A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

Jan. 5 - LEICESTER, MA

overcast 38 °F
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Getting ready!

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To all our family and friends who virtually "travel" with us, Happy New Year! Welcome to our 2019 travel blog. For anyone new to our blogs, let us introduce you to Hästa, the little Swedish horse in this photo. Hästa comes along for the ride, and tends to appear in our photos around the world.

Hope you enjoy checking in with us from time to time!

Posted by Swenigale 07:05 Archived in USA

Jan. 9 - 13: CALIFORNIA DAYS

semi-overcast 52 °F
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Our 4 days in Redondo Beach have gone quickly! Thursday evening we enjoyed a "magical" evening with friends at the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood. A different magician from the Magic Castle performs close-up magic on each segment of the world Cruise, so we have been hearing about the Magic Castle for several years. Actually being there for a meal and shows was amazing!

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Friday was clear and sunny, a good time to explore Redondo Beach Pier and have lunch at Old Tony's!

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Whoa! We're not in New England anymore!

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This morning we worshipped at Christ Lutheran Church with good friends and now we repack to board the Crystal Serenity tomorrow. So excited to see old friends and to see all the changes in the ship that were made during drydock last Fall!

Posted by Swenigale 18:55 Archived in USA

Jan. 14-20 - THE START, THE CROSSING, HAWAII!

sunny 75 °F
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World Cruise 2019 started in Los Angeles and will end in April in Monte Carlo, Monaco. This map shows our route for the first of the four segments of the cruise.

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Crystal "kicked-off" the cruise with the University of Southern California Marching Band (no chance to march, stuck inside because of the LA rains).

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Later, a welcome from Captain Giske..

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... and the countdown and dropping of 7000 balloons!

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Cruising from California across the Pacific to Hawaii takes five days, every day full of activity.

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Plenty of days at sea to prepare for the Grand Gala Buffet!

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The busy days "rolled" by on the high, but not unpleasant swells.

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We still haven't missed a day of walking in four years!

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Early Sunday morning - the full moon over Honolulu

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Diamond Head beckons.

Posted by Swenigale 18:25 Archived in USA

Jan. 20 – HISTORY LESSON

sunny 80 °F
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A morning tour of the USS Missouri was a special highlight of our day in Honolulu.

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The main battery – a tour of the deck…..

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And also below decks……and many ladders

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The Missouri battleship was the site of the Japanese surrender ceremony and the end of World War II.

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Looking toward the Arizona Memorial (currently being repaired)

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Later in the day, after our late afternoon Sunday Worship Service, we waited to see the lunar eclipse….

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Which, in Hawaii, was total at 7:12pm.

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Not to be eclipsed by celestial events, or the Patriots game 😊, local Hawaiian dancers entertained guests before the Serenity pulled away from the dock at midnight.

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Posted by Swenigale 17:25 Archived in USA

Jan. 21 - LAHAINA, MAUI, HI

sunny 80 °F
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MAUI'S WHALES

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With our ship anchored in the bay we tendered to shore and booked an eco tour company to take us whale watching.

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We had seen many Humpbacks already, as the captain brought us in slowly this morning.

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These warm waters are breeding grounds for Humpback whales. They take the long swim from Alaska every year to mate and give birth the following year.

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They are the only whales with these long fins.

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Going up!

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Once, we were right in the middle of a group.

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These tail slapping pictures are from our video of one whale that kept repeating the behavior more than 20 times!

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This was not photo shopped!


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And a wave goodbye.

Posted by Swenigale 19:35 Archived in USA

Jan. 24 - FANNING ISLAND

ISLAND LIFE

sunny 85 °F
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A new pier has been built for the Fanning Islanders, making it easier for visitors to come to this remote coral atoll in the Republic of Kiribati.

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Island life has not changed much since we were first here 17 years ago, or indeed in the last 100 years.

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Selling handicrafts to the island's few visitors provides a bit of income.

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As does a $10 Island Tour

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Swimming is awesome in the warm water of this huge, shallow lagoon.

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Oh, Oh, a hitchhiker.

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Island life is primitive, with no electricity or plumbing. With the world's rising seas. the whole nation (which is spread out on 33 small islands) is under threat of being submerged in the not too distant future.

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Did I mention that the lagoon is shallow?

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Tenders enter and exit the lagoon from the Serenity (anchored safely in deeper waters) through a channel amidst rushing waters on this windy, beautiful day.

Coming up: 2 days at sea and we will cross the Equator on our way to American Samoa!

Posted by Swenigale 14:15 Archived in Kiribati

Jan, 27 - PAGO PAGO, AMERICAN SAMOA

UP AND OVER THE MOUNTAIN

sunny 85 °F
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From the Serenity’s walking deck we watched our approach to port; a rain cloud reminding us that the island is indeed, a rainforest!

