Sydney (Dec 29-31, 2002)

-- Los Angeles, Friday, December 27, 2002 --

17:41 - It's great to be in Los Angeles! I just swallowed the worst tap water I have ever encountered. :)Norm, Teri and I are at The Bridge - Cinema de Lux -- a little mall just north of LAX on Sepulveda Blvd. Earlier this afternoon, we ate here at Islands while waiting for the Qantas counter to open. We had arrived at the international terminal ten hours early with hopes of claiming our 747-400's emergency exit row, but it turns out that counters don't open until a few hours before a flight. It also turns out that if a flight is a connecting flight, the seats in the emergency exit row are not released at stop-over points unless the passengers in those seats disembark. It looks like Norm's knees will be pressed up against the seat in front of him for the entirety of the fifteen hour flight.

21:57 - Teri is sitting on the ground, typing away on her computer. She's sending e-mails. Isn't technology grand? It's an hour or so before we board, and no Qantas personnel have arrived to man Gate 120 yet. We ended up seeing Catch Me If You Can at the mall, and despite my expectations of mediocrity at the hands of Leonardo di Caprio, both he and the movie ended up being really great. I suppose that I don't have much more to say now. I'm fading a bit; the 4 1/2 hours of sleep I enjoyed last night simply was not enough. Despite my lethargy, I am excited to be heading off to Australia so soon!

-- Sydney, Sunday, December 29, 2002 --

11:55 - @ Trovata, Stanley St., Sydney - The flight from LAX to Sydney was the shortest 15-hour flight I've ever been on. I guess my chronic sleep debt came in handy. :) The three of us are now having lunch and waiting for our room at the Southern Cross Hotel to be ready. If I was in the States, I might be scared to stay at a hotel called "Southern Cross," but it seems to be fine over here. We have'nt made plans yet for this afternoon, but we may end up going to the Sydney Aquarium or wandering around the harbor area.

23:46 - Darling Harbour and downtown Sydney started to really come alive once the sun sank lower in the sky. Everyone we have come across so far has been extremely friendly. In the early afternoon, we wandered through Chinatown over to the Sydney Aquarium. I saw my first platypus! They really are a lot smaller than I imaged them to be. I have always sort of thought of them as poisonous beavers with duck bills, but it turns out that they are like nothing else I can imagine. It was neat to see them. :) I enjoyed everything except for the coral reef exhibits, which showcased a lot of dead coral with a few unhealthy specimens mixed in for variety. But perhaps that is an accurate portrayal of many reefs out there, anyway.

I had bubble tea today in Chinatown, and it was horrible. There are a lot of Asian folk here in Sydney! It has been interesting so far to people-watch. Most of the Asians I've seen so far seem to be much "closer to home" than Asian-Americans are; they almost look like they are still living in their home countries, and flock in groups. And, like in America, there are many Caucasian male/Asian female couples roaming around. Teri was given a surprise massage by a Chinese man dressed in a doctor's coat near the acupunture station in the alley between Darling Harbour and Chinatown, and it took her and Norm a few minutes to escape. The ceramics show was in a fenced off area with a narrow bottleneck for entry and exit. Attached to the fence were signs that stated the closure (and fencing off) of the ceramics show due to fire hazard. Clearly, with the new fences in place, fire hazard risk was eliminated.

Walking back to our hotel, we stopped by the Australian War Memorial in Hyde Park and sat on the pond steps to watch bats fly around under the fast-moving clouds. Many people were walking around, enjoying the nice weather.

-- Sydney, Monday, December 30, 2002 --

17:14 - Back at the hotel, resting. We spent the last seven hours walking and touring around the Sydney Botanic Garden area, visiting the Australian Museum, St. Mary's Cathedral, Mrs. Macquaries Pt., and Circular Quays. The Botanic Garden is beautiful and sprawling, and is laid out in a way that made us feel very welcome. In most cities I am afraid of grass because it is likely to be saturated with dog urine, but here in Sydney, I have yet to see a dog in a park! How liberating. :) Continuing up to Mrs. Macquaries Pt., we sat for a long time in an eroded sandstone indentation, people watching and enjoying the view of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I grabbed a Sydney Opera House events pamphlet, and the first event listed is Ozzie's La Pasión Según San Marcos. They are performing here on Jan 4, 6, and 7. I wish I was going to be here for the show! Ozzie kept telling me that I should come play in it, but we won't be back from the Coral Sea until the 7th.