Day 1,830 of Traveling the World | Cape Reinga, New Zealand | February 5, 2023

The tippy-top of New Zealand! The day was overcast and cloudy, but it never rained. We made it to Cape Reinga and its famous, albeit tiny, lighthouse. When you look straight out, there is endless ocean – Pacific, to be exact. The nearest land, looking out in the second and third photos, is New Caledonia, at about 900 miles, followed by Fiji, at 1,200 miles or so. So – quite remote.

When we arrived at Cape Reinga, the parking lot was full, and a tour bus pulled in right after us. There were lots of people wanting to claim that they had been to the northernmost spot in NZ! We were reminded of our 82 days of driving around the UK, when we went to John o’Groats and Dunnet in Scotland – the most northerly points in mainland UK.

There is only one major road, SH 1, available to the top of the country, so we traveled the same highway in each direction, but when heading south, we made two stops: Tapotupotu Bay and the Giant Tepaki Sand Dunes, both short distances off SH 1, but on unpaved roads! We have encountered unpaved roads 5-6 times in the Northland. It seems unbelievable to us that these are advertised, government-promoted attractions, yet you must drive on unpaved roads, about five miles each way, in and out, to reach them. As we bumped along, zigzagging to avoid potholes, we were glad we had a rental car! And we were even happier that the car was SUV-ish rather than Sports Car-ish, so we didn’t bottom out. We probably wouldn’t have gone down some of those roads if we had a car like our beloved Mazda Miata.

The dunes were most interesting. The only other similar experience we had was at White Sands National Park in New Mexico. Here, near Cape Reinga, the sand came from volcanoes that erupted in the center of New Zealand’s North Island about 2 million years ago. It is all over the region. A vendor there was renting small body boards for children to coast down the dunes on their tummies. And we saw people hiking, way up on top of the dunes. We are guessing that for every step forward, they took two backward!

Oh, and we did have one more stop – as we returned to Cable Bay, we saw an incredible sight: more than a dozen kite surfers out in the bay. The wind was pretty vigorous, and they were passing each other as well as seagulls. We watched, charmed, for about 30 minutes. There is a video of them at the end of our photos.

A view to the west, showing Spirits Bay. “Reinga” means “the leaping-off place of spirits” in Māori.
Don’t miss it! – See how tiny the lighthouse is??
Still tiny.
On the side opposite the lighthouse, you can use the staircase to take a pretty coastal walk.
These are the choices! We were there about 1:00 pm, and considered doing the 11 hour-30 minute walk, but we didn’t want to show off.
The deserted beach at Tapotupotu Bay. However, near the parking lot, there was a group of 10-20 people having a picnic. We are guessing that food won out over swimming.
No Freedom Campers? We found out that this prohibits people from camping on public land that isn’t a recognized camping ground. (Notice that the first language is Māori.)
Not yet at the Giant Sand Dunes (this is many miles north, in fact), we were already seeing sand!
Here they are! Can you see the two people nearing the top?
The place to rent a body board. Notice that the tires have sunk into the ground – we are guessing that this truck is permanent. From what we saw in the back and on the side, the owners likely live here.
A pretty scene along Great Exhibition Bay.
Some of what you see in the air are seagulls, some are kite surfers.
A close-up, as they surfed back and forth in front of us.
This video shows the surfers moving in both directions, criss-crossing each other. You will see why we watched for a while!

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Day 1,827 of Traveling the World | Northlands & Doubtless Bay, New Zealand | February 2, 2023

Another five-year post, since today, for this February 2 post, it is February 1 in the US, where we started our epic journey. So…of course…being Groundhog Day, we get to celebrate all over again!

This area north of Auckland is collectively call the Northlands. As we said yesterday, we were told to expect rain and misery on our 200-mile trip to Cable Bay. We were gifted with a beautiful, sunny day, dry roads, and scenes that likely looked exactly the same hundreds of years ago. This area is timeless – no glitz, no big development. We must have commented ten times on how lucky we were to be driving in this dreamy, scenic area. We didn’t really know these were going to be our views; we just wanted to go to the most northerly part of NZ since we had never explored north of Auckland. Are we ever glad we did! We started talking about what a great place this would be if we were ever put in Witness Protection, where we could live a simple life with gorgeous scenery and never be found or found out – this area would be ideal. We think it very unlikely that a Tony Soprano would stumble across us in this tiny corner of the world. Some people might consider Lilyhammer, Norway (to invoke yet another Mafia-related and Witness Protection TV show), but we think it gets substantially colder there. You don’t think we watch too much TV, do you?

