We start with a lunch-time departure from Tennant Creek as we have a 500 klm drive to Alice Springs before our 5:00 PM flight to Darwin. This flight gets us into Darwin around 7:30 PM and a departure at 11:00 PM to Denpasar.
The drive goes smoothly and we leave our car in the long-term carpark at the airport with only time enough to grab a quick drink and snack at the Qantas Club. It is just over 2 hours flying time to Darwin and the flight is quite painless and we arrive on time. Our layover is long enough to be able to leisurely check-in, grab some Rupiah from the international ATM at the airport and even enjoy another snack and drink at the restaurant in the airport.
The only choice from Darwin to Bali is a Jetstar flight which isn't renown for excessive leg room but as its less than 3 hours I can manage it without doing any irreparable damage to my joints. Arriving just after midnight in Denpasar Airport we find very few people ahead of us at Immigration and sail through and as we have no checked luggage are out through arrivals in record time.
Tonight we have booked into the Novotel Ngurah Rai which is attached to the airport but as we have never been there before are a little hesitant of the best way to find it. There are some overhead signs pointing us in the right direction but after negotiating a few ramps we seem to be on the roof of the airport with very little lighting. We persevere and a little further on we spot the blue Novotel sign like a beacon in the night leading us onward.
The check in was very smooth and being an Accor Plus member paves the way even further and very thankfully we let ourselves into a very clean, comfortable hotel room.
As with a lot of things when your looking forward to something it seems to take forever then all of a sudden it's down to days and you find yourself rushing to get ready. Jo is to finish up at the community she's been at since before Christmas and put forward the idea of a week in Bali just because we can! Well didn't have to twist my arm too far and before you could say Suksma we were booking flights to Denpasar.
As usual in Australia the domestic airfares end up costing more than the International ones. It is no more evident than airfares out of Alice Springs as there is very little choice for times and even less competition. The cost of the one-way fare from Alice Springs to Darwin was more than the return one to Bali!.
This time we have booked for 6 nights in Seminyak at a Marriott hotel named The Marriott Courtyard. We haven't stayed in Seminyak in years so are interested to see how we find it. This week we are hoping just to chill around the pool with maybe a few excursions out to see what has changed in Seminyak.
The only pressure now is that by the time we get back I will only have a few days before finishing up work so will have to try to be 90% sorted before we go. That includes getting our old caravan in a state that it is usable and towable down to Alice Springs where we can leave it at our house there. Again I take it as an opportunity to prune back any "stuff" I haven't used in the last 12 months.
At last the time is down to weeks now and not months before we are off on the next trip. We are taking a short trip to Bali in just over 4 weeks time and it can't come soon enough. Not only time off together but I think we got a great deal on the flights. Jo is chasing Gold status this year and I've got to get my Silver back so we looked at what was the quickest way to earn flyer points and status credits. See our YouTube video here for details.
By doing a LOT of investigation I uncovered a Qantas Business class flight that departs from Brisbane and goes via Melbourne to Denpasar during daylight hours for only $680 each. At last check the price for the same day is at $1000 each so it pays to get in early. The flight also gains 9900 flyer points and 180 status credits for the one way flight. However if you expected the same value on the return leg you would be.....very wrong!
I don't understand, but expect Mr Joyce would have a exceptionally good reason why the return leg, via Melbourne too, is more expensive by over $100 but only attracts 2100 flyer points and 60 status credits. So we will be looking elsewhere for our return trip, perhaps Jetstar as they offer a direct Business Class flight to Brisbane for around $600.
Rest assured there will be videos about all the flights and accommodation reviews so keep tabs via the Channel.
I know I have chosen to reside in an area well known for it's extreme heat but this is getting tiresome.
We have not had a day in the last 6 weeks when the temperature has been less than 40 degrees Celsius with it usually hovering in the mid 40's and topped out at 49 degrees the other day. No rain to speak of, it does look promising every few days with the clouds building up in the afternoon to see some small isolated showers skirt around us. To smell the rain but not to feel it is torture!
I still manage a 5 klm walk each morning up and down the look-out hill, or 1 tank hill, as it's known locally for obvious reasons if you saw it. This walk, by necessity, is taken as early as possible in order to escape the high temperatures but still manages to raise quite a sweat before work.