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Our stateroom view from the bridge, however, promised sunshine.

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The main employer here is Starkist Tuna. Hi, Charlie!

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American Samoa has five volcanic islands, all located in the eastern part of the Samoan Archipelago. The steep mountains are spectacular in their tropical greenery. 90% of the land is covered in untouched rainforest.

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We hired a taxi to take us high up and over the Mangaloa Ridge and into the American Samoa National Park and magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean.

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A small village lies on the shores of Vatia Bay, on the other side of the mountain.

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Familiar-looking school bus

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Vatia’s Congregational church

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The beautifully handcrafted interior – Samoans are very religious.

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The Sunday service had already been going on for 1 ½ hours.

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Back up over the mountain

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“Tofa” – Goodbye from Pago Pago. Tonight we cross the International Date Line, so we will have no Monday!

Posted by Swenigale 13:35 Archived in Samoa - American

Jan. 31 – LAUTOKA, FIJI

BULA BULA!

sunny 85 °F
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Blossoms of the Flame tree and blue skies outside of the Public Market

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So many vegetables!

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Sugar cane is still half of the economy

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This could be Taro?

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Food carts near the bus station and market

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The Post Office – source of more pencils and paper clips for the Crystal Chorus 😊

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Ah, now this looks local – located right on “Bligh Water” – let’s take a look

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Had some conversation with folks about “snow” and “cold” – inconceivable!

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Three years ago Cyclone Winston devastated Fiji

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These waters are, indeed, named for “Mutiny on the Bounty’s” Captain Bligh as he and his companions out raced Fijian warriors

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The population of the islands is Fijian and Indian – many , or most, of the businesses have been owned by Indians for a number of generations

Posted by Swenigale 17:55 Archived in Fiji

Feb. 3 – BAY OF ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND

MISTY, MOISTY MORNING

semi-overcast 72 °F

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Serenity anchored in the Bay of Islands, the first of our two ports in New Zealand. We took an early tender to the Waitangi pier, then a shuttle to Paihia, and here we boarded a ferry to cross the bay to again visit the small town of Russell.

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Last night’s rain was welcome here – they had had none since Christmas!

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Russell was the original capital of New Zealand – oh, good – a Sunday Craft Fair in the Town Hall!

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After a bit of shopping we strolled along the shore road.

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Then we attended the 10:30am service at Christ Anglican Church, the oldest church in New Zealand (1836).

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This is the Policeman’s home (one policeman?) -initially the Custom House in the late 1800’s.

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A Morton Bay Fig Tree was planted by the first collector of customs

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Those are some fish I never heard of!

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Time to return to the mothership for our late afternoon Sunday Worship Service

Posted by Swenigale 17:02 Archived in New Zealand

Feb. 4 – AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

LAST DAY OF THE FIRST SEGMENT

sunny 75 °F
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We are in Auckland for two full days and the weather is clear and beautiful – perfect for a long walk up the hills from the port to the charming suburb of Parnell.

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We had heard of the pretty churches and boutique shops – absolutely needed to check them out. This is the Catholic church of St. John.

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Colonial buildings have been restored and protected and new owners have put their stamp on them.

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Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral, consecrated in 2017 – all debts paid!

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The Anglican Cathedral church of St. Mary’s, consecrated in 1888

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Yes, we had made it to the top – but now must go back down to the ship for the Super Bowl! Yea, Patriots!

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Posing Hästa

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Cute.

Posted by Swenigale 00:16 Archived in New Zealand

Feb. 5 – AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND

SECOND SEGMENT OF THE WORLD CRUISE

sunny 80 °F

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Today begins Serenity’s “Down Under Discovery”.

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Auckland’s ferry service is quick and reliable. This morning we took a short ride across the water to Devonport.

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Leaving the town behind us, we followed a track that would bring us to the top (we hoped) of Mount Victoria, Devonport’s highest volcanic cone at 283 feet above sea level.

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Hi!

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That’s it – that skinny footpath

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No hand rails!

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We’re up!

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We’ve shown this unique gun in the past – it’s Fort Victoria’s “Disappearing Gun”. It took 110 pounds of black powder to fire a 210 pound shell 5 miles. It was hidden in the pit for reloading.

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Hästa in place

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Stick ‘em up!

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Going down (the easy way this time!)

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Devonport’s waterfront is a favorite escape from the city for Aucklanders.

Posted by Swenigale 14:11 Archived in New Zealand

Feb. 8 & 9 - SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

sunny 90 °F

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Like last year, we anchored in Sydney Harbor, again during the Lunar Festival. This year is the Year of the Pig.

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When pigs fly 😊

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Saturday morning lights (thanks to our stateroom TV screen and the ship’s bow camera)

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Two ferry rides later we arrived at Cockatoo Island.