We have rented a huge house with views of Doubtless Bay. The address of the house is Cable Bay, but that is just a small settlement on the southern side of Doubtless Bay. Captain James Cook sailed by the bay’s entrance in 1769 and recorded in his journal that it was “doubtless a bay,” hence the name stuck. Our drop-dead gorgeous photos of beaches below are all Doubtless Bay, as we drove about 20 miles to the Karikari Peninsula today and stopped whenever we had a place to park near the bay. Every view is stunning. The photos after that are from yesterday’s drive north, all along the highways. They really are timeless. Judge for yourself! (This post feels so much easier to write than the one yesterday about flooding and rain! Our travels are usually so much more like these past two days: sunny, good weather, and glorious places with magnificent views!)

Doubtless Bay – beautiful water, distant mountains, big clouds, and in this one, fronted by some beautiful pines.
We liked the rolling lower bank of clouds.
The ocean colors are unreal!
A paddle boarder on a mostly deserted beach.
Don’t you think it looked like this 1,000 years ago??
You can see one of the flooded fields after the epic rain. Everything was very green.
This is another beach on Doubtless Bay. You can see tire tracks – two trucks were just slowly driving on the sand.
The same beach, empty except for us and the trucks.
A beach along yesterday’s drive.
The other end of the beach above…
…another “eternal, never-changing” photo (except for the fence of course)…
Hobbits could live here! (But that is next week!)
We were addicted to all the scenery we saw along our way.
The clouds were always a big part of each photo.
The deck on our rental house spans its entire length.
The view from the deck.
View from the side.
Out on the deck this morning, we saw this family of quail walking on our driveway – two adults and five chicks, so it must be mom and dad with their rugrats!

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Day 1,826 of Traveling the World | Auckland, New Zealand | February 1, 2023

Today marks FIVE YEARS of being homeless, traveling the world, seeing new things every day, living unencumbered by possessions. Hooray. So…..we have some outstanding…memorable…photos to share, right? Wrong.

We arrived in New Zealand at the exact second the historic rains pounded the North Island. When we requested an Uber once the plane landed to see what the cost and distance were from the airport, the cost to the Hilton was $60 NZD (about $40 US), and it would take 35 minutes. By the time we waited in the passport and biosecurity lines, made our way outside in the driving rain, found the rideshare location, and put in the request again, the cost was $138 and the time was 55 minutes.

Our Uber slogged through flooded streets, crawling along in bumper to bumper traffic. Due to flooding, the freeway narrowed to one lane as all the drivers veered toward the center median – the edge of the road was a foot deep or more. It was a little gut-wrenching. When we got to the Hilton, the ride had been more than two hours and supplemental costs raised the price to $175! For our part, we were just happy that we made it safely and would be dry and warm. On the local news, we found that during the time we were in the Uber, the city as a whole got a month’s worth of rain in one hour – more than 10 inches, and the bottom floor of the airport terminal flooded. Everyone who hadn’t already gotten out was sleeping on the upper floor of the airport, as there was no way out. It made us feel even more thankful that we made it out, and fortunate, regardless of the price.

So we have spent five days more or less inside the hotel! We got a lot of future planning done, and went out for a few short walks, but it always started to rain on us. In a conversation as we walked, we were advised by a local man to forget about trying to drive north today, as more rain was predicted and the roads would likely be flooded and closed off. We debated waiting an extra day, but the logistics and cost were a lot with which to contend, so we decided to give it a try and simply stop at a hotel along the way if the conditions became precarious. This is life on the road, with no option to “stay home.” We know we will encounter weather, traffic, and other problems, but we always manage to make it through, and are always grateful that we are experiencing LIFE! It is the ultimate in being alive and staying positive. Anyway….today –

Surprise, surprise! The day was gorgeous for driving, blue skies with both white and black clouds. The road was completely dry for the entire 6-hour drive, and the scenery fabulous. Happy Anniversary to us! We will only put in the photos from Auckland – not many – and save today’s driving photos for a post on what the Kiwis call “the Northland.” It is a beautiful place.

Flying into Auckland, we encountered blue skies and white clouds. Little did we know that below, the rain was starting, leading to the one of the worst nights of flooding Auckland, and New Zealand, had ever seen.
The “lake” you see out our Uber window is the opposing lane of traffic, completely flooded, with some cars stalled.
The view through the windshield.
View from the Hilton walkway, at the end of Princes’ Wharf.
Looking across the bay to Devonport Beach, supposedly a great ferry ride. We never got to take the ride, of course.
Sky Tower, seen from Princes’ Wharf, an Auckland landmark.
The working boats all went out each day, regardless of the wind, rain, and waves.

