• A Market fit for a Queen!

    Melbourne, Australia…a tram ride around the center of Melbourne took me to the Queen Victoria Market!

    One of the great things about this city is how visitor friendly it is…a FREE circle city tram will take you to all the major sights! So easy that it makes you want to explore all this city has to offer!

    The Queen Victoria Market is a historic landmark dating back to 1878! This institution for Melburnians sees more than 200,000 shoppers a week. It is a vibrant trading hub spread over 2 city blocks and houses over 1,000 traders in vast open-sided halls! More than just a food market, sellers have everything on offer here…

    Sundays are the liveliest, but I won’t be here then; so, this Tuesday afternoon visit allowed me a great taste of the action!

    A local bratwurst along with browsing at all on display gave me another taste of how multi-ethnic and interesting this Australian city is!

    20121024-103550.jpg

    20121024-103605.jpg

  • Bird’s Eye View!

    Melbourne, Australia…this is both a modern city and a vintage town! From above, the skyline looks modern and impressive! It is…but the historical buildings, the trams, and the grand treelined boulevards give this city a rich connection to the past!

    From my initial peak from my airplane window to the gorgeous view out my hotel room, I realize Melbourne is a great city to visit as well as look down on!

    20121023-224444.jpg

    20121023-224505.jpg

    20121023-224525.jpg

  • Asian Influence!

    Melbourne, Australia…at times today it seemed as if I travelled to Asia rather than Australia!

    As I walked around the city streets, I could see Melbourne has a sizable Asian population…especially near the university where I presume there must be a large number of Asians who attend college Down Under!

    What surprised me most was the sheer number and variety of Asian restaurants one after another on the streets! Every Asian culture was represented over and over…within a few blocks I saw what seemed like a hundred different Asian restaurants!

    There is also a vibrant Chinatown…I walked thru this authentic area and felt transported to a street off Nathan Road in Hong Kong…red painted walls, Peking duck and barbecued pork hanging in shop windows, and dumplings makers pinching away!

    This vibrant city definitely seems like a melting pot of every Asian country…India, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and on and on!

    20121023-193939.jpg

    20121023-193914.jpg

    20121023-194006.jpg

    20121023-194055.jpg

    20121023-194026.jpg

    20121023-193952.jpg

  • Playing the Arcades!

    Melbourne, Australia…what a difference a day makes! This city is totally different from Sydney…the vibe, the look, the style, all of it! The “beachy” body consciousness of Sydney is a direct contrast to Melbourne’s hip urban eclecticism!

    A great walking city, Melbourne is a shoppers paradise! Lanes, alleyways, little streets, and arcades abound filled with cool shops!

    I love the mix of Victorian 19th century architecture seamlessly alongside Art Deco throughout the shopping meccas of Collins Street and Bourke Street!

    The shopping arcades are stunning! Intricately tiled walkways open into these narrow light filled arcades with a Victorian feel…I understand these beautiful arcades started as little lane ways that provided rear access to properties facing big streets. Later they were roofed to provide refuge from weather and the crowds! These arcades give Melbourne it’s unique character and I really love how you just stumble upon one after another unexpectedly!

    It gives this city a much more European feel and comes off much more sophisticated than Sydney…I feel an individual edgy chic vibe on the residents here and artsy individuality seems much the norm!

    Melbourne is really surprising me with it’s charm and fashionable edge! Traveling to this southern city is allowing me to see Australians through a difference filter…

    20121023-160745.jpg

    20121023-160755.jpg

    20121023-160806.jpg

    20121023-160813.jpg

    20121023-160826.jpg

    20121023-160833.jpg

  • Walk on the Wild Side!

    Sydney,Australia…it is amazing being able to open the shades of my hotel room windows and look out at the iconic symbol of this city!

    The weather is definitely unpredictable…sunny to cloudy to showers to clear and back to pouring rain all throughout the course of one day!

    I ate lunch at the chic version of a food court at the Opera House and then it was ferry time to view some Australian wildlife!

    It’s only a short ferry ride across the harbour to reach the Taronga Zoo. It was a rocky ride past the Harbour Bridge as the wind whipped intensely and the water was full of whitecaps!

    I was anxious to visit the Koalas…besides the general entrance fee, the zoo offers a one on one experience with these famous outback animals for an additional charge! These cute creatures sleep ALOT and they don’t like to be awoken…I have had an almost disastrous run in with a Koala years ago at this same zoo when I accidentally got too close and woke him up! I was determined to have a better encounter today…

    It was great! Besides the many sleeping Koalas curled up in the trees, one adorable girl had just finished eating and posed for me happily!

    The zoo has a nice walkabout design so you feel close to the non dangerous animals…I was next to kangaroos, wallaby, and red kangaroo! I topped it off with a great guerilla as well as amazing sea lions swimming, obviously these two animals are viewed through glass!

