Hunter Valley and the Sunshine Coast

Day 41 Newcastle

Thursday, March 1, 2018

I once met a girl from Newcastle, Australia. Neither of us could walk at the time. She had a fractured femur and I was post-op after surgery on both feet. I’ve often wished we had kept in touch. The only thing she told me about Newcastle was that it is just up the road from Sydney. Knowing nothing more about the place than this, I signed up for ‘The Hunter Valley Experience,’ a tour of some of the best wineries in the region.

Newcastle was a little disappointing after the excitement of Sydney, but we soon left the town behind and reached pleasant countryside, with rolling slopes and greenery.  As we drove along the gently winding road within Hunter Valley, we saw one winery after another. Most of the wineries have been in the same family for generations. It reminded me of the vineyards in Auckland, where there are many small wineries, family-owned, the vines originally coming from Europe, the vintners developing them in the New World sunshine.

Here in Australia, Mount Pleasant Winery welcomed us into a large tasting room with plenty of chairs arranged in a crescent. We listened, we tasted, and we learned. Apparently, 2014 was the best year ever for Hunter Valley wines. We were offered the Family Collection wines initially, a little more expensive than I expected. The area is well-known for its Semillon, which they suggested was superior to Sauvignon Blanc. Their Tempranilla Touriga was interesting, but my favorite was the Rosehill Shiraz, offered at $50 per bottle. I prefer Shiraz to any other red wine, so I was delighted with this offering.

We were encouraged to cellar the Rosehill for 30 years for it to be at its most exquisitely delicious. None of us in the room had a life expectancy of 30 years but I suppose we could have bought some for our grand-children. I might have done so myself if I lived in Oz.

Next came Hunter Valley Resort which offered us the best-ever wine-tasting experience. Each wine was paired with delicious food so that we drank and nibbled and challenged our taste buds in a highly satisfying manner.

We began with bruschetta of pesto and tomato served with salt and sugar-cured ocean trout with snow pea leaves and sticky ginger dressing. This was accompanied by a crisp and flavorful Semillon.

Chardonnay accompanied a Caesar salad topped with prosciutto and shaved parmesan. This was followed by steaming platters of penne pasta with vine-ripened tomatoes and baby capers accompanied by a velvety Shiraz.  While we were still smacking our lips, we were presented with a roast beef salad with roasted vegetables and a mellow, full-bodied Merlot.

Just when we thought we were leaving, they brought us a selection of beers to taste, each guest receiving three miniature glasses of beer accompanied by crackers and cheese.  Some of the men happily drank my beer but I’m ashamed to say I sampled the cheese and crackers.

HV 1

By the time we reached Hope Estate, we were all very mellow. Again, we sampled Semillon, Chardonnay, Merlot and Shiraz. This time I drank only the Shiraz. I was saving myself for the visit to Hunter Valley Cheese – just kidding.

The cheese selection was interesting. This is how to put together your own wine and cheese party: a little fresh cheese, made from curd, similar to goat cheese, some Brie, a 5-year old cheddar (yes, really), and a stinky blue cheese, all accompanied by crackers and quince paste.

Serving cheese with quince or figs as an accompaniment has become extremely popular. At home I frequently serve cheese with apricot preserve, or pepper jelly or something a little spicy. I bought a selection of cheese toppings in this genre when I was in Nova Scotia a few years ago. They went down very well with my Fort Lauderdale friends.

Several people in our tour group, who were staying on for the remainder of the World Cruise, bought cheese and relish to take back to the ship. I suspect they were planning lots of cabin parties.

 

Day 43 – Farewell Queen Elizabeth – Hello Sunshine Coast

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Leaving the ship part-way through a World Cruise is always so sad, because so many people are staying on! I never want to leave but leave I must. Bags were packed last night and disappeared before midnight. I had said my goodbyes and now it was on to the next adventure, renting a car in Brisbane and driving up to Mooloolaba to visit my sister, seven years after our last day together when we drifted from coffee shop to café to restaurant on the Brisbane pier.

I rented a sturdy SUV at Brisbane’s international airport and headed north, following the signs for the Sunshine Coast. A friend had warned me that the highway would have a major fork and I should stay right for Mooloolaba even though it wasn’t featured on any signs.  I had made a hotel reservation over the internet and was worried I would have trouble finding it as Mooloolaba is a very popular area with scads of hotels. As I drove into town, scanning the signs, I stopped at a traffic light and there on my left, just around the corner was Pandanus, my destination, the name emblazoned high and clear on the façade. I found my way to the underground garage, left all my bags in the car and took the elevator to Reception.

