Friday, May 29, 2009



Melbourne July 24, 2008

Up at 3:00 am…no one made telephone calls in the dorm last night; but the new people stayed out quite late even though it was raining off and on all evening.  About 2 am someone’s cell phone rang inside one of the lockers but I was the only one who woke up; it finally stopped ringing.  By the time

I woke Mary up at 3:15; I was dressed, packed and had stripped my bed (part of the hostel’s rules) in the dark.  Within fifteen minutes we were down stairs having our breakfast and waiting for the taxi which arrived right on the dot of 4 am as ordered. 

Off to the airport for our 6 am flight for Melbourne. 

Arrived and found that the computers were down and so we were all told to find a seat.  By 5 am they decided to handle the reservations and baggage the old fashion way; just as we arrived at the gate the computers came back and we actually had official boarding passes by the time we boarded the airplane.  A fast hour and half flight took us to the Avalon Airport just west of Melbourne; an added bonus that we hadn’t expected when we got our reservations. 

Our day was planned around the Great Ocean Road that travels along the southern tip of Australia; very like our Pacific Highway in California, and this would eliminate driving through Melbourne in morning traffic.  We picked up our rental car from Hertz and headed out to explore one of the must see areas of Australia. 

All along the coastal route we enjoyed vast expanses of beach and crashing waves.  Stopped to view a few roadside moments and finally reached Avalon just after 10 am.  There we found a café and enjoyed a delicious vegetarian breakfast/lunch of two eggs, tomatoes, potatoes, mushrooms, spinach and bread.  Our meal of the day we decided as we licked the plate clean!

After lunch we headed north again after visiting the Tourist Information Office in Avalon.  There we’d purchased our tickets for the Tree Walk and she also told us about a road that would lead us into an area that had wild Koala bears. 

Found the road and drove for miles with nary a sighting of even one bear; I said this was like a “snipe hunt”.  Mary was getting tired so she had me drive while she took a nap.  Remember:  this is left side of the road driving!  I’ve never done that before but picked up the skill in just a few minutes. Fortunately, the car is an automatic so that made the learning process much easier.  Back out to the main highway I turned north again for our road to the Otway Fly Tree Top Walk. 

It was a long walk down into the forest from the parking area but well worth the effort.  They have built metal bridges suspended far above a rain forest filled with huge trees and magnificent green ferns that had to be at least five feet in diameter.   We felt like monkeys scampering over the tops of the trees!  It took us an hour to finish the tour.

Back on the highway, Mary took over the driving and we headed back to the ocean and further north to view the Twelve Apostles.  There were originally thirteen sandstone pillars in the ocean, now there are only eight as the ocean continues to pound the soft stone, slowly grinding it until they topple into the sea.  The massive cliffs continue to be eroded and will slowly make new apostles.  We arrived just at sunset so it was difficult to take photos of the larger group but two that were south of the viewing area were very photogenic! 

We started our three – four hour drive back to Melbourne; a very long trip after a very long day and mostly on two lane country roads.  We arrived in the city about 8 pm and then got lost because the navigator was having difficultly reading the maps!  Finally stopped at a gas station and very nice people took our maps and got us headed back in the right direction.  We’re staying at The Nunnery tonight; a Hostel that was formerly a convent and only a block away from the Cathedral.  But the conditions are minimal and the only good thing is that we’re in a semi private room with one other girl.  For one night we can do it but that’s it.  Certainly would not recommend this place to anyone.  Of course, we were spoiled by the last one!  This one does have WI-FI but for $4.00 an hour.

It’s 10:30 pm and we’re tucked in for the night.  Need to get up by 6:30 am as the car is parked on the street and requires meter money by 7 am.  We’re off to Philips’s Island tomorrow to explore the home of the penguins and a new hostel out there! 

Thursday, July 25th  Melbourne

Up at 6:15 am; we packed and headed out to move the car before the 7 am requirement along the street where we’d parked for the night.  Headed over to the Fitzroy Gardens and enjoyed the beautiful flowers in the Conservatory and then continued around the park.  This park sits in the center of the City of Melbourne; very beautiful with huge trees and broad lawns.  Someone had donated a miniature tutor village; another had moved an English cottage from England, and one beautiful spot had a memorial to John F. Kennedy.  The People’s Place had a circle of bricks that had each been decorated individually but the person who purchased the brick; each was very unique.

We there went off to find the second tallest building in the city and enjoyed the view from the observation deck at the top; a 360 degree view of the harbor and surrounding city.  Back to our car we headed out of the city and towards Phillip Island.  After almost two hours we arrived at our destination.

The top attraction at Phillip’s Island is the “Penguin Parade” every evening. Like clockwork, day after day, the blue penguins march out of the water singularly and in groups of twenty our more every evening just after sunset.  Once they’ve checked to make sure no predators are around they strut up the beach and into the surrounding dunes to their nests. 

Another attraction is on an adjacent island named Churchill Island.  It was a working farm for many years and now the state runs the facilities.  We were able to walk through the house that was furnished as in the late 1800’s and visit the farm.  At the farm we watched them shear a sheep and also I held a baby lamb.  Lots of fun.

Our hostel here is a bit questionable; the outside looked really bad when we first visited.  But we’ve found that it’s really nice and has WI-Fi…a big feature in our book.   After our visit to the “Penguin March” we returned and have been on the Internet ever since. 

The Penguin March was really great…those little guys walk as fast as we do; lots of fun but it was very cold out there after dark.  Tomorrow we head back to Melbourne for one more day and night before flying to Alice Springs.  More later…Martha

Melbourne Again...July 26, 2008

We slept in until nearly 8:30 am…took a couple of hours to finish laundry, shower, eat breakfast and then hit the road about 10 am.  Our first stop was back on Churchill Island at The Heritage Farms for their weekly Farmer’s Market.  It was really crowded and had a wonderful selection of booths featuring cheeses, wines, fruit, flowers and an assortment of other things.   Stayed about half an hour and tasted a variety of things before crossing back over the bridge to the main road back to Melbourne.  We purchased some fruit and cake for dessert tonight. 

Actually had some sprinklers during our nearly two hour ride back to the city; enough that we used those “****in’ windshield wipers” for the first time.  We call them that because every time we use the turn signals we accidentally turn them on as they are located on the left side of the steering wheel in this car!!!    