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The largest island in Sydney Harbor, this was home to Australia’s first Naval Dockyard for the Royal Australian Navy (1913-1921) and continued to support and build ships until it’s closure in 1991.

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The tents? Yeah, you can camp overnight here – they call it “Glamping” (Glamour Camping). Really?

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Slipways were used to build and launch ships

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In 1839, before ship-building began, Cockatoo Island was established as a new penal colony, home for the “worst of the worst”.

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The military guardhouse and barracks

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Here’s our location – the inner harbor side of beautiful Harbor Bridge.

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Full-scale templates for the fabrication of steel ship components were laid out in huge warehouses. Oh, there is so much more I could tell you- if you are interested, look up Cockatoo Island- great stories.

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Dog-Leg Tunnel was used as an air raid shelter and storage area.

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The sandstone from the island was quarried for use in walls and buildings.

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Back on the mainland scattered raindrops caused a wedding couple to abandon their photo shoot and seek shelter

Posted by Swenigale 21:04 Archived in Australia

Feb. 11 & 12 – HOBART, TAZMANIA, AUSTRALIA

OUR OVERNIGHT VISIT

semi-overcast 70 °F
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We crossed some tumultuous seas before our calm arrival on Monday morning. Today in Hobart is a Wooden Boat holiday. Keep in mind – it’s summer here!

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In a rental car with good friends, we headed off for a 1 ½ hour drive to the Tasman Peninsula -

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Stopping on the way to pick up some Australian meat pies and dessert (of course).

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Our destination was Port Arthur, a penal station established in 1830. Many countries were part of a global phenomenon of forced migration, punishment and reform, trying to deal with crime. This also provided free labor as countries established their colonies.

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The historical site is now a major tourist draw, with more than 30 buildings and ruins.

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Our guide’s information was full of interesting details – all of which I will tell you right now! Heh, heh 😊

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Thanks to the officers and wives and their meticulous journals of the day, much is known about people and events.

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Stories of individual prisoner’s lives have been preserved and are on display at the excellent interactive Visitors Center.

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The grounds now a days, also provide a place for a family outing.

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From a boat tour we looked to the harbor – imaging it being seen by convicts as they sailed to their prison home. Transportation of convicts here ended in 1853.

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Back at our ship, on Tuesday morning we walked into Hobart Town with its impressive colonial buildings.

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The tower of St. David’s Anglican Cathedral
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The windows are beautiful! Most moving, however, was a plaque along a side wall – it is a tribute to Alec William Campbell “The Last Australian ANZAC*”, 1899-2002. And “to the memory of all who have served this country in the Armed Forces and Paid the Supreme Sacrifice. Lest We Forget”.

*Australian and New Zealand Army Corps

Posted by Swenigale 18:40 Archived in Australia

Feb. 14 – KANGAROO ISLAND, AUSTRALIA

semi-overcast 68 °F
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Yes, there be Kangaroos on Kangaroo Island! Here, just off the Southern coast of Australia, residents attach “roo” bars to the fronts of their vehicles because the kangaroos and wallabies are so numerous!

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This guy was lucky, but we passed quite a few by the side of the road that weren’t quite so quick.

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K.I. is Australia’s third largest island and we drove to the absolute other end of where we were anchored (about 2 hours away).

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Flinders Chase National Park was our destination. It is one of many protected places on the island.

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“Remarkable Rocks” were formed 500 million years ago. The granite was exposed by erosion over hundreds of thousands of years and they are still being changed by exposure to the natural elements of wind, rain and salt from the relentless Southern Ocean.

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A short drive and a long walk away, still in Flinders Chase, is the approach to spectacular “Admiral’s Arch”.

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Seals steal the show away from rock formations – this area is protected in order to provide fur seals a place to feed, breed, haul-out and rest.

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Eager to explore!

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Back on board that evening, we saw that the crew had been busy decorating. Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone!

Posted by Swenigale 15:44 Archived in Australia

Feb. 15 – ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA

sunny 77 °F
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If we had known we would be returning to the Adelaide Zoo, maybe we would have taken out a membership!

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Animals never disappoint.

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The following are just a few of our many pictures: the Yellow-footed Rock-Wallaby,

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a Red Kangaroo,

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Patagonian Cavy,

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My favorites – the Meerkats, and there were many babies this time.

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Keeping watch

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Laughing Kookaburra

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Koalas, awake and munching their favorite food

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Photo-op, on our way to visit Adelaide’s Pandas……

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The real ones (Wang Wang, the male, is full after his morning of eating bamboo)

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Monster Pelican

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African lions resting in the shade

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Ring-tailed Lemur – we’re hoping to see many more of them when we get to Madagascar in a couple of weeks!

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Cotton-top Tamarin

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Treats (imported from the USA) for Ruth and Ed)

Posted by Swenigale 19:25 Archived in Australia

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