Sunday, 11 October 2015

Day 3 - Seaworld


As expected, Seaworld was also busy!  Once again, as we had been before, we didn’t really have to worry too much about the queues but we did head straight to the dolphin show.  It must be about the fourth time we have seen it, but it never fails to be worth watching.
We did wander around a wee bit and noted the changes, one being that that the cable car wasn’t operating and the cars were stacked off line so to speak.
The kids water area looks to be pretty good, but this is an additional charge.  We did manage to use the water cannons from the fence and those riding the galleons fired back - so Dave and I also got wet!
The lake show at 1pm was nothing more than a jet ski display this time and wasn’t a patch on the earlier shows we have seen.  So a little disappointing. The sea lion show was the same as it has always been – another opportunity to sit and relax in the shade.
Dave and I went on the ‘jet rescue’ high speed roller coaster (you sit astride jet ski shaped cars) and we became adopted grandads, so that a couple of under-height kids in a school holiday group could ride, as they had to be accompanied by an adult – but Dave’s charge decided that when the seat bar was  strapped down, she really didn’t want to ride after all!
The old roller coaster with an upside down twist has gone and the new coaster incorporates another ride that has now gone, now called ‘Storm’.  We only had to queue for 30 minutes and as usual, for a two minute ride!  Pretty good though - meanwhile, Paula & Marilyn went to the ‘Sponge Bob’ 3D movie on ecology.  They rated it really good – for three year olds.
We left about 4pm and as we passed the trawlers that sell proper sea prawns (as opposed to grown in a puddle in Vietnam/China) we knew that we were way too late, so we called at the fish shop on site.  Very disappointing. The prawns looked terrible and were expensive, but they also sold a fair bit of NZ fish.  Interesting that we pay about $12.95NZD a kg for our monkfish, in the shop, it was $29AUD a kilo and $44 a kilo cooked!  No wonder Macca’s do a roaring trade.
So once again, to Woolworths at Pacific Fair instead.  Now we often have a bit of a laugh driving around and today was no different.  At the traffic lights on Broadbeach Rd, we turned left for Pac Fair, alongside the petrol station.  There is another set of traffic lights to turn left again into the car parks. However, we swung left on the green filter - and straight into a Road Closed sign!  Needless to say, three occupants of our Mitsubishi AFX were convulsed with hysterical laughter, as I had to double back through the petrol station, as doing a U turn wasn’t really on as traffic was heading out OK!
After a very nice (but small…) coffee, we bought our cooked giant prawns in Woolworths, cheaper and fresher than at the fish shop, and an avocado, some cole slaw, rolls and a 1.3kg ready to heat lasagne.  Four prawns for Dave, Marilyn and myself and 2 for Paula proved to be enough, and we didn’t manage to finish off the lasagne, washed down with Magners cider and later, a quarter mango each.
Another not very late night…
Robina Mall tomorrow morning, then a lunch time catch up with cruise buddies, Ros and Arnold.  

Monday, 5 October 2015

Day 2 - Movieworld

We’d already decided that we’d do Movieworld and Seaworld (again) on this trip, but it was not long before we left NZ that we found out that it was school holiday time in Australia as well as in NZ, though with Marilyn being a teacher, getting time off is limited to school holidays anyway.
I suppose the fact that the car park was about 75% full before 11am (and  no markings again…) shouldn’t have been too much of  a surprise, but apparently, it was even busier than normal.  Once again, we brandished Gold Cards, Entertainment Cards, grovelled and ended up with a three day pass for $5 more than a 1 day pass.  The timing was perfect as we headed straight for the Stunt Show (version 2) which was due to start at 11am and we got there with 5 minutes to spare.
As usual, we enjoyed the show, but we thought that maybe the first show we saw, Police Academy, was a better show overall, with a better story and a lot more humour, especially when they picked someone out of the audience and he became the butt of a fair bit of slapstick humour.
Dave and I were keen to go to the ‘Scooby Do’ indoor, in the dark, roller coaster, but the queue time was upped from 60 minutes to 75 minutes.  Not for the first time we later found out that the notice was misleading as it was positioned on the front steps.
We wandered around for a while then grabbed a burger and chips, before Dave and I opted to go for the coaster ride anyway.  We stood on the front steps  which was (only) the Fast Pass entrance – but we didn’t know that!  It was only when we saw the wristbands on the few in front of us, that we twigged that we were in the wrong queue.    The general entrance was to the side and the 75 minutes was presumably after you reached the same front door from the side queue.  We passed that point quite quickly and once inside the building, joined the real queue and although it was 50m past the front door, it was still 75 minutes!   Watching the Fast Pass people go through is always a pain, but up to that point, we hadn’t even seen where they were on sale.  Subsequently, we found out they were $20 - but only valid for 4 rides and 90 minutes, or $60 all day.
Anyway, we cracked that one, had another wander around then headed for the "Wild West Falls" log ride.  Note the notice (pic) where it says the queue time from this point is….   Nothing.
We got a bit damp of course.  Dave and Marilyn managed another rollercoaster.
The kiddy driving area looked to be quite good, but a very short ride – and several adults were with their kids and there were other adults, mainly Asian I might add, on their own.
We left about 4:45pm, but not before we all piled onto a Gotham City laser shooting ride and Paula found another Joker near the scary roller coaster.
Good fun!
Back to the Meriton OK and Paula’s choice was Valentino’s Italian restaurant for food.  We have eaten at this family run establishment several times before.  Service was impeccable, inasmuch as we were seated with a menu,  glass of water and the order taken very promptly – and the water glasses topped up again.  Although the place was very busy – with a load of families, the staff rush around, always with a smile and the food comes out continuously.  A reasonable wait but excellent food – and cider with a glass of ice this time.
Another stroll around and Marilyn was magnetically attracted to the Chocolate shop and bought some drinking chocolate.
The time difference was still having its effect, so it was another theoretically early night.
Seaworld to look forward to tomorrow with theme Park number 2 – Paula’s favourite.

