wonderful meat pies that are famous in Australia.


We also visited Manley Bay by ferry. We walked along the shoreline, which reminded us of the Caribbean, with its aquamarine water, palm trees, white puffy clouds and white sandy beaches. We also had to try the famous fish and chips that Aussies are so crazy about, plus their wonderful homemade ice cream.

We were to leave for Melbourne the next day, when we heard about Quantas engineers’ impending strike. They had already started canceling domestic fights out of Sydney, and other cities in Au. Now, what the heck were we going to do if they canceled our flight to Melbourne. Oh well, “No worries, mate!”

1 comment:

Dolores "Lola" Bledsoe said...

wow Doades, what a great trip! I have enjoyed every posting, I can't tell you how happy I am to hear from you. How is your new book going. I see you have it mentioned. I wanted to know if you wanted me to mail back your red luggage with the first book?
Are you still living in Palm Springs?
I hope you still plan on coming here and selling at the Art Museum and other places we inquired into.
Well, good luck on your trip. I know you will love the people there. I am planning to move on Nov. 1st. if my place sells.
We'll see. I have had a lot of medical challenges the past year or so, so I haven't made too much effort to write. But I believe I am on he mend again.Sure do you miss you. Lots of love and hugs. Lola