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Day 1,816 of Traveling the World | Melbourne & The Great Ocean Road, Australia | January 26, 2023

There’s the drive along the Riviera in France. Pacific Coast Highway along the California coast. The “Croatian Riviera” from Zadar to Dubrovnik. And now, we have experienced one of the other top coastal drives on the planet – Australia’s Great Ocean Road. Wow. The 150-mile road began as a way to employ returning servicemen from WWI. It follows the contours of the land, dipping to sea level to give access to beaches, and climbing to give stupendous views over the Bass Strait and the Great Southern Ocean. One of the biggest attractions is the Twelve Apostles, rocks that jut out of the water as temporary remnants of a retreating limestone coastline. Some fun info is provided beneath their photos!

Melbourne continues to fascinate. It is a very young, very vibrant city. Today is Australia Day, a national holiday, analogous to July 4 for Americans. All sorts of free food was available at Fed Square in the next block down from us. Free hot dogs, free chicken bowls, free smoothies, free coconut drinks, free ice cream, and free popcorn were all available. The lines for each were very very long, as you might imagine. If waiting in the sun for an hour or so wasn’t an issue, a free treat was yours! We have been here for 10 days, and we are starting to think that 10 days may be our new “normal” stay in a city. It gave us time to explore, take days off to recuperate, and find other places in the city to enjoy. The whole downtown has a free tram system – you just jump on or off wherever you wish. There are several markets, several urban shopping areas, retail shops and restaurants everywhere, and the city is known for great coffee – and rightly so! We found many museums as we walked, both free and modestly priced, as well as movie theaters and performance theaters. The Australian Open is just a 10-minute walk down the street. Not being sports fans, we didn’t even know it was taking place in Melbourne until people started asking if it was why we were here! We unknowingly keep booking hotels where there are major sporting events. One man commented – that may be because you follow summer around the world, and it caught up with you!

We also took our 30th Food Tour while here. “This is Melbourne” had a Street Eats tour, and we spent three hours with our guide, Martina, who started the company four years ago. The other clients on our tour cancelled, so it was just the three of us, eating some of the best Asian food that Melbourne has to offer while learning about the history of Australian immigration. We visited the National Gallery of Victoria here, along with ACMI, Australia’s museum of screen and film culture. There is so much to do! Alas, we have run out of days before running out of activities. That just means we will have to schedule another trip…..another year!

