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This page was last updated 16 December 2000.

Melbourne Shopping Spree 2000
Crown Casino 2000
A Hydromajestic Weekend 2000
Another Very Disney Christmas 1998/99
Fiji 1998
Houseboat 1998
Gold Coast 1998
A Disneyland Escape (plus Fiji) 1997
A Very Disney Christmas 1996/97
U.S. Tour 1995
A Theme Park Odyssey 1994
Port Douglas FNQ 1993

THE IANS AND THE IPAVIZES ON TOUR 2000: MELBOURNE SHOPPING SPREE

Originally planned as a getaway from the Sydney Olympics (which, as it turned out, it wasn't necessary to get away from them at all), in September we travelled to Melbourne with our friends Roger and Marina for a quick trip to Melbourne to "go shopping". This trip we stayed at Rockman's Regency, which once upon a time was the hotel of choice for visiting celebrities.

We spent much of Saturday trawling up and down Chapel Street, Prahran, visiting cloths shops, second hand stalls and pawn shops (that's "pawn", not "porn"). Surprisingly, since it was Marina's idea to go to Melbourne shopping, she didn't buy a thing on Saturday, while the boys all returned to the hotel laden down with too much stuff!

Saturday night we met up with some friends of Roger and Marina's and had dinner in a fabulous Italian restaurant in Lygon Street, Carlton. After dinner we adjourned to the Crown Casino for some drinks and a bit of gambling.

Sunday we trouped off to Bridge Street Richmond where Marina made up for Saturday's lack of shopping at the many, many women's clothing outlet stores lining the street. The boys, meanwhile, got to follow her in and out of shop after shop after shop.

We got the funniest reactions from so many locals when we mentioned that we were from Sydney - they thought we should either be at the games or were sensible to be avoiding it all. As it was, the following Monday it turned out we were going to see the same Olympics session (separately).

THE IANS ON TOUR 2000: CROWN CASINO

In August 2000 Ian M changed jobs, and to celebrate we visited Melbourne, Victoria for a few days, staying at the Crown complex. The Crown complex is simply huge, with the biggest casino in Australia, many restaurants, a shopping arcade, multiscreen cinema complex and much more! Who needs to leave?

We stayed in a "deluxe suite" in the Crown Towers, overlooking the city of Melbourne, which was absolutely exquisite - a huge loungeroom, with separate bedroom and a spa in the bathroom.

It was another one of those "do nothing much" trips - we spent most of our time in the casino complex, either playing the machines or the big wheel, or just taking it all in. We also enjoyed dinner one night in one of the many restaurants with Melbourne friends David and Manuel.

The only time that Ian M left the building was to catch the taxi back to the airport 3 days after we arrived.

THE IANS ON TOUR 2000: A HYDROMAJESTIC WEEKEND

Looking for a quick, relaxing weekend away, we visited the gorgeous Hydromajestic Hotel in the Blue Mountains, outside of Sydney, in July. The hotel was originally built in the early 20th century as a health spa, but in later years fell into disrepair until a major renovation in the 1990s, which returned it to its original glory.

We arrived on the Friday afternoon by train, and after checking in investigated the hotel before settling into the Hydro Lounge for a couple of drinks before dinner. Dinner in the restaurant was absolutely superb, and followed by a few after dinner drinks back in the Hydro Lounge.

On Saturday after breakfast we took a short guided tour of the hotel and learned some of the history of the hotel and the region. After the tour we wandered around the grounds before settling down for the rest of the day in the Hydro Lounge, reading the newspaper and books and generally relaxing for the day in front of the huge open fire.

After another exquisite dinner it was back to the Hydro Lounge for after dinner drinks before bed.

On Sunday the weekend was over too soon, and it was time to return home on the train.

THE IANS ON TOUR 1998/99: ANOTHER VERY DISNEY CHRISTMAS

Well so much for the little holiday philosophy.  After much deliberation, we decided to head to Walt Disney World for Christmas.  And just like every trip we plan, it turned into a bigger than Ben-Hur production.

So on December 14th 1998, we once again boarded a United Airlines 747-400 Jumbo Jet bound for Los Angeles.  While in LA, we met up with an e-mail friend of Ian C's, Merrick Wolfe.  Merrick, who at the time was contracting for Disney, got us into the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, which are not open to the public.  We spent hours just wandering around taking it all in.  We also made a brief visit to Disneyland, mainly to check out the new Tomorrowland.  Its all very nice but unfortunately the Rocket Rods were STILL not working.  We hung around quite a bit with Merrick in LA.  We would also like to thank Rod, Brady, Fred and Ryan for making us feel welcome.  A place takes on a whole new feel when you know people there.   (Ian M still finds LA a very daunting city.)

Then it was off to Las Vegas where we once again stayed at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.  The renovations are very nice but they've taken away most of the Wizard of Oz design so now it looks like just another big casino.  While in Las Vegas, we checked out the New York New York Hotel and Casino, the new Bellagio Resort and Casino as well as taking in many of the other Hotels and Casinos.  We also toured the Liberace Museum.  A very tasteful exhibit.

Next it was off to Walt Disney World.  No matter how many times we go there, it is still fun.  Since our last visit, they've opened Animal Kingdom and Westside at Downtown Disney.  Lots of new restaurants and shops in a very subtle Disney theme.  Because we saw so many hotels and did all the theme parks last visit, this visit was much more laid back.  We caught up with another of Ian C's e-mail friends Rob and boyfriend Max.  This time we spent New Years Eve at the Disney MGM Studios.  A very long day but a lot of fun.  They had on stage Bobby Sherman, Davey Jones and Peter Noone, an entertaining show.  At midnight they had one of (if not the biggest) fireworks shows we've ever seen as well as balloons and streamers and confetti on the street.

After our full two weeks at Disney World, it was off to San Francisco. Another of our favourite desitinatoins. As always, we visited some of our favourite sites, including Fishermans Wharf .There we met up with another of Ian C's e-mail friends, Pablo and his partner Troy. They live in a gorgeous Victorian mansion that had been converted into apartments.

Our new friend from LA, Merrick, drove up from LA to join us on our last day in San Francisco, and the States, and took us on his own little tour of the city. We visited the Castro district and Merrick took us to lunch at a little out-of-the-way place that we never would have found on our own. Pablo and Troy also joined us later on, so we had a few farewell drinks with them in a small but popular bar before it was time to head back to the hotel to pack and head off to the airport for that long flight home.

Photos from this trip will be coming soon.

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THE IANS ON TOUR 1998: FIJI

As part of our little holiday philosophy for the year, we planned another trip to Fiji in April 1998.  A pivotal fact in this decision was that Air Pacific gave us free return flights to Nadi because of the stuff-up on our previous trip.   We stayed again at the Hideaway Resort on the Coral Coast on the island of Viti Levu.

We mostly just sat around the pool The delightful pool area, the bar Ian C relaxing at the bar and our room Our lovely room having a thoroughly relaxing time.  We indulged in a few of the activities in the resort: Kava ceremony, mountain walk and fire walking demonstration. We did leave the resort to go on the Coral Coast Scenic Railway Ian M on the train out to Natadola Beach and on another day we visited the capital of Fiji, Suva Ian C in Suva.   Suva was a little less than we expected.

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THE IANS ON TOUR 1998: HOUSEBOAT

Doing our best Cary Grant and Sophia Loren, we tried a houseboat holiday on the Myall Lakes on the mid north coast of New South Wales in March The houseboat.  It was very rustic and charming, but a girl can only take so much of this rural atmosphere See the pretty atmosphere.   This was an experience that reinforced the rules:  If you can't plug in a hairdryer, flush the toilet or have to get dressed to take a pee in the middle of the night, DON'T DO IT!  Enough said me thinks.

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THE IANS ON TOUR 1998: GOLD COAST

After reassessing our finances and the plunging Pacific Peso (Australian Dollar), we opted for some little holidays this year rather than our usual overseas junkets.  Little did we know what time would bring.

So off we flew for a LONG weekend away in February to the glorious Gold Coast in Queensland.  Staying at the Crown Towers Resort, we did our usual thing of cramming as many theme parks into a couple of days as we could.

Day one at Warner Bros Movie World The Ians in the gravity shack was exactly what we expected.  A few new attractions since we were there last but mainly for the rugrats amongst us.  There was however a new Marvin the Martian movie in 3D Marvin the Martian movie theatre.  This movie is worth going to see.  Combine this with all the attractions and it's money well spent.

Feeling a little frazzled from all that walking at Movie World, day two saw us at Dreamworld Ian C at Dreamworld.  Some fun thrill rides including the new Tower of Terror The Tower of Terror.  0 - 160 kilometres per hour in 7 seconds, then you go vertical!  Not on a full stomach.  Not to forget the Wipeout, a thrill ride that has to be experienced to be believed as it twirls and twists to thrust you every way it can.  One suggestion for the management is that they do some overdue maintenance on their older roller coaster, the Thunderbolt - it is getting very jarring.

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THE IANS ON TOUR 1997: A DISNEYLAND ESCAPE (PLUS FIJI)

Feeling a bit spontaneous, in August we decided to take advantage of an advertised cheap fare and take off for 11 days to one of our favourite places that we'd visited before plus somewhere that was new to the both of us.

We soon learned why it was so cheap: Air Pacific is not the most efficient airline in the world. Due to a number of circumstances a 3 hour stopover in Fiji on the way to LA became a 14 hour one, but we were eventually put up in a very nice hotel, the Warwick. Due to the hold up we finally arrived in Los Angeles on the Sunday morning, rather than the Saturday afternoon as we'd planned.

Disney junkies that we are, we rested briefly in our hotel, the Ramada Limited (not the best hotel in Anaheim), we headed off to Disneyland for the first of our four very full days there Ian C with floral Mickey display. In those four days we did almost every attraction, but for some obscure reason we missed Tom Sawyer Island again.

As always Disneyland was fabulous, though it's damned hot in LA in August! No new rides since the last visit, though Tomorrowland is being completely redone, so some attractions weren't open. There were also several new shows and parades since our last visit, including the Spirit of Pocahontas show, the fabulous Hunchback of Notre Dame Festival of Fools Hunchback Festival of Fools, and the Hercules Victory Parade. Sadly, the new nighttime "streetacular" Light Magic was a disappointment, and in our opinion not a good replacement for the Main Street Electrical Parade.

Another highlight of Disneyland: while waiting in queue for the Indiana Jones Adventure the ride broke down, and we finally got one of those vouchers entitling us to go on any ride at anytime, bypassing the queue Ian M with that special ticket! Of course we used it for Indy when the ride was up and running again.

While in LA we also visited Universal Studios Hollywood again. This time we had a lot longer than our previous visit, so we got to see more attractions than we did in '95. The new Jurassic Park ride was definitely worth the long trip from Anaheim The Ians on Jurassic Park - The Ride!

After a quick 5 days in LA, it was off to Fiji for 3 days of relaxing. We stayed at the Hideaway Resort on the main island of Viti Levu. It was a great place to stay for a couple of people who didn't want to do anything more strenuous than sit by the pool drinking Fiji Bitter Ian C with a Fiji Bitter, or dance the night away Ian C in the conga line. A beautiful oceanside setting, and a friendly atmosphere created by both staff and other guests. We hope to return here next time we need a relaxing recharge-the-batteries type holiday Ian M relaxing outside our bure.

Aside from the troubles with the airline, it was a fun, fast holiday, and broke up a long and lousy year.

