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For our 10th wedding anniversary we took a trip to Australia!

We flew Virgin Australia Business Class from LAX to Sydney, Sydney-Cairns, then Cairns-Brisbane-LAX (redeeming Delta SkyMiles for 2 tickets). VA has lay-flat seats and a help yourself bar between rows 4 and 5. The featured wines were delicious but we were not overly impressed with the food. We visited the Star Alliance lounges in all 4 cities and while the LAX lounge is the most ritzy and has a noodle bar, the overcrowded, older Air New Zealand lounge in Brisbane had the best food. The Aussie airport lounges really had some lovely sparkling wines.

We visited Sydney the last week of November 2014. Weather was great (about 65-70 degrees)! We stayed in the Park Hyatt Sydney. The hotel is in the Rocks neighborhood of Sydney. Our room was on the 2nd floor and did NOT face the harbor but we could see the opera house from our balcony. We had a King suite and it was spacious and clean. We arrived at the hotel before check-in time, but our room was ready so were able to go right up. We were celebrating a wedding anniversary and upon check-in the front desk employee asked if we would mind having champagne delivered to the room later on. Uh, no not a problem at all! The pool area is on the top floor of the hotel and it has spectacular views of Circular Quay, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Breakfast is pricey (not included if you are not Hyatt elite). We had breakfast once in the hotel restaurant and ate elsewhere other days.

We spent one day visiting wineries outside of Sydney and saw kangaroos in the country side!

We also took a personalized tour of the Blue Mountains. We originally found this guide from TripAdvisor: . Paul takes you about in a Land Rover Discovery so you are able to get to some places off the beaten track.

We even ate a crocodile pizza!

We visited Cairns the first week of December 2014 and stayed in the Hilton Cairns. Weather was warmer and more humid than Sydney and about 80 degrees. This hotel is not as plush as the Park Hyatt but was still a decent experience.  We had a King room on the Executive level (9) which was much smaller than the Park Hyatt as well, but still comfortable. The best thing about this hotel is the Executive lounge. It is open for both breakfast and an evening reception. Australian wines are featured along with a well stocked bar of other liquors. Hilton Honors Gold & Platinum members receive complimentary breakfast at this hotel. I am a Gold member so I am not sure how much breakfast normally costs. It is a buffet with both hot and cold items. The hotel location is great! It’s right on the marina where all the boats leave to go scuba diving and snorkeling. It’s a short walk from the Esplanade with shopping and restaurants.

We did the Skyrail tour to the Kuranda rainforest where you go up (the mountain)  on the train and back down by sky gondolas.

We went with TUSA for our trip to the Great Barrier Reef and really enjoyed it!  TUSA has less people on their trips than other companies so it was not as crowded as other boats seemed to be.   This is a real shot from our day under water!

It was a wonderful trip.  Hope the review helps your planning!


This month we had a chance to visit Texas Wine Country and stayed in Fredricksburg, TX.   We were celebrating my parents 40th anniversary and the family chose to stay at a bed and breakfast that offered an entire house for our accommodations.    The Hoffman Haus is divided up into individual buildings and rooms and our place was an actual full sized farmhouse.

The farmhouse is equipped with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room and a living room.   There were six of us staying there for the weekend and it was very comfortable.  Here are a few shots of the house and decor!

This is the living room. The front door opens directly into this room.

The door way to the left of the fireplace above leads into the dining room, pictured below.

To the left of the table in the dining room, there are built-in shelves, what a great idea for almost any room!  The door in between the shelves leads to the master bedroom.

Beyond the dining room is the kitchen.  It was very simple with the same creamy color scheme.

The door to the stairway is actually in the dining room (right next to the living room)

The stairs lead to this spacious landing which is setup with a desk and two chairs for lounging.

This is one of the three bedrooms (the one we slept in, my brother + sister in law and my sister + brother in law slept in the other two bedrooms). Two bedrooms were upstairs and one, the master (with bathroom) was downstairs.

The decor was simple and rustic, which definitely suited the style of the house.    Of course, it was a bed & breakfast so breakfast was served in the mornings.  The difference here is that we didn’t have to go to a common dining room. Breakfast was served in adorable picnic baskets right in our home.

The grounds were lovely and we had a very nice visit.

Have you stayed at a bed & breakfast? Do you have a favorite?

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