Our hearts go out to the people of Strasbourg, France. The city is a beautiful place that has seen more than its share of turmoil in its history. We are sorry such a wonderful, historic city has to be touched by hate.
The deal was that I would go to Melbourne with Spider if I didn’t have to get cooped up in an airplane for more than six hours at a time. We are now in Melbourne and it took us thirty days to get here by traveling east from Sacramento and making (quite) a few stops along the way. But not more than six hours in a plane. It was worth the trip.
We found plenty to do within walking distance of our hotel. There is a tram system across the river from here that extends your reach. Expecting big city woes, we were pleasantly surprised to find people friendly and very willing to give recommendations.
We were sent to this restaurant that was unfortunately closed.
Instead, we were directed to this place nearby run by the same people.
When they found out we were friends of friends in California, we were loaded down with plenty of pastries for the walk back to the hotel. Cinnamon rolls for dinner!
Our exploration was pretty much confined to the area within a long walk from the hotel but there was plenty to see. Like the cities in California, Melbourne’s history doesn’t go back far. They have a rich array of Victorian and later buildings and shopping arcades.
We asked this guy for directions to the shopping area and he looked it up on his Victorian cell phone.
The “mall” we visited, took us back in time.
The mall security guards were a little imposing.
This area of Melbourne is a nice blend of old and new with plenty of shops and restaurants that make a lively nightlife.
Let’s hope Bubba can stay out of trouble.
Oh, Bubba! Not again!
A slight confession here. We violated the “go only east” rule. Hobart is southwest of Sydney. We wanted to visit Tasmania and to reach out to the south end of Australia. Hobart fits that. You can go a little farther south but not much. Flight leaves soon, time to go.
We landed at the Hobart International Airport, taxied to the gate and watched the ground crew guy come out with what looked like a garbage can stuffed with crime scene tape. He put the can at the point of the wing, stretched the tape to the plane on one side and the terminal on the other and created a jetway. Hobart Airport is one of the most easygoing, friendliest airports we have ever visited. We arrived at gate one. There are two gates at the airport. We departed from gate six. No, I don’t know what happened to gates two through five.
This is planned as a rest break. An easy going couple of days with nothing on the agenda. Tasmania is like that. The hustle and the hurry of the crowds and the world’s worries are kept to the major cities to the north. People here like their little island away from that huge island up there. At around 225,000, about half the population of Tasmania lives in Hobart. It is a city that has kept the charm of some of its old, grand buildings.
Our hotel was located in an old building…with a modern addition out back.
We took a walk to the docks. I spotted this guy trying to take a selfie with his dog.
Being the helpful person I am, I helped out. Now stand still.
We spotted this cruise ship in the harbor. Let’s take a sun filled cruise and work on the tan. I’ve been a little pale (yellow) lately.
Ah, Ha! Antarctic research vessel. That doesn’t sound like a string of fun days at sea. I think I’ll find something else. I can just hang out with the statues of the folks I can find to the south.
I’ll be fine with this crew. The only animal I don’t want to meet here is a Tasmanian Devil.
Must be time to leave. Back to the International Airport to see what choices might be available.
Let’s do this one.
I’m sorry I’ve ignored this narrative. Some real time travel interrupted me. I’ll rejoin us 25 days after we left Sacramento on our trip to “head east” when we found ourselves in Sydney, high up on a bridge, without Bubba.
I’ll let Bubba explain.
Here I am, I made it all the way to Australia, and somehow lost track of Rick and Spider. I saw this clam shell building and wandered over and they must have wandered the other way.
I took a ride out to the clam building (Sydney Opera House) and when I looked back, I saw this big bridge.
Up on top, I could barely make them out, yes, it was….
How did they get up there and why am I not with them??!!
The Sydney Harbor Bridge climb takes a couple of hours and has a few restrictions. You have to leave all your clothes behind and dress in their blue suits. You can’t bring anything with you (sorry Bubba) to ensure that nothing drops to the roadway below. Even the caps you see are fastened to the jumpsuit and the zipper is in the back so you won’t be tempted to sneak something up. The people are securely fastened to the bridge with safety cables.
We started 25 days ago in Sacramento. So far we have been to four continents in both hemispheres. We have visited Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Singapore, and now…Australia.
Sydney is a beautiful city. Modern yet with a touch of exotic. Even the street birds are a little unusual. The pigeons have to make room for the wild locals.
It is a place where brides and joggers share space.
And it is a city that comes alive at night.
Convicts were once sent here and, if they got into trouble, they would end up in courts like this one.
Can you tell where the defendants sat?
Not Guilty! Your Honor!! It’s a witch hunt!
Tomorrow, we see the Blue Mountains.
Singapore has a rich, multi-cultural history that pops up to surprise you around every corner. What is also looming wherever you look is Modern Singapore. The city is a financial hub for Asia. The tall buildings loom over you and…what?…someone put a big boat on top of those three skyscrapers.
We’ll get back to that later. The first clue that this may be Moneytown was in the lobby of the Raffles Hotel. They have a gold bar ATM. Can’t get your Kit-Kat at this machine, but you can get a few ounces of gold.
The big names in shopping al have their stores here. Outside the Prada store, I thought I’d catch up on the news by snooping at this guy’s paper.
Holmes is everywhere.
The paper may be a little old. Mount Rushmore is complete?
I think there might be room for more heads.
That’s another trip Bubba. We’ll get to that in due time. Back to Singapore.
Singapore has fast forwarded its economy. Buildings are ultra-modern and reaching for the stars. This hotel complex was designed with a connecting top that is supposed to look like a ship.
Yeah, sure, why not.
Across from there are the Gardens by the Bay, a huge park consisting of three massive gardens. A bit of green inside your city.
The lagoon is filled with colorful parade boats.
These guys could probably row faster if they weren’t tied to the dock.
Just across the highway is a gigantic three floor shopping arcade. You want it, they got it. Racing Venetian gondolas? No problem.
An ice rink? Sure we have that.
What’s that store in the corner? It is all about me! A super hero store and café!!
When traveling, we like to eat at local places…and the Super hero Café.
The Art and Science Museum is housed in a giant lotus flower.
And some sea creature lion hybrid stands proud at the edge of the water.
This is the Merlion symbol of Singapore.
It looks like maybe the smoke from the fires in Indonesia is getting to his tummy.
It must be time to head to the airport to wave goodbye to the big yellow bear thing and head east (and south) again.
I think I may start flying with my old pal Sid. It looks like he is leaving soon.
As the sign says, Sydney is departing.
Day 21 and day 22 in Bubba’s trip to go “East” and our trip to accompany him.
Heading east from Dubai would take me somewhere like the Himalayas, China, North Korea. Maybe I should veer southeast instead. I’ve heard that crossing the equator causes your hair to fall out so maybe I will stop just shy of the big red line on the map.
Singapore is 80 or so miles north of the equator so I should be safe. We stayed in the Chinese quarter at this hotel that once was a Chinese temple.
They have a Bubba sized model of what the area looked like back in the day. Our place is the short one in the middle that still looks pretty much the same.
Up in our room, we found some goodies to commemorate the Mid-Autumn festival. I’m always ready to munch sweets and check out the view of the market from my room.
Singapore is an almost mystical blend of the past and the up-to-the-minute present. A wander around the neighborhood took us back to the historic side of this part of the city. We came across this temple, still in use. This place has some beautiful carvings and is a sacred place.
So you know the bit over your front door? No one really looks there; they are ringing the bell. In this place, every surface is filled with carvings with deep religious meanings. This is the Thian Hock Keng Temple or Palace of Heavenly Happiness first built around 1821.
Inside there are places devoted to the different gods. Each have a deep meaning and each have their own offerings left behind by devotees. This being Singapore, one of the friendliest places I’ve ever visited, a man standing near heard us admiring the work and explained some of the things we were seeing. He was a professor at the local university who would explain things to tourists during his visits.
What is that offering I see at the foot of the God with the big tongue?
It is indeed a can of Guinness!