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THE IANS’ U.S. TOUR 1996/97: A VERY DISNEY CHRISTMAS

For our second trip to the United States we decided to have a leisurely 2 weeks over Christmas and New Years at Walt Disney World in Florida. This of course grew to a 3 week trip, taking in a few places that we visited last time, but wanted to return to.

First stop this trip was San Francisco again, but only for a 1 night stopover. We did have time to go down to Castro Street, to visit Hello Gorgeous!, the museum, store and general shrine to Barbra Streisand, where one of us went berserk on the Amex card! We also made it to Fisherman’s Wharf for dinner at Neptune’s Palace at the far end of Pier 39.

Next day it was off to Las Vegas again, for 5 days this time, so we could finally see more of the city (and more of the casinos). A lot had changed since our previous visit only 20 months earlier. Where there had been a vacant lot across the road from the MGM Grand (which was also undergoing major transformations) was now the Monte Carlo Casino, which had recently opened, and New York New York Hotel and Casino which didn’t open until January 1997, so we missed it. Also under construction in the vicinity was the World of Coca-Cola Las Vegas in the new Showcase, scheduled to open Spring 1997, and the Luxor was also building 2 new towers.

This trip we got to visit most of the casinos in Las Vegas. The newer ones were all large, light and opulent. Many of the older ones were dark and dingy, though some were very impressive, particularly Caesar’s Palace. The old casinos in downtown Las Vegas were interesting historically, but not as nice as the new giant hotels on the Las Vegas Strip. Some of them were downright tacky!

Again, we visited MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park, which had changed a bit since our last visit. A new ride had been added, the SkyScreamer! A giant arch (20 stories high?) with wire ropes strung between. They attach you to the wire ropes, then you’re dragged up a tower behind the arch, release yourself and fly! (it’s something that can’t really be described in words). You swing through the arch and out the other side, then keep swinging until air resistance finally slows you down and brings you to a halt. Outstanding!

We also visited the new Stratosphere Tower on the Strip, "the tallest tower west of the Mississippi". On top of the tower are the High Roller roller coaster (unbelievably fun) and the Big Shot, a catapult-type ride that shoots you straight up (very scary!) The Ians ride the Big Shot!. Amazing views of Las Vegas and surrounds from the tower. Another highlight was our nighttime helicopter flight over Las Vegas. You get a really good view of all the lights from the air. We even flew directly through the spotlight on top of the Luxor!

After 5 fun filled days in Las Vegas, it was on to the main attraction of this trip: two weeks at Walt Disney World for Christmas! 1996 was the 25th Anniversary of the opening of WDW, so Cinderella's Castle in the Magic Kingdom has been transformed into a giant birthday cake Cinderella's castle as a birthday cake. Again, we stayed at Dixie Landings (because of it’s great location and we knew how good the hotel was). This time however we had enough time to see almost everything in WDW Ian C hamming it up. We visited the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney-MGM Studios many times each. We started our Christmas Day at the Magic Kingdom, but it was getting too crowded and congested so we went to Epcot for Christmas Lunch. New Year’s Eve we spent the day touring around, but we did manage to visit all 3 parks in that one day. We spent the evening back in the bar at Dixie Landings, because ALL the parks were too full that night! Token sighting of an Australian celebrity: former politician Ralph Willis in the queue for The ExtraTerrorExtrial Alien Encounter in Tommorrowland, Magic Kingdom.

We also toured all over the WDW property, visiting most of the hotels on site, as well as Disney Village Marketplace (lots of specialty stores, including many Disney stores) and Pleasure Island, the nighttime adults precinct of nightclubs and restaurants. One night we went to the world famous Polynesian Luau The Ians at the Polynesian Luau at the Polynesian Resort. Token sighting of a real celebrity: entertainer Margarita Pracatan in a bar in the Yacht Club Resort near Epcot. We also spent one morning on the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake in hired water sprites, which was loads of fun! December and January in Florida can be surprisingly warm. To commemorate our visit we purchased a 25th Anniversary paving stone in Disney's "Walk Around The World", a pathway which will eventually encircle the Seven Seas Lagoon Our brick on the walk.