Found parking for $4.50 for the day…but we have to out before 6 am tomorrow as the new day starts at that time every day.  It’s a couple of blocks from our new Hostel but not too far since we’re only taking in backpacks.  This is smack dab in the center of the city, a very large hostel named Greenhouse Backpackers.  The common room is very large and the security system is very good.  We are in a mixed four bed dorm room but it’s after 10 pm and still no roommates…so we may have a private room again.  Walls are thin and we can hear the neighbors easily but once we’re asleep that shouldn’t be a problem.

We finished checking in about 3 pm; spent two hours eating our early dinner with the carrot cake for dessert while we searched the web.  Or, at least Mary did.  My computer is acting up today and I only get a connection with limited access; whatever that means. 

About five o’clock we started our walk to St. Patrick’s Cathedral for 6 pm Mass.  We stopped along the way and purchased tickets for a movie that started at 7:20.  Had plenty of time to walk around and see the interior of the church before Mass began.   It was a high mass with a visiting Bishop celebrating.  Music was beautiful but we had a hard time understanding the Bishop when he gave the sermon. 

After Mass we walked out into a rain downpour!  Fortunately, I’d tucked my umbrella in my pocket so we huddled together and braved the elements for our walk to the movie theatre.  We arrived with minutes to spare; a bit damp but definitely not soaked thanks to the umbrella.  We saw the new movie Mama Mia; really cute. 

We had talked about going for a beer tonight after the movie but by the time we were on our way home…the rain had stopped…we decided with Mary’s cough and getting up at 5 am to get to the airport on time for our flight…we’d go back to our rooms.  So here we are at the end of another day in Australia.   Can’t remember if I’ve mentioned it but we do have a cell phone with us that works very well; can’t do text messaging but is very nice for local calls within Australia and calling home every morning to let Jim know where we are and that we’re OK.  See you tomorrow after we arrive in Alice Springs.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


AUSTRALIA JOURNAL SYDNEY July 22, 2008 (hope that you're enjoying our journey)

Woke early this morning about 5 am, by 6 am I was up and packing for my move to a different hotel today that is located within walking distance of Mary’s hotel. Arrived at Mary’s about 8 am, so nice to be familiar with the train trip before taking my luggage with me! There, I signed on to their Internet and worked on attempting to transfer my photos to my blog. After an hour and half…I still was no further along that I had been at the start! By that time Mary’s group had gathered on the patio of the hotel breakfast room for their final morning Mass. Again, all three priests celebrated the Mass together. Difficult to hear due to the roar of morning traffic on the street one floor down; but still a moving experience with sharing among the group in place of a formal sermon. Soon everyone was saying goodbye as they loaded into the bus that would take them to the airport and their flight home. I think it was a good two weeks for everyone involved. The Reno group headed north to Port Douglas where they have rented condos for a few days before they return home.

Mary and I loaded up our things and headed over to our new home for the next two nights. As we walked in we saw a sign that said: WI-FI and free…we have been paying through the nose for time on the Internet so this will be a real treat. Our new home is Eva’s Backpackers; we’re in a mixed dorm with ten people. Three of the young people are from England and the other five are from Germany. We have five boys and three girls plus Mary & me. I have a bottom bunk with a very lanky British lad above who I’m told snores a bit. Mary is in a top bunk. Tomorrow there will be only three of us in this room as the rest are leaving Sydney.

After a couple of hours on the Internet we made up our beds and took off for McDonalds and a late lunch. Mary had a coupon and we made good use of it! Her father will be proud of us! Next we walked to St. Mary’s Cathedral; it was closed temporarily during a special Mass so we headed for the “store” for WYD. They were having sales but the things still seemed expensive considering this would be their last day. I purchased a water bottle and Mary got a book published about the event. After that we returned to St. Mary’s and stood in a short line until we were allowed in. A very beautiful Cathedral very reminiscent of those in Europe; we then went downstairs and visited the Crypt before leaving the area.

From there we took the advice of the lady in charge at Eva’s and headed towards the bus stop for a trip to Bondi Beach. On the way we stopped and purchased a bathing suit for Mary…she’d left hers in New Zealand…and then to the grocery store for some breakfast items. In the grocery store we saw the lady who had helped me on the bus the first night when I didn’t have any change for the grumpy old driver! We stopped and chatted with her a bit. We picked up some food because Eva’s also has a full kitchen downstairs for guests to cook meals. The place is full of German’s and they are making good use of the kitchen!

The bus ride to the beach was slow but fun. The driver saw all the cords around my neck and Mary’s sweatshirt with the WYD emblems and “assumed” that we were both pilgrims. Today was the last day of their free travel cards and he let both of us on for free even though Mary didn’t have her badge or card; a savings of $6.00. Each pilgrim was given a one week pass that allowed them to travel free on all the buses, trains and ferries; making transportation work very smoothly throughout the city.

We arrived at Bondi Beach just after sunset; but still light enough for some great photos of the surf…really rolling in with high waves. We walked along the surf over to the salt-water pool that has ocean water constantly pouring into it with nearly every wave. There were actually four people swimming! We were bundled up and trying to stay warm. Above this pool is the Bondi Iceburgs; a private club that allows guests. We had to register when we went in. Our clerk at Eva’s had recommended it. Laura Bush entertained her guest in this club when she was here for the 2000 Olympics in the formal dining rooms upstairs; but, we went downstairs to a very reasonably priced meal; Mary’s treat. We ate out on the balcony over the pool, cool but somewhat protected from the winds that are so cold.

After dinner we walked back to the town along the beach and found the gelatos shop for some dessert before catching the bus. This time we only went to the train station in Bondi and then switched to the train that would take us very close to the hotel. While we were on the bus we discovered a girl from Orange County….everyone is always asking each other where they are from because so many pilgrims are in town. She heard Yorba Linda and said she was from Fullerton. Said she went to a small private school named Rosary. Well, all three of our daughters also graduated from there. Small world….she is traveling for a year after college.

Home and a kitchen/main room full of Germans! Cooking their dinners, the smells were wonderful, and working on the Internet at the same time! We decided to head upstairs and use our laptops there as with the WI-FI we could do that. And, all the electrical outlets downstairs are in use. Got to know our roomies before bed…even have one of their Ipod’s plugged into my computer to charge for her. We’re all getting up early tomorrow…some to leave…and Mary and I are going for our bridge climb.

By the way…thanks to some help from Mary, I’ve finally put photos into the website. Do hope you have enjoyed them. Until tomorrow….

Sydney July 23, 2008 OUR BRIDGE CLIMB DAY!

