Sunday, November 29, 2015

Day 2 Christchurch- seeing the sights again

8:20am Getting ready for a trip into Christchurch's CBD area. We are meeting our friends and Peter's family in the new container shopping area. I suspect we will be saddened by the loss of Christchurch's past.

Today is wet and cool, which we are told is normal for Christchurch's late spring. 

We travelled into CBD, and found a park. Of course, we were late, keeping both our friends and family waiting. First stop was the container mall and coffee. Christchurch's new mall is made of shipping containers, a novel and safe idea. Every where we saw earthquake damage and rebuilding. The landscape was missing some 1500 buildings from our previous visit in 2010. 

The CBD has embraced street art in a big way. Almost every damaged building has a painting. Impressive!

We had the pleasure of as catching up with Marie (Cos' cousin) and husband Nick. Nick gave us a walking tour of the CBD and surrounding area. It was very insightful and far better than just wandering around the streets. 

We eventually visted the museum. Very impressive displays. Enjoyed the visit greatly.
After the museum, we went to the phone shops at Northlands Shopping centre. I'm beginning to hate phones, we have had nothing but bad luck with them. Melissa's NZ prepaid phone refuses to send texts so we will need to return to the shops for new sim. We even spent 30 minutes on Vodafone help line as well, no luck. Grrrr!

Eventually we returned to our accomodation for BBQ. The ten ten parks are great places.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Day 1 arrival in Christchurch

Our day started with a rush to the Brisbane International Airport, which started well as can be expected . We found our under cover park, after much stalking of new arrivals. Dragged ourselves through check-in, which went well. The Virgin staff are really great and very friendly. The security folks took their time processing us, which is fine given the current international scene. Charlotte had the privilege of being fully body scanned, then bomb scanned by the security staff. We made loading with 10 minutes to spare. Our friends had a speedy passage through checkin, security and customs which allowed them some time for coffee and breakfast. Unfortunately, we had no time to source food or drink so we were hungry boarding the aircraft. 

The flight went fast, with some very tasty sandwiches, filling out custom cards, and watching the inflight entertainment. 

Movement through Christchurch International went smoothly. We collected our hired car which was covered in dust and had damage to almost every panel on the vehicle. Our 2007 camary has seen much better days, as it runs rough and sounds worse. We may need to swap it for something more roadworthy before we leave Christchurch. 

Our accomodation (Top 10 Christchurch) was up to usual high standard. Very Nice. Once settled, we went to local shopping centre to get NZ Sim for the phone and some food. We caught up with Peter, Anja and family and returned to our accomodation. We tried a local pizza called Hell's Pizza, which was well priced and very nice. Sadly our exchange rate is not as good as our last trip.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Count down to New Zealand

3:00pm The countdown to our newest journey has begun. Thank you to our kind family member who will house sit on our property and look after our dog. J It is nice to know our house is safe.  Thank you.

Soon, Jacqueline will return from the coast and we will head down to Brisbane ready for our trip to Christchurch New Zealand! This time we are traveling with our dear friends and my brother’s family.  It promises to be an excellent trip. Cheers!

8:57pm After a quick trip to Brisbane, we arrived at our hotel (the ibis) safely. The room is very small, in good repair, clean and functional, but that is what we expected. No thrills and cheap for a sleep before a early start in the morning. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Dubbo to Toowoomba - Day9

Our last day of travel, and welcomed by all, as they say, " no place like home!".

Our day started at 7:30am local time, driving north into mixed rain and wind. Certainly cooled the countryside and made the trip cooler. The weather changed as we drove further north over the course of the day. 

We saw a greater quantity of trucks heading north today, some in convoys of 4-6 trucks which made passing them a thing of patience. Overall our progress across nort west New South Wales went quickly and safely. 

As usual we where disgusted at usual standard of Queenland roads compared to their southern counterparts. In some cases the road shoulder was only 20-30 centimetres wide before plunging into scrub or rough terrain. Closer to home, roadworks on sections of road sometimes for a second and third time continue because the contracted road- gangs and company have never build a road before, this delayed us 30 minutes just an hour from home. Other sections of the same road just built several months before are rapidly falling apart. Due to delays we finally made home at 4:25pm AEST. Welcome back to Queensland.

All up we travelled 3679km (approx. 44 hours) across three States over 9 days from Jan 1st 2014 to Jan 9th 2014.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Travelling home - Day 8

Well finally we have reached the end of our Melbourne stay and it's time to head home. As usual we have enjoyed the sheer scope and variety of retail and cultural activities that Melbourne has to offer. Certainly we have enjoyed street cafe scene with the melting pot of people and languages freely mingling together. Our apartment has been great too, located above one of the many lane ways populated with side walk cafés. Our building should even better next year with renovations set to begin any day now. ( Certainly lifts need replacing that seem to have a life of their own most days.)

We left Melbourne later than normal (at 11:30pm local) after big breakfast in the Lane way cafés. We also delayed to allow the bulk of the work traffic to settled down. The delay allow us a hour or so in CBD, which we enjoyed.

