Key Blogs

Down Under adventure revisited – final post

A smooth 2-hour drive got us to the Park Hyatt Melbourne where the Virtuoso family awaited us for this year’s edition of Symposium. Over 4 days, we met with suppliers, listened and participated in stimulating key notes and work shops, and tasted Melbourne’s famous gourmet offerings.

While the fall skies were predominantly great to black, rain didn’t hit us till yesterday when it poured buckets – nothing stopped us though as we walked up and down the main drag along Flinders street and the Yarra River.

A short hop to Sydney and on to San Francisco on united airlines (14 hours) and I will soon be back home.

My suggestion

Put Down Under on you bucket list – this short revisit reminded me of the amazements this continent offers to travelers.

Safe, ultra friendly and welcoming, affordable and only a few hours farther than Europe (from the west coast that is). The sheer grandeur of the continent with sparse population makes this a paradise for abundant wildlife. The cacophony of birds singing stood out as it has gotten so quiet around my neighborhood.

G’Day to all my readers and thanks for all the feedback and reactions to my posts.

Key Blogs

Down Under adventure revisited – part 6

Fully rested and finally adjusted to a 14 hour time change we hit the road for breakfast in Paynesville – a short 30-minute hop

Nourished for the day, we then took what must be the world’s shortest ferry over to Raymond Island for a walk. The purpose of this early morning excursion is Australia’s signature creature – the Koala – come along🐾

Our walk was a lovely loop of about a mile through the neighborhood and eucalyptus grove. We spotted 6 in short order – each nestling on a branch dosing away or eating breakfast on one of the 25 varieties they like (out of over 700 species of eucalyptus trees).

Quite amazing to be so close to them in the wild.

After that we travelled on to the gold mining town of Walhalla which was quite the experience as well. Tucked in a gulch, this town had the largest gold haul of any in Australia’s Goldrush (74 tons) manually dug out of mine shafts the length of 55 miles.

Our fabulous host Michael from the Star hotel showed us around and provided the stories to bring this gem of a town to life. An outstandingunch with local Rose 🍷 accompanied our final stop before reaching Melbourne.

Stay tuned for my next blog on the final leg of the trip.

Key Blogs

Down Under adventure revisited – part 5

Our morning began with an adrenaline rush from a sea plane flight over the rugged coastline of southern New South Wales. As you may recall from my vblog yesterday, this is humpback whale country and in just a few weeks time you can actually do a 45- minute flight to see these majestic creatures from the air.

While we did not see whales today, the weather was stunning and I could see the potential. I’ve already strategized onnwhen I will be back here during whale season – in late August the year I retire (gotta have a plan after all). Below is a picture of myself and Richard Aquino from Allianz whom travelled with us from Sydney.

A great lunch of fresh oysters and fish & chips later, we hit the road to our overnight destination of Metung – 460 km/280 miles south along the cast. About half-way we crossed into Victoria from New South Wales.

Key Blogs

Down Under adventure revisited – part 4

An early morning got us out of Sydney and on to Australia 1 – Princess highway – south bound for our first viewpoint of the coastline. This view has been enhanced by the new cantilever bridge that replaced the one carved into the hillside we had driven on 28 years ago.

From there we drive around the city of Wollongong down to the quaint village of Kiava where a blowhole awaited us. Our spacious Mercedes Sprinter van (see above) is our comfy 4-wheeled companion on his journey.

After that short stop, we continued on to the town of Huskisson on Jarvis Bay for a Dolphin discovery cruise – outstanding!

This natural horseshoe harbor is home to 80+ bottle nose dolphins year-round and humpback whales for 6 months out of the year. This are of unspoiled nature preserve md by a marine sanctuary must feature on any Australia drive.

A fantastic seafood lunch later – thank you Kevin and crew – we continued on the road toward our overnight stop in Bateman’s Bay. Just before arriving, we detoured to Pebbly beach in Murramarang Bational Park to spot kangaroos on the beach.

Crimson parrots and other creatures as well as a rainbow brought the area to life. A spectacular day that I pinch myself about for years to come. This stretch of coastline needs to make a comeback for travelers as it is truly breathtaking. Help me spread the word #tourismaustralia.

Key Blogs

Down Under adventure revisited – part 3

The clouds lifted and out came the sun to shine on our gaggle of 5 walking the streets of Sydney. The famous harbor bridge – lovingly nicknamed the coat hanger – is the landmark of this spectacular harbor area called the Rock.

The other one is the Sydney Opera house which epitomizes modern architecture. Designed by famed Danish architect Jorn Utzon, this structure still looks as amazingly contemporary today as it did back in 1953 when its design was finalized.

Equally stimulating as the architecture is this roundabout with its rock- smashed car in the center as an expression of public art.

