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Christine's Grand Tour

This article was written by Christine Parker (#704)

My darling wife suggested that I have a two-week holiday in August 2014 as Christine and visit Adelaide and Melbourne to attend functions that the Carrousel Club (South Australia) and Seahorse Victoria were having, and then finish the vacation by attending our Seahorse Ball, of course.

The plan was that I would spend the whole time enfemme, with the exception of the flight from Newcastle to Adelaide. My wife worries that I might run into someone who we know at Newcastle Airport. This was a fair and minor concession, to which I agreed.

Day 1: Sunday 3rd August: Arrival in Adelaide.

I flew to Adelaide and booked in to a serviced apartment in Gouger Street in Adelaide. When I arrived, I mentioned to the receptionist that I would be dressing as a woman while there and wanted to forewarn her. "That's no problem", she said, "We have had a lot of cross-dressers stay here." I unpacked my things, got dressed as a woman and settled in for the evening, organising my clothes and accessories.

Day 2: Monday 4th August: Exploring Adelaide. Dinner with Carrousel Club members.

Up nice and early, I prepared to go out to explore Adelaide. It was quite chilly, so I wore leggings, knee-length boots, a black mid-length skirt, a black top and a casual jacket.

I walked down the street, through Chinatown, and then into the City. I found a nail salon and got my nails painted and eyebrows waxed and tinted. The young Vietnamese ladies were very friendly even though they quickly guessed that I was a cross-dresser. I can never get my nails looking as nice as the professionals do it. Next, I had lunch and wandered around the shops. I was browsing in DJ's, when a woman came up to me and asked me for my opinion about a pair of sunglasses that she was thinking of buying. I had to use my best girl voice and said I thought that they looked good on her. She thanked me.

I walked down to the River Torrens to the Playhouse Theatre and booked a ticket for "The Importance of Being Earnest" by Oscar Wilde on Wednesday evening. I stopped at a cafe for coffee and cake before heading back to the apartments, stopping at Coles to buy some provisions.

In the evening, I got changed into a nice dress to go out to dinner at a nearby pub where the members of the Carrousel Club meet each month. Our President, Dana, was also in Adelaide and attended, too. There were about eight of their members present and we had a pleasant evening comparing notes about our organisations and experiences. They are a smaller group than NSW, but seem quite well organised.

Day 3: Tuesday 5th August: Shopping in Adelaide.

I decided to walk into town again, this time more casually dressed, in jeans, a top and cardigan, wearing flat shoes as my feet were a bit sore after walking several kilometres in boots the day before. I went back into the CBD. I bought a nice figure-hugging dress at K-Mart for just $25. I tried on a size 18 and it was too big! They had one size 16 left and it fitted perfectly. And to think I started off as a size 22 when I joined Seahorse in 2007 and was so limited in my choice of nice clothes. I have come a long way in those seven years, losing 20kgs and acquiring the skills to develop a more realistic female appearance, mannerisms, gait and voice.

Back in the apartment, I had a relaxed afternoon. I dropped into the pub just down the street and had a couple of glasses of white wine in the Ladies Lounge, then back to the apartment for a quiet night-in.

Day 4: Wednesday 6th August: Night at the theatre.

I headed into town to buy some cheap jewelry that would go with my blue dress, which I would be wearing to the Ball. I got chatting to the pleasant shop assistant and told her about the Seahorse Ball. She told me that she had the occasional nervous cross-dresser come into the shop, but no one as open and self-confident as I was.

Back at the apartment, I chatted with the young receptionist and told her about Seahorse and she was quite fascinated. I then got ready to go out to the theatre to see The Importance of Being Ernest by Oscar Wilde. I wore a really nice silver and black top with a mid-length black skirt. I was perfectly dressed for the theatre, and better dressed than some of the women there.

The play was great, very humorous; Wilde at his wittiest best. At one point, I laughed a little too loudly, which must have sounded distinctly masculine, as the woman next to me visibly froze. Whoops! I got a cab back to the apartment and chatted with the receptionist who had got me to promise to tell her all about the play. While I was away, she had done a Google search for "Seahorse Society" and found lots of photos from the website, and Ball photos that other girls had posted on social media.

Back at the apartment, I finished packing before bed as I had a fairly early flight to Melbourne in the morning.

Day 5: Thursday 7th August: My first flight as a woman.

Up early, I was ready to go before 8 o'clock. I booked out of the apartments ready for my first time on a plane as a woman.

While waiting in the queue to book in, a mature man just behind me started chatting to me, starting with complimenting me on my clothes. I did not get scared; I just smiled and thanked him. We ended up talking for about 10 minutes and I was unsure whether he picked me as a cross-dresser or not. He was not flirting with me; he was just a friendly, chatty sort of guy.

Once inside the departure lounge, I had a coffee and was soon on board the plane on my way to Melbourne. The whole experience was quite exciting and easy, even though my ticket was booked in my male name.

I booked into a hotel in Little Collins Street in Melbourne's CBD. The woman on reception, when she saw my male name on the booking, was decidedly cool towards me, the first even mildly negative reaction that I had received. I quickly put that behind me.

My room was not ready so I went for a walk and got totally lost. People say Melbourne CBD is easy to navigate because it is a grid, but I always get disoriented there, not knowing if I am walking north or south, east or west. I also got the name of the street wrong, but I eventually found my way back to the hotel and unpacked, freshened up, getting into all-black clothes to fit in with the locals. I headed out, for a quick meal and a couple of purchases.

Day 6: Friday 8th August: Exploring Melbourne.

This was a sightseeing day in Melbourne. I decided to wear my new figure-hugging knee-length dress with a black woollen coat.

After some brunch, I headed off to the National Gallery of Victoria, where there was an exhibition of Italian Masters from the Prado in Madrid. Back in town, I visited DJ's and Myers that are in a huge shopping centre where I bought a pair of woollen gloves, the one female accessory that I did not own, but needed for the Melbourne winter.

Next was a visit to the Tourist Information Centre to get details about what was on in Melbourne, followed by a visit to the Ian Potter Centre to view an exhibition of 1950's Australian furniture, which brought back memories of my childhood.

I finished the day at Melbourne's regular Friday Night Winter Fireworks display. Again, I got a bit disorientated and started off in the wrong direction, but my iPhone got me back on track arriving just as the fireworks began.

Day 7: Saturday 9th August: Seahorse Victoria Meeting.

I dressed in skinny jeans and a casual jacket. All the women were dressed in a similar style; all the dresses and skirts of the weekdays were noticeable by their absence. I got it right, again! Despite wearing sensible shoes with stockings, my feet were beginning to get quite sore from walking quite long distances, so I bought some band-aids to try and protect them from further damage.

I did a bit more sightseeing in Melbourne, including a walk along the Yarra River. A tourist couple asked me to take a photo of them, which I did quite happily. I returned to the hotel and relaxed for the afternoon.

That evening, I attended the Seahorse Victoria meeting at Ashburton. I had a very pleasant evening and got to talk with many of their members, including their President, Greer. The meeting featured a fashion parade. It felt very much like our own meetings, a good mix of older members and younger ones. I met two people who ran trans-friendly businesses and promised to put their details on the Resources Section of our website. The meeting room is in a newly built library, a bit smaller area than our own, but very modern and well appointed.

After the meeting, two of their members took me out to a T-friendly club for a few drinks and a bit of dancing. I got to bed very late and had a sleep in.

Day 8: Sunday 10th August: A Day of Rest

Today marked a full week as a woman away from home.

It was a quiet day, with nothing planned. I went out casually dressed, had a light lunch, and did some window-shopping.

I did a load of washing in the hotel's laundry and had a quiet night in.

Day 9: Monday 11th August: Museum and a night out.

I went to the Victorian Museum where they had two interesting displays: one about the history of Melbourne and one called "The Original Australians" about our indigenous peoples.

The shoes that I was wearing had low heels, but a bit too narrow for my feet, and I ended up with very sore feet.

In the evening I took a cab to a Seahorse member's house at Kew, and I went out with her and her partner to a nice Italian restaurant and had a very pleasant evening.

Day 10: Tuesday 12th August: A quiet day.

I did another load of washing and got into a conversation with a woman about the trials and tribulations of using hotel laundries. I went out and was very casually dressed today, jeans, a top, a jacket and joggers (male ones, but comfortable at last!).

I went for a long walk on the south side of the Yarra, had a late lunch, and re-visited the Art Gallery, but the main areas were not open, except for the William Blake exhibition. No sore feet at least!

Day 11 Wednesday 13th August: Last Day in Melbourne.

Up early, I had breakfast in the hotel's breakfast room with other guests. I went out and had my nails done as they were a bit chipped. I then walked back to the Art Gallery, knowing that all the displays would be open today.

I was dressed in a black pencil skirt and a snug-fitting new grey jumper. I looked very curvy! After a quick meal out, I stayed in for the night to get my bags packed for my flight to Sydney the next day.

Day 12: Thursday 14th August: Flight to Sydney.

I was up early for my flight to Sydney. I now felt like an experienced flyer. I booked into the Mercure Sydney Airport Hotel and settled in. The gentleman on reception looked puzzled when he saw my male name and asked if that was me. I said, "Yes, it is. I will be staying here for the Seahorse Ball." When he asked whether I had stayed here before, I told him this was my 8th Seahorse Ball.

I had lunch, and then unpacked. I went for a walk in the surrounding streets and a park adjacent to the Cooks River, before returning to the hotel.

I planned to have dinner and a drink on my own, thinking that I would be the only crossdresser to have arrived so early. However, as soon as I got downstairs, Sharon from Adelaide spotted me and I had a drink with her and a friend in the bar. Donna, a brand new Seahorse member who was in boy-mode, soon joined us. After a couple of drinks, we had dinner with another crossdresser and delightful wife (their club's partners support person) from South Australia.

Day 13: Friday 15th August: Lunch with Jan and dinner at the Mecure.

I had a lunch with my dear friend, Jan, at the Boatshed, a very nice seafood restaurant on the shore of Walsh Bay where we had been a couple of years ago, one Mardi Gras weekend.

The Friday dinner was at the Mercure was well attended.

I met up with one of our newest members, Janene from New Zealand, who I had offered to take under my wing, as this was her first-ever night out. We have a duty to look after our new members and make their first public experience as a woman less daunting. We had a good crowd at dinner and drinks in the bar, catching up with old friends and meeting new ones.

Day 14: Saturday 16th August: The Ball.

I was up early for an appointment with my hairdresser in Newtown. Mel has done my hair for most of the previous Balls that I have attended. Janene and my long-time friend, Patricia, came along me for a morning out including a little shopping. Mel did her usual beautiful job styling my hair. She also talked me into wearing false eyelashes, which looked great. Janene impressed me with how relaxed she was on her first time out in the big city.

The Seahorse Ball was, again, a great success. It is always great catching up with old friends and meeting new people. The entertainment and atmosphere was very good again this year. I was one of the last out of the Bar at 3am.

Day 15: Sunday 17th August: Resturning home

After breakfast, I headed home, getting a lift with Susan and Sandra, who got to meet our Newfoundland dogs and Rag Doll cats. At 5pm, I celebrated a full two weeks dressed as a woman.

The two weeks away as a woman was a great success for me and I felt happy and comfortable in myself the whole time. Peoples' acceptance was generally very good. Overall, I had a wonderful time.

Future holidays?

My wife has suggested that I should have a "Christine holiday" every year. She did not have to try too hard to talk me into agreeing to that! The next trip is already in the planning stages. Next time, it would be a driving trip and would include a visit to Coffs Harbour, a visit to my brother and his wife who lives near Nimbin and have met me as Christine back in 2007, then on to Brisbane, to hopefully meet up with the girls from Seahorse Queensland.

Click for bigger photo.

Day 1: First night, settling into the apartment.

Day 3: Adelaide street corner, near the apartments

Day 4: In the foyer of the theatre.

Day 5: Dressed ready for my first flight as a woman.

Day 6: Polar bear made of coloured feathers at the Victorian Gallery.

Day 8: Laundry Day.

Day 9: Melbourne Exhibition Hall.

Day 10: Modern Sculpture.

Day 11: Looking curvy in a new charcoal-grey wool top with pencil skirt.

Day 14: At the Ball.