Robert was on duty at Reception. He welcomed me by name, escorted me to my palatial accommodations, kindly moved my car to a more convenient space, and brought all my bags up to my suite. I dubbed him Prince Robert from that moment on.

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Five minutes later, the prince returned, but he was not alone. My sister, Sprightly, followed him into the apartment. Unbeknownst to me, Sprightly and her husband, Brightly, had booked into Pandanus in order to maximize our time together. Such a welcome surprise.

The town of Mooloolaba is absolutely delightful, with a row of vibrant cafes along the beachfront. On my previous visit, some fifteen years earlier, Sprightly, Brightly and I had enjoyed breakfast at a different café every morning and I was looking forward to more of the same. That first evening, the three of us dined at the Members Only Yacht Club where we ate fish so fresh I could smell the ocean.

 

Day 44 – Beachfront Cafes

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Pandanus is not so much a hotel as a holiday rental building. The building is high-security with access only to the floor where you live. As a result, I couldn’t reach my sister and she could not reach me. Enter Prince Robert who gave each of us keys to both apartments, so we could come and go with ease between the third and eighth floors.

Sprightly and Brightly were at my door by 8 and we walked the 200 yards to the row of cafes with its enticing aroma of coffee mixed with the fragrance of bacon and eggs and the mouth-watering smell of freshly baked bread and pastries. We were greeted at Sprightly’s favorite café and shown to a table with a splendid view of the water. We breakfasted on coffee and yoghurt and oatmeal and fresh fruit and croissants. Yum! We wandered the shops, mentally chose a cafe for our dining pleasure later in the day, found an ATM so I could get some essential Aussie cash, and went back to Pandanus for a nap.

Well, Brightly may have napped but Sprightly and I went for a walk and drank a bottle of wine and consumed a sandwich and caught up on each other’s life.

 

Day 45 – Food, Food and more Food

Monday, March 5, 2018

We breakfasted at a different café this morning. I ordered pancakes with lemon and although they were good, I couldn’t help thinking of my lemon pancakes at The Original Pancake House at home in Fort Lauderdale, where the pancakes are like crepes, hot, thin and soft and smothered in sugar and lemon and so more-ish I want to go back again the next morning.  Brightly ordered his pancakes served with coulis and ice-cream and I was reminded of 1968 London’s Kentucky Pancake house where I loved their American pancakes served hot and decorated with peaches, cream and ice-cream. Oh, happy days.

As we strolled around the cafes, I noticed several places offering Thai foot massage, so I let Sprightly and Brightly go home for a nap and I enjoyed 60 minutes of pampered bliss.

Mooloolaba is a place to relax and eat and drink – and that’s all I wanted to do, spending time with Sprightly and sipping crisp, chilled wine in the sunshine. I was fascinated by the choice of food offered at these tiny restaurants, most of them open for breakfast and lunch but very few for dinner.  Avocado with eggs for breakfast, Moroccan chicken and couscous for lunch, or lamb tagine with an array of healthy vegetables, fabulous layer cakes like American mile-high carrot cakes or red velvet cake, but usually with an Aussie flair.

Day 46 – What happened to the Sun?

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Sprightly and Brightly drove me to one of their favorite hangouts, Sunshine Plaza. The Sunshine Coast did not live up to its name today as the skies poured down their wrath. We were inside the Plaza by then and sitting in Sprightly’s most-favored restaurant. It’s always nice to be welcomed by name and the staff were very effusive towards Sprightly. Clearly, she was a frequent habitue.

Today was my packing day, and I had to pare down, pare down. I reviewed the small print on my ticket to Auckland. Three checked bags were permissible – not so bad after all. I donated all the clothes I had failed to wear in the past 45 days, zipped up my suitcases and hoped for the best.

Prince Robert recommended Pier 33 for our farewell dinner. We went by taxi, so we could all enjoy a drink – drunk driving laws are very strict in Oz – so we gussied up a little and arrived on time for our 6 pm reservation.

I had hoped that we could sit outside, and enjoy the view of hundreds of small boats, speedboats, motor launches and the ubiquitous sailboats. The weather was not kind, and we perforce dined inside, enjoying Aussie wine and Aussie fish. Delish.

Day 47 – Locked In, Locked Out

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

My bags were loaded in my car before 6. I switched on the engine, released the brake and headed for the exit. An enormous metal gate blocked the exit. I was locked in! Pandanus security was such that during overnight hours, one needed a swipe card to exit the garage! I did not have one. I had left my hotel keys in a security deposit as requested and elevator access was now denied. I was beside myself. I strode the garage, hoping someone would leave and I could follow them out. Not a sound. I finally found a security notice with a phone number. I called. They answered. I explained my situation. They hawre unable to help. “Call Prince Robert,” I suggested. That they could do.

And then I heard a car start up.  Coming toward me. I ran toward the car and hailed it. I had met the driver in the elevator the previous day.

“May I follow you out?” I asked.

“Of course. I’ll wait for you.”

As I drove up the exit ramp, there was Prince Robert running toward me, disheveled, looking as if he had just jumped out of bed.

“So sorry,” he said. “I didn’t realize you were leaving this early. Are you going to miss the plane?”

“No problem,” I said. “Thanks for everything.”

No problem on the highway. No problem at the airport. No problem on the plane which landed safely in Auckland. I picked up another rental car and easily found my way to Dramatic’s home.

A huge wooden gate barred the entrance to her property. I was locked out!  Dramatic had installed a new security gate since my last visit.

“I’ll give you the code,” she had told me, but I was sure I wouldn’t need it as I was not arriving until late afternoon.

I parked the car on the street, prepared to wait patiently, when suddenly the gates opened. I ran up the steep driveway before they closed. Dramatic’s daughter, Alluring, had seen me and let me in.

“Bring the car right up,” she said. “There’s plenty of parking space right here.”

I drove up, parked next to Alluring’s SUV and walked into my own little house, right there in Dramatic’s back yard. Lucky me.

Next…  I Feel Like a Foodie

 

 

 

 

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Bloody Mary is the Drink I Love

 

Day 23 – En Route to Bora Bora
Sunday, February 11, 2018

What unit of measurement is precisely 1852 meters? This was one of the fun questions at Trivia this morning. I was astounded to hear, all around the room, murmurs of one mile. “Can’t be,” I said. A mile is 1760 yards. Then all the other guesses poured out – a chain, a league, a rod, a perch, a pole. “I think it must be a nautical mile,” I ventured. “I don’t know precisely but I know a nautical mile is just a little more than a statutory mile.” I was right, and our team went on to win today. Some of the things it helps to know for trivia: gifts for wedding anniversaries, signs of the zodiac, constellations, flower/birthstone of the month, animals of the Chinese year, world’s largest/smallest: island, lake, continent; longest river, largest city, winners of Stanley Cup, Ryder Cup, Olympic gold and when each Olympics was held, Presidents and Prime Ministers, borders of countries we’ve barely heard of (Guinea-Bissau), World capitals, time difference between two capitals and anything the quiz masters can dream up. It’s trivia, but it’s serious stuff. There are sometimes more than 100 people playing which is about 5% of the ship’s population. Considering that there are usually 10 activities at the same time, it’s a lot of people. The only thing with a larger attendance is the evening show – and meals.
I’m happy to be back at sea. We are cruising at 20/21 knots, 20 nautical miles per hour, which is about 500 nautical miles per day. We have 4 days to run until we reach the tropical island of Bora Bora, part of French Polynesia and home to the famous Bloody Mary’s Restaurant and Bar. The ship is offering a tour of the island by ‘fun truck,’ akin to my fun ride back in Aruba, but we will probably just rent a cab and go on our own.
Perfect, Pretty and I were all invited to another Queens Room party this evening, hosted by the Captain and his senior officers. The Food and Beverage Manager (that’s a huge job) came over to chat with us and promised us an invite to his table in the restaurant one evening, an event not to be missed.
We finally have a fourth at dinner, Friendly F from Montreal. Poor Friendly. She missed the boat, literally, in San Francisco. Her flight from Canada was delayed by heavy snow, and we sailed off into the sunset before her plane touched down in San Fran. She spent two nights in the city of —– and then flew on to Honolulu where she came aboard yesterday. Moral – always fly at least one day before you board your ship. Splash out and stay in a fancy hotel and make the most of your extra day. And don’t forget to add travel delay insurance. Mine is automatic with my AmEx card.