Our last day in Sydney began about 5 am…we were up and downstairs to fix our breakfast by 6 am. Five of us in our dorm were leaving about 6 am so there was a lot of quite activity in the dark as we tried not to wake our other roommates. The dorm room was fairly quiet by 10 pm last night; with the exception of one German fellow who was making his business calls home from his bed. Contrary to the USA, our evening is the middle of the day in Europe. Finally, about 11 pm I got up and asked him to be considerate of the rest of us and he took his phone call to the hallway. This afternoon I apologized to him but also asked that he do his phone calls in the hall this evening; we’ll see how it goes.

Off at dawn to the train station for a short ride to Circular Quay; we’d decided to get an early start and take the Walking Tour of “The Rocks” before our bridge climb. This is the oldest settlement in Sydney and has many historical buildings. The one in my slideshow is of the Cadman’s Cottage, the oldest building remaining in Sydney. We also enjoyed strolling through The Rocks which is the First European Settlement and has been preserved; it’s like walking down an old western movie set.

We arrived a bit early for our tour scheduled for 8:35 am, but we put the time to good use and soon we were into the preparation stage of the Bridge Climb. This is a very popular tourist attraction wherein you climb to the top of the Harbor Bridge for unbelievable views of the Sydney harbor and especially of the Opera House. The preparation was an hour by the time we had geared up and had all of our instructions. We had to take off everything that could conceivable create a problem: earrings, watches, and any loose articles. All of these were put into lockers including cell phones and cameras. We were issued a jumpsuit, nylon pants to go over the jumpsuit; a wool jacket to go over the jumpsuit and we carried a rain jacket in case of rain while we were on the climb. We were wired up with a headset that talked through our checks (not inserted into the ear but just in front of it), we were issued handkerchiefs that were attached to each wrist incase we needed to blow our noses, hats that were attached, gloves, and the most important piece was the ball and chain that kept us attached to a wire the whole time we were on the climb. Oh yes, if we wore glasses they were also attached. I’ve rarely seen such attention to minute details. Finally we were ready and then we practiced on some stairs to learn how to climb the steps.

The climb itself lasted two hours; you’ll see two of the photos taken of Mary and myself at the top of the Bridge in the Blog slideshow for today. It was a marvelous experience. The hardest part was at the very beginning when we had to climb up a series of very steep steps. From that point on it was a gradual walk to the top. They took photos of us, a group photo was included with our package, and I purchased two so that I could put them on the blog for today. Unless you have a fear of heights, I think anyone can do this climb.

Just as we were ready to leave the building, it started to rain. We stayed in the building and had our lunch at their café; wonderful hot croissant sandwiches, coffee and shared a piece of carrot cake; definitely our large meal of the day. It was about 12:30 when we left and it was still raining so we dug our plastic emergency ponchos out as we had left our umbrellas at the hostel.

We’d planned to take the ferry to Manley Beach, but instead walked to the Governor’s House for a tour. We found that the house was closed so we only did the grounds and walked through the Botanical Gardens from there. By now it had stopped raining and we went into the Parliament House where we rested a bit before touring the exhibits.

Back on the street we headed for Woolworths, a department store with groceries and just about anything you need at a reasonable price. We’ve found that the USA dollar may be equal to the Australia dollar…but the prices are much higher! I’d lost one of my gloves today so I needed to purchase gloves and we also picked up medicine for Mary…she is still getting over her cold that she caught from her roommate; and food to fix for dinner.

During our walk home a small girl, about eight years old we thought, stopped us. She was crying and said she’d lost her Nana. We spent about five minutes with her before turning her over to some local people in a store who were going to contact the police to attempt to reconnect her with the family. She wanted us to take her to her hotel and I told Mary not to even consider taking her from the corner we were on; we could possibly be in a heap of trouble if did. So, we made sure she was in the hands of someone and left on our walk back to the hostel. There we fixed our dinner and finished packing for our trip to Melbourne tomorrow. We spent some time downstairs this evening and had a good time. Mary is still down there but I came up to shower and decided to put on my pajamas and stay upstairs. The room downstairs is packed again; 90% of them are German. A French family arrived just as I was leaving and we talked for a bit.

The dorm is full again tonight. We shared our bottle of wine with the fellow who is bunking above me. He is 24 years old and from Toronto, Canada. He’s been traveling and working around the world for four years.

Well it’s time to say goodbye. So good to hear from many of you; your words of encouragement for my Blog were much needed. Take care and hopefully we’ll have good Internet access in Melbourne. Until we meet again….Martha

PS: This 2008 journal was my first venture with blogging... I only blogged the photos and continued to send my journal privately to about 175 friends and family. At the request of the Bradenton Herald to continue posting to our sites...I have decided to slowly post the photos and the journals from this trip; possibly followed by other trips that I've taken over the past years. As long as you, the readers, are interested; I'm delighted to provide you with my travel experiences. Please let the editors know if you are enjoying the journey. Martha

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Sydney Sunday, July 20, 2008

Had a good night’s sleep and spent most of my Sunday morning writing my journal and enjoying quiet time in my room; breakfast was tea and a banana that I’d purchased on Saturday. Called Jim…it’s 3 pm on Saturday afternoon at home and he was busy helping to set up for our annual Street Party. I also called my sister Mary in Florida to let her know that I’d arrived. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like we’re going to get to try text messages as my phone says I need to set it up for that?? Maybe I’ll find a store later in the week and see if they can set it up for me. I did call support services and they gave me the passcode to get into my voicemail from here. I’d love to change the ring tone but haven’t found that yet either. But, I do love having my cell phone and calls home are very easy to make; helps to keep Jim happy at home also.

About 10 am I ventured out in search of a church for Mass. Only found a Greek Orthodox Church and made a visit there. I found the Internet Shop that was advertised on the Internet when I searched before leaving home. It’s open and they will also let me connect my laptop by DSL line. So maybe I’ll get those first photos out sometime today.
While I was there checking emails, daughter Mary called but the connection was so bad we couldn’t hear each other. She called Jim and then Jim called me with her message….so nice to have a link through Jim. I’m to meet her at her hotel at 3 pm.

