Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Upside Down - The Final Episode

Day 33 - April 13:

Another sunny day in Sydney for Chad and Dino.  They decided to return to Bondi for a relaxing day on the beach.  This time the spot chosen was between the yellow markers flags making the area safer for swimming.  The water was warmer than the day before and although there was some pull from the surf it was not as strong.

Chad atop the cliffs near Bondi Beach

After working up an appetite, they went for lunch.  C and D were looking for a Sushi place but could not exactly remember where it was and so asked a local for directions. Turns out the guy's girlfriend was from Montreal and he had been to Ottawa several times - that small world again!.  The place had a Sushi Train where the sushi travels on a conveyer belt with coloured plates indicating a different price value.  By the time lunch was over the Sushi Train had stopped 10 times!

Lunch was followed with a visit to some shops near the beach and then a bus ride back to Bondi Junction to check out two area malls.  C and D were surprised to see Lululemon, a Canadian company, in one of the malls.  The sales associate was even more surprised to see two Canadians in Lululemon in Sydney.  After a few purchases, the two returned to the hotel to get ready for another night on the town!

The dinner choice was Hugo's Pizza Bar - voted the best pizza in Australia in 2008 and 2009 by Restaurant and Catering Australia - and the restaurant was only a 5 minute walk from the hotel.  Dino opted for the fig pizza with fresh figs, pancetta, gorgonzola cheese, tomato and basil.  Chad chose the Italian pizza with mini pork and veal meatballs, shaved Parmesan, and tomato oregano salad. The two Ottawa restaurant critics were were not sure if it rated the best meal in Australia but it was "awesome".

C and D opted to retire early since they had a very early start at the fish market the next day.

For Michel and Graham, a sunny morning was a chance to see the Central Station and Haymarket areas, China Town, the Reflecting Pool, Hyde Park, and Sydney Cathedral.  It also was a chance to finish some the Australian souvenir shopping at Paddy's Market and Circular Quay.

 Hyde Park

Once back at the hotel, there was about an hour for a quick change and check of emails before grabbing the shuttle bus to the airport.

The flight was from Sydney to Auckland was with Air New Zealand.  With the thousands of air miles logged by Graham and Michel over the years, both consider Air New Zealand to be the top of the list.  If you get a chance fly the Kiwi Airline.

In the Air New Zealand lounge in Sydney, with Dr. Kaos not even close, Michel put his glass of red wine on a "small metal counter".  Unfortunately, the small counter was really a door and, as the glass descended to the floor, it showered Michel.  This will remind some Ottawa friends of Graham's orange juice incident many years ago at Bill and Wendy's New Year's Day party.

It was close to midnight when M and G landed in Auckland and almost 1:00m a.m. by the time they had checked-in at the Best Western BK Pioneer Lodge near the airport.  Believe it or not, Dr. Kaos helped remove the wine stains - lots of practice perhaps!  It has been a long day and tomorrow would be even longer.

Day 34 - April 14:

Chad and Dino's last full day started very early.  Up at 5:00 a.m. to make their way to the Sydney Fish Market.  They decided to take a Tram ride (i.e. light rail) which was run by a different company.  It cost an additional $5.30 for a round-trip ticket to Central Station.  Both arrived at the Fish Market at 6:45 a.m. for what turned out to be an amazing tour and a chance to see tonnes of different fish being auctioned off.

The tour ended at 9:00 a.m. and since the restaurants in the market were already selling seafood, both chose the breakfast of champions - grilled scallops, grilled oysters (with and without bacon), BBQ baby octopus, calamari, king prawns, pieces of fish, seafood sticks, and of course, the ever popular chips (french fries). 

With breakfast over, it was back on the Tram and, as they approached Paddy's Market, it was off the Tram for some final shopping.  One of the stall keepers at Paddy's Market asked if they worked at the Fish Market.  Their senses were dulled - they stunk of fish! 

