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My last day in Australia was a delightful romp through Sydney, escorted by the competent and gracious thefoxaroo. As he has described our day in detail, I'll save the effort of retyping it all, but since his LJ is friends-only I have taken the liberty of quoting and redacting copiously here.



[Begin gacking]

"We caught the train from the Foxaroo's place to Town Hall. From there we walked to Mother Chu's Vegetarian Restaurant for lunch. The Foxaroo had a dish that included crispy tofu in plum sauce, while I feasted on a gluten dish with green beans in capsicum (pepper) sauce. Urp

From there we caught the monorail to Darling Harbour, an experience that would have been far more enjoyable if the air unit had been blowing cool air not hot air. Foxaroo and I both suspected this had been deliberate to encourage people to make more room for others by leaving the vehicle sooner rather than later. Stephan very kindly purchased a souvenir coin commemorating the monorail for me:



This was much appreciated, given that the politics of Sydney may necessitate the removal of the monorail at some point in the future.

Our marathon walk commenced at Darling Harbour where we took in many of the sights that Foxaroo had previously photographed in this LJ entry here, visible if you're on his F-list.




Sadly, the old Segaworld Sydney building has long since been rubble-ized and the site is now home to an assembling of scaffolds and the initial two floors of a yet-to-be skyscraper.

After Darling Harbour we walked the entire pedestrian tunnel from its George Street entrance, past Town Hall underground station, under the Queen Victoria Building (more on that later) and then greeting the daylight at Pitt Street mall.

The exit brought us to the base of Sydney Tower (originally known as Centrepoint Tower). There Foxaroo very kindly treated us both to a 360° view of the city. The tower is still the highest structure in the city... only just! From there I took numerous photographs, including the Botanical Gardens, and the Queen Victoria Building (hereafter known as the QVB).


Panorama of Sydney Harbor

(Foxaroo mentions that this is not in chronological order, but it was easier for him to chronicle this way). During our jaunt through the tunnel, we had surfaced to explore the interior of the QVB including its 5-story concourses and two ornate clocks suspended from the ceiling.





Down to terra firma (the more firma, the less terra!) then, and through to George Street via the Strand Arcade whose interior architecture looks a most ideal location to film a steampunk movie.



Further down George Street we walked down Martin Place past the small War Memorial, and the clock of the old General Post Office building. Martin Place includes the fountain that was used as the background for the scene in the first Matrix film, the scene where Morpheus says to Neo "Are you paying attention to me Neo, or are you looking at the woman in the red dress? Look again." (at which moment a simulation of an agent has Neo at gunpoint).

The eastern end of Martin Place ends at Macquarie Street where Parliament House and the original Sydney Hospital are found. The normally busy street was abuzz with pedestrians wandering through an amazing collection of over a hundred classic cars. Steamwolf, you should have been there, but since you weren't, here are a few photos for you.



From classic preservation to the eternal way of nature we next entered the Botanical Gardens. I was immediately delighted, especially when we chanced upon a gathering of flying foxes who despite the bright daylight were wildly active:



We also passed through a section of the Oriental Gardens and then made our way to the harbour walk.

Our walk back from the gardens took in the iconic Opera House, yes that structure which looks as though a giant dropped some huge seashells there.


Sydney Opera House

We went in for a close look, inside and outside, during which we discovered that by sealing off one section of the building the management had inadvertently encouraged a colony of seagulls to take up residence.


Gulls enjoying their private balcony

After a walk across that mighty structure that connects the CBD to North Sydney via a majestic arch of riveted steel...


Sydney Harbor Bridge

...we concluded our walking tour with a visit to Luna Park. No, neither of us were adventurous enough to try any of the rides but I was most taken with the elegant carousel and other similar features of the park. Built in 1935 it has always been fashioned to resemble the theme of Coney Island.


Entrance to Luna Park

[End gacking]



Foxaroo thinks we walked at least 10km. I'm guessing it was more like 10 miles, and wished I had brought my pedometer.

We took the train back to Foxaroo's den, got cleaned up, and quickly fell into bed. I slept well, with a cool breeze crossing my guest room - unfortunately the Foxaroo didn't have the advantage of this and was quite hot. This didn't stop him from arising early to escort me to Central, where he took his leave and I continued on to the airport.

After encountering some ferociously rude and patronizing airport employees who told me that Northwest didn't fly out of Sydney - I was too ruddy tired to report them, and too much of a gentleman to bitchslap them to Adelaide - I checked my bag and proceeded through customs. Fool I, I had forgotten to remove the honey and Vegemite™ I had purchased from my bag, and the Aussie version of the TSA was quite keen on confiscating it. I kept my ground and center, and instead of going sideways, by dint of negotiation I was able to get back out, after having customs cancel my exit process, and checked my carry-on as well, leaving me only with my book and a few toiletries - I missed my neck pillow and sleep mask...

I chilled at my gate until the flight boarded. Although I carry a supply of Meclezine™ for my vestibular hydrops issue, I never get airsick... but this flight was so bumpy I nearly came to grief, because my meds were in the luggage hold. Fortunately (very fortunately, since there were no whoopsiebags in any of the seat pockets - nice cabin prep, Delta!) I was able to keep my cool and my omelet, and the rest of the flight was uneventful. But still bumpy. Really bumpy.

There was a time, years ago, when pilots would look for weather like this and chart a course around it. Nowadays, it's "to Pluto with the passengers, full speed ahead" to save 5¢ worth of fuel. Hqiz, I miss the days when even flying coach was pretty luxurious. Nowadays, 14 hours in an overworn, cramped and meagerly-padded seat is nothing less than pure Hell. Fortunately, my seatmate on this trip was pleasant and normal, and the middle seat was empty, which was no small boon.

