Sydney Airport on arrival at 9 a.m. Australian time, after leaving the U.S. at 10:45 p.m. on Sunday, January 12, 2013. Arrived Tuesday, the 15th at about 9 am.

Drove for 3 and 1/2 hours to Chicago, then flew from Chicago to San Francisco for departure (4+ hours). Began trek to Australia (13 and 1/2 hours) and was happy to find out that I was on an aisle seat and there was nobody in the middle between me and a nice girl from Canada (Edmunton). I could not sleep and watched “Trouble with the Curve,” part of “The Words,” and lots of re-runs of “The Big Bang Theory” before landing in Sydney and going through customs.

Traveled approximately 7,500 miles and read a lot of magazines before going through customs.

Australian customs crowd,

Holiday Inn near the Rocks in Sydney,

Checked into Holiday Inn at the Rocks (Old Sydney) right across from where our cruise ship is docked at 10 a.m. Aussie time. (It was something like 7 p.m. our time, as they are 16 hours ahead of us.

The cruise ship (The Celebrity Solstice) is visible from our Holiday Inn window.

Here is a picture of our cruise ship from our Holiday Inn window. We move to the Celebrity Solstice tomorrow and begin sailing for Melbourne and New Zealand after that.

Stacey and Craig at Gigi’s our first night, for dinner.

Tonight, we had dinner with Stacey at a nice restaurant (Gigi’s), pizza and lasagna: bill $74. Gelato for dessert. Afterwards, we would go listen to some of Stacey’s flatmates playing at a local bar.

James Morrison on lead vocals, Miles Frasier (in Deere hat) on lead guitar.

Here are The Morrisons, all graduates of Sydney University in music, with Stacey sitting in on one song. Lead guitar Miles Frasier has on his John Deere hat, courtesy of Yours Truly.

Miles, up close and personal, sporting Moline’s Deere hat. The group sang “Sweet Home, Chicago” for Stacey.

I sent John Deere shirts, hats and memorabilia ahead to thank all of Stacey’s friends, especially the Frasiers who took her in for the holidays.

Jimmy on mandolin, Stacey (Wilson) and James (Morrison), aka “Morry.”

Stacey sat in on one of the songs, by invitation, with James Morrison, Jimmy, Ian (on bass) and Miles.

Downtown near our hotel in Sydney, Australia

Some random shots taken of buildings in the area.

I think this might be City Hall, but all I know for sure is that we are on George Street, near the docks, which is a very trendy, nice area of town. All of Stacey’s friends in Australia were very kind and nice to us (which is more than I can say for the one person I know in Australia) and we had a great evening hanging out with the extremely talented young musicians.

Downtown Sydney.

Tomorrow, to the ship.