Went to the hotel and brought back my laptop to the Internet Shop. Spent nearly an hour getting it to work on their DSL line and after about half an hour I had to pack up and go to the train to get to Mary’s place by 3 pm. My how the day flies when you’re trying to do something! Arrived just minutes before her group returned from their overnight at the WYDSYD08 Event. Tired, dirty and ready for showers they all still stopped for introductions and a friendly hello to Mary’s Mom. I will be joining most of them tomorrow for our tour of the Blue Mountains that includes a boat ride back to Sydney. Four of them are in a room so they were delighted when Mary said we were going out to give them first chance at the shower. We walked around King’s Cross; a step above my neighborhood, but still considered one the “seedier” areas that is dominated by backpacker type hostels and hotels. But the great news is that it’s less expensive and walking distance to City Center. We both needed the ATM and then finally stopped for a late lunch; my first meal in a restaurant. Duty called and Mary had to get back to her group and her shower before organizing their dinner outing. She invited me to go along but I decided not to and headed back for the train station.

Couldn’t believe the trains…they were so crowded it reminded me of that Internet Video of several guards pushing the bodies into the trains so they could close the doors. Ninety percent of them were Pilgrims for WYDSYD08; toting their backpacks and sleeping bags from last night heading back to their lodging. Many are staying with families outside of Sydney and coming in by train for the events. All were definitely in need of a shower! I should have gotten my camera out and taken some photos! People everywhere…I didn’t realize how empty the city was yesterday as I strolled leisurely through my day! Different story today! A very spiritually moving event but also chaotic at times was the story that I got from many adults that I spoke to in the train. My daughter said it was definitely the best of the four that she has attended. The next one is scheduled to be held in Madrid in 2011; a break of three years instead of two, to give them more preparation time. I learned that from talking to a volunteer Australian as I waited for a train connection on my way home.

Back to the Internet and still haven’t managed to get that first blog done…having trouble getting the slideshow set up. Maybe tomorrow evening I’ll have some time. They closed early tonight so had to quit just when I was gaining some headway. I practiced at home but it’s just not the same; the speed was much lower I think on their DSL line.

Home for the evening; I have the portable heating going to warm up the room but mostly to help dry the socks that I washed yesterday. It was an overcast day and much cooler than yesterday; looked like rain but didn’t. Opps…as I wrote that I heard the rain outside; so carrying my umbrella all day was a good ideal! I’m sure many people got caught in the downpour. Well it’s about time for a shower and some reading. Tomorrow I need to be on the train by 7 am in order to meet Mary’s group for their 7:45 am departure on our adventure, more about that tomorrow.

Sydney Monday, July 21st

Went to bed before 9 pm last night; awake by 4 am and up at 5:30; I was off to the train station by 6:15 am. Daylight had broken and store keepers were setting up for the day. The trains were less frequent at that hour of the morning so it too a bit longer to make the journey to Mary’s hotel in King’s Cross from Newtown. On the train I met several volunteers for WYD; one of the gave me a “volunteer pin”. But I arrived there about 7:15; more than early enough for our days adventure with 32 of the 50 pilgrims that make up Mary’s group. I gave Mary the “volunteer pin” and she was delighted as she’s collecting pins by trading with the pilgrims. This was very unique and she is the only one in her group that has a “volunteer pin”. The group is composed of three groups: Mary’s from San Francisco, another from Reno and one from Sacramento plus three priests; all under her direction plus a tour guide provided by the company that coordinated their travel plans.

Our first stop today was at the Featherdale Wildlife Park where we saw many different birds and animals that are native to Australia. We were able to pet the Wallaby, Emus, Koalas and Kangaroos. Lots of fun and an up close experience with domesticated animals that are very different from those that we see at home.

By 10 am we were back on the highway heading for the Blue Mountains Park. There we visited several “lookouts”, in the USA we’d call them “Vista Points”, where we could see the views that are very reminiscent of the Grand Canyon but with lots of green below the canyon walls. We arrived at the Scenic World Park and started our hour long trek down the canyon on steep paths with metal staircases over the steepest parts in the path. It rained on our way up so everything was wet and a bit slippery as well as muddy. As we descended into the canyon we entered into the Rain Forest and finally found the base of a beautiful waterfall; had the weather been warmer it would have been fun to stand under the water….but it was COLD today and we were all bundled up for warmth. At the bottom of the trail we boarded a tram that uses the rails set up for the coal cars many years ago. After a brief and very steep ride we were back at the top in less than five minutes. It was 2 pm by now so everyone purchased sandwiches to eat on the bus.

Down the mountain we went, passing vista after vista until we reached the bottom and headed back into the city of Sydney and the 2000 Olympic Stadium Park. We had a half hour to inspect the grounds before enjoying a spot of tea with scones. Our bus driver had called his boss and asked if she could surprise us. All day we’d been teasing the driver about when we were getting our tea and crumpets! Not normally provided and totally unexpected; the owner showed up at the Olympic Stadium and set up a table and served us all and even provided home baked scones with our treat! Needless to say….the driver did very well with the tips at the end of the ride.

A short drive took us to the Ferry Boat Landing in the Olympic Park and we enjoyed a sunset ferry boat ride back to Circular Quay; arriving just after dusk. The photo opportunities of the Harbor Bridge and Opera House from the water were spectacular!
The rest of the group was waiting for us at the dock as planned. We were to have a Mass and then they would all enjoy dinner together on the green picnic style.

Minor problem, two of the priest had been out and about all day and the third one, who was to bring the “Mass Kit” had stayed home with the flu bug/cold that is almost at epidemic stages in the city; an existing problem that was compounded by the arrival of thousands of young people! About one third of Mary’s group either has had or have the bugs…lots of coughing and sneezing! He didn’t arrive and we were in a quandary.

We were busy making alternative plans for the wine and bread for Mass…we had already purchased some pita bread and just about to purchase a bottle of wine when Father Brian appeared with the “Mass Kit”. Soon we were up on a grassy knoll in the park having Mass. Mary had spread her scarf on the ground for the altar, a choir was organized and readers assigned. We had people strolling by us; some stopped and joined our group. A complete Mass was held with three priests presiding; a very moving experience even with the sound of the trains that were passing frequently just beside our make shift church.

After Mass I said goodbye to the group and headed for my bus home. Tonight I had the correct change and the bus driver turned out to be a very nice lady. Tomorrow I need to be a Mary’s with all my luggage by 9:30 am. It will be the farewell Mass as most of the group heads for the airport and home. A few are staying to visit other cities in Australia. Mary and I will transfer to a new hotel, another hostel down the street from her present hotel for our last two nights in Sydney. We’ll be together for the rest of the trip.
Time to turn out the lights…it’s nearly 11 pm.