Our return trip to took us to Sheppardton and from there we retraced our trip from 8 days ago to Dubbo.
We arrived in Dubbo at 9pm local time and found the a well priced and comfortable room at Countryman Motel. Very friendly people run the Motel, and we would recommend it to any traveller.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Last full day in Melbourne - day 7

Today started slowly with most of the family rising late due to exhaustion from the day before. A quick coffee from lane way cafés below, and we were off on the tram to the Melbourne Museum.
On the way we passed the Melbourne Exhibition hall (built 1879 for a world trade exhibition) and surrounding parkland. 

The museum was huge, like most things in Melbourne built in a grand scale. The museum was holding a James Bond display in its paid galleries, but we passed on it due to time constraints.
As it was, we saw only a fraction of museum. We did visit "inside" a display about children held in orphanages and homes secular and church in the 20th century. It was centred on the many artefacts and court evidence collected during various Royal and Senate commissions. The result was sobering, and soul effecting. 

We also saw a huge collection of insects, stuffed animals ( one display of 3 gorillas had been in display since 1864) and a rich display about Melbourne.
By mid afternoon, hunger and a need to finish off the finial items remaining on the shopping list drove us out. We walked a short way to Lygon Street eateries where we enjoyed some Turkish food ( at restaurant called I love Istanbul ). The food was absolutely amazing and we rolled out to find the free tram back to Swanton Street shops. 

Finially we made our way back to the apartment to begin the process of packing up for departure in the morning. Still full from our late lunch, we had a light meal in the lane way at 9pm (local time). A full day of culture that left us a little more aware of the world, and of course sore feet. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Another Day in Melbourne - Day 6

Today started with Telstra texting us that we had used 1.3GBs of extra data. We had use Melissa's iPhone as a hotspot for the girls late last night but thankful turned it off before going to bed. After a check of the girls devices, it was discovered that someone had enjoyed our data for free. Obviously Telstra didn't care who used it, so they billed us $133 for the event. So we settled the bill, and changed the password again of course. The joys of living in a population dense part of the CBD I suppose. :( 

The girls spent first couple of hours getting a makeup lesson and make over at Myers. That was followed by cosmetic purchases to reproduce the effects of the make over. The cost of the make over could be used against purchases so it was very reasonable. 

We then ventured into the CBD proper for 4 hours of "retail therapy". Everyone scored a bargain of some sort. Much of the purchases was about buying much needed clothes and shoes until next visit a year away. Variety is great and cost is a fraction of Queensland stores, so we annually stock-up. Of course the fashion is ahead of Brisbane, so the girls are happy to be trend setters for a couple of weeks. 

The people here are of course generally helpful and friendly. I got stung by a " beggar" dressed as Buddhist monk, who gave us a badge for peace and then asked us to sign a appeal but forgot to mention a donation until the last minute. Clever. $10 later! Again more beggars out seeking aid from folks passing by. Certainly far more than previous visits, which is again sad and speaks volumes about Victoria's current fiscal direction. I did see however more luxury cars on the street than previous years, a contrast for thought. 

The girls also found a Teddy Bear shop where every bear on display had a name. Another shop specialised "magic tricks" which interested Jacqueline while another sold specialised leather bound journals which Charlotte liked. 

We found in the edge of Chinatown a Japanese department store where everything is just $2.80. The shop was huge and variety amazing and "interesting". A lot of products have instructions in Japanese which makes buying product like solving a puzzle. Double the fun! Obviously they make a loss of some products but a killing on others. Very busy at the checkouts, so they are doing something right.

For lunch we stopped by the Cajun Kitchen, very nice and compared well to Melissa's memories of New Orleans. 

Several hours later we returned to our apartment for break from shopping, much to Charlotte's disgust. A chance to stop walking was most welcome. 

After much need break, we returned to CBD for more shops. Night shopping is popular in Melbourne, and variety is plentiful. Shops close from 7pm, right through to 10pm, so the city heart is generally alive with people. 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

First full day in Melbourne - Day 5

A day of shopping in the CDB area and Harbour Town today. The Girls went out shopping in the CBD while Melissa did the washing at the unit.

Today was a cool day, somewhere in early 20s in Temperature, with light rain and wind for a hour in the late afternoon. Thankfully it didn't get in the way with the girls shopping today in the CBD or Harbour Town. 

First stop was a natural beauty and body shop called Lush. The girls scored gift cards from their Aunty Elessa and Uncle James that they wanted to use. This was followed by stationary and dress shops over the next hour. 

We met up with Melissa to take the tourist tram to Harbour Town, which went smoothly and quickly. Harbour Town as usual provide plentiful opportunity to score a bargin. 

Late afternoon evening, with sore feet, we return to CBD to visit MYERS to arrange a make over and lesson for the girls. Dinner was to be Cajun but they had closed, so we settled on Indian at Flora. The meal was good but not as plentiful as in previous years. 

In our travels around the CBD we noticed an influx of beggars and people asking for money, certainly more than in previous visits. A few beggars haven brought their dogs to sit with them on pavement. Not many folks take notice of their pleads (verbal and often written) as they pass by. (Sad really that in 2014 we still have homeless, but I expect the hard nosed policies will see more fall out of mainstream society. The general feeling (I suspect), seems to be, that they are not really homeless just trying their luck "conning a few dollars out" of their fellows citizens. Personally I don't know. )