Day 24 – A Speck in the Ocean
Monday, February 12, 2018

At noon, the Captain made his usual noon-day announcement, and added a little extra. He wanted to give us an idea of how far removed we are from everything we have ever known. We are a speck in the ocean, the nearest land 600 miles away, the nearest ship even more distant. There is just one aircraft visible on the ship’s radar. The depth of water underneath the keel is about 3 miles, about 5,280 yards, nearly 16,000 feet, more than half the height of Everest. It’s no wonder that the internet is slow.
Vibrant hosted a cabin party this evening. She is traveling alone, but her room has two beds, which doubled as sofas for the party. Her cocktail table groaned with platters of cheese and crackers and fruit. The bar was set up on the desk, wine, vodka, gin and mixers. Potato chips and nibbles from the Lido rounded out the goodies. Vibrant introduced me to Irish sisters, Merry and Nimble, now both US citizens. Merry lives near me in Fort Lauderdale, Nimble in New York. Plans for future get-togethers on land have been made.

Day 25 – It’s a Long Way to Bora Bora
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

No-one wishes to get sick on vacation. This morning I heard that one of the bridge players was sorely in need of a visitor, in the ship’s hospital. I made my way down to the Medical Center, mid-ships on A deck and rang the bell.
“I’m here to see Miss C,” I told the nurse who opened the door.
“Come in,” she said. “I’ll check to see if she wants to see you.”
A moment later I was in Cheerful’s room. Two other private rooms were occupied, and I could see two more empty rooms beyond.
“What happened?” I asked Cheerful. She was lying in bed, wearing a hospital gown and looking more cross than sick.
“I went up to breakfast early and didn’t think I would make it,” she said. “Someone found me trying to walk back to my room and called the medical center for a wheelchair, and here I am.”

She had been x-rayed, poked and prodded. Medication was snaking its way into her body, replenishing her potassium levels, thinning her blood and making her visit the bathroom more often than a baby needs a diaper change.
“Well, we might have to send you home in Papeete,” said the doctor, a woman young enough to be my grand-daughter. “We’ll be watching you here in the hospital, but you should be prepared to fly home in a couple of days.”
“Not an option,” grumbled Cheerful as soon as the doctor left the room. “I’ve no intention of going home from Tahiti. I want to go to Bloody Mary’s and enjoy my bloody mary!”
I left her to the ministrations of the nursing staff, vowing to return a little later, hoping she would be well enough to stay on board. She still had many weeks to go before her scheduled departure from the ship.

The day continued as usual, but I made time to pop back to the medical center once or twice.
“You’re a very sick lady,” announced the doctor after viewing the X-rays. “Have you made plans for going home yet?”
“I’ll be better in the morning,” said Cheerful, her voice firm, her chin resolute.
I told Cheerful about my friend, Pragmatic, in Florida. She was taken ill on a Mediterranean cruise and threatened with disembarkation, but she did not want to go home alone.
“I’m staying on board,” she told her doctors. “I’ll sign a waiver.” She signed, stayed on till the end, flew home with her friends and is living happily ever after. Let’s hope it turns out that way for Cheerful.

Day 26 Thank Heavens for Sunshine
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The pool deck is crowded once again, bodies in various stages of undress draped on sun-loungers, 70-year-old not-so-perfect chests and backs and legs getting a good dose of Pacific sunshine. When everyone is old and wrinkled, with bulging belly or saggy b—bs, no-one is afraid to expose themselves to criticism. They are all in the same boat, so they might as well enjoy the rays. The more sedate are sitting on wicker armchairs and sofas under the shade of the canopy formed by the upper deck. Everyone welcomes the delicate breeze and the golden sun.
Today is Valentine’s Day. Pretty came on board with a special gift for her mother, Perfect, a champagne cocktail for two. It was beautifully wrapped in romantic paper. Two glasses were brought, and Pretty mixed the delicate brew, told her Mom how much she loved her, and gave her a warm embrace. I love to see Pretty and Perfect interact – they are a wonderful twosome, longtime travelers, the ultimate mother-daughter duo and clearly the best of friends.
I popped down to A deck to see how Cheerful was getting along in the Medical Center.
“It’s a miracle,” she said. “Doctor can’t understand it, but she is going to let me go back to my room after lunch. I have to stay on these medications, but I can stay on the ship.”
Cheerful had made an astounding recovery. I am convinced it was the fear of flying out of Papeete, although it’s a very nice airport. I’ve flown through Tahiti many times over the years, enjoyed Papeete’s open-air lounge, and loved the fragrance of the frangipani blossoms.  “But the doctor said I’m not well enough to ride the fun truck,” Cheerful continued. “I was so looking forward to it.”
“You’ll just have to do it next year,” I told her.
That evening, dessert was a sweet confection of chocolate enhanced by a smooth and creamy red heart. Every lady was presented with a beautiful Valentine’s gift – a romantic red rose. Somehow, I gathered three or four and they look splendid in a highball glass in my stateroom.