I ate what they served me, watched a bunch of movies (one of which was Whiteout, a painfully insipid "horror" movie set in Antarctica; Rotten Tomatoes gave it 7%, and they were being overgenerous, I can assure you), came close to finishing The Paladin of Souls and slept very little.

I had an average layover in LA, during which I claimed my bags, passed through customs, moved the dangerous and explosive honey and yeast extract to my other bag and re-checked it, leaving my carry-on unthreatening. I was grateful to have my phone and data stream active again, which helped pass the time until my uneventful and smooth flight to Salt Lake, where I discovered that my checked bag had been inspected by the TSA, and my TSA-approved lock had been discarded. Cheeky ratbags... they're supposed to have keys for those, and re-close them. Some lazy pataQ probably just cut it off without looking. I filed a claim for the lock when I got home, but given the incredible complexity of the government-approved claim form, I doubt I'll see a penny. Hqiz-eaters...

In Salt Lake, I went to the shuttle desk to get a lift back home, and discovered a recent law put into place by the most disgraceful skxawng mayor my city has ever had the misfortune to endure, his DisHonor Rocky Anderson. It seems the cabdrivers union gave him enough kickback money that he passed a "walk-on zone" law stating that the Express Shuttle company was not allowed to take passengers who have no prior reservations. In other words, had I made a reservation before leaving, or even had I called from LA, they would have been able to take me - fare $8.00, plus a tip. No, since I was requesting service at the desk, my only option was to take a taxi, or the city bus. A $2.00 fare or a $35.00 fare? No question. It took me a transfer and about an hour longer to get home, but the bus dropped me off right across from my apartment. There was no chance in Hell of giving the taxi companies my business under those circumstances. When I have time, I'm going to fire off a fangs-down letter to the city council about that one - talk about suppressing free enterprise!

Got home about 3:00, unpacked and got some laundry going, caught up on a few computer-related things like processing orders and cleaning out spam emails, and then ran up to my son's place for our financial masterminding meeting - I was glad to be back for that.

Tired, I fell into bed around 10:30, and slept like a stone.

It's good to be back.


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Comments

alaskawolf
Jan. 29th, 2010 06:55 pm (UTC)
im glad you made it home safely from an amazing trip :)
thefoxaroo
Jan. 30th, 2010 11:40 am (UTC)
ccdesan said:"As he has described our day in detail, I'll save the effort of retyping it all"
*BIG SNERK!!* ROFLOL

ccdesan said:"This was much appreciated, given that the politics of Sydney may necessitate the removal of the monorail at some point in the future"
...or decide that the new system will be too expensive to build and maintain then go back to the drawing board, which is what I'm hoping for. That's looking favorably as the current state government has severely fallen into disfavour with the public on their mismanagement of infrastructure.

ccdesan said:"From there I took numerous photographs, including the Botanical Gardens, and the Queen Victoria Building"
Another outstanding panorama Old Wolf!

The QVB interior photos look better than life!

ccdesan said:"Down to terra firma (the more firma, the less terra!)"
Pthbbt!! And you reacted badly to my joke about "taking sandstone for granite!" :P

ccdesan said:"I was immediately delighted, especially when we chanced upon a gathering of flying foxes who despite the bright daylight were wildly active"
That video is the most extraordinary juxtaposition I've ever seen! LOL The pleasant beat and melody of the summer-time music over the chaotic screeching and scuffling of the flying foxes! :D It's a well done piece Old Wolf.

ccdesan said:"After a walk across that mighty structure that connects the CBD to North Sydney via a majestic arch of riveted steel"
That photo could win a prize. *ALL* those photos are brilliant Old Wolf, especially considering the smoggy, murky state of the air over the city that day. They're good enough to appear in a travelogue.

ccdesan said:"some ferociously rude and patronizing airport employees - I was too ruddy tired to report them, and too much of a gentleman to bitchslap them to Adelaide"
Sadly not all Aussies are friendly to a fault... :(

ccdesan said:"I discovered that my checked bag had been inspected by the TSA, and my TSA-approved lock had been discarded. Cheeky ratbags... they're supposed to have keys for those, and re-close them. Some lazy pataQ probably just cut it off without looking. I filed a claim for the lock when I got home, but given the incredible complexity of the government-approved claim form, I doubt I'll see a penny. Hqiz-eaters..."
Oh no... after all that! Folks I can vouch for the fact that Old Wolf DID attach a TSA approved lock to his luggage. That does it, when I travel overseas I'm going to photograph everything inside and outside my bag as evidence.

ccdesan said:"slept like a stone"
I wish I were able to do the same. The "brutal weather" you experienced here hasn't improved.
ccdesan
Jan. 30th, 2010 10:08 pm (UTC)
Haha! Thanks for the great comments. I looked for a piece by an Aussie band that would be appropriate and was lucky to find this one on GrooveShark, which SteamWolf turned me on to.

Stand by for more photos... Can't wait until the next adventure!

(Anonymous)
Jan. 30th, 2010 11:15 pm (UTC)
Love the new "Aussie Wolf" emoticon. Although I think you should still try the suggestion I made of having an Australian costline silhoueted backdrop. The lower half of this continent has a shape that nearly matches the hair of your toon.

Speaking of music, Steamwolf if you're reading this, can you let me know the name of the vocal artist we watched at your place? I liked her singing. I gave Old Wolf my e-mail address to pass along to you.

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