Day 36 Feb 9 (Sydney day 1)

We arrived early (around 6:15 AM). I was actually up to film the "sail in" which was announced by our port lecturer Barbara. It was still dark!!! I probably would not have gotten up for it but we were told that Australian Immigration/Customs would be on board and needed to check our passports against our faces personally (the ship gave the passports back to us for this wonderful drill). They said they would start at 6:45 AM!!! Everyone would have to get up and go through the check whether they wanted to go ashore or not. The entire ship had to clear before they would let anyone debark. Well, the weather was rainy (and dark as I said). Not much for picture taking. To top it off, the Aussies didn't show up on time and we didn't start processing passports until about 8:00 AM! Ah bureaucrats!!! Seems they are the same the world over.

While waiting for my name group to be called (they called us into the processing area alphabetically by last name) I was watching the ferry boats come and go. Thought about taking one to the zoo to visit. Throughout my life I have always been excited about taking ferry rides. Just love being on the water. Today no such feelings. I suppose 36 consecutive days of sailing the ocean has dulled my enthusiasm. Probably just temporary but it seems you can get too much of a good thing. Hmmm, that seems to be a theme. Too much water, too much food.

After we were cleared I decided to hunt for an internet connection ashore to send pictures back for you guys. It took me about a half hour but I found one pretty near the ship. It was on the second floor of a convenience store called Bomb Didg. You go into the store look for a staircase going up. Climb the stairs and there amidst piles of boxes of bottled water and a few other things are five Dell computers. The high tech system of accounting was to go up and use the computer and then pay on your way out. $3 per half hour. This seemed quite a bit better than the ship (I'm paying $.25 per minute there - it is only that cheap because I bought the biggest packet of minutes, 1000). I sat down with my memory stick with about 130 pictures on it. I'm sure I could have figured out a smarter way to do it but I have sent about 66 emails to my son, Harry, each with 1 or 2 pics attached. I found that I couldn't send more than about 2 M of pics at a time. I was using AOL and later thought perhaps another browser might have worked better but after being on the ship even AOL seemed wonderful. The speed was fairly good (I think my broadband at home is somewhat faster but that was several internet lifetimes ago). Nevertheless it took me a little over 3 hours to send all the pics. I'm not sure when Harry will be able to get them somewhere where you can all see them. Had I been thinking I could have taken your email addresses with me and just copied you. Oh well. Next time? The pictures were sent in alphabetical order (I was into it a bit before I realized it might have been better to send them in the order they were taken - next time?).

{By the way, Harry, the untitled one is Milford Sound 8.JPG. Hopefully you can put them into a file and sort by date/time and get them back in order. If not.... Well, you know more about IT than I do. I'm sure you'll figure something out.}

Anyway, I finished the emails and went downstairs to pay what I figured would be at least $18 (Australian - more like $20 or so US) to find that the clerk (I guess they have minimum wage employees in Australia too) didn't even remember that I had been using the computers. He said, "you go upstairs and use the computer and pay afterwards." I explained that I had already used it. He said OK, and that I should pay him $6. I explained that I had used it for about 3 hours and he said that it was ok and I should just pay $6. I'm sure I would have stayed and argued that I should pay more but by this time I needed a restroom break pretty badly so I acquiesed and paid $6. I later learned from others more experienced than I that this was common practice when the computers were not being heavily used. I guess if people were lined up you might have to pay the full rate but hey, I can take a good deal if it is forced on me. So I got a very good deal. If I had spent that much time on the ship's system it would have cost me about $45 US. I saved enough money to buy souvenirs! Yea!

The rest of the day I spent walking around the harbor area. The ship is docked between the famous Sydney Opera House and the well known "coat hangar" bridge. They are quite close together. I had eaten a big breakfast so I more or less skipped lunch. I did indulge in a chocolate (ok, double chocolate) ice cream cone from a small stand. The botanical gardens are close by as well. I didn't really go in but walked by part of it on the way to the opera house. Then I walked through shops, etc. to the other side of the little cove, where the ferry boats come and go and our ship is docked, almost to the bridge. Then it was time for my haircut. Yes, I finally broke down and scheduled one with the ship's salon. I had scheduled it for 9 AM but because the inspectors were so late I had to reschedule for 4:45 PM. A pleasant young french woman named Corinne did the shearing. (Yes, I did say pleasant and French in the same sentence. In fact Corinne and I discussed the state of relations between our two countries at some length. She informs me that the French do not uniformly hate Americans. I think she said a few do but.... She did however mention "Freedom Fries". We agreed that perhaps some of us went too far there. She did point out that the French don't even call them French Fries. We both agreed that there were stupid people in both countries and the rest of us shouldn't take them too seriously. Apparently I didn't upset her too much because the haircut turned out nicely.)

After dinner I went to the movie (Music & Lyrics with Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore) with a few tablemates (we were all pretty tired after the early morning and no one seemed interested in going out and partying. Remember the average age on the ship (passengers) is a bit over 70. Not too many swingers here.

No comments: