Wednesday, April 15, 2009

February 22, 2009: "Stay Right, Save Jenn"

As “Hey Bruni” was the catchphrase for last year’s trip in Ghana, “Stay right, save Jenn” was the catchphrase for the first day of our adventure in the Margaret River Valley. After the one-eye open drive to our hotel where Bob was relegated to back seat driving only, my mom took over the drive out of Perth to the MRV. She did a fantastic job; however, she seemed to drift towards the curb, which, being the left hand passenger meant trees and other obstacles were very close to my head. We worked out a little system where I would “beep” at her when she went to far over the boundary. Out of it came the phrase, but it seemed to work. Roundabouts are difficult for my mom when we’re in Europe, we use the turn at 3 o’clock tactic or take the third turn and count them collaboratively to get the desired turn. Throw in driving on the wrong side of the car on the wrong side of the road and well, even I had to think hard about it. Flash forward to my driving: I got the hang of it pretty quickly and quite enjoyed the idea of driving “backwards”! Must be that I’m farther away from my “0” that helped (Mom’s only 4 days away.) 

The Margaret River Valley was phenomenal! It was nice to be off the ship and on our own schedule. We made it down to Bussleton, a small town about 30 miles from our final destination and decided to have lunch there on the beach. In the US (particularly San Diego), there aren’t a ton of GREAT restaurants on the water. At this beach, there was only one option so what’s the chance it would be good? We expected mediocre and it was fantastic! I could go on and on about the food options here! I’ve been so impressed with the caliber of food at every restaurant we have been to and the variety of flavors. You can identify the Indian, French, Spanish, and Indonesian influences as well as Mediterranean flavors. And the bread - well, all three of us ordered a ‘mini loaf’ at every meal. The food on this ship is quite disappointing (which is OK) after being on Silver Seas. Our meal at Bussleton at The Goose was grand. I had a Beez Neez beer to go with the meal and Bob had a glass of Sauv Blanc from MVR to “wet his palette”. Unique to Bussleton is a 2 km jetty built forever ago. We walked to the end, quite sure it might collapse in some spots but it was well worth it to see the beautiful ocean and great scenery along the coast. 

We did a little bit of wine tasting along our way before checking in at the Smith’s Beach Resort. Um, if I could have moved there, I would have! I’ll admit it, I conjured up great ideas of how I could helicopter from there to the airport and commute to Perth for work. Still working on the details of that plan. We had a 2 story condo at the resort with a panoramic view of the beach and coastline. Granted, we have a fantastic view from our house in San Diego, but I think the untouched quality of the coastline coupled with the bright blue water and white sand enamored me. My parents were enthralled as well. Our stay in MRV was about 2 ½ days and we did some great wine tasting and made dinners at home and Bob and I played Gin Rummy. I was seriously beating him and then he crushed me. 

Back in Subiaco (Perth), we enjoyed another night at 8 Nicholson. We walked down the main street to the Subiaco hotel for dinner. There was a rugby game that night and it was packed with fans. If only I had some of you friends with me! Bob and Barbara weren’t super excited about loud crowds and beers, but I forced them to be in good spirits. Perth is such a beautiful city, very similar to San Diego. People were out and about everywhere (despite the 90 degree weather), road biking around the estuary and out at the beaches. We arrived back at the ship yesterday and checked in before going our separate ways. My parents went back to Subiaco to negotiate on some fabulous Aboriginal art we’d seen on our first day and I headed to Cottelsoe Beach for the day. The beach neighborhood was the caliber of La Jolla but with uninterrupted beach. No development directly on the water so I (and the other million Aussies with me) could enjoy a day of waves. The water is cool but refreshingly so after sitting on the beach sweating in the sun. I enjoyed the volleyball tournament going on next to me while reading “Twilight”. I’m already half way through the second book! Margaret, you (and Dr. Oz) were right! I’m emotionally involved. But, considering the “stock” on the ship, I need to look somewhere for romantic entertainment! Not even any “Anna Nicole Smith” opportunities!

I reluctantly returned to the ship last night and relaxed in the pool with my dad and some other passengers. We chatted with some New Yorkers that reminded me of Babi Ann (V’s grandmother). Too funny. The ship is mostly Americans with a smattering of Canadians (obviously given it is February) and a couple Europeans. Given the economy, the ship is only half full and Regent didn’t see the benefit of lowering prices close to the start of the cruise. We’ll see how long that lasts. Australia seems to be feeling the economic downfall as well, but certainly not as harshly as we’ve felt it. It is nice to escape the day in day out down in the dumps news headlines, but I’m obviously living vicariously through my parents life right now. 

Tomorrow we go to Exmouth on the northwestern corner of Australia. It’s a town of 2,500 with wild Emu’s running in the streets and a fantastic coral reef, Ningaloo reef. My goal is to go snorkeling if I don’t hyperventilate from anxiety as usual! This reef has manta rays and shark whales among other things. I already made myself nervous! We are in Exmouth for the day and then 3 days at sea before Bali

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