Archives for the month of: December, 2010

Traveling these days is exhausting, especially when going half way around the world. Stopping off in Los Angeles and travelling business/first class certainly takes the edge off, but it’s still grueling.


One oasis on my journey was Terminal 5 at JFK (Jet Blue Terminal). Terminal 5 has free Wifi, reasonable places to eat (the salad bar at CIBO Express is exceptional), and a large atrium to people watch while surfing the net. Today, while waiting for my airline connection to Portland, I was treated to live music, a jazz quartet. It’s like being at a night club. It reminded me of the Nashville airport, which also provides live music. I actually enjoy being at Terminal 5, even when it’s a 5 hour lay over, like today. 


One disappointment during this trip was the Red Carpet Club (United Airlines “Elite” Member Lounge). I recall the Red Carpet Club as being something special. I used to look forward to it. However, over the past few years, the Red Carpet Club has gone steadily downhill. For one thing, it no longer provides very much food to its guests. It used to have a variety of yogurts, cheeses, bagels, cereals, breads, fruits, and pastries available during the early morning hours. And in the afternoons and evenings, it usually had a variety of soft drinks, vegetables, cheeses and breads. The Red Carpet Club does provide free wine and beer, but it not good (makes the Trader Joe “Charles Shaw” wine seem like quality wine). 


This morning the only things to be found in the Red Carpet Club were slices of bread, a few apples and bananas, and some cereal. When I compare the Red Carpet Club to its competitors, there is no comparison. For example, the Air New Zealand Lounge in Sydney has an actual food buffet, which offers a large selection of meats, cheeses, fruits, casseroles, vegetables, desserts, and even pancakes! The Air New Zealand Lounge also offers, free of charge, a good selection of wines, beers, sparkling wines, liquors and spirits. 


I wonder why someone would pay for a Red Carpet Club day pass ($39, if purchased online, and $50 at the lounge) when an airport restaurant meal can be had for half the cost.  

Spelling Mistake:  I should never read previous blog postings. I always find typos and spelling mistakes!! Today, I found a big one. The capital of New South Wales is spelled: Sydney. It is not spelled with an “i,” as I spelled it. Oops! Spelling was never a strong subject for me in grade school.

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Traveling these days is exhausting, especially when going half way around the world. Stopping off in Los Angeles and travelling business/first class certainly takes the edge off, but it’s still grueling.


One oasis on my journey was Terminal 5 at JFK (Jet Blue Terminal). Terminal 5 has free Wifi, reasonable places to eat (the salad bar at CIBO Express is exceptional), and a large atrium to people watch while surfing the net. Today, while waiting for my airline connection to Portland, I was treated to live music, a jazz quartet. It’s like being at a night club. It reminded me of the Nashville airport, which also provides live music. I actually enjoy being at Terminal 5, even when it’s a 5 hour lay over, like today. 


One disappointment during this trip was the Red Carpet Club (United Airlines “Elite” Member Lounge). I recall the Red Carpet Club as being something special. I used to look forward to it. However, over the past few years, the Red Carpet Club has gone steadily downhill. For one thing, it no longer provides very much food to its guests. It used to have a variety of yogurts, cheeses, bagels, cereals, breads, fruits, and pastries available during the early morning hours. And in the afternoons and evenings, it usually had a variety of soft drinks, vegetables, cheeses and breads. The Red Carpet Club does provide free wine and beer, but it not good (makes the Trader Joe “Charles Shaw” wine seem like quality wine). 


This morning the only things to be found in the Red Carpet Club were slices of bread, a few apples and bananas, and some cereal. When I compare the Red Carpet Club to its competitors, there is no comparison. For example, the Air New Zealand Lounge in Sydney has an actual food buffet, which offers a large selection of meats, cheeses, fruits, casseroles, vegetables, desserts, and even pancakes! The Air New Zealand Lounge also offers, free of charge, a good selection of wines, beers, sparkling wines, liquors and spirits. 


I wonder why someone would pay for a Red Carpet Club day pass ($39, if purchased online, and $50 at the lounge) when an airport restaurant meal can be had for half the cost.  

Spelling Mistake:  I should never read previous blog postings. I always find typos and spelling mistakes!! Today, I found a big one. The capital of New South Wales is spelled: Sydney. It is not spelled with an “i,” as I spelled it. Oops! Spelling was never a strong subject for me in grade school.

Port Douglas Beach

On my last day in Australia, I visited the Pyrmont neighborhood in West Sydney. I’m glad I did. When I was in Sydney three weeks ago, the neighborhoods that I visited (Newtown, Glebe, and Paddington) seemed cold and uninviting. In Paddington, the main street was a string of boutiques. There were few cafes, restaurants or other retail shops. Just high-end boutiques. In Newtown, the same story; but this time, just restaurants, one right after the other. Sydney neighborhood’s appeared to be monoculture’s. 


Pyrmont was different. A mixture of residential and commercial establishments. There were tree lined streets, restaurants, cafes and shops. Pyrmont wasn’t even mentioned in the guidebook. Now, I have an entirely different impression of Sydney. The fish market located nearby was also a great find. Not like San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf but a real working harbor. Too bad I wasn’t hungry. 

