Sydney-Darwin-Singapore-Ko Samui-Bangkok-Ho Chi Minh City-Nha Trang-Hong Kong-Shanghai-Beijing-Busan-Vladivostok-Tokyo-Anchorage-Hubbard Glacier- Sitka-Juneau-Glacier Bay-Vancouver-Victoria-San Francisco - on the Dawn Princess (again)
Saturday, 28 July 2012
Day 1 - What great day! Sydney - July 26th
Getting to bed about 90 minutes or so earlier than usual, didn’t mean we had more sleep than usual on two counts. Firstly I don’t think we slept that well anyway and more importantly, we had to be up 3:00am – a time when most youngsters are just staggering home from a night on the razzle, but for us, fairly normal when catching a flight to Australia.
We were up OK then after getting ready, appliances switched off where possible and we were at the kerbside 3:30am, for the airport shuttle. Some (like Mal & Megan) opt to stay at an airport for the night, but we find it easier to sleep in our own beds, as the shuttle only takes less than an hour anyway at that time of the day and by 4:20am, we had checked in and divested ourselves of the luggage. For flights to Australia, we simply place our passports into a reader and it spits out luggage tags and boarding passes – or should. We had to get help as it only wanted to spit out Paula’s luggage tag and not mine. I didn’t read anything into this...
Whilst sharing a McDonalds breakfast, plus a coffee, we were mesmerised by the very obese, young, Pacific Island mother, who scoffed a KFC 3 piece dinner (upsized judging by the size of the coleslaw), with half a large bottle of fizzy drink - then a full portion of McDonalds hotcakes with maple syrup!
The 767 flight left on time and we had bagged an exit row and with a 2/3/2 seating configuration we had bags of legroom and were not crowded – not always the case in economy class.
We arrived on time at Sydney but it was rather busy, so it took about an hour to get out to where we were to meet Joanne (from the 2011 World Cruise) who had kindly not only offered to meet us at the airport, but also to put us up for the night. This was a very generous gesture indeed, as the Sydney toll road system is such that by the time she had done the run to and from the airport, then to and from the dock, she would have clocked up about $100 worth of road tolls. Gulp.
We enjoyed the ride out and an excellent hearty soup, but the eyelids were drooping, as Sydney is 2 hours behind NZ and the lack of sleep was catching up with us, so we dozed for about 45 minutes. Joanne roused us just before 3pm, as we were meeting for coffee at the local shopping centre. We assumed, just Colin and Judy, as we knew they were coming for dinner. Imagine our surprise when Ken and Barb from our Christmas cruise were also there. Much joy. Then the coup de grace as they say, Roz and Arnold (from Queensland’s Gold Coast) appeared!!! Not only was this a great surprise, but we also found out they were also staying with us at chez Jo & Garry. Just wonderful.
The day continued on a high as Colin took me to friend of his who was restoring a very rare MG Q type – and restoring it to an unbelievably high standard. He also showed us his mint Daimler SP250 sports car, the first of the last 50 made, with special wire wheels.
By the time we returned to the house, Garry (the only one currently constrained with working hours) was home and we enjoyed a great meal with great company. With 8 out of our table of 10 from 2011, (plus Ken & Barb from our Christmas cruise), we just had to Skype Dennis and Anthea, back in NZ, so our table was complete!
Needless to say, there was much talk of the future and suffice to say, the 2013 cruise, Sydney - Venice - Sydney will now be a reunion cruise – and there was talk of times beyond that too...
For all those who read these blogs (not just mine) you really must wonder why we are all so hooked. It is quite simple really. The cruise ports/places are now almost irrelevant (almost), it is the people - and what was last year, the “Holiday of a Lifetime” has now morphed into “The Holiday of a Lifetime – so far” and there are no signs of this addiction waning. Thank goodness.
We retired to bed, tired, full (probably a bit too full) and extremely happy. That happiness was not the cruise we were about to start, but the joy of spending time and having lots of laughs with, such great friends. As a couple, we are blessed with more than one group of friends who we really do enjoy spending time with.
Tomorrow we start the cruise proper and our regret (and theirs!) is that they are not all with us again. That is cruising for you.