Catch­ing up, Down Un­der: Friends re­unite dur­ing an ex­pan­sive trip to Tas­ma­nia.

The Washington Post Sunday - - TRAVEL - Our read­ers share tales of their ram­bles around the world.

Who: Paul (the au­thor) and Janet Lasky of Mont­gomery Vil­lage, Md.

Where, when, why: In early Jan­uary my wife and I boarded the Celebrity Sol­stice in Auck­land, New Zealand, for a two-week cruise to des­ti­na­tions in that coun­try’s North and South is­lands and, af­ter a rough cross­ing of the Tas­man Sea, to Ho­bart, Mel­bourne and Syd­ney in Aus­tralia. The ic­ing on our travel cake was the 12 days there­after spent in Ho­bart, Tas­ma­nia, with Aussie friends — Ber­wyn and Mar­ion Huett — and at their hol­i­day house in scenic Coles Bay.

High­lights and high points: New Zealand cer­tainly lives up to its pic­turesque rep­u­ta­tion: Auck­land’s har­bor hums as mul­ti­ple fer­ries stream to­ward beach and shop­ping des­ti­na­tions; the beaches of Tau­ranga and Mount Maun­ganui are golden and ex­pan­sive and match any­where; and the sounds at the tip of the South Is­land, couched be­tween cliffs, are jaw­drop­ping and dis­play na­ture at its best. Tas­ma­nia, the small­est of Aus­tralia’s states, fea­tures sheep farms ga­lore, winer­ies and spec­tac­u­lar scenery. The vast open-air mar­ket in Mel­bourne and the spec­tac­u­larly de­signed Syd­ney Opera House (where we at­tended “The Magic Flute”) are not to be missed.

Cul­tural con­nec­tion or dis­con­nect: The most mem­o­rable con­nec­tion was the 12 days spent with our friends. Par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive were our daily trips to his­toric vil­lages that could have been plucked from the English coun­try­side and bridges built by English con­victs ex­pelled from the mother­land dur­ing the early years of set­tle­ment. Liv­ing with our friends and ex­pe­ri­enc­ing what they ex­pe­ri­enced, we no longer felt like tourists. And while in Ho­bart, we — avid Washington sports fans — got a daily clinic in the game of cricket (al­ways on TV), which ex­cites fans there like base­ball and football do here.

Big­gest laugh or cry: While slowly cruis­ing through Mil­ford Sound late one af­ter­noon in the most re­mote reaches of New Zealand’s South Is­land, the ship’s cap­tain an­nounced, dur­ing a tor­ren­tial down­pour, that there was a life-threat­en­ing med­i­cal emer­gency on board in­volv­ing a mem­ber of the ship’s crew. The ship would need to stay put in the fjord to await the ar­rival of a pi­lot boat with med­i­cal staff to trans­port the crew­man to the hos­pi­tal. The ship main­tained its po­si­tion for more than six hours into the dark of a rainy night be­fore it was able to pro­ceed to Aus­tralia. We later learned that the crew mem­ber ul­ti­mately died. (An ar­ti­cle in a Ho­bart church bul­letin, later for­warded to us by our friends, de­scribed the ser­vice.)

How un­ex­pected: Two ex­pe­ri­ences come to mind: the first that Tas­ma­nia, which ap­pears as a dot on a global map, feels much larger in per­son. We drove for three hours from Ho­bart to Coles Bay and cov­ered only a small area of the state. The sec­ond is that the prac­tice of tip­ping for ser­vices ren­dered is frowned upon in New Zealand and Aus­tralia in restau­rants, taxis and in other sit­u­a­tions in which Amer­i­cans typ­i­cally tip. There, it is re­garded by many as a form of beg­ging. Min­i­mum wage in the lands Down Un­der far eclipses that paid in the States.

Fond­est me­mento or mem­ory: The first leg of our re­turn trip home was from Syd­ney to Los An­ge­les. Be­cause we crossed the in­ter­na­tional date line from west to east, and be­cause the flight was ap­prox­i­mately 13 hours, we ar­rived in Los An­ge­les “be­fore” we left Syd­ney. This was hard for my wife and me to wrap our heads around. We also ex­pe­ri­enced New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day 2015 on a most com­fort­able Air New Zealand flight from Los An­ge­les to Auck­land. To tell us about your own trip, go to wash­ing­ton­post.com/travel and fill out the What a Trip form with your fond­est mem­o­ries, finest mo­ments and fa­vorite photos.

JANET LASKY

Paul and Janet Lasky saw aMozart opera per­for­mance at the Syd­ney Opera House, seen above from a ferry. The cou­ple also cruised the stun­ning sounds of New Zealand, where na­ture gives its best show.

COUR­TESY OF PAUL AND JANET LASKY

From left: Ber­wyn Huett, Paul Lasky, Janet Lasky andMar­ion Huett in a har­bor of Ho­bart, Tas­ma­nia. The Laskys ven­tured to New Zealand and Aus­tralia for ad­ven­ture and to visit their Aussie friends.

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