Thursday, May 21, 2009


Sydney, Australia 2008
July 19th

The planning for this trip began almost two years ago when Sydney was selected as the site for the 2008 World Youth Day for the young adults in the Catholic Church. Our youngest daughter, Mary, works for the Archdiocese of San Francisco as their Young Adult Coordinator and in that position has lead groups to these gatherings four times over the past ten years. I seized the opportunity and began planning a trip that changed many times over the past two years. At times my friend Bonnie and her husband Terry were involved and also my Jim at one time considered joining me but it has ended up with me only meeting up with Mary in Sydney at the end of the World Youth Days. She has been here since July 8th and I arrived on July 19th; just three days before the end of WYD ’08.

My flight out had some adventure. Jim took me to LAX early; one never quite knows what the traffic in Los Angeles will be. I arrived at the airport about 8 pm and checked in without problems surrounded by angry people who were being told that their 10:30 pm flight to Sydney was canceled and they were being put up in hotels and rescheduled for a 9:30 am flight the next morning. The staff was delighted when I appeared at the counter with a smile and announced that I was on the 11:50 pm flight. The word was spreading through the crowd that the Engineers for Qantas Airways have been striking on and off for the past two months and this is the root of their scheduling problems. My flight was arriving from New York and we were told that there would be a three hour delay because of problems in New York; but we would be flying out tonight!

Off to the waiting rooms to find a comfortable spot and settled in for a long winter’s (it winter in Australia) nap; I had six hours to wait for my plane at this point. I soon discovered that the waiting area was full of passengers who had flown in from various airports around the country early this morning expecting to fly to Sydney at 9:30 am. Opps…that flight had been canceled and they’d been rescheduled for my flight. Many of those down at the counter had been scheduled for the 10:30 pm flight that had been canceled. No wonder they were foaming at the mouth (so to speak)! Made my issues seem mild and so I was in a good mood when a young woman named Jenny arrived with an eight month old boy named Samuel. Well, he put the smile on all of our faces as he beamed with his blue eyes and captivated us all with his red hair and funny baby chortles as he crawled (a new event as of last week) around the floor at our feet. The hours passed rapidly as we all helped Jenny keep Samuel entertained and feed over the next six hours. Jenny had arrived from Texas that morning, spent the day at a hotel compliments of Qantas and would be flying on to their home in Perth when we arrived in Sydney. The visualization of that journey gave many of us a start. The flight to Perth would be another five hours of flying with the baby after Sydney! Oh to be young again!

We were finally airborne at 4 am in the morning and they feed us dinner…we just wanted to go to sleep. But, the meal did help with resetting our body clocks. We were soon sleeping on an off and settled in for a flight of about fourteen hours. That, with the time change made it 10 am on Saturday morning when we arrived in Sydney. My original flight was to leave at 11:50 pm on Thursday. They had us up and eating breakfast about 7:30 am so we were bright-eyed, a bit red actually, and bushy tailed when we arrived in Sydney. I enjoy two movies in between my two naps on the flight.

Made it through customs without a hitch, my suitcase arrived with the plastic ties still in place telling me that it had not been opened by anyone for inspections. I found the ATM machine for Australian Dollars. They will not take American Dollars anywhere I was told by several different people. I turned on my cell phone and it worked! I called Jim and checked in to let him know that I’d arrived. Found a taxi cab and headed for my new home for the next three nights. Finally checked in and reorganized. I was unable to reach my daughter Mary on her cell phone right now; but I’m sure we’re figure that one out soon. I have a private room with the bath down the hall only a few doors away. Very clean and simple lodging; I have a small refrigerator, hot water pot and a toaster in my room that overlooks the back so it’s quiet. I am on the 3rd floor with no elevator but not a huge problem as I packed very light for this trip.

Decided to find my way from Newtown, my located in the suburbs…cheaper and one of few hotels with rooms because of the WYD ’08 event…over to Mary’s hotel located in Kings Cross that is much closer to the city center. Found the train station and only had to make one transfer; very fast and easy with lots of willing people along the way to give advice to an old lady traveling alone! She is at the Formula 1 Hotel with her group. They were not in but the staff was very kind and I left a message for her to contact her father for information if she could not get me on my cell phone. Not sure what the problem was as her phone only gave lots of different rings when I tried calling her. But, I knew that we could both reach Jim as she’d called us twice since her arrival.

From her hotel I began my walk, it was about 2 pm in the afternoon and I walked for the next five hours. My intent was to attend Saturday Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral. Opps, it was fenced off and completely closed for the whole weekend. So glad we’ll still be here for a few days next week so we can see the inside of it. The Pope is staying at the Cathedral this weekend and security is very heavy. All of the grounds surrounding the church are fenced and hundred of police everywhere.

But, I was right at Hyde Park and walked through on my journey towards the Opera House. The city is totally involved in the WYD ’08; many of the major streets downtown are totally closed to vehicle traffic; there are flag flying on nearly every street lamp and everywhere you see people with the very visible orange and red WYD ’08 backpacks that were given to everyone attending the event. Priest and nuns, young people and their adult chaperones have these little appendages on their back as they walk in small groups and parade in larger groups around the city. The larger groups are usually carrying banners and singing! You see them everywhere: in the train stations, on the streets, and in the parks. They’ve even closed down the Harbor Bridge to vehicle traffic for Saturday and Sunday as the pilgrims will be walking across this bridge to the Randwick Race Track where the overnight vigil and Sunday morning Mass by the Pope will be held.

The events at Randwick will last 29 consecutive hours and the crowd at the papal mass is expected to top 500,000. I’ve elected to not attend that event and spend my Saturday night in the comforts of my room instead of sleeping on the ground in the center of the racetrack!

Back to my story; I passed many historic building, old ones left in amongst the new skyscrapers, and stopped to listen to the many birds singing in the trees. The weather is beautiful, cool but very clear. Can you imagine parrots sitting in trees in a metropolitan city! The best thing about my jaunt today is that it was all slightly downhill. I made it to the Opera House about 4 pm and decided to sign up for the 4:30 tour of the inside of the Opera House; a must do unless you are going one up and actually attending a performance.

The tour lasted about an hour. We had a wonderful guide named Nick and he kept all twenty of us very well informed and added lots of little stories along the way. There are seven performance areas in the complex and there are scheduled programs seven days a week in one or more of these areas. Nick said they’d even had performances on the roof! The roof by the way, is covered in a tile made in Sweden, the architect’s home country, it never needs cleaning; the residue that adheres to the roof is washed off with each rain. No nooks or crannies nor even rain gutters to hide in.