Day 27 – Bora Bora, French Polynesia
Thursday, February 15, 2018

I woke early, stepped out to my balcony and saw the sun in its glory. Gold and pink and white and magnificent. Poetry made manifest.

BoraBora 1
Normally, Perfect and I breakfast alone, but Pretty was up early as we are in port today. Agile joined us. We decided not to take the fun truck tour and instead, took a cab to Bloody Mary’s, arriving there in time to have our first drink before lunch and our second drink with lunch. We had the restaurant to ourselves at first, and Pretty said it was the perfect time to visit the men’s room, an item on her bucket list. Ladies, we should all have this on our bucket list, it’s such a giggle.
Apparently, our good friend Foxy, who is not on board this year, told Pretty that the men’s room has a rather stunning feature.
“There’s no-one here at the moment,” said Agile. “I’ll take you in there right now.” Pretty followed Agile into the men’s room and the two of them came back a minute later, giggling away and insisting that I have a look as well. “Well, you at least have to see the photo,” said Agile.  One peak at the photo and I was rofl, rolling on the floor laughing. If I tell you what was so funny, I’ll spoil the surprise. Go to French Polynesia, cross to the gorgeous island of Bora Bora and visit Bloody Mary’s. Pop in to the men’s room. You’ll have a laugh that will last a lifetime.

BoraBora 2
Years ago, I was a tour escort on a Cunard shore excursion to Ho Chi Minh City, the former Saigon, in Viet Nam. Halfway between the ship and the city we pulled into a large plaza where we could use the rest-rooms. The men were in and out very quickly (28 seconds per man on average, according to statistics) but the ladies’ line never seemed to get any shorter. Finally, when the men’s room was deserted, I told the ladies that I would stand watch and they could use the men’s room. They accepted gratefully. Along came a wizened Vietnamese man, wanting to use the facilities.
“Ladies inside,” I told him.
“Not care,” he said.
“Man inside,” I yelled to the ladies, who gratefully remained hidden until the coast was clear.
The man unzipped, did his business, zipped up and left, all in 20 seconds – he didn’t stop to wash his hands!
We had a wonderful time at Bloody Mary’s. We weren’t driving, so we didn’t count our drinks, but I know I drank two enormous spicy cocktails before I switched to an ice-cold glass of sav blanc. Pretty and Agile drank the local beer, and plenty of it. The menu was in French and English, so I tried out my schoolgirl French, ordering crevettes avec pommes frites, fried shrimp with French fries. It was hot and fresh and trés delicieux.
We had our own private fun truck back to the jetty, wandered the pearl shops, admired the trinkets, bought nothing, and took the tender back to our welcoming staterooms, a hot shower and a quick nap before dinner.

Day 28 – Papeete, Tahiti
Friday, February 16, 2018

I woke at crack of dawn. I was having such a lovely dream, but it turned into a nightmare. I remember telling my date (really?) that I expected a long courtship (really?) but he got angry and vengeful and so threatening that I screamed and screamed, louder and louder until I could hear myself and I was fully awake and feeling foolish.
I have an electric kettle in my room, a Cunard innovation, so I made a cup of tea and calmed down.
I went ashore with Pretty and Perfect again today. We have all been here previously, so we were content to walk around a little, visit the fruit and flower market, find a place for a light lunch and browse a while in the pearl shops.