Port Douglas Beach

On my last day in Australia, I visited the Pyrmont neighborhood in West Sydney. I’m glad I did. When I was in Sydney three weeks ago, the neighborhoods that I visited (Newtown, Glebe, and Paddington) seemed cold and uninviting. In Paddington, the main street was a string of boutiques. There were few cafes, restaurants or other retail shops. Just high-end boutiques. In Newtown, the same story; but this time, just restaurants, one right after the other. Sydney neighborhood’s appeared to be monoculture’s. 


Pyrmont was different. A mixture of residential and commercial establishments. There were tree lined streets, restaurants, cafes and shops. Pyrmont wasn’t even mentioned in the guidebook. Now, I have an entirely different impression of Sydney. The fish market located nearby was also a great find. Not like San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf but a real working harbor. Too bad I wasn’t hungry. 

Queensland is the only Australian State that still permits the commercial hugging of koalas. Koala hugging is big business. In fact, there is a Koala park just outside Brisbane where, for a fee, you can hug a koala to your heart’s content. 


For many visitors, hugging a koala is a top priority. A couple of days ago, a YOW participant told me that his wife’s only goal in Australia was to hug a Koala. Of course no one means any harm, but there is a good reason Koala hugging has been outlawed in most of this country. Koalas are not social creatures, and hugging is a traumatic event for them. I know I wouldn’t like being hugged by a stream of strange, giant creatures all day. I flinched when I saw a photo of Oprah hugging a cute Koala as part of her much ballyhooed Australian tour.

Oprah sure knows how to stage photo ops. We’ve seen her in the newspaper in front of the Sydney Opera House, at Uluru/Ayres Rock and, of course, hugging a Koala. 

Queensland is the only Australian State that still permits the commercial hugging of koalas. Koala hugging is big business. In fact, there is a Koala park just outside Brisbane where, for a fee, you can hug a koala to your heart’s content. 


For many visitors, hugging a koala is a top priority. A couple of days ago, a YOW participant told me that his wife’s only goal in Australia was to hug a Koala. Of course no one means any harm, but there is a good reason Koala hugging has been outlawed in most of this country. Koalas are not social creatures, and hugging is a traumatic event for them. I know I wouldn’t like being hugged by a stream of strange, giant creatures all day. I flinched when I saw a photo of Oprah hugging a cute Koala as part of her much ballyhooed Australian tour.

Oprah sure knows how to stage photo ops. We’ve seen her in the newspaper in front of the Sydney Opera House, at Uluru/Ayres Rock and, of course, hugging a Koala. 

Lodging
On Patio

Port Douglas (pop. 3,000) is a good base to explore tropical rainforest’s and the Great Barrier Reef. Our lodgings, located just outside of Port Douglas, were just about perfect: a small bungalow tucked away in the rain forest overlooking the ocean.


High Points:

  • Scuba diving: Went scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef. Now I understand why people love deep sea diving: it’s like visiting another world. The diving experience was more fun than seeing the Reef itself. I was disappointed with the Reef. It wasn’t as colorful as I expected. As a consolation prize, I decided to watch Disney’s Finding Nemo, a movie that takes place in Australia and in particular, the Great Barrier Reef. Now, that’s color!
  • Rain Forest: The only word that comes to mind is LUSH!
  • YOW Conference: I met a lot of nice and extremely intelligent people. I have a new appreciation for techies. What a difference compared to lawyers. 
  • Seeing spectacular lighting and thunder storms set against the rain forest canopy!


Low Points:
  • Price of Food: Food costs are at least double. I was talking to a person at the YOW conference who was from Denmark (a place where food costs are HIGH), and even he remarked on the high cost of food. For example, a “burrito” can cost $20-$31 dollars. BTW: The burritos range in taste from mediocre to revolting. Breakfast will cost between $15-$25 dollars, if you add coffee, tack on another $3.50-$5.50 per cup. A simple dinner will cost around $50 dollars per person, without beverages. 
  • Driving on the left side of the road is difficult, but what’s more irritating are the rude and obnoxious Queensland drivers! 

If you decide to travel in the tropics here are some suggestions:

  • Stay in the shade and wear sunscreen. The sun is EXTREMELY intense.
  • Wear insect repellent. There are lots of stinging insects! Also, apply the repellent to the outside of your clothes. The insects can bite through clothing. I have the welts to prove it. Be aware that there have been reports of Dengue fever in northern Queensland. 
  • No matter how enticing, don’t swim at the beach. This time of year there are poisonous jelly fish. 
Lodging
On Patio

Port Douglas (pop. 3,000) is a good base to explore tropical rainforest’s and the Great Barrier Reef. Our lodgings, located just outside of Port Douglas, were just about perfect: a small bungalow tucked away in the rain forest overlooking the ocean.


