Our final days in New Zealand were in the bustling city of Auckland. This was a stark contrast to days we spent walking along sheep-dotted hillsides throughout the country. Miley Cyrus was in town and we walked through crowds queuing for shows and even found the bingo night amongst the posh Wednesday night Auckland scene. We seized our last opportunity to try New Zealand’s ‘Burger Fuel;’ A fast food joint with grass-fed hormone-free beef that was absolutely delicious. As we ate we had front row seats to the awkward Auckland fashion show full of the misfortunate fashion-forward and the misguided youth harkening the past. A month ago we symbolically bound our souls as we conducted seven circles during our wedding ceremony. Nowadays we seem to think as one when we see something – or someone- funny we need not say anything out loud as we know what the other is thinking.

We did, however, discover the ‘Doofer.’ Amazing! It holds toppings in place and keeps your hands clean. This ingenious burger apparatus is bound to spread across the States like wildfire. See picture below.

It was bittersweet to drop off Kirby; Sad to say goodbye, but glad she’s in one piece. Next stop Sydney, and a continent to explore.

Arrive Australia, and in Sydney . . . Big lights, Big city. Easy public transit will take you anywhere you need to go. We took the train almost to the doorstep of one of the nicer hotels albeit in one of the nastier parts of town; Kings Cross. Once home to the wealthy Sydney aristocracy, “The Cross” gave way to boozy intellectuals and artists. During the Vietnam war the neighborhood’s fate was sealed as American sailors and heroin filled the streets and left their everlasting hedonistic flag in place. Currently in syndication – catch an episode of television’s Kings Cross ER for a look at the consequences.

When the sun comes up, the Cross has a different look. An alley we avoided after dark hosts a string of delightful cafes that served professional espresso drinks and scrumptious brekkie.

Our days in Sydney were long and active. Among other neighborhoods, we explored the Rocks, Circular Quay, and Darling Harbor. We had true-to-form pizza on the wharf and ice cream on the harbor ferry. An architectural delight, the Sydney Opera House deserves as much attention as it receives greeting the cruise boats as they pull into port.

The Sydney zoo was just mediocre – conveniently located and interestingly sprawled up and down a hill across the harbor. We did learn a bit about koalas and their threatened survival due to habitat destruction from deforestation and ‘diseases.’

As luck would have it, we stumbled onto the kick-off of Sydney’s Night Noodle Festival – a three-week festival of Asian food vendors complete with craft-brews, music, and dancing. Each evening we’d drag one another back up the final hill below the iconic Coca-Cola sign to arrive in Kings Cross.

With all the delights of a big city come it’s headaches as well. Enter VFS Global Kings – a third-party company contracted to perform services on behalf of the Indian Consulate. Pretty standard take-a-number-and-have-a-seat operation is no big deal, but the tourist visa application soon became the bane of our existence. In the most disgusting display of gross inefficiencies four times our applications required corrections and we were sent back to the drawing board to begin new applications online at computer kiosks set up in a ground-level bodega. If you include our applications attempted in the US and New Zealand, we filled out the applications online seven times. Oy vey!i