Friday, November 27, 2009

Arrived in Melbourne

We landed in Melbourne yesterday (Friday) and had a delicious dinner with Jo's parents at Bistro D'Orsay.  Today we've been walking the city which is very pedestrian friendly and beautiful to see by foot if you are so inclined.  I've included an aerial photograph of the city which shows the Fitzroy Gardens. Check out the link for more images. 

Sorry this is so brief, because I would love to talk about our walk through Fitzroy (Melbourne's first suburb), Lygon Street (loaded with Italian eateries and shops) or the massive outdoor Melbourne Market, but that will all have to wait.  Tonight we are off to dinner with Jo's parents again (this time to a Greek restaurant); then tomorrow off to visit her grandparents.  Our time in Melbourne is flying by and I'm already wishing we had more time.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef

Yesterday (Wednesday), I went snorkeling in the Great Barrier Reef pretty snappy costumes they gave us don't you think? At least the black spandex is slimming.  I will post more pictures upon my return.

I feel fortunate to have chosen Wavelength for my first snorkeling adventure in the Great Barrier Reef for a couple of reasons.  First, they never take more than 30 people (however yesterday there were only 25 in our group) and second they did a superb job of swimming with you to explain what you were seeing.   Half the time I followed the guides and the other half I spent exploring on my own.  The tour stopped in three separate locations for an hour each time which may sound like a lot but the time absolutely flew.  Thanks to the wet suits, I avoided getting a painful burn.

The first site was pretty cool, but it was the least interesting of the three stops we made.  It really allowed me to get a feel for snorkeling and diving under the water to get closer looks at the fish and coral.  By far the most interesting of the three locations was the third stop.  Although I saw clown fish at each location, at the third stop we found "Nemo"  (see above) as well as sea turtles and a couple of sharks.  I was impressed by my lack of fright and actually pointed out a slumbering shark that was about 8-10' long for the guides to show to the others on the tour.

I know that many people suggest SCUBA diving when visting the GBR but something we learnt on our tour was that 85-90% of all marine life that you would want to see lives within the first 5 - 10 meters (15 - 30 feet).  This is because coral needs to be able to absorb the rays of sunlight to flourish and the sea life relies on the coral in turn so if you can hold your breath for a minute or two, one can swim to the floor of the reef and see all there is.  Even for those who were not comfortable like I was - the water is so clear that it is quite easy to see the marine life while floating atop the water. 

The only down side to the entire experience was for Sergio who despite taking the sea-sick pills the crew eagerly encouraged everyone to take, was not feeling great by the time of the 3rd stop.  The 1 hour+ boat ride back to shore had Sergio a strange shade of green.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Relaxing in Port Douglas, Australia

I am now relaxing in Port Douglas, Australia after flying up from Sydney on Sunday and then driving 45 minutes north from Cairns.  Port Douglas is a cute little touristy town of 3,000 that caters mostly to Australians, but accents from around the world seem to blend in and many workers here seem to be transplants from Europe.  We have not heard many US accents, although today I met a Dartmouth M.B.A. student who is taking two months to see Australia and New Zealand before starting work for Deliotte in Boston.  As it turns out she will be living a couple of blocks from me in the South End.

The weather is beatiful if not downright hot and humid, but I'm not complaining one bit.  Port Douglas is fairly far north in the state of Queensland putting us close to the equator I believe.  Most of the time today was spent visiting a wildlife sanctuary where I watched Sergio hold a koala and feed kangaroos (photos will follow when I return to the States).  Later this week we plan on snorkeling and Sergio might scuba.  I don't expect to do much more than that until I leave for Melbourne on Friday afternoon.  The resort, Peppers Beach Club, is very nice and only a 5 minute walk into the center.  Similar to Provincetown, Port Douglas is essentially a one street beach town with shops lined up an down either side.  Coverage is quite spotty up here and I've not been able to post any tweets on my twitter account, but I have already found my favorite coffee shop (and there are a few to choose from here).  The shop is called re:hab and in addition to coffee and sweets they have about a dozen gelati flavors (and wireless to boot).  If I'm not snorkeling or lounging poolside I'll likely come here for some refreshments and to stay out of the sun which has been blistering hot of late (90 - 100+ degrees).