Throwing me for a loop, the Golden leaves on trees indicating fall which is about to begin here in Australia – 180 degrees opposite our spring blooms I left behind last night.

A lovely lunch and a rest later, we then embarked on a “must do” harbor cruise with progressive dinner.

What a sight to see – sunset at the harbor.

Rounding out the night was a wedding party sponsored fireworks display at the bridge for everyone to enjoy!

Now it’s time for a good nights rest as we leave this world class act for a 1400 kilometer road trip to Melbourne. Stay tuned for more info tomorrow.

Key Blogs

Down Under adventure revisited – part 2

Despite the gray skies, landing is a sight to behold. From the harbor bridge to the opera house, this panorama never disappoints.

Our 15 hour flight unfolded without any problems and the mornin mist across the sunlit wing was a beautiful and reflective moment for to appreciate what flying offers. No secret here, I love being up in the air where I do my best thinking and reflection. The video does it better justice so enjoy.

Key Blogs

Down Under adventure revisited – part 1

It was the late spring of 1991 when three Swiss friends made their way across Asia to Sydney for an unforgettable road trip adventure. Now, 28 years later I have the opportunity to relive the opening stint from Sydney to Melbourne again – in style and comfort. Follow me along on my condensed journey along some of the most magical coastline and scenery galore. It all begins with a 15 hour flight tonight from SFO. This is another first for me as I have never flown to Australia from the US across the pacific. I will be boarding the United flight aboard a Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner. Sleep tight and stand by for pics from Sydney.

Holland America Line · Key Blogs

Nieuw Amsterdam for a day

You can tell that the Alaska cruise season is about to kick off as one ship after another is making its way up to the Pacific Northwest. Today’s visitor at the Port of San Francisco is the refurbished Holland America Line ship Nieuw Amsterdam. Fully dedicated to its namesake city of New York – read Russell Shorto’s amazing book ” The island at the center of the world” for more historic background – the decor and art reflect the iconic skyline.

The stunning lobby chandelier is just one item that stands out. Venues like “on stage at Lincoln center” and the “billboard lounge” pay tribute to NY’s music tradition as much as they entertain guests daily.

Updated lounges abound and the core called of Holland’s larger than average staterooms in all categories make this a great ship for mature guests of all backgrounds. Walking through the ship today, I realized that it had been 12 years since I set foot on a larger Holland ship. I discovered that I too needed to reset perceptions myself.

Holland features a domed pool area on every ship but the Prinsendam that can be dual purpose – open on sunny days & closed in inclement weather. This sets these ships apart from its rivals. The spa and Thalasso therapy pool are stunning and my fave, the thermal chairs are an oasis of peace and warmth.

Our visit ended with a tasty lunch at the main dining room aft of the ship. This cozy space with warm colors and peppy hues embodies what loyal customers love about this venerable brand.

My take: Holland has done a great job of updating its appeal to younger demographics with tasteful and contemporary touches that put this solid hardware to optimal use. I recommend this brand to mature clients whom love the arts and music and enjoy elevated cuisine. Add to that Holland’s history 75 years sailing in Alaska and there is you reason to sail now.

2019-04-26-Norwegian Joy Inaugural · Key Blogs

A day of Joy continued

Upon return to our cabin, we found this tasty and artistic pastry and chocolate tray on our coffee table. I can assure you that it not only looked amazing -it tasted heavenly.

Norwegian Joy is an action- packed ship with attractions for every age. From amazing shows (Footloose anyone?) to waterslides pools and a video arcade called Galaxy that blows your circuits. My all-time fave however was the Go-cart track.

Sue and I had a blast driving the track at 1030 pm eyehole cruising the Straight if Juan de Fuca.

This inaugural was a perfect opportunity to meet team members of the Direct & Vision Travel family from across North America. A bit of fun was had too as you can see.

2019-04-26-Norwegian Joy Inaugural · Key Blogs

A day of Joy – Norwegian’s newest vessel awaits

After a few weeks of silence, my schedule is picking up with some fun travels ahead. It all starts today after touching down at Vancouver international airport which is such a joy to fly into every time. Efficient, clean and oh so friendly and helpful “Aye”.

A short metro ride to the Wayerfront station got us to Canada Place – Vancouver Cruise Port – where the Joy was waiting for us. Towering over the skyline, this latest of Norwegian’s vessels made quite the statement. She happened to be the largest passenger ship to ever call on this majestic port.

Thanks to Norwegian’s top notch organization Boarding was a breeze. Less than 15 minutes and on we walked, escorted by our very own concierge whom brought us to our stateroom.

A first orientation tour of #norwegianjoy gave us the lay of the land. Over the coming 3 days, I will update you all on our experiences on board. My special guest for what amounts to her very first cruise experience is Sue Miller from Alameda.