La Trobe Reading Room, State Library Victoria. Established in 1854, this was one of the first free libraries in the world and today is the fourth-most-visited in the world. It was beyond glorious to walk around this room and enjoy the light pouring in from the dome’s windows.
Another glorious ceiling, this time in stained glass, in the Cathedral Arcade shopping center.
Here, three passageways and their ceilings meet, and the stained glass is over-the-top crazy.
Degraves Street, one of Melbourne’s notable “laneways” that are busier than the main streets, jammed with cafes, restaurants, people, and street art!
Street art – Yalda Aghafalzi, arrested for protesting in Iran, freed on bail, and found dead two days later.
The green sculptural lightscape of St. Collins Lane Shopping Center in downtown Melbourne. Thousands of green LED glass bulbs are suspended from the ceiling, mimicking falling leaves.
A happy-face vase in the window of Monsterthreads.
…not chopping here?…
The watery entrance to the NGV – National Gallery Victoria.
…and more water falling down the window as you enter…
The Great Hall stained glass ceiling in the NGV – the reason we visited! It was created by Australian artist Leonard French, and it is absolutely stunning to see.
Out in the NGV garden is this “Temple of Boom,” based on the Parthenon, but in bright colors, and being constructed over the summer.
King Kong, looking ridiculous!
A beautiful, beautiful flower in the garden. We thought it was human-made for a few seconds, but it is real. Fabulous, right?
Uhhh….excuse me… “Exhibition” misspelled in a museum?? Hello!
Outside the NGV, along the entire median strip in the road, were a few dozen electronic birds. The screens were constantly changing, simulating the birds walking around. They were too cute.
The Forum Theater – can you find all seven gargoyles??
We stopped at a chocolate and ice cream shop on the Great Ocean Road and found these three chocolate kangaroos covered in ice cream and sprinkles.
Monument sign for the Great Ocean Road. We were warned not to take a photo from the middle of the road, as there have been several fatalities of people taking selfies. The houses on the hill are facing the ocean, of course, with great views.
THIS is the scene across the street from those houses!
Another beach scene along the road.
After passing lots of beaches, we entered a portion of rainforest on the Great Ocean Road named Melba Gully.
The Twelve Apostles – except there are only seven! These rock formations on the southern coast had been known as “Sow and Piglets,” named in 1798. BUT – they were renamed The Twelve Apostles in the 20th century, since it sounds more solemn, plus too many people thought they were going to see animals!
Loch Ard Gorge – two more “Apostles” up the road a ways!
The beautiful colors of the rock strata – plus the two formations in the very middle formed their own triangular hats!
In the small town of Apollo Bay is a decadent ice cream store. Check out the names! Chili Choc – Unicorn Poo – and the dread Vegemite. Now, vegemite is very very salty. Sadly, we will never know what it tastes like as ice cream, since we aren’t in love with it like Australians are!
East Melbourne Fire Station mural. We are guessing that this is Prometheus.
The gorgeous building is Flinders Train Station. The day is Australia Day. The boisterous crowd is listening to speeches, and occasionally clapping and cheering.
Free smoothies! But to blend them, they asked (mostly) children to pedal to power the blender on the front to make the smoothie!
Out in Aussie splendor in Fed Square on Australian Day.
There was a flyover that lasted about 20 minutes.
We stopped and talked to these guys for a couple of minutes when we saw that they were sitting in a “Ladies Only” waiting area. They were electricians working in the area. We don’t think they knew how the area was designated, but when we pointed it out, one of them told us not to make any assumptions about their gender based on their appearance.
Wow. Just wow. Not ever seen in the US of A.
???? Rabbits.
A beautifully decorated, eclectic restaurant where we tried some Thai treats on our Food Tour.
Meet Martina, our Food Tour guide. This was duck salad.
The Shrine of Remembrance, honoring all Australians who have served in war.
This bright orange canopy, a commissioned art piece, celebrates outdoor life in Melbourne (Queen Victoria Gardens).
Pho a Gogo. Sounds a little 60s, but it does rhyme.
We saw this building as we walked across the street, and we wondered how on earth you have the four elements as one entity in one establishment? But if you had an apartment on the top floor, you might never find it necessary to leave the building.
How playful!
Again – how playful!
We know! We just didn’t expect to be told in a shoe store!

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Day 1,807 of Traveling the World | Canberra, Australia | January 17, 2023

Tell the truth! How many of you thought the capital city of Australia was Sydney?? It is a common answer – just like thinking the capital of Turkey is Istanbul….but, nope, for a second time. Canberra is the capital (and for Turkey – Ankara), and in many ways it is similar to Washington: lots of tree-lined avenues with large, imposing buildings; a slower pace of life than the country’s largest cities (Sydney and Melbourne); and government workers walking around in professional dress, with access badges attached to their shirts.

It is a pleasant city, largely due to the trees and the artificially-created lakes. The “new” Parliament House replaced the former one in 1988. The “old” building was intended for 200 workers. In the 1980s, it was crammed with 2,000 employees, so clearly, it was time for a new building. The Parliament House is full of symbolism, from the colors used to the materials utilized in its construction. Our tour was advertised as 25 minutes in length, and it was; but we had asked a lot of questions, and afterwards our wonderful tour guide, Hamish, bumped into us, started talking with us, said he had some time to kill, and took us on an extended private tour, pointing out things not included in the public tour….including introductions to two of their resident fossils, Shawn and Russell (see the photos below). He was very knowledgeable and delightful, and we found that his other passion was the same as ours – travel.

Also, we need to acknowledge another wonderful man in Australia who has truly touched us, in both Sydney and Canberra…dear Fred! We meet people from other countries and visit them when we get on their home turf, and they are always amazing and gracious. We met Fred when he sat next to us at the Sydney Town Hall Christmas Concert on December 19. We had to stop talking when the music started, but afterwards he invited us out for coffee to continue our discussion, which was so fun. Then, he invited us out for a full day exploring Palm Beach and the Barrenjoey Lighthouse. He drove us around all day, and we spent the day walking, talking, and eating! We then met him for dinner last week, talked up a storm, and he asked us to his home for dessert. Finally, in Canberra, where he had lived for several years, he met up with us, as he was in town on business. “Let’s have coffee” turned into a six-hour tour of the city, the foreign embassies, a few lookouts, drinks, coffees, and dinner at a Japanese restaurant!! Fred is a professional geologist, and at every stop we heard something of the area’s geology. He is fascinating, charming, generous, always enthusiastic, and just a great Aussie! Thanks, Fred! You really made our time with you memorable.