After a brief stop at at the hotel to remove the fish smell, it was a short walk to the Sydney Jewish Museum - the only museum visit.  The plan was to tour the museum and then make a final trip to Bondi Beach.  However, even after three hours at the museum there was still more to see.  Both would have spent more time there but they had to end the visit since the museum was closing.

Once back at the hotel it was time for C and D to pack for the trip home the next day.  Their only meal of the day had been breakfast many hours earlier.  So with stomachs growling both headed to Oxford Street for an early dinner and a few drinks.

For Michel and Graham, their last hours in New Zealand were sunny and very warm.  They managed to secure a slightly late check-out from the Best Western BK's Pioneer Lodge (the last hotel).  After several failed attempts they did manage to find a place for a reasonably priced breakfast.  Breakfast actually cost a few more NZ dollars than the total they both had but the waitress took pity on the "poor travellers" and gave them breakfast for the money they had!  What a country to support Canadian Government and Retired individuals.

The shuttle ride got M and G to the airport way ahead of schedule.  The five hours before take-off gave an opportunity to purchase some New Zealand masks, update and post the blog (Episode 7), and chat to two Quebec travellers. - the husband was another Michel  and the wife showed some great pictures of Christchurch before the Quake.  It was disappointing the quake had ruined so much of this special city.   She also showed pictures of some of the most southern parts of the South Island - parts Graham hopes to see on his next visit!.

At 4:30 p.m. on April 14 in Auckland (12:30 a.m on April 14 in Ottawa), it was time board NZ 8.  The flight took off at 5:15 p.m. with the sun setting on an amazing trip.  There would also be some time to sleep on the flight to San Francisco.

For the first two returning travellers the route back stopped in San Francisco (to clear US customs) and Vancouver (to clear Canadian customs).  Both managed to get business class for all the legs and landed in Ottawa on April 15th at 12:30 p.m.  From waking in Auckland at 7:00 a.m. on April 14th to getting home to bed in Ottawa at 2:00 a.m. on April 15th, the total time would be 35 hours!    It would be a late start to their first day back in Ottawa.

Day 35 - April 15:

Chad and Dino's return day also started at 5:00 a.m. in Sydney.  Their return flight was also via Auckland but did not require an overnight stop.  The route was then the same and M and G.  They also managed to get business class seats for all legs and got into Ottawa at 12:30 a.m. on April 16th.  Another 35 hours of travel.

Australian Summary:

Best Experience:  The Great Barrier Reef (C and G),
                           The Great Ocean Road (D),
                           The Southern Sky at Night at Uluru (Ayers Rock) (M)
Best Attraction:     Australian Zoo (C and D), Uluru - Sunset (M) - Sunrise (G)
Biggest Disappointment: Not Getting to Whitsunday Island (C, D and G),
                                      Not Seeing Many Wild Animals (M)
Most Over-rated Attraction: Breakfast with the Birds (G), None (C, D and M)
Best Scientific Experience: The Sands do Squeak in Byron Bay
Best Hotel: Port Douglas Queenslander
Worst Hotel: Outback Pioneer Lodge - Yulara (M and G),
                    Econo Lodge City Park Comfort Inn - Brisbane (C and D)
Best Meal: Pacific Italian Restaurant in Byron Bay (M and G),
                 First Dinner in Melbourne - Steve and Markus (C and D)
Worst Meal: Lunch in Alice Springs (M and G), None (C and D)

Best Memory of the Trip:  The Southern Sky at Night (M), The Great Barrier Reef (C and G)
                                        Michel Teaching Graham How to Operate the Timer on G's Camera (D)

The Ottawa four hope you have enjoyed reading the blog and, through the pictures, have experienced some of the downunder sights. 

Many thanks to the friends and relatives who took care of our houses while we were away.   

It was a trip of a lifetime and some plan to return


  1. Hi!!
    ey guys! I am glad you have had a lot of fun in Australia and New Zeland!! Now, you must have many stories to tell!
    Have a nice trip back to Canada.
    I hope we can meet sometime soon, here or there!
    Missing you so much.

  2. Thanks for the great Blog, it's been a lot of fun reading about your Amazing Race. D & D