Papeete 2
Last year I bought an exquisite pearl necklace and I wanted matching ear-rings. I finally found my store, but they had nothing. However, their sister store obliged, and I am now the proud owner of two gorgeous pearls, each grown over a turquoise seed, then carved to reveal that hidden core.
We ladies sat down at Metro, a café on the main drag, right across from the port. I think I had lunch there last year as well. Pretty ordered her favorite Tahitian beer, I ordered a caipirinha, and Perfect was content with an icy soft drink. We sat a while, sipping in the humid heat, nibbling on a light sandwich, then strolled back to the market to purchase orchids for our rooms on board. We can take fruit and flowers on board, but we may not bring anything off the ship as it might destroy the delicate balance of an island’s agrarian produce and/or economy.
Perfect and I were back on board in time for afternoon tea in the Queens Room. This was the first time we had been to tea as we are usually playing bridge. We were presented with tiny cucumber sandwiches, little rolls filled with smoked salmon, carrot cake, black forest cake and fruit tart, followed by the piece de resistance, a scone with jam and clotted cream plus all the tea we could drink. Everything we tasted was delicious and the harpist played beautiful sensuous music while we sipped and munched.
A folkloric concert was presented this evening, a local troupe delighting the audience with the songs and dances of the French Polynesian islands. Those who attended loved the harmonies and the grace of the performers, but some of us preferred to indulge in our customary pre-dinner cocktail in Café Corinthia. Pretty arrived clutching tonight’s special, courtesy of her favorite airline. Every year she receives two cuddly toys to celebrate the Chinese New Year. This is the Year of the Dog, so she received two tiny white dogs to add to her collection. Such a special thing, to bring gifts on board and keep them hidden until the appropriate day. Something only a grown-up can do.

Day 29 – Moorea
Saturday, February 17, 2018

Last evening, we were in Papeete. This morning we are in Moorea. It’s only 12 miles from shore to shore, but our trip was a little longer as we sailed to the other side of the island and reached our anchorage inside the lagoon. Perfect, Pretty and I enjoyed another tender ride today, being very appreciative of the priority tender tickets we had been given.

Moorea 1
We negotiated a ride with Taxi Joe. He thought the fancy hotels on the other side of the island were too far away, and day passes would cost $100 each. Instead, he could take us to a quiet place much closer to the jetty for $5 per person. As he drove on to the property, Tuaohere Beach House, Pretty remarked that she would bet money on the place being owned by Joe’s uncle or the like. We never found out if she was right, and it didn’t matter, because the staff gave us a lovely welcome, moved our table to where we had an uninterrupted view of the water, welcomed us to a sheltered table when the heavens opened and served us plenty of Hinamao beer, wine and croque monsieur.
We were the only foreigners there. We loved being in the presence of the locals who were celebrating family events and having fun. We loved the peace, the silence, the calm. We loved the low-key villas, and the grass and the shrubs.

Moorea 2
The owner called Taxi Joe when we were ready to leave, but Luanna turned up instead. She is a tall woman, statuesque, and wore a crown of flowers. She smiled every moment that she drove us back to the tender landing. In three minutes we learned that she is a mother, a grandmother, and the great-grandmother of twins.
Trade was brisk at the jetty, with our fellow travelers buying everything that wasn’t under lock and key. I spoke with a charming boy, just 12 years old, who already speaks French, English, Spanish and a little Japanese. He’s a handsome child and I’m sure he will break a good many hearts before he’s much older.
Aruba claims to be one happy island, but Moorea can make the same claim.
We loved our day.

Off on my Travels Again!

Hello everyone!  Happy New Year!

For those who are following 130countriesandcounting.wordpress.com there will be many more of those stories to come and the site will continue as is. With the exception of my most recent post about my visit to Saipan earlier this year, those stories are still back in the 70’s.

I’m starting this new series of posts on rovingrosie.blog so that I can post stories about my current travels – and I have a lot planned for this year.  First up is my cruise on Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth.  I’ll be joining her right here in Fort Lauderdale on January 20th and will enjoy six relaxing weeks as we transit the Panama Canal and sail ever southwards across the Pacific to New Zealand and Australia.  Lots of interesting ports along the way and fun activities on board.

Three more trips as the year progresses – Transatlantic cruise, Mediterranean cruise, and perhaps my swan song – a long-awaited voyage to Antarctica.

So. travel along with me. Send me your comments if a story has particular resonance for you. Let me know if I make you feel you are there.