We spent some time watching a Boston Dynamics robot walk around the sidewalk near the National Library. People were all taking photos and videos, as it looked sort of creepy, slithering along like a cockroach. We purposely stood in front of it, watching to see what it would do. Its “head” is a constantly swiveling camera, so of course it stops when confronting any obstacle. Its legs keep “marching” as he decides whether to go to the left or right, or turn around completely. Everyone was fascinated. We suppose most people have seen the online demonstration videos of robots dancing and performing tasks with other robots. Anyway – a delightful 15 minutes of sharing a little awe with others over something that won’t draw any attention at all in another 10 years or so. (Remember your smile, and delight, when you first played with a Smart Phone? Or when you heard that you could now take a – PHOTO – with a phone?? Like that!)

This pretty, shady sidewalk was one of many that looked identical. The emphasis here is on trees, shade, and a beautiful Parliament area.
THIS is the Captain Cook Memorial, located at Regatta Point in Lake Burley Griffin. The water jet is amazing! It can be seen from quite a distance, as its spray can reach as high as 500 feet into the air!
The Jetty Restaurant and Bar is a popular dining spot on the lake, and their most famous dish is “Fricken” – fried chicken, of course!
This sculpture along Lake Burley Griffin is titled “Angel of the North,” by Antony Gormley, 1996. Below it on the right is the National Carillon.
The Double Drummer cafe, whose directional sign is a nod to kangaroos!
Parliament House. Its top structure will probably be the first thing you notice as you enter Canberra, and sort of looks like a spaceship landing. Atop the structure is the flag of Australia, which gets replaced when it starts to tatter. There is an elevator on one of the “legs” that gets a worker to the top. As pointed out by our friend Fred, who worked in that building for many years, it is an elaborate, dramatic structure, but really is just a flagpole.
On the roof of Parliament are these interesting three windows that frame the mountains surrounding Canberra.
Built on a hill, Parliament House is aligned with the old Parliament building (the white building in the middle) and in the far distance, the War Memorial.
What is this? Well, you are looking UP at the magnificent dome in Parliament’s Great Hall, used for large gatherings.
Here is the dome in context, with a beautiful reflection on the floor. On the back wall, you can see one of the largest tapestries in the world. Depicting eucalyptus trees, it took 14 full-time weavers two years to complete.
The House of Representatives meets in this “shades of green” chamber. Our tour guide, Hamish, pointed out that the square lighting structure hanging from the ceiling is made to automatically turn each of its lights on or off as necessary to make sure that no part of the room is in darkness as the sun passes through its arc during the day and provides natural changing light through the skylight and windows.
This is our tour guide, Hamish, on the roof of Parliament with us, showing us the various spots of interest in the surrounding area.
Meet Russell the Mussel, one of two corals discovered in the Belgian marble floor in the foyer. See the next photo for its age!
Another piece of coral, caught in the marble, in the shape of a shrimp – hence, his name is Shawn the Prawn. Your kids think you are old at 50?? Tell them Shawn and Russell are 345 million years old!
If it’s red, it must be…the Senate chamber!
An interesting view of the main floor, from one floor above.
This stunning landscape is at the National Arboretum…one of our stops with Fred!
This part of the highway near Parliament was a “must” stop for Fred, and we got a brief, fascinating geology lesson. Just to the right of the pole, there is an abrupt, slanted dividing line between darker and lighter layers of rock. That is a fault line! The break lines that aren’t so prominent are fracture lines. The strata tell stories, if you know how to read them.
This striking sculpture at the National Arboretum is “Nest III,” made of welded steel found-objects, mostly abandoned farm machinery.
The National Gallery of Art had some striking sculptures and paintings. This is “Francesco” (Urs Fischer, 2017), texting with his cell phone, and slowly melting – in fact, he is now headless. He will live forever in future iterations, as the melted wax will be endlessly re-cast.
This carving from the Yimon people is so captivating on its own. Then add in its shadows on the wall, making a trio! It is so interesting.
One of Salvador Dali’s famous – infamous?? – Lobster Telephones, 1936. Believe it or not, it was a fully functioning phone! He also called it the Aphrodisiac Telephone. He created a total of 11 of them in the 1930s – four were red, and seven were white.
Marcel Duchamp’s “idea” in 1913 was to attach a bicycle wheel to a stool and watch it spin. Of course, when HE became famous, IT became “Art.”
This art piece is titled “Diamonds,” by Neil Dawson, 2002. It is magical to see, floating between the National Gallery and the High Court of Australia.
This gloriousness is titled “Kiss of Light,” by David McDiarmid, 1990. As you move around looking at it, it changes, as the light hits at different places.
She is titled “Waiting for Another Game,” by Huma Bhabha, 2018. She is different on all four sides, a hulking, broken woman, symbolizing the fractured history between Pakistan and India.
Costume for the White Poodle,” by Andre Derain (1919) for the Ballets Russes, from The Magical Toyshop.
Guess who??
…and you HAVE to read the words of “Guess Who” himself – way too long, way too intricate, to paraphrase!
Actually, reading this, the title would be just as accurate if you removed the word, “artist.”
Oh, teenagers – transforming “classes” to “asses.” Every young generation thinks it is so clever!
Outside the National Library, we – and many government workers – watched Spot, the robot dog from Boston Dynamics, creeping around. Here, he gets stuck on a curb and finds his way out!
This bicycle was outside the National Library. We don’t understand – are people in Canberra not paid enough to purchase a new bicycle seat? How can one sit comfortably on this?