We spent one day at Universal Studios Florida, which was a mistake. We must have gone on the busiest day of the year. We spent at least two thirds of the day standing in queues. They did have some excellent attractions, but the crowds, the queues and the attitude of the staff somewhat spoiled the day, especially compared to the treatment of guests at Walt Disney World.

After spending a fun-filled 2 weeks at Walt Disney World, it was sadly time to go home, but of course being on the far side of America from home it was never going to be easy. We left Orlando around the middle of the day, travelled to Chicago where we had about 3 hours to kill (in that gigantic airport), then on to Los Angeles where we had to run from one terminal to another (through a construction zone) to make our connecting flight back to Sydney. Never again!

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THE IANS’ U.S. TOUR 1995

In March and April 1995 we made our first big overseas trip to the United States. After a night spent at the Renaissance Hotel at Los Angeles Airport, it was onto New York for the first official part of our trip. We crammed as much into 5 days in New York as was humanly possible. We stayed at the Best Western President Hotel on West 48th Street, just near Times Square. We made it to all the major attractions, the Empire State Building Ian M on top of the Empire State Building, World Trade Center Ian C looking cold on the World Trade Cente, Times Square, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Tiffany’s, F.A.O. Schwarz, Coca-Cola Fifth Avenue, the Dakota building, the list could go on for days. We also got to see two Broadway shows, ‘Kiss Of The Spider Woman’ with Maria Conchita Alonzo, and ‘Sunset Boulevard’ starring the wonderful Ms Glenn Close. Unfortunately we missed out on seeing the Late Show with David Letterman, but we did meet Sirajul Ian C with Sirajul! We love NY and hope to return one day.

Next stop on our tour was Walt Disney World, near Orlando, Florida. We stayed at Dixie Landings Resort, which is in the centre of the Disney property. We managed to spend time in the 3 major theme parks, the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney-MGM Studios The Ians at the Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater Restaurant, but didn’t have a lot of time to see what else WDW had to offer, which led to our decision to return in 1996.

Third leg of the tour took us to Atlanta. Whether it was because of the construction for the Olympics, or whether it was because the Grateful Dead were in town, we don’t know, but Atlanta was a pretty horrible place. The city was pretty grimy, and there were beggars and street people seemingly everywhere demanding money. We did however enjoy the CNN Studio Tour, which was fascinating (and we also saw Ted Turner in the lobby of the CNN building!). Our main purpose for visiting Atlanta was to go to the World Of Coca-Cola, the gigantic shrine to the world’s greatest soft drink. A must for all Coke-aholics. Three floors of historical memorabilia, a tasting room where you can taste all the drinks made by The Coca-Cola Company, and a giant store where you can wear yourself out buying souvenirs of your visit, all bearing the Coca-Cola logo of course Ian C at Coca-Cola Place, Atlanta. We also enjoyed a few drinks and a meal in Underground Atlanta, a tourist precinct in the old buildings on top of which the modern city is built. It was the only other part of Atlanta that we enjoyed.

Next stop was San Francisco. What a beautiful city. We stayed at the Fitzgerald Hotel, a lovely boutique hotel 2 blocks from Union Square. In 4 days we managed to see a lot of San Francisco, but it didn’t stop us returning (briefly) in 1996. While there we visited many of the major attractions, including Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 39, Alcatraz Island, Mission Delores, Chinatown, the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park, Cliff House, Union Square, the Embarcadero Center, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. We rode the cable cars everywhere that we could, and also visited the Cable Car Barn and Museum. We rode the BART under the bay to Berkeley, and also made a visit to Castro Street, the gay heart of San Francisco.