The first performance area we visited is also used for receptions and is covered in a beautiful deep purple carpet. Because of the color and huge expanses of windows, the carpet is changed every twelve months. Only the Italians will not have wedding receptions in this area because the color “purple” is associated with “death” in the Catholic Church. The Italian singer, (Parvorite .. can’t spell his name!!) would not even walk into the area when he was performing here.

By the time the tour was over it was already dark, and I headed for the bus depot at the Circular Quay Station and after many nice people helped me I found Bus # 422 that I knew would take me to my front door. On my walk there I finally reached my daughter on the cell phone…I could hardly hear her as she was already at the vigil event. Then I found the bus driver from hell; a crotchety old man who didn’t like anyone. I only had a ten dollar bill and the fare was three dollars. When I asked for change he gave me a smart remark and told me to sit down. Still holding my ten I quickly sat down; I was the only person on the bus at that time and every time I tried to talk to him he growled and pointed to my seat. Finally a nice old lady boarded the bus, a regular rider I think. She sat across from me and we talked for a bit before I explained my dilemma with the driver. She dealt with the drive for me and paid my fare. He actually made change for her with my ten dollars and when she told him it was for me he was not a happy camper! Oh well, by that time I was nearly at my stop.

And so I was home and at the end of a long two days of adventure; I showered, worked on my photos and finally turned out the light at 9 pm.

Friday, May 8, 2009


Friday, May 8, 2009 Yorba Linda California

I couldn't resist posting these last two photos. My husband Jim met me at LAX (Los Angeles International) Airport dressed as a limo driver complete with sign, roses and a luggage cart! Thought you'd enjoy. It was a great trip home and it is nice to be home again in sunny California.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Tuesday, May 5, 2009 Paris

I don’t think that we’ve mentioned that European banks have finally corrected an on going problem with the ATM machines. They always gave you fifties or one hundred euro bills in the past and then it was always a problem getting someone to accept them when purchasing small items. Now they give you twenty euro bills in the machine; a very nice change for both the tourist and the shop keepers.

We slept in this morning and had a leisurely breakfast while working on our computers downstairs. Vicki, the artist from California, sat with us and afterwards brought her postcards and a sampling of her most recent painting up so that we could purchase a couple of the postcards. They are very good examples of the street scenes in the Latin Quarters.

About ten o’clock we walked over to our local Metro Station that is only a couple of blocks from the Hostel, Place Monge, that took us to the Arc de Triomphe. The weather is cool but dry; a bit of sunshine would be nice but at least it’s not raining!

Coming up out of the Metro onto the Champs-Elysees Boulevard gives one the perfect photo of the Arc de Triomphe if the crowds don’t prevent you from stopping for a minute or two to focus your camera. This morning we stopped a few feet from the exit to take our photo and saw that a couple behind us wanted to do the same photo opportunity. He motioned that it was okay and that he’d wait. I asked if he’d like us to take a photo of him and his wife and then after accepting the offer said he’d do the same for us.

Seeing that they spoke very good English, I asked where they were from and he answered California. I said I was also from California and then we continued the routine: Orange County….Yorba Linda…WOW! Yes, they have lived in Yorba Linda for twenty some years near the Yorba Linda Country Club. They have watched our Christmas Boat Parade at East Lake for years and so I told them I’d send an invite for this year’s Open House! Small World, Isn’t It! That’s the second time I’ve unexpectedly met someone from Yorba Linda while traveling in France. The first time I actually knew them and hopefully this time I will get to know Bill and Carol. They were on their way to see the same museum that we are going to later this morning.

We continued on our way to the Arc de Triomphe and took lots of photos. Mary said she’d just as soon not climb to the top but she did enjoy the WW I Memorials that are all over this monument; especially the Eternal Flame.

We walked from there down one of the broad boulevards that are like spokes in a wheel shooting out in multiple directions from the hub that is the Arc de Triomphe. We stopped for coffee at a little shop called Au Bouquet Haussmann just before arriving at the Jacquemart-Andre Museum. A boutique museum that has remained frozen in time since the house and the art collected by the owners during their lifetime were donated to the city of Paris at the end of the nineteenth century. The house was designed by the man who came in second in the contest to design the Paris Opera House and so he doubled his efforts to make this a very unusual home that Parisians clamored to visit. Their parties were large and very popular with the “in” crowd. This was my third visit to this museum and I enjoy it more each time I’m there; a great mix of art and a grand home to showcase the art but still showing the house as a home and not just a museum.

We found the Metro that took us to the Musee d’Orsay where we spent two hours enjoying the works of Impressionism artists such as Monet, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Degas, Renoir, Whistler, and many more. This is one of those museums that you can spend days exploring and never see everything. Our feet will only let us do so much so we selected the type of art that we both enjoy the most for our visit today.

We took the Metro back to the Hostel and purchased some food at the grocery store right next door to the Hostel; we’d been walking to one several blocks away as we didn’t see this one until yesterday. Tomorrow morning we’ll see a few things and then go to the airport for our final night.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009 Last Day in Paris

Packed our bags for storage before breakfast and left the Hostel at half past eight for our last hurrah in Paris. We caught the Metro to St. Sulpice and after three transfers arrived to find that one of the two towers was under renovations. But inside we explored the ancient church that gained a spot of notoriety when it was referenced in one of Dan Brown’s books. The organ is huge and used regularly for very well attended concerts. The astrological clock is very different in that it uses an Egyptian-style obelisk as a gnomon or part of a sundial to indicate a period of time when the sunbeam from a tiny hole in a window strikes a certain spot on a specific day of the year.

Soon we were headed back for the Metro and another stop to explore the ruins of a Roman Arena that is still used for sports. Portions of the seating still remain and are used for spectators today as they were in the days of the Romans when France was known as Gaul. Today it’s used for soccer more than anything else!

Back on the Metro again…yes, we managed to use the last of our metro tickets today; for our final destination to see the quaint end of our street Rue Mouffetard. This is a very popular Parisian shopping street that our Hostal happens to be located in the middle of. We’d seen the top half several times but had not gone the opposite direction. We were so glad that we made the trip as it was every bit as interesting. We found an old church where they were having a funeral, an organ grinder making music for euros, and shops for all different kinds of foods. These were individual shops: seafood, cheese, meats, fruits and vegetables, clothing, etc. etc. etc. So very French to carry ones basket and go from store to store each day for fresh supplies; our last stop was to purchase a baguette of bread for our lunch at the local Boulanger Patissier Shop.