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Day 1,802 of Traveling the World | Sydney, Australia | January 12, 2023

Sydney at night! Amadeus at the Opera House! Art in Sydney! (What’s that? Oh no, no, we don’t get excited about many things!) But, sadly, this is the last of our Sydney posts for a while, as we head off to Canberra, Melbourne, and New Zealand’s North Island for six weeks before returning.

What an enjoyable city Sydney is!! There is so much to see and do, and the people are very friendly. Amadeus was stupendous, and starred the versatile British actor, Michael Sheen, as Salieri. We have seen him in many movies, but it seemed as though he fit into the role of Salieri very easily. As you will see, the stage setting was minimal, but that lent itself to the characters being all the more important.

Our day in the Art Gallery of New South Wales was so enjoyable! We had never visited, and the original building alone held many new treats for our eyes. What we found most interesting was that new and old, paintings and photographs and sculptures – were all placed adjacent to one another. It was nice to see the variety, which most museums do not undertake. Then, we walked over to the new wing, and our pleasure tripled. As you will see in the photos, the Welcome Plaza has giants to do its welcoming. When you enter the building, it is all glass and brightness and just a huge spaciousness. Glorious! The wing contains a lot of aboriginal art and very interesting pieces. It was built over a WWII underground oil bunker, now called The Tank, whose first subterranean installation is called The End of Imagination, by Adrian Villar Rojas and involved stumbling around in near- and total darkness. We can’t wait to see what the next iteration of artwork in The Tank will be. That will be on the next trip to Australia.

Gorgeous building lights reflected in Circular Quay.
Circular Quay after a glorious performance of “Amadeus” – the Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge framing the Ferris wheel of Luna Park, and people drinking and eating, talking and laughing, into the night.
The stage of the Opera House, ready for Amadeus. We were amazed at how interesting the ceiling looked when we looked at photos the next day.
Curtain call! Michael Sheen is in the center, just below the woman in the pink gown. He was quite masterful playing the role of Salieri.
A pretty sidewalk view as we walked to the Art Gallery of New South Wales.
The foyer of the original Art Gallery building, with its interesting flower display, looking like it fell apart (but it didn’t).
Titled “Multi-armed Bi-head,” this 2020 bronze sculpture is by Sri Lankan artist Ramesh Mario Nithiyendran.
This is British navigator Captain James Cook. The 2015 piece is titled The English Channel by New Zealand artist Michael Parekowhai. We liked the glossy surface, Cook’s dangling feet, and his coat falling off the back of his seat – making for a more casual depiction of the great man.
This piece was alone on a wall, facing us as we came down a corridor. It looked so lovely and gentle, with lots of pinks and blues, glitter, and rhinestones. When we got closer and studied it we saw blood here and there, predators, dead things, and violence. Only then did we understand the reference to the influence of our favorite painter, Hieronymus Bosch. The info card is in the next photo.
The painting was not all that it seemed from afar!
Colonnes Pascale, 2012, by Cameroon artist Pascale Marthine Tayou. These towers are so playful! They are made of vessels that the artist bought in Marrakech.
Forty pictures in one…under glass – “The Legend of the Queen of the South,” by Belachew Yimer (1941), about the Queen of Sheba. Her son, Menelik I, was the founding king of the Ethiopian Dynasty.
In the Welcome Plaza of the new wing of the Art Gallery stand three rather lovable giants, created in 2022 by Francis Upritchard. It was a surprise to stumble upon them! The name of the installation is “Here Comes Everybody.”
This is the second we found.
We absolutely loved Number Three, wrapping its hand around one of the pillars and towering so high over the seated woman.
The accompanying text to this painting says: “A face emerges from the delicate, schematic lines drawn by Vernon Ah Kee in ‘Unwritten #9’ (2008). Ghostly and haunting, the eyes are black voids and the mouth is a gathering of darkness.”
It looks childlike, but the artist (HJ Wedge) of this piece, “Stop and Think,” (1993) painted it when he was 37 years old! A bit like Little Red Riding Hood, the piece considers who can be trusted and who can provide protection.
Grace Lillian Lee created this collection called “Belonging” in 2021-22. It is about how we all are interconnected. She states that she is the red figure in the center. Our question: Don’t we ALL want to be the red figure in the center???
Japan Supernatural: Vertiginous After Staring at the Empty World Too Intensely, I Found Myself Trapped in the Realm of Lurking Ghosts and Monsters.” Takashi Murakami (2019). Best title ever!! Uh…and the crazy-eyed cats, swords, evil men, and wild colors aren’t bad either!
This outdoor sculpture was making everyone smile, as the polka-dotted flowers almost look like they are running. Yayoi Kusama, “Flowers that Bloom in the Cosmos,” 2022.
In a 1942 wartime oil bunker now called The Tank (in the Art Gallery’s new wing) is this mostly- in-the-dark installation called “The End of Imagination,” with what are called “conflicted objects.”
Since it is dark, and the subterranean space has columns as well as other people, the instruction is to stand still when all of the scattered lights go out completely. Before we entered, everyone was also given the instruction to keep their cell phones and cameras in their pockets. Nobody did. Everyone was taking pictures.
Another conflicted object!
We spied this cactus garden atop a pub on one of our walks.
Yirranma Place Gates, by Badger Bates. The gates tell the story of the Seven Sisters and the Rainbow Serpent.
The gates frame a foyer with tables for working or snacking. The building is a former Church of Christ, Scientist. The ceiling is covered with an Indigenous constellation, the Emu.
Also found on a walk, this Great White beauty lurks outside the Australian Museum.

