Posted on October 7th, 2011
This morning I woke up and realized, just like that, my vacation is over.
Well, not really, because I had today in Sydney... but since I've been going balls-out non-stop since I arrived, this day was set aside to decompress and relax before my flight home tomorrow.
My loooooooooong flight home.
Though since it was blissfully cool outside (despite the beautiful sunshine and blue skies) I did go say goodbye to Sydney Harbour...
Yeah, yeah... they're iPhone photos! I'm done lugging around my camera gear for a while.
I also stopped by the Vintage Cafe (where Kazza and I ate my first day here) for some more of their mind-blowing marinated peppered cheese and bread...
The rest of my day was spent unpacking everything I own, then re-packing it in a way that wasn't insane (as it quickly becomes if you're living out of a suitcase for this long).
Looking back, this was a pretty darn spectacular vacation. I crammed in quite a few awesome things into two weeks. Probably more than I should have. I also got to spend time with some really great people, which is about the most awesome thing of all.
And now I wish I didn't have to go home.
Not because Australia and Fiji have been so great I don't want to leave (though that's also true), not because I don't miss my friends and family (which I absolutely do), and not even because I don't want to go back to work (I'm actually anxious to start working again)... it's because of the awful political hate parade that I know is awaiting me back home.
I dread coming back to it so much that I feel physically ill just thinking about it.
Over the past two weeks I can't tell you how nice it's been to not be inundated with all the bickering, hatred, lies, disrespect, persecution, and general asshattery that's become typical of our political landscape in the USA these past couple of years. I am just done with it.
At least as much as I can be.
See you on the other side of the Pacific.
Posted on September 25th, 2011
Today was finally my chance to take it easy, which meant visiting a few museums instead of walking all over Sydney again. Luckily Kazza was kind enough to head back into the city to map out my morning, so all I had to worry about was keeping dry until the rain finally let up this afternoon.
The Australian Museum is a massive repository of the critters which inhabit the continent. There's also a special exhibit for Aboriginal art that's pretty great...
The way Native Australians "see" the world is endlessly fascinating to me.
Seal vs. Penguin... FIGHT!
Not a happy kitty. Probably a little upset about being shot and killed.
Most all the exhibits are dead, mounted, and stuffed... but there are some exceptions.
What would a museum be without dinosaurs?
A pity dinosaurs are extinct... some look like they'd make a fun pet.
Yeah, seeing one of these monsters would have me totally losing my shit.
Not all the insects shown are some scary shit... just most of them.
Fun with dead people in the "Skeletons" exhibit.
Ride 'em cowboy. The most disturbing thing about this? No ears on the horse.
The Art Gallery New South Wales is a fairly traditional art museum with a smattering of impressive works by popular painters... but it also has a beautiful selection of Aboriginal art which makes it uniquely worth visiting (alas, none of it photographical)...
It's amazing how museums never seem to run out of paintings.
Ape Girl with scary hand monster. How charming.
Demon angel with bat wings, snake, and lizard. Rock on, little dude.
Rabid Dog Pack vs. Wild Boar... FIGHT!
The National Opal Museum is a small exhibit which is mainly a front for an opal jewelry store, but it does still manage to give some insight into how opals are created and crafted...
Apparently dinosaurs made the opals. Or became opals. Or something.
Now dinosaurs help you purchase beautiful opals from the many jewelry showcases!
Pretty! As in "pretty fucking expensive."
And thus an early end to my last day in Sydney. I was just too drenched and tired to do anything else. Maybe when I swing back this way I'll have some better weather.
Posted on September 24th, 2011
Well, the crappy weather I was expecting yesterday finally decided to make an appearance today. Not that I am in any way complaining... I am so very grateful for yesterday's unexpectedly beautiful weather that I'll gladly suffer through a little rain.
After meeting up with Kazza we headed east to visit St. Mary's Cathedral. Unfortunately, photography is not allowed in the beautiful interior, but the exterior is quite nice as well...
Impressive. Most impressive.
The nun looks pretty bitchy, but...
...she gives all the kids an iPad, so she can't be all bad.
From there we were off to Mrs. Macquarie's Point. There's an interesting story behind the name, and it's a great place for spectacular Sydney Harbour views, even in the rain...
Yes. Mrs. Macquarie's Chair is just as comfortable as it looks.
