Monday, November 23, 2015

Fiji Air and a spectacular sunset

Fiji Air was not as bad as we expected. The planes are reasonably modern and the attendants are friendly. The food is woeful and the best way to describe its quality is to say that United Airline's food is a step up on the gourmet chain. Or perhaps five steps. Obviously whoever runs that airline has never sampled the food served in economy. It should be a requirement each year for every airline CEO to take an anonymous, unannounced long overnight flight in cattle class.

The seats on their A330 planes are too small for me and the film / movie selection was poor. We have found on other overnight flights that occasionally we can score three or four seats to ourselves by reserving aisle seats on either side of the central section towards the back of the plane if it is not full. All the flights were full and Fiji changed our seat selections in both directions for the LAX - Nandi flights and put us together in the center section.  However, we found that the check in person was helpful and re-allocated us each aisle seats on the flight back. It really helps on the 10 to 14 hour overnight flights to be able to get up every few hours whenever it suits you.

Fiji Air is very strict about the size of carry-on baggage. As you line up to check in, there is a person who checks that your carry on bags meet the dimension limits with no exceptions. Quite a few passengers had to check their oversize carry-on bags which costs extra. We approve and it results in much faster loading and unloading of passengers on the plane at the airport.

So why did we use Fiji Air? Our return flights from the US west coast cost $1126 each compared to roughly $1700 for the other airlines such as Qantas, United, Delta and Virgin. Enough said.

We are doing much better with jet lag this time, probably because it is November and the cold weather makes it easier to sleep. This evening we had probably the most magnificent sunset we have ever seen here.

The photos do not really capture how spectacular it was. 

The blue was really dark. Even looking away from the sunset, the light was really a mix of pink and gold.

The leaves have disappeared and we can see the Chesapeake Bay quite easily. It will stay this way all winter except that there probably will be snow. Definitely a change from Sydney where the temperature was well over 100 degrees the day after we left.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Return to the South Head in Sydney

Two years ago we went to watch a whole fleet of sailing ships sail into Sydney Harbour. It was raining that day so Marianne requested that we go back to the South Head to see the view on a nice day.

 French flag flying in honour of the victims of the Paris terror incident. The Opera House was also lit at night with red, white and blue.

An old catamaran ferry took us to Watsons Bay which is where you see the 'Doyles on the beach' on the map. It is about a half mile walk to the lighthouse.

They were learning to do the stand up paddling thing. It looks like fun. 

Doyles restaurant is in the background. It is famous for its seafood.

Many desirable areas of Sydney are the targets of property developers. It is a quiet area with few cars and most of the houses are old and small.

 Four different colours. Now that is really separating your garbage / trash / rubbish.

 The dial on the camera shifted so some of these photos have strange colour or are black and white.

 We don't see much sepia any more. It looks strange.

 Back to the colour photos. I remarked to Marianne that it is when I walk through Australian bush with all the dappled vegetation, smells and bird calls that I really know why I miss Australia.

 Map of the South Head. We basically did the loop in an anti-clockwise direction.

We remembered huddling under the tree trying not to get too wet.

 North Head in the distance.

 Marianne asked me to take a zoom photo of a small barely visible object on the North Head which is 2.1 km or 1.3 miles away. 

Sometimes you really get a sense of how large and powerful the ocean is. In the foreground are the remains of an old gun emplacement from the 19th century.

 The cliffs are quite high. You would not want to fall off.

 Observation post. When we were here two years ago, it was crowded with people sheltering from a thunderstorm.

 Written on the wall of the observation post.

 Lighthouse keepers cottage.

 We managed to get back to the jetty to take the ferry back to Circular Quay. 

On our way back on the ferry, we passed this house. All I can say is that everybody is entitled to do their own thing, but sometimes you have to wonder.

Marianne remarked that every time we go on the ferry, we notice new things that we had not seen before. Usuallly that is a good thing.

Not good is getting some sunburn. I did not take my hat so my face is somewhat red.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A walk around Iron Cove

We are doing a house exchange in the Sydney suburb of Five Dock. It is next to the southwest end of Iron Cove.

 We started off in the park at the south west corner and proceeded anti-clockwise around the cove which is part of Sydney Harbor. 

 A very small part of the park / sports grounds.

 A canal that feeds into the cove. It is actually a creek and is very polluted from car traffic and shops in the area.

 There is a pedestrian / bicycle path that lies next to the water.

 There are a couple of rowing clubs. The water is very smooth here in this sheltered cove.

Much of Sydney will be in deep trouble when global warming results in a rise in sea levels. It is not only the properties and houses, but the submerged roads that will become a huge problem.

 The suburb of Five Dock to the north of the cove.

 The bridge at the harbour end of the cove.

 A peninsula that sticks out into the north of the cove.

 It is a lovely walk or stroll or run or bike ride around the cove. We saw plenty of examples of all of these modes.

 Place to launch your rowing shell.

 Back in 1970, I lived up on that hill for about nine months. I found Sydney too cold and returned to much warmer Queensland. Sydney is a much more livable city than it was forty years ago. The path we are walking on is just one example of why Sydney has improved.

 There were a lot of parakeets nesting in this tree. They were making quite a din.

Athletic grounds with long jump run ups.

 The bridge. You might be able to make out the Birkenhead sign where we would go to an Aldi supermarket. They are similar in concept to those other Aldi supermarkets in the rest of the world but the brands are different and you don't need a coin to get a cart. Prices are low as you would expect.

Back in 1970 there was just the old bridge which was not big enough to handle the traffic. It would take an hour or more to travel the four miles into the city.

 Now there is an extra bridge with a curve that runs parallel to the old bridge. There were lots of people exercising who passed us by.

 The Drummoyne swimming baths.

 Most Australians are taught how to swim and there are swimming baths in most towns and cities.

 The kiddies pool with covering from the sun. Skin cancer awareness is very important in Australia. We were wearing our hats for this walk and we needed them.

A lot of money has been spent on these walking / cycling paths and it has been money well spent. It is very noticeable how much Australians exercise.

Curious sculpture.

Making exercise easier and more attractive is important.

Mangroves. The tide was in.

 Interesting use of slats in this house to prevent heat buildup in this house with lots of windows.

 This area is under the flight path to Sydney airport. This is an A380, the world's biggest passenger plane. It doesn't make as much noise as some smaller planes.

 We walked about five or six miles and it took over two hours. We enjoyed a cold beer as a reward.