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Day 1,798 of Traveling the World | Sydney and Bondi Beach, Australia | January 8, 2023

We never try to do “everything” when we visit a large city. First, we know we will never get to “everything.” Second, being old, we regularly schedule days of rest – as we tell people, when you are in your own home, you don’t try to go sightseeing every day! And third, we know we will return to our favorite cities, so there has to be something left for future visits!

Some people were surprised that we never had been to Bondi Beach, even though we have visited Sydney several times. Now that we have experienced it, we will certainly return every time we are in Sydney! It was so beautiful, and warm, with gloriously blue water. It is a magnet for surfers, and we watched them for a while, riding waves all the way onto the beach. There were a few ice cream and coffee places, but the main street, up above the beach, is just filled with shopping and dining venues, so the beach is fine without adding more.

The Sydney Festival of the Arts began this week, and we attended two very interesting theater offerings. One was a drama, “Boys & Girls,” which was a one-woman play that took a devastating turn. The playwright, Dennis Kelly, apparently is known for introducing dark turns in his writing. This did not disappoint! The other show we saw was a contemporary opera, “Sun & Sea,” in Town Hall. The hall, where we saw the Christmas Concert when we first arrived, was transformed into a beach! Tons of sand were brought in, and the staging was set up – lots of beach towels for lounging, and people playing beach games, eating, reading, and talking. A dog was walking around, and several children were crawling in the sand. The entire time, elegies were being sung, sometimes solos, and sometimes in chorus, about the environment and personal relationships. The audience entered the space in the balcony, and we kept moving until we had circled the action – then, people left whenever they felt like leaving! Tickets were spaced 30 minutes apart, and when the last song was finished (as we followed along in the program), they started with the first song again. It was just a lazy afternoon at the beach! It was fascinating to see staging as we had never before seen.

Below, there are some other, random photos from around Sydney. We like walking around and seeing what happens! Tonight we are attending “Amadeus” at the Sydney Opera House to round out our weekend theater-going. We have loved traveling now that the Covid scare has been somewhat mitigated through our being fully vaccinated and boostered, and now that theaters have opened up again. We always have to search for what is on in any city (and some make it very difficult!), but we love anything that is out of the ordinary, out of the box, as our two shows so far this weekend have been.