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Safely arrived and loving Sydney

I landed in Sydney on Friday, November 20th fairly refreshed and none the worse for the wear thanks to flying business class on United Airlines. The flight was fantastic in part because of the cush-seating that converts into a narrow but cozy bed.  I flew on the second level of the 747, which is only the second time in all my travels that I've had the opportunity. 

The first two days in Sydney have been brilliant.  The weather has been in the high 80s to mid 90s and I've used the time as sort of a scouting expedition to get the lay of the land.  The only sign of jet lag was the fact that I was exhausted last night (Friday) and went to bed at 10:30 and then promptly woke up at 6:00am. 

Today (Saturday), Sergio and I ventured out on an ambitious walk that brought us down to Darling Harbour, Sydney train station and Surry Hills.  We had intended to go to Paddington but pooped out and will probably check it out upon our return to the city.  However lunch at a cute coffee shop called Le Monde and a cold draft at the bar at The Clock Hotel definitely revived me.  I have to admit that Surrey Hills was a highlight and a place I look forward to revisiting (perhaps even tonight for a night cap).  The restaurants, bars and shops ooze a chic class that is sadly absent on Oxford Street (Sydney's gay district); near where I am currently staying.

Despite the lack of any personality in the CBD (where I am at the moment) my room at the Marriott overlooks Hyde Park which is a lush downtown park that is pretty to look out at.  Tomorrow I'll be checking out of the Marriott and hopping on Virgin Blue to head north to the Port Douglas. I'm looking forward to the beach and visiting the Great Barrier Reef... That's all for now. I'll be writing more about the entire adventure down under but wanted to briefly document the stay since I have a terrible memory.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Off to Australia tonight

Today I turn off my laptop at 4pm and dash to the airport to catch my flight to LAX then to Sydney, arriving in Australia on Friday, November 20th.  I plan on blogging a bit if able, but not sure exactly what this dream trip will bring.  I'm pretty certain that I will also be tweeting so you can check out my twitter posts in the lower right column or follow me at

I will certainly take lots of pictures and look to post them here when I return.  I have included my itinerary below indicating where I will be over this nearly 3-week escape.

Sydney - Arrive on Friday, November 20th
Port Douglas (Great Barrier Reef) - Arrive on Sunday, November 22nd
Melbourne - Arrive on Friday, November 27th
Hepburn Springs (Victoria) - Arrive on Monday, November 30th
Sydney - Arrive on Tuesday, December 1st

Just because a number of friends have inquired...Today's weather in:
Sydney: 84 degrees
Port Douglas (Great Barrier Reef): 87 degrees
Melbourne & Hepburn Springs: 95 degrees

Friday, November 13, 2009

Heading to the land down under

As I prepare for my walk-about in Australia, I'm reminded how fortunate I am and how rare it is to take a three week vacation.  Many people I know have accrued weeks of paid time off but can not seem to disengage themselves from work to make use of the time.  Perhaps this is you?  Do you have several weeks of unused vacation time that you roll-over each year? Are you always taking days off at the end of the year because you can not roll all your accrued vacation time into the next calendar year?

I think this is uniquely American, because as near as I can tell even high performing employees and executives from other countries take four weeks or more vacation each year and their companies don't seem to collapse nor are their jobs jeopardized.  I suppose this is yet another way that despite being as American as apple pie, I tend to differ from the typical American.  What a strange sensibility we Americans have.

So I'll be logging off shortly and enjoying my walk-about down under.  If time allows, I'm sure I'll include an entry or two but it is probably more likely that I'll be sunning myself, eating as much ice cream as possible or just napping. 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Can you say "global warming"

A gigantic iceberg 160ft high and 1,640ft long has been spotted south of an Australian island - Macquarie Island to be exact. Scientists believe it might be part of one of several larger icebergs that broke off Antarctica's Ross Ice Shelf between 2000 and 2002.  According to the article in the Daily Mail, several icebergs have been drifting slowly northward, but it is uncommon for them to move so far into warmer northern waters.

