Wed., Jan. 17

Today was our last at-sea day.  We’ve been lying out in the sun reading, packing, and EATING all day.  They had a huge Aussie bar-b-cue for lunch out on the Lido Deck near one of the pools.  There were all kinds of bar-b-cued meats, shrimp, vegetables, corn on the cob, etc.  I even had my first taste of Vegemite!  I spread some on my roll.  It’s a dark brown spread that has a strong, sort of spicy, salty, almost mustard-like taste.  I probably won’t eat any again, but it was fun to try it (remember that song by “Men At Work”??).  Bill declined, though.  I guess he was too busy eating bar-b-cued ribs, chicken  and other goodies.  And don’t even get me started on what they have for dessert around here.  I’ve never eaten so much good stuff in my life!

We have to meet at 6:30 in the morning with the land cruise people.  We get off the ship then and fly on Qantas up to The Great Barrier Reef at around 9:25.  (Most of the people on this cruise will be going home tomorrow, but WE DON’T HAVE TO!)

Yesterday we were in Melbourne.  It was a very big and interesting city, from what we saw.  We had to hurry everywhere we went, since we had to be back on ship by 4:30.

First we found the general store at Beacon Cove near the dock, so we could exchange some NZ money for Australian.  Then we located the tram, which takes you from the dock area up to the city center.  We got off there so we could look around for a Vodafone store.  We finally found one, but it was closed until 10:00 because it was Australia Day, which is like their Fourth of July holiday.  In fact, they were gearing up to have a big parade down the street we were walking on.  All different nationalities of people were dressed in their native garb and were milling around, practicing their instruments and getting in line for the parade.  We didn’t have time to linger, though.  So we went back to Vodafone and bought a new modem for my computer and a new card for our phone so they will work in Australia.  Then we hoofed it over to the Rod Laver Arena for the Australian Open, which started at 11:00.

I had planned to call Willie and Austin as soon as we got settled in our seats, but the phone wouldn’t call out of Australia.  It finally dawned on me that I needed to buy an international calling card too.  Of course, by then, it was too late to get one.  They only sell the type I need at the post office, which was closed on Australia Day.  So we’ll try to get to a post office tomorrow in Cairns.

The first match we saw was between Justine Henin of Belgium and Nadia Petrova of Russia.  It was a really good match.  We were cheering for Henin, and she won.  The next match was between Zeung Jie from China and Kiralenko (can’t remember her first name) from Russia.  We were rooting for Zeung, and she won too.  By then, though, it was getting close to 3:00 and we would have to leave by about 3:15 in order to get to the ship on time.  But coming up was the best match of all so far–between Andy Roddick (U.S.) and Marin Cilic of Croatia.  Luckily, they both came out onto the court quickly and started playing before we had to leave, so Bill was able to see his favorite player (Roddick), and we were able to get a few photos.