Bondi Beach. Utterly gorgeous. Utterly HUGE! Its name is taken from the aboriginal word “Boondi,” which means – water breaking over rocks (or – surf).
Photo taken from up on the cliffs.
We walked this path, all the way to the other side, which you can’t even see.
Sydney has preserved so many old buildings, like this one, the Bondi Surf Bathers Life Saving Club, opened in February 1907. It claims to be the world’s first surf lifesaving club.
As you can see in the middle-left, those folks have their own, clear, wading pool – in the Pacific Ocean!
Bondi Icebergs…the home of winter swimming since 1929. The club has two swimming pools, as you can see, and it sits just above the ocean. Its purpose is to encourage swimming by all ages.
A bit of the walkway along the beach…Bondi produces world-class waves, so there were many surfers out.
There was all kinds of street art as we walked along the beach.
Hmmmm. The “door to the future” looks a little sketchy, a little dilapidated, maybe in need of some paint? We wonder who comes if you do, indeed, “Queue here.”
In downtown Sydney, this is the outside…
…and this is the glorious interior of the Strand Arcade, a shopping center dating to 1891.
UTS…the University of Technology, Sydney. It has some interesting buildings. This hulking monster is on Broadway in Sydney.

This one-woman play, Girls & Boys, by Dennis Kelly, was gut-wrenching. He is a British writer, one of the screenwriters for the Brad Pitt movie, World War Z. The role was first played by Carey Mulligan, but Justine Clarke was amazing – alone on stage, she memorized two hours of dialogue. It was incredible. Mike said he didn’t think he could memorize that much dialogue even if given infinite time to do so.
The stage setting for the drama, and the props, were very simple. It unfolded like an onion, in layers, and the end was devastasting.
These glorious “deconstructed” birds were all you noticed in this retail store in the Queen Victoria Building – so much so, that they completely overshadowed the purses that the store was trying to sell!
THIS contemporary opera is “Sun & Sea,” by three Lithuanian artists. It won the Golden Lion at the 2019 Venice Biennale. The audience watched from the balcony, and we were encouraged to walk around the entire scene.
Elegies about their lives and the world were sung constantly as the performers sunbathed, played badminton, ate, read, played ball, and walked around.
The “beach” area is where we sat for the Town Hall Christmas Concert on December 20, but there was no sand at that time. Quite the transformation!
The audience mostly stood, and moved around, although some people sat and followed the libretto, which was printed in the program.
In this apocalypse story, the world doesn’t end with a bang, but with a long, lazy afternoon at the beach!
Here is a short video of the music….
…and another!
Darling Harbour in Sydney. Many ferries go in and out to other destinations from here.
Looking the other way, it is also a marina, with the far side dominated by the dramatic W Hotel.
…and every city has its Ferris wheel, as we have noted before. The fare for adults for the “Star of the Show” is only $10 Australian ($6.88 US). In comparison, the London Eye is £32.50 ($39.30 US).

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Day 1,791 of Traveling the World | Sydney Harbour New Year’s Eve | January 1, 2023

HAPPY NEW YEAR to our friends and family! We weren’t sure we would find a venue to see the best fireworks ever (we have seen them twice, in 2018 and 2005), as even the normally free places are ticketed and were all sold out. Tickets for restaurants with a view, and including the Sydney Opera House, were going for $2,000 per person. Dive boats and party boats wanted $500-1,000 for a seat out in the water. But we wanted to see the show, somehow. In addition, this is the first celebration of NYE fireworks since the pandemic began, so a great party was promised.

Then, in the afternoon, we got an email from our friend Annie, a niece of our dear friend Maya, who passed away in 2022. She had two tickets to the Botanic Gardens that she couldn’t use: would we want them?? YES!!! So, we took a picnic to the gardens and were seated right on the harbour (acceding to the Australian/British spelling) for one of the greatest shows on earth. We won’t label/comment on each photo, as they are self-explanatory. They are in chronological order, from arrival around 6:00 pm when it was still daylight. One great thing is, Sydney sets off a “more modest” fireworks show at 9:00 pm, so it gave us the opportunity to see which settings and apps were best for fireworks photos. The first two photos of fireworks are from the 9:00 pm show, while all the rest are from the New Year. We took 400 photos! Be glad that the old days of “Come see the slide show of our trip” are over, or you would be sitting for hours! We are just offering a dozen.

Midnight came, and we traveled from the past, the old (2022) to the future-now-present and the new – 2023! This is one of the great experiences on earth. The local news predicted that there would be ONE MILLION people on the streets of Sydney, all angling for a place to see the fireworks. Roads closed early in the area, and public transportation stopped. Luckily, our hotel is just a 20-minute walk from where we watched the fireworks show, and where we talked to everyone around us! We met Federico, an aeronautical engineer from Argentina; Sabrina and her partner Martin, with her parents, from Switzerland; a couple from France; and a few others. Everyone was super-friendly and helpful. What a great evening! Welcoming the New Year was very welcoming to US! It will be a Great New Year!