Think about the sheer mass of this iceberg...160 ft high and 1,640 ft long.  That is absolutely massive. Can you imagine the problems this could present for shipping as it moves further north and breaks apart?

Reservations for Port Douglas confirmed

Reservations have finally been confirmed for the 5 nights I will be spending near the Great Barrier Reef.  After much thought, reservations were made at Peppers Beach Club in Port Douglas (approximately 45 minutes north of Cairns). This appears to be part of the same chain of hotels / resorts I booked for the night in the countryside in Victoria (Australia 1 week and counting). 

Although this resort does not have a lot of reviews on Trip Advisor, it appears to get thumbs up from nearly everyone. The location also seems to be excellent and the accommodations look pretty sweet.  We've booked a 1 room suite that has a jacuzzi on a private balcony.  After looking at the photos of the resort, I'm not sure if "private" is an accurate description, but it looks like a great place; just steps from the main drag, MacRossan Street. I've included some photographs of the resort's pool, which look beautiful.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pizzey family strikes

I genuinely love giving gifts, and if giving the gift is a surprise then some how it makes the entire experience even more exciting.  So why is it a shock if the tables are turned?  That is what just happened to me.

I would never deny someone the opportunity to surprise someone with a gift, but tonight I was on the receiving end of the experience and it just shocked me so much because it was so generous that I did not quite know how to react. Am I that provincial?  I'm not one to kiss and tell so I don't want to get into specifics, but suffice it to say, the Pizzey family is quite sneaky and they've not only surprised me (well Sergio and me to be precise), but they have really made me a bit emotional by their gesture.  I'm quite excited to get to Melbourne to meet this amazing family - that is for certain.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Australia: 1 week and counting

One week from tonight I will be stepping on a plane to start my vacation in Australia.  It seems so far away even though the reality is quite the opposite.  Last night we booked our stay in Victoria where we will spend 3-nights in Melbourne and 1-night in Hepburn Springs. 

The Intercontinental in Melbourne (a.k.a. The Rialto) looks absolutely beautiful (see above photographs). TripAdvisor comments lead me to believe this will be a very enjoyable and comfortable stay since the hotel is in the city center and looks like it oozes sophisticated luxury.  After three brief nights we are off to spa country (about a 90-minute drive north of Melbourne) to stay at the Peppers Springs Resort and Spa.  According to Wikipedia, Hepburn Springs is a resort town located in the middle of the largest concentration of mineral springs in Australia.

From the looks of this place I think we will regret only spending one night. The first photo is the main building and the second appears to be the grounds and the spa house.  A bit of pampering might be in order, but I think I'll probably defer and want to check out the area.

Now all that is left to do is to settle on where to stay when we fly up to Cairns.  We were hoping to change our flights to stay on Hamilton Island but flights are full so we are back to looking at properties near Port Douglas and Cairns.  Any suggestions?

Veteran's Day

I wish we could learn to co-exist and not resort so quickly to violence, but sadly that world only appears to exist in dreams, songs and poems.  So until that day can come to pass, I'll tip my hat to the men and women here and abroad who have made sacrifices to thwart aggression and war. 

Thanks to my Dad and all the other veterans out there.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

1929: The great crash

The Baker Library at HBS has a very interesting exhibit which I was able to view this past Saturday.  Focusing on the unique historical materials in the HBS archives the exhibit tries to throw light on the role regional exhanges in the stock market played in the crash of 1929 and the regulation of the securities industry that resulted in the New Deal. The exhibit is entitled, "Bubbles, Panics and Crashes" of particular interest were the cartoons HBS library has from their archives showing a satyrical take on one of the worst banking crashes in our history.

I thought I would share a couple of cartoons which are on display that I liked. You will see some interesting paralells from the great crash and I'm sure you will probably ask yourself the question I did when I was there, "Why do we allow this to continue?"  Although it may sound like a loaded political question, it is really much more sincere.  Even though many might find history boring - we ignore it at our own peril.

Our weekend with Jo

Last night I said good bye to a friend I first met eight years ago.  When we first met, Jo was a student traveling from Melbourne Australia to attend a summer program at Harvard University.  Because her flight was delayed she arrived in Boston too late to check-in at Harvard and she was in a bit of a panic trying to figure out where she might spend the night.  My other half offered our place as well as a drive the next day to Harvard to help her get checked-in.  Since that time we've remained excellent friends and stayed in touch via e-mail and the occassional call.