The Shuttle Service picked us up at one o’clock and we were at Charles De Gaulle Airport within half an hour. Checked into our hotel for the night…wow…our own bathroom; then headed over to the airport for a run through of tomorrow morning. Now we know exactly where we need to go early tomorrow morning. Tomorrow night we’ll be snug in our beds in the USA!

Hope you’ve enjoyed sharing our journey with us.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Saturday, May 2, 2009 Paris

It was an easy trip in to Paris as traffic was very light on this early Saturday morning. We returned the car at Orly Sud Airport and then took the Orly Bus into Paris. At the bus station we had the option of using the Metro but instead hailed a taxi cab for a quick and inexpensive ride over to the Young & Happy Hostel in the Latin Quarters. Checked in, stored our luggage and headed out the door for our first adventure: The Eiffel Tower. Purchased a carnet of ten metro tickets and had to transfer once before arriving at the nearest metro station. Walked with the increasing crowds towards one of the most toured sites in Paris, The Eiffel Tower; and it was already packed at nine thirty in the morning.

When we left the Hostel the sun was shinning and the weather man had predicted excellent weather. As we waited in the long line to go up to the top of the tower; the clouds began to build and it became colder and colder. Mary had brought her rain poncho with her to sit on if she got tired of standing; instead she put it on to keep warm! Just before we entered they posted a sign that due to weather conditions the top floor observation tower was closed! Shucks, we’ll save a few euros and only go to the second floor which is really quite high up and offers fabulous views of Paris. We definitely were not going to leave and come back later as we’d already been standing in line for over two hours!

By noon we’d gone up the tower, taken lots of photos and stood in line again to come down. But, the good news is that although it was cold it didn’t rain. And, as the afternoon progress it actually got quite warm in the sun. We then walked over to the Rue Cler shopping street and enjoyed a sit down lunch of Ham & Cheese Crepes at Ulysse En Gaule Creperie; one of my favorites in Paris. This area offers a real taste of the Parisian-style living as tourist mingle with the locals as they shop for their fresh foods on a daily basis. Rue Cler is a great place to put together a wonderful and fresh Parisian Picnic.

We walked over to the River Seine, crossed the Pont de L’Ama and stopped to view the memorial to Princess Diana over the road that runs along the Quai and goes underground at that point. She was killed in a car accident on the road under that site. We then hopped back on the metro for our trip over to Notre Dame. The line to view the Cathedral was several blocks long so we decided to take a look inside tomorrow when we come back for Mass in the evening. Walked into the park behind the Cathedral to enjoy the flowers and noticed a brand new play area for children with a soft ground cover. Wow; wouldn’t it be great to walk on something that soft all over Europe!

We then crossed over the bridge behind the Cathedral to the I’le St. Louis; visiting hotels that I’d stayed at on previous trips before we cross over the bridge that lead into the Latin Quarters and our Hostel. It’s been a long afternoon and we’re both ready for some rest and relaxation.

Sunday, May 3, 2009 Sunday in Paris

We woke to an overcast morning; packed our bags as we are changing rooms tonight and put them into storage. A very nice breakfast is included in our room price (not optional) so we enjoyed that before leaving to explore more of Paris. Being Sunday, we dressed in our Easter clothes for our lunch date at 12:30 with Nicolas and Maeliss. I met them on my trip to Australia in 2008 and we’ve kept in contact. They have a month old baby and have invited us to lunch with them at an authentic Parisian Bistro.

We walked through the Latin Quarter where we are staying, enjoying the stroll even though it is much colder today and also sprinkling lightly. We stopped to take photos of the Pantheon and then continued our walk to the edge of Luxembourg Gardens before catching the train from there to the nearest metro station. We were headed towards the La Motte-Picquet-Grenelle Metro stop to find a church for Mass. Leaving the station we asked a woman for directions and she pointed us towards St. Leon’s Church; yes, we conversed all in French! We followed the people heading into the Chapelle and arrived at 10:30; just in time for the children’s Mass. The priest was wonderful with the children; asking them questions and inviting them up at the offertory portion to surround the altar and then he stopped and talked to them for about five minutes before continuing. As Mary said, we’d loved to have been able to understand the language better as at times there was much laughter in the congregation.

After Mass we found out that there was another Mass being said in the large church next door but we’d enjoyed the one we attended that was designed for families with young children. We had an hour to spare so enjoyed window shopping in the area. We learned later from Nicolas that Jolie and Brad Pitt lived in this area prior to moving to the south of France before their twins were born. Needless to say, it’s a very nice area of Paris.

We arrived at the Le Café Du Commerce restaurant about quarter after twelve and Nicolas and Maeliss arrived right at twelve thirty with little Nine! No, it’s not pronounced like the number but without the e as “Nin”. A French name for a beautiful little girl who was born on March 31st and is blessed with two wonderful parents. I’m hoping that they will be able to visit us next year in California as they are tentatively planning at this time. It was lovely and very traditional French Sunday lunch that we thoroughly enjoyed for nearly two hours. They had driven into the city to meet us as they live in the suburbs. They are both attorneys and work in Paris; Maeliss is on maternity leave for now but plans to return to work. Nicolas drove us in their car to our next stop which saved us some walking from the metro that we would have taken.

We visited the Musee Marmottan; a small boutique museum in a private home located on the edge of Paris near the Porte de Passy. Most of the museum is devoted to the works of Claude Monet, the leading light of the Impressionist movement that changed the world of painting in the 1870’s. We enjoyed his home in Giverny several weeks ago and still plan to visit the Orangerie Museum on Tuesday to view his impressive “water lily” paintings.

After touring the museum we headed out for our walk to the metro station; stopping along the way for directions from a couple who turned out to be from California and are now living in Paris. It was a long metro trip with a transfer in the middle. At one point two conductors came on the car and everyone had to produce valid tickets. First time I’ve actually seen them do this on the French Metro; I did see them stop people in one of the tunnels in 2006 to verify tickets. Yes, we each had a valid ticket!

Home again we stopped for some food for dinner at the grocery store and got our new room assignment when we arrived at the Hostel. We are in a private room with bunk beds for the next three nights. We’ve decided to pay for Internet time here at the Hostel and forget about finding a MacDonalds for now. We’re hoping for better weather tomorrow.