High Points:

  • Scuba diving: Went scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reef. Now I understand why people love deep sea diving: it’s like visiting another world. The diving experience was more fun than seeing the Reef itself. I was disappointed with the Reef. It wasn’t as colorful as I expected. As a consolation prize, I decided to watch Disney’s Finding Nemo, a movie that takes place in Australia and in particular, the Great Barrier Reef. Now, that’s color!
  • Rain Forest: The only word that comes to mind is LUSH!
  • YOW Conference: I met a lot of nice and extremely intelligent people. I have a new appreciation for techies. What a difference compared to lawyers. 
  • Seeing spectacular lighting and thunder storms set against the rain forest canopy!


Low Points:
  • Price of Food: Food costs are at least double. I was talking to a person at the YOW conference who was from Denmark (a place where food costs are HIGH), and even he remarked on the high cost of food. For example, a “burrito” can cost $20-$31 dollars. BTW: The burritos range in taste from mediocre to revolting. Breakfast will cost between $15-$25 dollars, if you add coffee, tack on another $3.50-$5.50 per cup. A simple dinner will cost around $50 dollars per person, without beverages. 
  • Driving on the left side of the road is difficult, but what’s more irritating are the rude and obnoxious Queensland drivers! 

If you decide to travel in the tropics here are some suggestions:

  • Stay in the shade and wear sunscreen. The sun is EXTREMELY intense.
  • Wear insect repellent. There are lots of stinging insects! Also, apply the repellent to the outside of your clothes. The insects can bite through clothing. I have the welts to prove it. Be aware that there have been reports of Dengue fever in northern Queensland. 
  • No matter how enticing, don’t swim at the beach. This time of year there are poisonous jelly fish. 
Baby Bat Rescue
Bat at Dusk

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No it’s a BAT! Yes, a colony of bats outside our hotel window in downtown Brisbane. At first, we thought they were birds roosting in the trees. Then we noticed they were landing in the trees upside down. When we went outside for a closer look we could see their furry heads and cute little legs. (Did you know that bats hang upside down because their legs can’t support their weight.) These aren’t the small bats (12″ wingspan) that I am familiar with in California, but instead the Dracula kind of bats you see in the movies.

It turns out that these bats are the Grey-headed Flying Foxes common in eastern Australia. Because of the heavy rains in Queensland and New South Wales this spring and summer, more bats have migrated to the cities in search of food. There are an estimated 20,000 bats in the Brisbane Botanic Garden alone. Unfortunately, these bats are a threatened species and need our protection. 

Bearded Dragon Lizard


Bee Hive Ginger

Seeing giant bats in the middle of a big city made me realize I wasn’t in the USA. I tried to take some photos and videos of these spectacular creatures, but it was very difficult. You can judge the success of my efforts yourself.

Banyan Tree

In addition to the bats, you can see plenty of other strange things on the streets of Brisbane, including bearded dragon lizards, exotic birds, plants, and insects.


Park Road in the Milton Neighborhood
of Brisbane

Interesting Side Notes:


I was reading in the newspaper that the Eiffel Tower was closed temporarily due to bad weather. But who needs the Paris Eiffel Tower when you can visit Brisbane’s own Eiffel Tower. 

    Trash Can in the Bulimba Neighborhood
    of Brisbane
I get so tired of having to pick-up cigarette butts tossed on my front lawn. Here is what the City of Brisbane has done to solve this nuisance. See this, Portland!

Baby Bat Rescue
Bat at Dusk

It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No it’s a BAT! Yes, a colony of bats outside our hotel window in downtown Brisbane. At first, we thought they were birds roosting in the trees. Then we noticed they were landing in the trees upside down. When we went outside for a closer look we could see their furry heads and cute little legs. (Did you know that bats hang upside down because their legs can’t support their weight.) These aren’t the small bats (12″ wingspan) that I am familiar with in California, but instead the Dracula kind of bats you see in the movies.

It turns out that these bats are the Grey-headed Flying Foxes common in eastern Australia. Because of the heavy rains in Queensland and New South Wales this spring and summer, more bats have migrated to the cities in search of food. There are an estimated 20,000 bats in the Brisbane Botanic Garden alone. Unfortunately, these bats are a threatened species and need our protection. 

Bearded Dragon Lizard


Bee Hive Ginger

Seeing giant bats in the middle of a big city made me realize I wasn’t in the USA. I tried to take some photos and videos of these spectacular creatures, but it was very difficult. You can judge the success of my efforts yourself.

Banyan Tree

In addition to the bats, you can see plenty of other strange things on the streets of Brisbane, including bearded dragon lizards, exotic birds, plants, and insects.


Park Road in the Milton Neighborhood
of Brisbane

Interesting Side Notes:


I was reading in the newspaper that the Eiffel Tower was closed temporarily due to bad weather. But who needs the Paris Eiffel Tower when you can visit Brisbane’s own Eiffel Tower. 

    Trash Can in the Bulimba Neighborhood
    of Brisbane
I get so tired of having to pick-up cigarette butts tossed on my front lawn. Here is what the City of Brisbane has done to solve this nuisance. See this, Portland!