Then it was on to Las Vegas. We only had 3 days to spend in LV, so we didn’t get a lot of time to see much. Of course we had to stay at the MGM Grand Hotel, Casino & Theme Park, because it’s the largest hotel in the world with 5,005 rooms! We also visited the Grand Canyon, which was awesome but our trip there was an ongoing disaster (never go by Scenic Airlines). We spent another of our days at the MGM Grand Adventures Theme Park. It’s not very big, but they have some good rides and attractions, and we had a fun day. In Las Vegas we managed to see a few shows. We saw an impersonators show at the Luxor, which had other people performing as Elvis, the Blues Brothers, Reba McIntire and many others. We visited the Comedy Lounge at the MGM Grand. And we saw Debbie Reynolds performing at her own hotel and casino, after which we met the star herself for autographs and photos The Ians with Miss Debbie Reynolds. What a gracious lady she was. We also visited her Hollywood Museum in the hotel, filled with Debbie’s own collection of memorabilia from Hollywood’s long history of movie making.

Next to last stop was Los Angeles. We have mixed opinions on LA. It was OK, but a lot scarier than we thought even New York would be. And it’s so huge and sprawling! No wonder everyone drives, you can’t get anywhere otherwise! We stayed at the Ramada Inn in West Hollywood, which was an interesting area to stay in LA, with many good restaurants, bars and nightclubs. We saw many major sights, taking tour buses all over the place. We did two different movie stars homes tours (by accident), and also visited Downtown LA, including the original Spanish settlement; Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Marina Del Ray, Venice Beach, almost to Malibu where we went to the J. Paul Getty Museum, and the famous Beverly Center. We also went to Universal Studios Hollywood, but unfortunately only got to spend 4 and a half hours there due to other tour arrangements. Still, we did the backlot tour and saw most of the main attractions there. One day we hope to get back there too.

The final stop of our tour was, of course, Disneyland in Anaheim. We stayed at the Howard Johnson Hotel just across Harbor Blvd from Disneyland. Our entry ticket gave us 5 days of unlimited entry into the park, but we wasted most of 1 of those days by going to Knott’s Berry Farm in nearby Buena Park. Five days of visiting Disneyland was just enough time to do the whole thing without rushing it. We got to ride and see almost every attraction, except for the ones that we chose to avoid on purpose. Token sighting of an Australian celebrity: singer Col Joye in The Disney Gallery in New Orleans Square.

We had hoped to visit the Queen Mary at Long Beach, but unfortunately we didn't get the time. Maybe next trip.

Our trip finally over, on our final day in America we had many hours to kill before our nighttime flight, so we went to the Santa Ana Marketplace shopping mall, hung around, bought the last of our American souvenirs, and sat in a bar for a while having a few drinks. Finally it was time to go back to the hotel, collect all our bags and head to the airport and home.

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THE IANS ON TOUR 1994: A THEME PARK ODYSSEY

Our second holiday was our theme park odyssey to the Gold Coast in the south-eastern corner of Queensland, Australia, in June 1994. We spent 5 days staying at Sea World Nara Resort, which included unlimited entry into the Sea World theme park. We also spent 1 very full day at Warner Bros Movie World (studios and theme park), and another full day at Dreamworld, a more general style of theme park. We spent some time poking around Surfer’s Paradise, and also caught up with an old school friend of one of us who now runs a seafood restaurant. Non-stop fun was had by all!

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THE IANS ON TOUR 1993: PORT DOUGLAS FNQ

Our first holiday together was to the tropical resort town of Port Douglas, north of Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia, in September 1993. We stayed at the Radisson Royal Palms Resort, which we highly recommend to anyone heading that way. We spent a glorious 5 days of rest and relaxation. We spent much of the time just lazing by the pool, with frequent visits to the pool bar! Other activities included visiting the nearby Rainforest Habitat, which is an enclosed rainforest refuge housing many endangered plants and animals; travelling in an old Army amphibious vehicle through a real rainforest; visiting the market town of Karanda and catching the scenic train back to Cairns; and taking a trip on a Chinese junk out to the Low Isles on the Great Barrier Reef, which included many activities in the water as well as on it!

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