Click for bigger photo.

Day 2: Adelaide skyline on a sunny day.

.Day 4: Dressed up, just about to leave for the theatre.

Day 5: Adelaide Airport departure lounge, ready for my first flight.

Day 5: On my first flight.

Day 7: Casual Saturday clothes

Day 9: Outside the Museum

Day 9: Dinner with Kathy at an Italian restaurant.

Day 10: More feather Bears at the Art Gallery.

Day 12: Lunch at the Mercure.

Day 14: What I wore to the Seahorse Ball.

Some practical tips and safety advice for undertaking a holiday as a woman.

Do not pack too many clothes.
I took clothes with me that I never ended up wearing. Take a mixture of your favourite casual and dressy clothes. Take items that you can mix and match. I over-packed and would be more selective next time.

You have to manage your feet.
There is no point in ending up with blistered feet on Day One. Wear sensible shoes (flats or low heels) with foot or full stockings to reduce friction, if you are out walking any sort of great distance. I walked several kilometers each day, and, even with this care, I still got sore feet, but no blisters. I took one pair of good high heels for the Ball.

Wear something between your breast-forms and your chest.
This will avoid chafing. I wore a Genie Bra and an ordinary under-wire bra with the forms between them. I wore my forms 24/7 without problems.

A girl must smell good.
Wearing a padded girdle for 16 hours a day (especially with pantyhose) and out walking a lot, it gets a bit smelly and needs to be washed very regularly. Shower morning and night and wear fresh panties each time. A little perfume goes a long way, but do not overdo it.

Dress as other women of your age would in the same circumstances.
Look at what other women are wearing. Aim to blend in, not to stand out. To be honest, I do tend to dress a bit younger than my 66 years, but I never wear a skirt or dress above my knees.

Be honest.
In the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln:

"You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time."

In other words, do not try to convince people that you are a real woman if you get into anything more than a superficial interaction with them. Most people are interested and accepting if you are open and honest with them.

Do not speak in a squeaky falsetto:
This sounds just plain weird. Speak in a slightly higher register with more inflection; speak politely and in a friendly manner, always with "please" and "thank you", and always with a smile.

Feel proud to be a cross-dresser.
I am proud that I am a cross-dresser, but it took me a while for me to reach that level of self-acceptance. Looking furtive and anxious will actually draw more attention to you, and will not get a good reaction from others. The more relaxed that you are with yourself; the more accepting others will be of you. We are special and many people will consider us very brave to go out in public dressed as a woman. However, expect the occasional negative reaction. Not everyone has empathy for us, especially some men and older women, who may see us as quite weird or even perverted.

Do not get intoxicated or drug-affected.
Doing this may make you throwing caution to the winds and may lead you into unsafe situations. At the very least, it is simply unattractive.

Walk in busy open places, especially at night.
Most people are too busy with their own lives to take notice of you and are less likely to become abusive in front of other people. Drunks and groups of teenagers are the exceptions, however. Avoid them like the Plague. Young children may pick you and innocently make a loud remark, like: "Mummy, is that a boy or a girl?", or worse: "Why is that man wearing a dress?" On this trip, one little boy ran up to me and said to me: "You're tall!" I just smiled and replied, "Yes, I am".

Behave like a lady.
Yes, that sounds a bit old-fashioned, but it works. Walk with dignity and your head held high. Greet people in a friendly manner with a smile. Politeness works wonders. When eating in public, have good table manners: take small mouthfuls, chew your food more slowly with your mouth closed, and rest your cutlery down while chewing. Sip your drinks and use a straw so not to mess your lipstick. Sit with your knees together or your legs crossed. Do not talk loudly in a masculine voice.

Keep your makeup lighter and more subtle in the daytime.
Bright eyeshadow, false eyelashes and bright red lipstick are for evenings, not for day-time shopping.

Practice makes perfect.
You will need plenty of practice going out in public before attempting a trip like this one.
My first big trip (on a 3-day ocean cruise in July 2010) came after more than three years of regular public cross-dressing, a minimum of two or three times a month.

Oh, by the way, you will all be pleased to know that I stopped smoking a week prior to the trip and did not give into temptation while I was away (or since).

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