Saturday, 9 December 2017

I Want To Be in America!

As I type, bear in mind that we have been up for more than 30 hours and have relived Dec 9th twice so please forgive any incoherence. The tank could not be any more depleted...

Our journey across the Pacific was not as seamless as it could have been but we arrived safely which was the main aim! American Airlines had much to do with the displeasure. Apart from breaking up the family with seating on the plane, the service on the plane was not only non-existent, it was down right rude! So much so that the couple seated in front of us were afraid to ask for drinks, and Malcolm got told a big eye roll and dramatic from the cabin attendant dropping the ice-cream! Geez Louise! I didn't think it was possible but American Airlines you have surpassed United as the worst airlines ever! LAX was surprisingly not as painful as expected. We struggled to stay awake for the next leg to Orlando and was glad to get on Disney's Magical Express on to Walt Disney World!

By the time we arrived and completed check in at our base of Bay Lake Tower, it was well past 8pm. Dinner at the Contempo Cafe was passable fast food but nothing to write home about. It did the job of filling the tummy. After settling the children to bed, we had to purchase our Tables in Wonderland Cards as well as collect our pre-purchased clothing from the Yoongs at the Polynesian. The increased security was apparent with multiple security points now in place instead of the one right outside the Magic Kingdom.

The music, lights, decorations and people outside the Magic Kingdom kept us going with the taste of what was to come tomorrow...just. We stumbled home and straight into bed. Over and out. Until tomorrow!

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Fraser Island Day 3

Today was 4-wheel driving day on Fraser Islands infamous beach stretches

And as you do, planes just land and take off at random

It was a shame it was so cloudy. The incredibly clear and blue water of Lake McKenzie just doesn't come across so well in the photos


Maheno wreck

The stretch just before Champagne pools

So called because when the waves break over the rocks, it looks like champagne!

Clear clear water!


Saturday, 7 October 2017

Fraser Island Day 2

Channelling our inner whale like echo location

It was windy so lets hope the waters are not too choppy for whale watching

When you don't have sunnies, goggles will have to do for wind protection

Spotting the first set of mother and calf


They came very close to the boat! and one swam right underneath it

Because whale watching is such exhausting work...

Our "share" burger for lunch

The plan was to watch the sunset but the clouds never cleared

Oh well no reason not to enjoy the seafood spread



Friday, 6 October 2017

Fraser Island

We had a mini break to Fraser Island to celebrate Jonah's birthday and to use up our expiring frequent flyer points. We had never been before and it was a surprisingly good time! Our home for our stay was the Kingfisher Bay Resort with most of our transfers included as well as whale watching and 4 wheel drive hire. Here is a short pictorial account of our weekend away...

Spoilt by freshly baked birthday cookies in the morning!

It was a day of multiple modes of transport starting off with a plane to Hervey Bay

Our transfer from the airport was included but we expect a limousine!!!


Once we've checkecd into the main island reception, it was onto a bus to head to the wharf

A little boy enjoying all the modes of transport

It was then onto the ferry to Fraser Island!


It was windy outside!

Our last transfer, a trolley to take us from the pier to the hotel building itself


The swamp behind the pool, turn around and you see...

this!

Happy hour!

Jonah's birthday meal. A bush tucker inspired menu. 

Emu jerkey

Birthday dessert

Unfortunately this dessert a big miss...it tasted awful and I eat most desserts!

Friday, 14 July 2017

Sing Sing Sing

The past few days have been a flurry of competitions, rehearsals and evening concerts. The highlights have been listening to the European singing styles (so dramatic!), spending some time with Lara and meeting up with our previous au pair Maria! The poor girls and teachers are obviously tired with evening concerts often not starting until 9pm (assuming they start on time) meaning late finishes and early starts with little down time. The girls just scraped into the finals in 9th position out of 12. Yay! Well done for making it as there were no separation between all the various categories which made me wonder why have them at all in the first place?

The chaos that is an Italian organised rehearsal for the gala concert

The beautiful costumes from all around the world. The Taiwanese! I suppose they have an indigenous population?

The Hungarians

The Bulgarians who sang very strong and dark pieces

The finals and gala concert were held at the historic Teatro Verdi. I am glad to be able to report that the Filipinos won! The final concert of Opera arias and choruses performed by the contestants together would have been a lot more enjoyable if the theatre had been cooled by more than 2 lonely fans above the orchestra!!

Tomorrow we start our journey home and as I will be going straight to work...I will write some final thoughts now before this blog in most likelihood will be abandoned again for months before our next trip comes around. There were many blessings and opportunities to be grateful for this trip. First, simply the chance the girls have been given to perform at so many amazing venues. I do hope that they cherish these moments and realise the privilege. And as much as she drove me crazy at times, it was nice to spend some time with my mother and travel together while she is in relative good health. Despite her complaints, her joints held up well! The opportunity to enjoy Italy without crazy sightseeing cannot be undervalued. Wandering small streets at leisure, stopping for coffee and gelato and simply taking a nap when it got too hot was oh so nice! We were also blessed with good weather. Yes I know I complained about the heat but I only had to use my umbrella once the whole trip and that's not too bad at all! And with that, I end this chapter. Thank you Italy! Until next time!

Maria!

Picked up a second street urchin who was very happy to go shopping and eat gelato together

At the Disney Store

Getting ready for the gala concert at Teatro Verdi


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Florence

Other than being absolutely drenched in sweat due to the heat, the transfer from Rome to Florence went smoothly today. Our base for our Florence stay was conveniently located and Lara's competition and performance venues as part of the Leonardo Da Vinci Choral Festival were all within an easy 10-15 walk.

The opening concert in typical Italian style was rather chaotic. The venue although gorgeous (14th century ex-convent) was too small even to fit all the performers let alone spectators. The performers were apparently called up to perform out of order which caused a lot of delay from shuffling of people in very packed spaces. The music though was wonderful made to sound even better I was sure with the great acoustics. Some choirs were just phenomenal. Some of the European choirs made me feel like I was watching Eurovision. It was simply awesome.

Spoiled by Oma

Let's take a picture in front of the Duomo

Another impressive church Basilica Santo Spirito

Lara was allowed to spend some time with us in between concerts and she made use of the opportunity to score herself treats, new clothes and money! We ended the day with an evening concert at Basilica di Santo Spirito. The string group played superbly, better than the other Australian contingent if I may say so myself...

Monday, 10 July 2017

Rest in Rome

I'm afraid today's post will be rather boring. My PMLE (polymorphic light eruption or fancy term for sun rash) has progressively worsened with the continued sun exposure which unfortunately had me looking like I had permanent severe goosebumps all over. My mother also didn't want to walk too much any more. With that, we had to cancel my plan to do a foodie walking tour of Trastevere which was rather disappointing. Oh well I suppose it gives me a reason to return to Rome. It probably was also  a good opportunity to catch up on some rest as it will be straight back to work on landing in Sydney. So let's enjoy the good life now!

Trevi Fountain not in action


We did a short stroll to shop in the nearby streets and walked past the Trevi fountain which was being cleaned/renovated. No coin toss for us. I don't remember if I coin tossed last trip...but I'm here now! With great shame, I have to admit that we lunched at McDonald's. We were back in the hotel shortly post lunch to avoid the sun and heat. A nap, a book at the hotel lounge followed by a quick dinner ain't too bad in my books.