    The Taronga Zoo is an unforgettable experience and the view of the entirety of Sydney just adds to it’s immense appeal!

    20121022-183752.jpg

    20121022-183815.jpg

    20121022-183858.jpg

    20121022-183914.jpg

    20121022-183930.jpg

    20121022-183945.jpg

    20121022-184008.jpg

    20121022-184020.jpg

  • Some Local Flavor!

    Sydney, Australia…nice to be back on land! I am staying at the chic Park Hyatt Sydney in the most amazing room overlooking the Opera House! It was steps from the ship, so even though I am not a passenger anymore, the ship sat docked right outside my window for the day!

    The hotel is perfectly located in The Rocks with easy access to the entire waterfront right at my doorstep! I was anxious to explore, get my land legs back, and see this great city… unfortunately though, it is Sunday and much is closed!

    I made a bee-line for the Opera House and along the way encountered aboriginal performers playing the didgeridoo! This long wooden hand carved trumpet was created by the indigenous tribes of Australia…besides playing this strange sounding pipe, their art was on display and they were proudly decorated with traditional tribal body painting.

    Aborigines are the people that originally inhabited Australia and are key to this continent’s history and traditions!

    20121021-180123.jpg

    20121021-180307.jpg

    20121021-202309.jpg

  • G’day Mate!

    Sydney, Australia…what a magnificent arrival into this gorgeous city!

    At 5:15 am, I woke up extra early to witness our sunrise sail in to Sydney harbour…it was a thrill to make it 8,527 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean and see that famed Opera House now within reach in the near distance! The skyline appeared closer and closer and I rushed to the bow of the ship to soak in the miraculous view that unfolded before me…

    As the pilot boat guided us through the waterfront, a welcome committee greeted our arrival: a large school of Dolphins leaped in and out of the water towards the ship and we all erupted with excitement! It must of been 25 or more of these beautiful creatures putting on the best welcome we could have to Australia!

    The fiery sun started to rise higher and higher over the city and the colors continued to change as if it were being painted with the boldness of an artist’s brush!

    As the ship steered its way in front of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge, we docked into our spot in the middle of some of the most famous sights in the world at Circular Quay! What a view and what a city!

    This part of the journey is over as we disembark into the city of Sydney to start a whole new adventure!

    20121021-065759.jpg

    20121021-065816.jpg

    20121021-065832.jpg

    20121021-065845.jpg

  • My Last Day on the Seas!

    At sea…my last day aboard the m/s Volendam as my 21 day journey comes to an end and I will return to life on land!

    In the early 20th Century, travel by ocean liner was a privilege of the wealthy. It was a luxurious experience in which the rich were catered to with elegant and elaborate parties hosted by a regal ship’s captain.

    Obviously, times have changed…today this type of travel is available to anyone who has the luxury of time! Most people today, though, want the quickest nonstop in getting to their destination; most travelers don’t have the spare time for a long and leisurely cross ocean voyage! But this voyage cost much less than a business class transpacific flight but so much richer in experiences!

    It’s hard not to feel a sense of nostalgia as my time on the m/s Volendam winds down and my experience in this decadent old school style of ocean going comes to an end…Slowly navigating the immense seas and getting to see these remote places has been truly special…

    I have cruised a lot as part of my many adventures, yet I think this voyage will be remain a highlight. This medium sized ship doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some of the newest mega ships, but it has a “heart” and “soul” to it that is hard to put my finger on! It’s size neither feels too small and confining, nor does it feel overwhelming and overrun.

    After 3 weeks on board, this Holland America Line ship feels like home..certain things have become habit forming, creating my own special moments:

    1. Sail-away on the bow or very front of the ship. It’s like my own special “Titanic” moment!

    2. A mid-day nap on one of the 4 hammocks on the secluded Oasis area of the top deck!

    3. A decadent formal dinner served in my cabin as I lounge in my robe with a good film in the DVD player!

    4. Relaxing in a recliner in the traditional New York Times sponsored library studying a travel guide of our next port!

    5. A deep night’s sleep cradled to the gentle ocean roll of the ship!

    6. Floating in the salt water “seaview pool” at the ship’s aft! The high salt content in this pool allows you to easily float!

    7. A long session of cardio in the top deck fitness center over looking the open seas and witnessing dolphins playing alongside the ship!

    8. An early morning one mile walk on the grand outdoor promenade, watching the ship pull into the day’s port!

    9. A late evening film in the movie theatre indulging in delicious popcorn!

    10. People watching: seeing my fellow passengers dress up for formal night, witness small children so excited to play dress up with mom & dad, and observing the dance floor come alive with older couples who’ve obviously been ballroom dancing together for many years!

    20121020-094420.jpg

    20121020-094452.jpg