Monday, September 18, 2006

Back from Australia

Two weeks is a long time. Got home on Saturday, but words were spinning and I couldn't think straight. Went to bed at 8 PM on Saturday night, slept til 12:30 Sunday afternoon - 16 1/2 hours. Last night, couldn't fall asleep for anything. This is what crossing 17 time zones does to me - I don't know if it is day or night, and yes, it was worth it.

This was my 20th trip to Australia and my first time in Melbourne. It has become my favorite city there - friendly people, great restaurants, a beautiful river in the center, lots of public art - it reminded me of my home town of Chicago in so many ways that I just fell in love with the city. Arrival day, I went for a tour of the city on the back of a Harley Davidson - I spent the first five minutes thinking I was going to die, and the next fifty-five grinning from ear to ear.

Melbourne is one of the few cities you can actually float over in a balloon. So on September 4th, before the crack of my ass, I got up and went ballooning. My balloon was the "Peace & Love" Balloon:

Later that afternoon, I went out to one of Melbourne & Victoria's major tourist attractions, Phillip Island, for the "Penguin Parade." I was with a company I book regularly, as a private tour - which turned out to be a good thing, because that was the day Steve Irwin died in the freak accident - his is one of only three recorded deaths by sting ray. Say what you might about Steve, he was a great friend to tourism, and he did a lot on the quiet to protect habitats - he lived quite modestly, and put all his resources into his zoo, and the purchase of habitat to ensure that no building or development would take place in those par4cels of land. I first met Steve in Brisbane in 1998 at a conference - he was a complete madman. His wife was pregnant out to here with their first child, Bindy, and he's handeling snakes on the rooftop of the Rydges hotel - alchohol flowing freely, about 300 travel agents, and snakes. Oh, my. We'll miss you, Steve!

Next day, long trip out to the Great Ocean Road - and a helicopter over the 12 Apostles (one fell down recently, so there's only about 9.) Blogger is limiting the number of pictures I can upload, so that will be later.

After Melbourne, flew to Brisbane to see Hugh Jackman in "The Boy from OZ" - he was brilliant, and gorgeous. At our Aussie Specialist conference, we have an awards ceremony. One of my friends always votes for Hugh as "Best Australian Product" - sigh.

Highlight was Orpheus Island, a beautiful Great Barrier Reef resort with no pretension and no "attitude". Best part? The sea plane transfer. That is so cool I can't begin to tell you. Pictures later.

I'm back. Stupid tired. Have no clue what is going on in the world - clearly Bush has not been impeached yet, but one can hope, yes?

Off to work, I hope my desk is there.


Frederick said...

Welcome back!

betmo said...

good to have you back- glad you had a good time! now- get rested up and back into the fray- november is around the corner! :)

robin andrea said...

Welcome home! I'm glad you're back. Your trip sounds fantastic.

The president hasn't been impeached, yet, but he is trying to have legislation passed that will absolve him of all past crimes. No joke. Warrantless wiretapping, prisoner torture will be legal if he gets his way. I'm thinking this time he won't.

pissed off patricia said...

I have a case of serious envy.

Sounds like a dream of a trip to me. Sure glad to have you back :)

Helen Wheels said...

Wow, welcome back, sounds AMAZING!!

I thought Steve Irwin was WONDERUL. He did so much for conservation. A very sad loss.

Did you at least get to see the bumbleshrub's hissy fit in the Rose Garden on Friday? It's a must-see.

DivaJood said...

Thanks Fred. I'm still pretty comatose.

Betmo, I saw that Gas has fallen below $3.00 a gallon in Los Angeles - must be pre-election hype, eh?

POP, thanks. Remember, I am a travel professional. Don't try this at home. Normal humans cannot travel at the pace that travel agents do. Of course, normal humans have real jobs, that actually pay the bills.

Helen Wheels, I did NOT see Shrub's hissy fit. Did you happen to YouTube it? I have a hat that Steve and his wife Terry autographed. After he died, I spent the next two weeks convinced that I'd thrown it out. But it is safe and sound right where I keep it.

Tina said...

WELCOME BACK Diva!! I'm so happy you had a wonderful trip and that you were spared Bush's pissy pants fit. Stop back at my place for a look-see at his God-awful behavior.... and pan down to last Thursday to check out a pix of BabyGirl and BabyToBe :)
Again... I'm so happy you had a great time, and when I heard that Steve Irwin died, I swear, you were the very 1st I thought of and I said to Hubby: "OMG,how awful. I wonder if Australia is gripped with grief and if that will effect Diva's vacation?"

sumo said...

Good to have you back! Your time there sounds like it was so wonderful. I think Steve made a big difference to the world...everyone talked about it. How very nice that you met him and have that hat still. He stood for everything that was good in this world. Although...I'm not a snake fan...sorry.

Yoga Korunta said...

Welcome back, Diva Jood! It's good to see you again!

BZ said...

Welcome back. We missed you.

karena said...

Missed you incredibly and glad you are back. Good luck finding that desk!

Alicia said...

Welcome back! Missed you lots! Isn't it nice to know how much you're adored? Your trip sounds fantastic! Can't wait to see the pictures that you will no doubt share with us! I use a lot of exclamation points!

DivaJood said...

Tina, your baby girl is going to have to have a name change since Baby2be is on the way - I'm thinking, Ms. Toddler?

Sumo, the hat was a big thing - and my cousin told me yesterday I best bring it home from work before someone walks off with it.

Yoga, you have a picture! Yay for you!

BZ, thank you! I missed everybody!

Karena, my computer died yesterday at work - first thing! So I am at someone else's desk, and I feel like a peripatetic semetic. (That's wandering Jew.)

Alicia, I forgot to leave my number when I called yesterday! How exclamation pointedly dumb was that?!

Everybody, I feel so happy to know ya'll! You guys have no clue what a lifeline you have been to me. From five years of silence to finding a community of people who actually THINK, and speak! I love you all.

The Fat Lady Sings said...

You're home! The trip sounds fantastic. How seriously cool. And that balloon ride! Oh boy would I love that! Pity about Irwin. I was wondering if that would have affected your trip. Hope you took lots more pictures - I can't wait to see!

DivaJood said...

TFLS, the balloon ride was a highlight. More pictures to come.

Fran said...

Sounds like your trip was wonderful; like your photos and your very thoughtful post about stewadship or lack thereof. Everything is so scary in this beautiful world of ours.

DivaJood said...

fran, it was an interesting trip. Not the best, but good. So much sadness on this one.