Monday, May 04, 2009 Paris

We were out the door about half past eight and headed towards Notre Dame Cathedral. We walked from our Hostel and arrived about nine. No lines outside and there was a Mass that started while we were in the church. The sounds were a great background to our tour of the twelfth century cathedral. Mary found the statue of St. Theresa and lit a candle for our safe journey home on Thursday.

Leaving Notre Dame we walked over to the old palace and Sainte Chapelle that is built in the middle of what was a palace and now is the Hall of Justice. The police outside not only had their guns as always but also were wearing body armor. We had to go through the metal detectors before entering the chapel that was built in the thirteenth century to house the relics of the Passion of Christ. The most famous of these relics was the Crown of Thorns, acquired in 1239 for a sum that greatly exceeded the cost of building the Chapel itself. No mention was made of where the relics are today. The most astonishing thing about the chapel is the magnificent stained glass windows that create the walls in the upper chapel. You can hear the gasp of people as they enter the room from the narrow twisting staircase that leads upstairs from the rather plain lower chapel on the first floor. The windows tell the stories of the bible from creation to the last judgment.

We continued our walk by crossing the bridge of the Seine River to the right bank and began our stroll down Rue de Rivoli towards the Louvre. We were also looking for the Hotel Le Meurice; the headquarters for the SS in Paris during the German occupation in WW II. We found the Louvre first and after taking photos of the famous glass pyramid outside we walked back to Rue de Rivoli and found the entrance to the shopping mall that also has an entrance to the Louvre. There we found the inverted bottom of the pyramid that almost but not quite touches a marble pyramid is that referenced in the David Brown movie “Da Vinci Code”.

Continuing our walk down Rue de Rivoli we finally found the Hotel Le Meurice. We were definitely not dressed to enter but did take a few photos as we strolled back and forth in front of the main doors. Just as we were arriving the police stopped all the traffic in both directions in front of the hotel as some black limousines pulled away from the front of the hotel. Looked like VIP’s to us. By this time it was after eleven thirty in the morning and we’d been walking for over three hours.

As we entered the Tuileries Gardens we had to stop for a tour of Segways; they really looked like they were having fun. The sun was out by now and we’d taken off our heavy jackets and put on our windbreakers. People were sitting out enjoying rays of sunshine on the chairs that are sitting all over the park. We took some photos of the gold capped

Obelisque in the center of the Place de la Concorde before heading over to our final destination for this morning’s walk: L’Orangerie Musee. This Museum houses the paintings by Claude Monet of his water lilies along with a second floor of paintings by other impressionistic artists. This was a small but very good Museum that we both enjoyed; especially the water lilies after having seen the gardens in Giverny several weeks ago where he painted these, some of his most famous paintings.

By now it was after one o’clock and we picked up the Metro outside of the Museum for our ride over to the area known as Montmartre. There we rode the Funiculaire up after purchasing a Croque Monsieur to eat at the top. It’s always fun to visit this church as there are always people sitting on the steps in front with street musicians performing to entertain the crowds and earn a few euros. The church was beautiful inside as always; missing were the nuns that are usually attempting to get people to donate money as you tour the church.

We walked over to the Montmartre Square to see all the artists painting and selling their wares to the tourists. A great place to have your portrait done if you’ve time; we didn’t and soon found ourselves down the Funiculaire and back on the Metro heading for our Hostel. We arrived back about four in the afternoon; just in time for the lock out to be over…we’re not allowed in the rooms from eleven to four. We do have access to the common areas; just not the rooms. We were tired after all our walking, but we had a very good day in Paris.

Friday, May 1, 2009


Friday, May 1, 2009 Chateaux Vaux Le Vicomte

We arrived in the city of Mellun and easily found the Chateau Vaux Le Vicomte located several miles north east of town. The road to the Chateau was lined with very old and large trees for the last several miles; a beautiful entrance for a seventeenth century chateau located in a huge forest, with magnificent gardens that was the inspiration for the Palace of Versailles and set the standard for future European chateaux.

Louis XIV was so jealous of the owner and builder, Nicolas Fouquet, his finance minister, that he put him in jail and tried to have him sentenced to death. He felt that he must have stolen funds from the government to have built such a grand chateau. His family and fortune ruined; he lost this home and all his possessions. Over the centuries the property has been threatened with destruction for various reason the most recent that they wanted to build the A5 Autoroute through the property. But, good sense and people with the means to preserve this important piece of French history have prevailed and it is a part of the French National Heritage Preservation Society since 2004 when they wanted to put the Autoroute through the property. Louis XIV went on to take his hunting lodge at Versailles and create a palace using the same architects, builders and gardeners that Fouquet had employed to built Vaux Le Vicomte.

We spent two hours touring the Chateau and then the Carriage Museum located in the outer buildings. They have staged the house well and use mannequins in several of the rooms to portray historical scenes. One was so life like we think he was a real person pretending to be a mannequin. If not, it was able to move the eyes and wrinkle the forehead extremely well. In the basement there is a man with an iron mask in a cell representing the fact that the story of Nicolas Fouquet is featured prominently in the third Musketeer book by Alexandre Dumas and there were two versions of “The Man in the Iron Mask” filmed in this Chateau.

It was a fun morning and a great way to end our tour of the Chateaux of France. Tomorrow we turn the car in at Orly Airport and catch public transportation into Paris for our final few days.


Friday, May 01, 2009 May Day

We planned to tour the inside of the Chateau in Fontainebleau this morning so we left about half past eight so that we could find parking easily. Arrived, got our parking permit and wandered inside when the gates opened at nine o’clock. We knew that we were early so we went to the gardens and spent some time there enjoying the lake and manicured surroundings behind the large “U” shaped chateau.

At nine thirty we went to the front and tried the entry door; still locked. Finally found someone and she said that the Chateau was still closed and would not open until May. We didn’t think about it at the time but today is the first day of May. But, I guess they hadn’t looked at their calendar either.

We were seeing small tables set up everywhere selling small bunches of flowers. Out on the side of the roads, in the towns on street corners, in front of houses, and everywhere; suddenly, it dawned on us: It’s May Day!

Back to the car that still had parking for two more hours we found a newly arrived vehicle and they were delighted to use the balance of our ticket for their car. We put the car in the direction of our next destination and had a few problems. Finally stopped at the train station and asked a taxi driver who put us in the right direction.