I've been checking the Accor website every few hours waiting to see if any announcements have been made about the winners of their Ambassador competition but nothing. Today I received a phone-call to my mobile from a Singapore number which I at first had reservations about answering it thinking it might be some off-shore telemarketer. It was however a fellow from Accor offering me congratulations on winning the competition and just wanting to touch base. He requested a photo of me and emailed me an agreement to say I would appear in any promotional activity as needed. All quite exciting although obviously nothing will probably happen for sometime but the title of Accor Australian Ambassador has a certain ring to it, eh?
Jo's mum flew back to Queensland this morning and we moved into the Sebel Docklands Apartments for two nights before heading back to work. We didn't realise that Sebel are a part of the Accor Group and had booked through booking.com instead of direct so missed out on some points, bother it! Again the position is great as it's right on the water at Docklands but the first room was a bit grotty so asked if we could change and were given a second choice which was much better. I suppose it being New Years Day and they would have been at capacity last night the cleaning staff would have been under the pump to get things cleaned for today.
The hotel has a reasonable gym on the ground floor, not that we considered using it as this was to be a very chilled couple of days. There was a pool but it was an inside, heated pool which loses it's appeal to me as it was quite loud with kids playing and only quite narrow access on one side with no room to sit around. I suppose that for a lot of the year in Melbourne a heated, indoor pool would be used much more due to the cold weather.
We spent the next two days just relaxing but managed to get out and about the last day to re-visit some places like some of the Graffiti lanes and Young & Jackson's pub in Flinders Street.
Over our few days in Melbourne we sampled the delights of numerous bars and restaurants.
The few that stick out for us were the Max Bar and Restaurant on Hardware Lane. This is on a small but very popular lane which has a huge selection of eateries, Italian in style, the food and service was great and the fact they had Spanish and Italian wines available at a very reasonable price was the icing on the cake.
We stopped for pre-dinner cocktails at Eau de Vie on Malthouse Lane. This establishment is well known for it's theatrical presentation and preparation of an incredible array of cocktails. Involving fire, liquid nitrogen, smoke etc etc. Each cocktail was worthy of a round of applause, it was unfortunately too dark for my camera to do any filming.
Lastly, one of our regular dining delights is China Red in a arcade off China Town's Bourke Street. Nothing flash but very tasty and huge servings and all ordered from a touch screen I-pad type affair on the wall above each table.
Xmas over and done for another year and looking forward to 2019 with high expectations. Melbourne as well as being my birth city has always been a place I've enjoyed spending time in, at the right time of year of course. Melbourne Winters can be wet and miserable and even Summer has it's occasional "cool change" that can send the mercury plummeting in an hour or so.
These few days the weather gods smiled and we had wonderfully warm days without it being too hot. We spent the first few nights at the Pan Pacific at South Wharf which was a first for us, both with the hotel name and the position.
The position was great, right next door to the huge DFO shopping mall and a minutes walk to the Yarra River bank which has an absolute plethora of bars, cafes and restaurants to choose from.
The hotel itself promised big things by the size and décor of the lobby area but really didn't quite follow through with the rooms. Nothing in particular but the rooms just didn't have a real 5 star feel about them although they had a real 5 star price.
The miracle of Xmas is alive and well as Jo made her flight by about 20 seconds and arrived at her mums late last night. All is well with the world and we had a wonderfully merry Xmas lunch at a riverside restaurant with no cooking or dishes to be done by anyone.
Merry Xmas to one and all!
As I said, the logistics of living remote can be challenging at best. Saturday afternoon when I arrived in Brisbane I rang Jo to confirm all was well. Just as a last minute comment I asked if she had checked the amount of fuel in the work vehicle to ensure enough for the trip. Oopps, not enough and the shop was already closed for the weekend and wouldn't open again until Monday morning at around 8:30.
Jo's flight leaves at 12:40 and it's usually a 5 hour drive to Alice Springs! My last call from Jo was just as she left Ampilatiwatja around 8:45 and sounded like she was in a chopper with the juddering and rattling of the corrugated road at top speed could be heard. She wasn't sure about making the plane so we would meet up somehow the next day, Xmas day, somewhere, sometime.