Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Australia's Tallest

The two tallest structures in Australia just happen to be in places where we have been on this trip. Are we lucky, or what! And yes, we're still here, on Magnetic Island now, off the coast from Townsville in northern Queensland. But that's for later.

The first "tallest" is the Sydney Tower in, of course, Sydney, which happens to be the second tallest. Since we were in Sydney first, that's what we saw first. Donica, who is afraid of heights (she who flies all over tarnation!), chose NOT to go to the top with me. It stands at 1,000 ft (305 m) above Sydney's central business district.

This was the best I could get of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Those dang skyscrapers were hogging the view!

But I was a happy camper to get the Magic Hour as the sun was setting. One of our days we had taken a cruise all around that harbor, so it was quite exciting to see it from above.

The Roman Catholic St.Mary's Cathedral was the only church we visited while in Sydney (apart from nephew-in-law David's church, where he plays the organ). A magnificent structure from both above and below!

After a week in Sydney with the boys, we took two days to drive a rental car up the east coast to Brisbane (pronounced BRIZ-bun) and stopped at Surfer's Paradise along the way, just 52 km south of the city. That just happens to be the only city in Australia now that has a Hard Rock Cafe, so Donica just had to stop, of course. Lucky for me because that's also where the tallest of Australia's structures is!

The Q1 building in Surfer's Paradise is Australia's tallest structure and the world's tallest residential tower, at 1,058 ft (322.5 m). This time Donica was game to join me at the top and was okay as long as she didn't look down.

I looked down, of course, and was lucky once again to get the Magic Hour as the sun was going down.

The ocean is on the left (same direction as the photo above) but if you look inland a bit, you can see the Nerang River that runs through the Gold Coast. What a playground for those who like water!

In my next post I'll take you to Brisbane, where we spent 3 days and actually met up with two of my blogger guys from Shutterchance. Talk about a small world! It seems to be getting smaller by the day!

And BTW, once we headed out of Sydney, all our rainy days turned to sunshine!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Iconic Sydney

Decisions, decisions! I wasn't planning to post a thing until after our trip to Australia, but we're almost finished with the second of 3 parts of our trip (Brisbane) and I'm afraid it'll all get away from me if I don't post something NOW!

So, let's start with Sydney, where we spent a week with Dave and Dave, my nephew and his partner!

Almost everything we did and saw was down at the Sydney Harbour where we took the ferry and a harbor cruise to see the sights. It's never the same from a boat out on the water, you know!

I'm guessing the two most famous Sydney landmarks are the Opera house....

...and the Harbour Bridge.

Sometimes you can see both at the same time.

Another icon almost as big as the Opera House is the Sydney Tower, which can be seen from all over the city and is Australia's second tallest structure. And yes, I went to the top, but I'll save that for the post when I also went to Australia's tallest structure, just south of Brisbane. (Hold your horses.)

For me, the Central Station clock tower was also one of the most memorable sights of the city, especially since we went by it almost every day.

The guys took us on a couple very nice drives hither, thither and yon over the weekend, where I was able to get some more impressions. One of these days I'll have to make an album!

For those of you into shopping, YES, Sydney has that as well. The QVB (Queen Victoria Building) reminded us of London's Covent Garden. Just superb.

And just in case we don't see them elsewhere on the trip, we did go to Sydney's Taronga Zoo to get in our prerequisite koala bear and kargaroo.

As I write, we're finishing up a lovely stay in Brisbane, the capital of Queensland. Tomorrow we fly to Townsville for the remainder of our stay, on Magnetic Island. You'll hear all about that later. But for now, I just had to give a smidgen of Sydney!

Trivia: I am posting this at 8:20 Friday morning, Atlanta time. But here in Brisbane it's 10:20p, 14 hours ahead. And time to go to bed! So, Good Night. :)

Saturday, April 12, 2008

One Night Only

If you had one night only to celebrate, let's say, your 10th anniversary, what would you do! Wanna hear what Donica came up with (in the midst of all our hecticness!)? She flew us out to New York City for a two-day, one-night trip to see/hear the One Night Only Elton John fundraiser for Hillary Clinton on April 9th.

It was held at Radio City Music Hall in NYC and raised $2.5 million for her campaign. I don't care what you think of Hillary (especially vs. Obama), but I was really jazzed. The fact we were even flying anywhere was a secret until midnight before we left Wednesday morning, the 9th. And I had no clue what I was going to until 15 minutes before we got there.
That Donica sure loves her secrets and surprises!

To see Hillary, Bill and Chelsea, all in one fell swoop (well two, if you count before and after the concert), was frosting on the cake. By now Donica has taken me to every Elton John concert that has come to Atlanta in the last 10 years. But this one was extra special!

As a BTW, in case you heard the Elton quote: "I never cease to be amazed at the misogynistic attitude of some of the people of this country, and I say to hell with it," I recently read something from a columnist that gives me pause. He said that sexism is still "politically correct" in the USA, but racism is not! You can still read/hear people call Hillary a B----, but no one will dare call Obama a N-----. Think about it!


Switch gears now and let me tell you that on Monday Donica and I leave for a 3-week vacation to Australia! I know! We fly to Sydney to first spend a week with my gay nephew and his partner (both Davids!). Then we'll drive up the east coast to Brisbane for another week, and from there we'll fly to the barrier reef, where we'll stay on Magnetic Island.

I took this photo in Utrecht, Holland, back in March, and leave it as my R&R image for while we're gone. What a life!

But right now, Donica needs this vacation more than we all realize. We will have a house sale this weekend at Mom's, trying to sell as much as possible. In the meantime, Donica is trying to get the Will probated so we can sell the house, and yada, yada, yada. It's so overwhelming it's hard to know how to deal with it. We have sympathy for people who just walk away from it all!

So, please send out your prayers on our behalf. This, too, shall pass, we know. If it could just be "one night only," we'd be happy campers. But it's not. So we pray for God's sweet mercy.

I'll see you when we come back from Australia the first week in May, which (thankfully) is longer than one night!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Zutphen: the other Zed

In my last post from a week ago (what have I been doing with my life?!?!), I told you about the first Z/Zed/Zet: Zaanse Schans. What a fabulous place in Holland! Well, here's another one, when Astrid (my partner in crime) went with me on another photo hunt east of Amsterdam, not only to see the historic old town but to meet up with our etcher friend, Wim, and his darling wife.

This is the street where Wim lives and that building facing you is his neck of the woods!

That same building up close and personal!

Maybe you remember by now that this is a classic stepped gable front. When you see it on both sides of a building, it's usually on a corner, which I love to see. Two for the price of one.

This church above is the same one below from a different part of town, of course.

By now I have found out this is a water tower and every city has it's own unique design. Look at this one from Utrecht!

The Saint Walpurga church is one of the oldest and largest churches of Holland from the 12th century. It's hard to miss it wherever you are in this lovely city.

We left at sunset after a glorious day. You can see why I'm so in love with this country. I want to explore every square inch of it, can you tell?!


To catch you up a bit, we spent the entire weekend at Mom's, cleaning and sorting and selling and disbursing the household goods. We had help from family members both days but we are plum tuckered out. Daughter Amy fed us a gourmet dinner last evening on our way home and I told her this is when I feel my age. Seriously!

Next weekend we plan to have a yard/garage sale to get rid of as much as we can. Slowly but surely, things will be ready for the house to be sold, if possible, or readied for rental (terrible market right now!). We need wisdom as we make these decisions, because, as you know, we aren't around most of the time...and the mortgage still needs to be paid.

Miles to go before we sleep.....