Monday, 19 Feb -- a hot day in Adelaide Australia

Adelaide is a lovely city. Like others we've visited there are many houses with iron filigree trim and many parks. It has wide streets and a well-designed central area. Older buildings are protected with heritage designations and many have been restored.
Our first stop was the South Australia Museum, where there is an extensive display that explains the history, customs and culture of the Aboriginal people. We could have spent all day there, but only had 45 minutes, so got only a taste of it.
From there we moved on to the Wine Institute, where there is a vast collection of Australian wines. The tasting experience was a first for us: 120 bottles were arranged around the room in special cases with dispensers, in groups by type. We each were given a debit-type card with $15 on it and could insert them into the display to obtain a taste or 1/2 or full glass of the wine or wines of our choice. Larry and I chose fairly modest ones and were able to sample 5 each. Some samples were as much as $18.50. A good way to try out a range of local wines, for sure.
We walked out the back of the Wine Instituete directly into the Botanic Garden. The walk through it back to the bus was lovely, cool and peaceful. We saw many trees and few flowers.
I had a headache, so we opted to return to the ship at the end of the rour.
Screwed up the simple arithmetic in one Mensa question, so no points there, but in a smaller-than-usual field we came 2nd in team trivia.

Sunday, 18 Feb -- At Sea

It was pretty rocky all night and continued that way all day. We were glad to have access to the candied ginger the restaurant staff had given us a few days ago. After a morning church service, Larry stayed on for a lecture on oceanography. Then we took it easy all day until quiz time. No points earned, but the joy was in the laughter.

Great conversation at dinner with Ann, Kay, Gerard and  Willie. Willie shared important information about kilt-wearing, and our laughter greatly annoyed the crabby guy at the next table. The rest of the evening's entertainment was an Aussie folk singer who has also been sharing the history of Australia with us. Then we danced to the ship's musicians playing big band music.

Saturday, 17 Feb -- Geelong, Australia

That's pronounced Ji-LONG (like Ji-RAFFE) by the way.
The sea was quite rough overnight, but calmed as we were approaching Geelong Harbour. This smaller city is near Melbourne, but none of the tours went there.
We were anchored, so had to tender ashore, then get on a bus. The first stop was "The Heights", a historic house and garden. The house was a pre-fab, arriving in a flat pack, back in the late 19th century (take that IKEA!). It was extended and renovated in the 1930s and bequeathed to the city in the 1970s. Very interesting, much bigger and more attractive than you'd expect for sure.
That was followed by a drive around the city and a visit to the Botanical Gardens, where we saw many native species as well as those that were imported.
The city has lost a lot of industry and is focusing on tourism -- we were the 5th cruise ship this season, and today they were hosting an IronMan competition. Between that and the fact that it is a beautiful summer Saturday, the harbourfront was very crowded and we couldn't find a place to eat. So after a walk around the city centre and a bit of shopping, we returned to the ship for a very late lunch.
I had only figured out 2 of the 5 Mensa questions, but still came third. For team trivia so many people were still off the ship that we combined remnants of 3 teams, and won with a score of 13/15! Wow! That's about double the score any of the three teams has had up until now!

Friday, 16 Feb - At Sea

On a leisurely sea day, we decided that a slow, well-presented breakfast was in order, so we skipped the usual buffet and enjoyed the main restaurant's offerings.
The morning lecture, "The History of Australia in 45 minutes" was amusing. For most of the rest of the day, napping proved popular with us.
I aced the Mensa quiz, but still we got nothing on team trivia.
The Captain hosted cocktails and music for returning Seven Seas travellers, then we enjoyed dinner with Ann and Gerard, before the evening entertainment. The singer, Annie Francis, was even better the second time around.

Thursday 15 Feb - Sydney Australia

[note: internet connectivity on this ship is so terrible that we're posting in bits and pieces. We hope that eventually it'll all be there and make some kind of sense. Sorry.]We sailed into Sydney Harbour at sunrise and it was as beautiful as we've always heard.  Our dock is well beyond the main harbour so we sailed right past the Opera House and under the Harbour Bridge.  Warm day and quite a bit of blue sky. Clearing Australian Customs & Immigration was a breeze, then we set off on a bus tour of the city, and out to Bondi Beach. I love this city, with its mix of history and modernity, and a liveliness that's contagious. Wandering around the area of Mrs McQuarrie's seat, we had lovely views and rubbed shoulders with people from all over the world. We could see the groups of people walking across the top of Harbour Bridge and took some photos in case Gerard happened to be in one of the groups we could see. Looks impossible to me! How do people stand up there? At Bondi Beach we watched surfers and sunbathers, walked along the edge of the surf and soaked up the energy. Kay, Willlie, Larry and I got off the bus as it passed back through the downtown area and walked through a shopping area, stopped for lunch, then walked to the harbour. We enjoyed beer and cider in a comfortable bar, then got a taxi back to the cruise terminal. We all wished we had more days in Sydney. No joy at either Mensa or Trivia. Over dinner we heard about Gerard's bridge crossing and lunch. Ann was on a long trip to the Blue Mountains, and decided to order room service, so we'll hear about her adventures tomorrow. The evening entertainment was the magician for whom Larry played straight man the other night. He chose a new audience participant who also turned out to be Larry, a telecommunications/computer software person. Coincidence? I think not! This guy was good.

Tuesday 13 Feb and Wednesday 14 Feb - On the Tasmanian Sea

It takes 2 days at sea to get from NZ to Sydney. 
A restless night rolling with the sea and lots of vibration noises.  A summer morning, though, which is cheering.  The ship did some pretty good rolling all day but getting sea legs and Larry's slight sea sickness is getting better.  Larry enjoyed a couple of lectures while I relaxed, read and did puzzles. As usual I aced Mensa and we did nothing much at Trivia.  We dined in style at Prime 7.  Annie Francis, a wonderful Australian singer was the evening entertainment in the theatre.
On Wednesday the sea was calmer though it was cold.  Puzzles, reading and a lecture or two, laundry  Very relaxing except messing up Mensa and stilll getting no-where on Trivia.  At dinner the maitre-d' gave each lady a long-stemmed red rose. Elton Jack was back with some of Elton John's romantic songs in honour of Valentine's Day.

Monday, 12 Feb - Milford Sound NZ

We were inside the fiord for about 4 hours, enjoying spectacular views of the steep mountains and waterfalls. The clouds and rain hampered our enjoyment, but it was still beautiful. However, we watched in vain for the various wildlife that inhabit the Sound.
In late afternoon we returned to the Tasman Sea and began the transit to Australia. The ship was soon rolling in an exciting way, so everyone developed a pronounced stagger. We still enjoyed dinner with Ann, Gerard, Kay and Willie, then a comedy/magic show. Larry got to spend some time on the stage, shuffling cards and so on. At the end of the show, "his" card was pulled from the middle of a banana. We listened to, but didn't participate in, karaoke, before retiring to bed.
Full score at Mensa, no joy again at trivia.