A Gold Coast break - day 1.

A 5:30am start isn’t so bad for a 9:30am flight to Brisbane, especially when we are now used to a 3am start for the 7am Sydney flight, but the 3 hour time difference (Brisbane doesn’t move the clocks forward for summer) does catch up later in the day.
Dave and Marilyn picked us up about 6am and yet the traffic was already quite busy.  We parked at the pre-booked short stay car park at the airport and not for the first time, found that bay or lane markings could have been a bit better.
Electronic check in was straightforward and the only queue was for the baggage drop, but that was nothing compared to the days of old with the inevitable long, slow shuffle to the counter.
We went straight through Immigration without hiccups or much of a queue and headed for the “Shaky Isles” café for breakfast, (eggs Benedict for me – on spinach of course, with a generous side of bacon (+$5) as we hadn’t booked a meal on the aircraft.  We had booked our seats however and although there was a delay (late arrival from LA), I hadn’t realised it was a 777-300 and our seats were in Premium Economy, but with economy service.  That meant the pods and heaps of leg room.  No complaints from me.
Arrival in Brisbane was straightforward and although this is my last trip on an old non-chip non-smart passport, through very quickly and we headed for the Thrifty car rental desk.  Between us, we had Gold Cards and an AA card and that managed to get us our second driver for no extra charge.  It was the AA card that worked…  We did get an upgrade though, to a 1,000km electric blue Mitsubishi ASX SUV.
As is usual, Dave and I do a day each driving, so I kicked off with the run to Broadbeach, but our Meriton apartment wasn’t quite ready, so we crossed over to the Pacific Fair shopping mall, which is having a major revamp and extension.
We opted for a very nice Turkish pide in the old foodcourt, then the basic shopping – including pickled onions, cheese and Lurpak butter of course, before heading to the Meriton.
As usual, great front desk staff and our two bedroomed corner apartment was in the north tower, 13th floor.  Ocean view out from the lounge and balcony, up the Pacific Coast highway back to Surfers and the Jupiter’s casino from the bedrooms.
We opted for a stroll to suss out the local eateries.  What we like about this restaurant strip is that here is a vast choice and most offer a deal of some sort, such as 2 for the price of 1, or 40% off before 6pm or 6:30pm.
Back to the apartment – briefly, before returning to Dave’s preference, Aura – 50% off.
We both ordered a cider and it came promptly – but no glasses!  Not unusual in a pub maybe, but a bit odd in a restaurant.  We had to wait almost an hour for the food which was almost excellent, spoiled for me by a cold plate and lukewarm food.  A nice piece of fillet steak on creamed potatoes, kale (the in thing at the moment it seems) and baby carrots.  Quite why they can’t manage to heat the plates for hot food in a restaurant, I can never quite fathom out.
A  pleasant stroll around the area and Marilyn was very attracted to the Max Brenner Chocolate shop/emporium/café…  No surprises there.
Needless to say, bed-time wasn’t late.
Theme park number 1 tomorrow! 

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Just a few days away this time - no ships!

Off to Broadbeach (just south of Surfers) for a few days with Dave and Marilyn, Tuesday, so there may be a little bit of blogging – not that anyone will be following it now.  Our clocks have just moved forward an hour for ‘Daylight Saving’, so it looks as though we are on summer time again already, having only been back in NZ and ‘winter’ since the 11th of August.  I put winter in quote marks, because apart from a bit of rain, we don’t really get a winter here.  No snow – ever.  A little bit of frost on next door’s roof for a couple of mornings was about it.

Once we are back home again, time to apply for new 10 year (UK) passports.  Paula renewed hers not too long ago and it is almost full too, though our travels have been identical.

Most immigration/border security officers just slap the stamp on any page and Paula is left with no ‘clean’ page.  As she’ll need a China visa next year, her passport will need replacing several years early, which is waste.

A trick I use is to use a temporary glue on some facing pages, to keep them clear of stamps.  Simple to peel back when required for a whole page visa, but under normal circumstances, it forces the officers to find a space – which they have managed to do, so I still have two clear pages after 9 years and 6 months – just.

Maybe we’ll pay the extra for the extra pages this time, though I’m not sure we’ll be doing quite as much travel over the next 5 years that we have done over the last 5.  But who really knows?

We have our cruise for 2016 planned, but as yet, no firm plans for 2017.  So, like Murray, time to start and set up the 2016 blog shortly.  I’ll put the link on here of course, for those masochists and insomniacs who normally follow my dribble.


Sunday, 30 August 2015

More pics - The Med to UK

Dubrovnik - from the wall.

Civitaveccia - OK, the port for Rome then
Scallops being cooked at the buffet
Cruise ship or Ferrari in Cannes?
Lisbon - still a favourite stop.
.. no wonder some people put on weight
Just one of many Honfleur market stalls.
Just a few more pics for those who like such things…  From Dubrovnik to Honfleur.  No excuses for pictures of yet more food.