A Rainbow Lorikeet... they're everywhere.
Still a pretty sight, even in the rain.
Heading back towards the city you run right through the Royal Botanic Gardens...
Leaving the Asian Gardens section of the Royal Botanic Gardens.
Inside the Royal Botanic Gardens Greenhouse at the Tropical Center.
The Fern House atrium at the Royal Botanic Gardens.
It's Springtime in Sydney, so all the flowers are blooming.
Bats are hanging around everywhere... mostly sleeping, fighting, or drying their wings.
This is called a "Cockatoo," but I call it "Fucking Bastard Bird"... vicious, nasty, and total destruction with wings.
From there it was time to take a ferry across the harbor to Manly...
It's the world-famous Manly Ferry!
Cruising by that Sydney Opera House. Again.
Walking down The Corso towards Manly Beach.
Manly beach. Where only manly men dare swim in the rain.
Everything in Manly is pretty manly...
...especially the Manly menus, where they make cute little kangaroos into fajitas.
After returning to Sydney, it was time to visit the Queen Victoria Building, which is a real jaw dropper. Certainly the best-looking mall I've ever seen...
Not wanting to get drenched, it was time to visit the Queen Victoria Building!
Seriously beautiful everywhere you look. This is an entryway.
Center atrium at the Queen Victoria Building.
Awesome diorama clock at the QVB.
The sexiest damn mall you'll ever see.
It was as we headed toward Darling Harbour that the rain decided to get serious...
Rain pours down on the bridge across Darling Harbour to the Harbourside Mall.
But that's okay, because I was more interested in visiting my 138th Hard Rock than the weather. Unfortunately, Sydney's new Hard Rock is yet another "Hipster Lounge" travesty, but it's massive size means you get to see a lot of memorabilia even though it's pretty spread out...
Hard Rock Cafe entrance.
Welcome to the cheesiest hipster lounge you ever will see!
The Hard Rock Cafe Sydney's so-called "shrine" to INXS.
Not the most intimate and cozy Hard Rock property I've been to. The place is massively huge.
Leaving Darling Harbour at night.
Something I didn't know: Sydney has a monorail. It was a convenient way to escape the rain and head back into the city...
Hey, it may cost $5, but that's still cheaper than a ticket to Disneyland.
Another perfect day Down Under... albeit with police horses waiting in my hotel lobby...
No. They weren't there to arrest me. I think.
And.... I guess it's time to log-off and go charge every piece of electronics I own. It's shocking how much gadget crap it takes to be civilized now-a-days.
Posted on September 23rd, 2011
Better living through chemistry, I always say.
In theory, adjusting to the 17-hour time change in Sydney is a piece of cake. That's such a huge amount of time that you can quite nicely compress a full day into it, which means your internal clock doesn't need much of an adjustment. Just force yourself to stay awake a bit longer than you normally would, get a full night's sleep in the middle of your flight, then arrive in Sydney the next morning as if nothing happened.
I took a fist-full of sleeping pills just to be sure.
And ended up getting five hours of quality sleep, which is two more than I normally get. So not only did I land in Australia fully acclimated to the time change... I also felt better than I have in months.
For the past week I have been checking the weather forecast in Sydney. As the day of my trip got closer and closer, the weather outlook got worse and worse, ending with overcast skies and rain for the entirety of my stay. So imagine my surprise when I land to beautiful blue skies and an abundance of sunshine. So instead of spending my first day relaxing, I met up with my long-time blogger-friend Kazza and headed out into the city.
First stop was Sydney Tower for panorama views of the city...
Then it was off to the Opera House (of course)...
From all the photos I had ever seen, I had thought that the Opera House was smooth concrete painted white. It's not! It's tiled. Beautifully tiled...
Next it was off to walk across the world-famous Sydney Harbour Bridge...
You can climb up one of the pylons for terrific views of the harbor...
Amazingly, you can pay big money to climb up and over the bridge like these guys...
Across the harbor and under the bridge is Luna Park, made famous by its scary clown-face entrance...
We wanted to kill time until dark for some night photography, so we ate dinner at a really good tapas restaurant...
And then back to the harbor at night...
By the end of the day, the clouds and rolled in and the weather turned cold and incredibly windy, so I was grateful that I had at least one perfect day in Sydney.
I'm sure tomorrow will be perfect too... but with less nice weather.