Thursday, December 22, 2011

It Is A Small World, After All!

Map picture

The city of Sydney belongs to that exclusive club of world class cities that give you a sense of excitement from the first time you visit. It ranks up there with the likes of San Francisco, New York, Paris, London, Beijing, and Shanghai. It is home to more than 4 million people, and it is by far the biggest and the most cosmopolitan city in all of Australia.

Lisa and I have spent considerable time in Sydney over the years, so we were a little sad that our ship would stop for only one day. Rather than try to take in everything, we made note of what we considered were the things we enjoyed the most, and then spent our time seeing each of those.

Our ship could not have docked at a more beautiful spot. The center of all Sydney is the circular Quay area of Sydney Harbor. Here is located all of the bustling cosmopolitan activity that you associate with the city. It is full of ferries running to and fro, and is towered over on one side by the beautiful tall buildings of the city itself, and on the other by the Sydney Opera House; completing the horseshoe that is the harbor, is an area known as "the rocks" wherein the historical buildings from the early days of the city still exist. It was right in the midst of this horseshoe that our ship docked and from our room we were directly across from the opera house. If you walked to the bow of the ship, you looked over the beautiful Sydney Bridge that spans the entrance to the inner Harbor.Sydney, Australia

We started our day by driving some around the city to reacquaint ourselves. Our first stop was at the magnificent Botanical Gardens. I wish we had had more time to spend, but sadly it was an overcast day and the gardens are quite large. Sydney, AustraliaThe sun came out briefly, and then disappeared once again thus, necessitating a shortened visit. A short drive took us to one of our favorite spots, the magnificent Art Gallery of New South Wales. The gallery houses the magnificent collection of 15 to 20th century European art. That was the main focus of our visit, and it took us well over an hour.Sydney, Australia The museum is quite large and we could have spent a great deal more time, but as I said before, there is too much to see in Sydney on a one-day visit.

Leaving the art gallery our driver suggested several places in and around the city where spectacular photographs could be made. He was absolutely right in that regard, and I hope you enjoy some of the pictures that we were able to attain.Sydney, Australia The next highlight of our visit was to be the Sydney aquarium. However, both Lisa and I made one little mistake. What we remembered of the Sydney aquarium, is not exactly what we found. The aquarium in Sydney I would rate as being pretty mediocre. Lisa and I both had to have been remembering a visit to some other place, but even today neither one of us can recall exactly where the magnificent aquarium is that we intended to visit is actually located.

While we were driving, my cell phone rang. It showed that the caller ID was blocked, and I started not to answer the phone because I could not imagine who would be calling me. Out of curiosity I picked up the call only to find my good friend Steve Carter at the other end. As luck would have it, Steve and his lovely wife Joan had learned of our trip to Australia through our blogs, and they had let us know beforehand that they too were coming to Australia in December. We communicated with each other briefly in Cairns, but just missed meeting when our ship departed on the 16th, and the Carters arrived there on the 17th. This phone call however was to find out where we were today. When I told Steve that we were in Sydney, he informed me that they were at the airport in Cairns and headed to Sydney. Once again it appeared that we were going to miss each other, since their plane landed at five, and I thought that our ship departed that evening at six. Well as it turned out, our ship did not actually depart that evening until 7 PM. So I called Steve back to see if they had yet reached their hotel room, and if they were by any chance in a position to watch our ship's departure. From what we could tell, Steve's room was on the wrong side of the bridge to see our ship, and so I guess that we were just going to pass in the night. Imagine my surprise, when, as our ship is leaving the harbor, I received a text from Steve as follows "the grandkids and I went out of the restaurant to see you guys! We did see the ship, but we missed you. We did wave! Smooth sailing my friends!"

Now is that a small world? Steve Carter is someone whom I met when working with Angel Flight, and in fact he was our very first volunteer pilot. He eventually became President of Angel Flight and was very instrumental in its early success. Upon retirement, Steve moved to Florida, so we do not get to see each other much anymore. The mere fact that we were in the same country at the same time halfway across the world was amazing enough, but that on two different occasions we virtually connected with each other is almost a miracle. Steve once said, his wife suggested that one day in some foreign place they were going to turn a corner and find Lisa and I standing there. I'm of the opinion that may not be too far off the truth.

Today our ship is sailing south along the Australian coast headed for the city of Melbourne. We will spend tomorrow, and then also Christmas Eve at the dock in Melbourne. By having a two-day layover, this will give the crew an opportunity to go ashore, and they are all considering this a very special holiday treat. On Christmas day we will once again return to sea to the southern city of Hobart.

I do hope that everyone is doing well. I was able to finally take the brace off my shoulder yesterday, and even though it is a little stiff and sometimes painful, it seems to be doing a little better every day. I'm slowly regaining some strength and range of motion, but clearly I'm going to need some serious rehab to recover any significant use of this arm. Perhaps that will be my best Christmas present of all!

Merry Christmas!


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