These two are Generals Fan and Xie, the guardians of hell, also known as the Black and White Guards of Impermanence. One can imagine the significance of the can O’ Guinness.
It is a little hot and damp today. Illegal forest clearing in Indonesia contributes smoke to the mix. It is downright melty out here.
It is time for something to cool my soul. I’ll ask this guy for a ride.
“You know where a guy could get a cool drink in a classy place that represents Singapore’s past?”
This is, of course, a not so cleverly done set up for the next bunch of pictures.
Take me to Raffles Hotel!
The hotel’s roots go back to the 1830’s and it was eventually named after Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore. It is a classic colonial British building. I could sip tea on the veranda.
Nah! That isn’t my style. I’ll head to Harry’s bar. This is the place where the Singapore Sling was invented…and they have free peanuts.
Warm day, fans overhead gently moving the hot, moist air, and a nice tropical cocktail. I can’t help overhearing someone speak of a tiger hunt and I think he actually said the words, “Dash it all!” and “My word!” It is a dozy kind of day.
You must forgive Bubba in letting his imagination roam a bit. This is a modern bar with all the trappings from the past so it is easy to send your mind back 100 years or so.
Time to go back to the room for a nap. Let’s see if I can find it. It had red shutters and looked out over the shopping arcade.
Yeah, one of those. Tomorrow I’ll check out the modern version of the city.
We made it on the flight that took forever and arrived in Dubai. I thought I’d look around and see if there was anything interesting to see. If you look west you see the Persian Gulf, look north (with better eyes than mine) you see the Strait of Hormuz and maybe the coast of Iran, south is sand and east…one…big…building.
That is the Burj Khalifa. The tallest building on earth. It reaches 2722 ft., I’ve been told. I didn’t measure because TSA took my pocket tape measure. I had to find a way to get up there.
Maybe I can take a helicopter to the top.
At about a half mile up, it looks like I’m in some type of aircraft but no, this is a shot out of a window in the building.
The nice lady helped me get just a little higher to see better.
You can get in a line at the bottom and buy tickets to go to the 125th floor, or if you think you are clever you can get in the shorter line. The shorter line costs about twice as much but gets you on a very long elevator ride to the 148th floor.
You know you are in a different world when you are met at the elevator door by a uniformed attendant with a tray of sweets and a glass of fruit juice. It gets narrow up this high so it doesn’t take long to walk around. You can even go outside and take in the somewhat hazy view. There are about fifteen floors above you here.
And 146 floors below.
Closer to earth, I thought I would look for other attractions. I’m here for a short time, what wonderful sights await me. It is hot outside so I didn’t see any parks. Not much in the area of natural green color plants at all. You could sit on the beach. Hot sand melts the plastic off me so that would be a “no”. I like to visit historic… That’s problematic too. While the history of the region goes way back, Dubai really wasn’t much to look at before the 1990’s. Since then there has been an explosion of growth resulting in some very stunning examples of modern architecture but not much in the way of historic. So what do you do? We went to the mall. That is the air conditioned place to go and the people here make the most of it. We visited two; the Dubai Mall and the Mall of the Emirates. We barely got to scratch the surface. The Dubai Mall alone has around 1,200 stores.
There is artwork.
These aren’t swimmers and they aren’t guys leaving the Big Building taking the express way down, it is art, man.
There is the chandelier of all chandeliers.
Kind of that jelly fish effect.
You can go ice skating.
Or meet this guy.
I think he is supposed to be a penguin but looks more like a duck to me. There aren’t’ a whole lot of penguins here to complain about misrepresentation.
Yes, the sign behind him is correct. Here, in the desert on the shores of the Persian Gulf, you can go snow skiing.
Don’t bump your head on the ceiling when riding the ski lift.
Dubai is a pretty mind bending place. A building so tall it looks like it has to be Hollywood special effects, snow in the mall, and a chalet of sorts, with a form of fireplace.
Or at least a video of a fireplace. It is too hot here to even think of such a thing.
This is a place unlike anywhere we have been and before my mind explodes, it is old world customs meeting with modern technology in the desert.
I think I will get in a plane and head east again.