Today is the last leg of my trip home and something like back to the future. I leave South Korea at 11:40 am on Tuesday and arrive at Chicago, Illinois at 9:00 am on Tuesday. The flight was about 13 hours. I had the same good service I had on other Korean Air flights. I left at -9F from Chicago and returned to -9F. In between my ranged from a high of 95F in Cairns, to a cool 70F in Queensland, to 40F in Inchon. These were all daytime temperatures.
I returned home and began the process of unpacking and preparing for work which began the next day.
This is the first day of my three-day trek back to Illinois. Today I flew from Queenstown, New Zealand to Sydney, Australia. The flight was several hours and about 1,200 miles. When I got to Sydney about 3:30 pm, I checked into my hotel at the airport then took a subway downtown. The car I road in looked new. Parts of the subway system looked new and other parts looked like vintage 1940’s, but always clean. Today was Australia Day. I first stopped at Cockle Bay (Darling Harbor) where there would be fireworks after sundown. I walked around the crowd, had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe and listed to some music before leaving for Sydney Cove (Sydney Harbor) to see the famous Sydney Opera House and bridge crossing the bay. It was fun and I wish I had more time to stay to enjoy all of the festivities. I took the subway back to my hotel for an early night.
Today I left Sydney on Korean Air for Inchon, South Korea, the second leg of my trip. The flight was about 10 hours. We were treated very well, two meals, snacks, real silver ware and wine with our dinner. There was plenty of electronic entertainment and opportunities to charge notebooks, e-readers, etc.
The airport at Inchon is like a combination of Rodeo Drive, Michigan Avenue and Fifth Avenue. They had a small string ensemble playing, and fun things to learn and do at the Korean cultural store. The only thing I didn’t see was a movie theater.
I spent the night in a hotel in Inchon. It was a more traditional South Korean establishment with slippers inside a vestibule leading to another door into the bedroom. Shopping around the hotel was not like the airport. I would have liked to explore Inchon and Soul but didn’t have the time. But what I saw was intriguing.
This morning I was greeted to a large market around the lake in Queenstown. Artisans brought their handicraft and the prices were much more reasonable for many of the same items I saw in stores throughout New Zealand. They also had unique items. It was quite fun looking at the wares and talking with the vendors. Later there was music in a grassy area where people were taking in the sun. A few other brave souls ventured into the lake swimming.
There was a hamburger place that was constantly busy called Ferberger. The burgers were good. They also had a bakery where the wares looked delicious. I had a beef and cheese pie. Meat pies are popular in New Zealand.
Today was my last full day in Queenstown. Tomorrow I begin my three day trek back home.
I cancelled the last two days of my hiking trip because of my sinus infection and stayed in Queenstown to recover. I have been on antibiotics and needed the rest. However, I couldn’t stay in my hotel room, as nice as it was for me. I walked around the town some more and the lake taking pictures and enjoying the warm weather, about 18C or 68F. I found a relatively old cemetery and took some pictures there. It was interesting to note that the European settlement of New Zealand was much later than that in the United States so the grave sites don’t go back much before the 1860’s.
Today we had the option of spending a free day in Queenstown or hiking. I was fighting a sinus infection so decided to skip the hike. It had rained the night before in Queenstown, but in the mountains it snowed leaving them speckled above a certain height, and this is their summer!
Queenstown is beautiful, vibrant, and full of young people. It seemed to be a significant crossroad for New Zealand’s South Island. The town has lots of restaurants, bars, and shops. With it nestled on Lake Wakatipu, there are many water activities and in the winter, snow skiing. I walked around the town most of the day then took a gondola midway up a mountain to catch the sunset. All was working well until clouds started coming in and blocked out the sun during the early stages of sunset. Oh well, the scenery was still beautiful.