When we booked our trip to Australia, we immediately called Jo to let her know we would be stopping in Melbourne to see her again and to meet her family.  However, Jo surprised us both when she told us she would be finishing her MBA program at Duke University and would be in N.C. when we were in Melbourne.  Fortunately, she was able to come up and visit us this weekend.  We had a wonderful time showing her Boston and bringing her back to the Harvard campus to see her old dorm and other places which she remembered so fondly.  Fortunately, the weather cooperated and we spent all day Sunday walking Newbury and Boylston Street.  We ate well too with dinners at Rocca and Mistral, which made each evening quite special.

Jo has provided us with some excellent tips for our upcoming trip so we will spend the next day or two revising our itinerary by adding an extra night in Melbourne - we now have been invited to dinner at her grandparents house. She has also helped us identify the perfect place to stay for an overnight in Daylesford which is approximately 1 hours drive from Melbourne called, Peppers Hepburn Springs Retreat. They have some lovely photographs of the spa / resort here.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Top destinations for GLBT travelers

The Boston Globe article I referenced in my entry below was expanded by later today.  According to the posting on at a time when overall travel is down, tourism in the state is benefitting from one growing segment: gay vacationers. You can peruse the article and the photos by linking to the article, Top destinations for gays and lesbians.

I think the state could reap the rewards of a demographic. GLBT travelers are reported to vacation with more frequency and spend more money on cultural events than other segments of society.  Why this is I haven't a clue and could only speculate.  After a quick review of my travel profile this year, I realized I've gone away (near and far) quite a bit. I've gone to the Cape 4 times this year, Maine 2 times, Puerto Rico, Austin, TX and later this month I leave for a 3-week vacation to Australia.  All told that equals 9 trips in 2009 and that does not count my weekends up at my parent's lake house.

Photograph above from

Massachusetts courting gay travelers

The Boston Globe is reporting in today's paper that Massachusetts tourism agencies are directing more efforts to entice Gay & Lesbian travelers to our very gay friendly state. According to Community Marketing 14th annual LGBT tourism study of 2009, Massachusetts was ranked the 11th most visited US destination. 

According to the Globe article, Massachusetts and Florida are the only states whose tourism offices have started marketing to gay and lesbian travelers. Frankly, I find that hard to believe but apparently most GLBT Tourism money to date has been spent by cities rather than state agencies.

The effort in MA started last year with a $50,000 budget to appeal to GLBT travelers. Part of that investment went to build the gay-oriented site,

If you would like to read the article in today's Globe you can link here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halloween with Jack and Austin

I just received this picture of my two nephews dressed as a transformer and spiderman for Halloween and I wanted to post it here to remember how cute they looked in their costumes.

Here are a couple more pictures (for posterity).

Monday, November 2, 2009

Boners R Us

In the past I've mentioned that I work as a marketing professional in the health industry for a large consulting firm.  However, what I'm not so certain is if people who are not marketing professionals have any idea what that means in terms of a daily grind.  I think most people assume working in marketing means I spend my day identifying pretty colors for logos and talking about abstract things like 'brand awareness'. 

The reality is actually quite different. One such task that has dominated much of my time lately is reviewing the logs of all our registrations for the many programs we are currently hosting.  This is quite monotonous for sure. However, the entry I included above made me laugh out loud when I read it today.  It certainly brings new meaning to the term "bad data".   My apologies if you can not read the image above, but the entry reads as follows:
First name: Boner      Last name: Man
Title: Head Boner      Company: Boners R Us

The next time you are filling out a form - if you have no intention of providing your real contact information think about the poor schmuck who has to go through the rolls of data and see if you can make that person smile by getting creative with your response.

Ladybug Bug

I have a tendency to photograph what I'll refer to as tiny cars with personality.  Opportunities seem to abound when I travel abroad.  For example, this picture from The Hague in The Netherlands.

However, earlier this week I saw the cutest car parked across the street from my home in the South End. I've dubbed this car the "Ladybug Bug".