Monday, November 15, 2010

The Aussie Diary, Day 2

( A manatee, which they call dugongs down here for some reason, swims overhead as we walk through an observation tunnel at the aquarium.)

Walking. The word of the day is: walking. We awoke Monday morning for our first full day in Oz to discover that the weather called for rain. We then had to scrap our plans to go visit Manly Beach and figure out some indoor activities. We call the concierge and he suggests going to the Museum of Sydney and the aquarium, so, we get a map out, plot our course and go. Its at this juncture that its important to remember how little walking we're required to do in Jacksonville. You cannot operate in Jax without a car, everywhere is a 30 minute drive, the longest distances we're asked to walk on a given day is from the parking lot to the building you're entering. So, as a result of this, we did't really have a good gauge of how far things were from us on a map. When some thing is a ten minute walk, or a 20 minute walk, it doesn't sound too bad, but compounding a few of these back to back, they take their toll. Our first stop was the Museum, it was a nice history of Sydney, from the convict ships that the British sent to the smallpox outbreak the killed 50-90% of the indigenous population to the bubonic plague to the Harbor Bridge and Opera House construction to the Olympic Games in 2000, we read it all. Good stuff. While we were in the museum, it started raining really hard. We had no protection and our next stop was a 25 minute walk away, and we were wearing flip-flops (or thongs, if you're a local). These are not the ideal walking conditions. You have to walk gingerly because you don't want to slip out of your shoes, but you want to walk fast because you're getting soaked! A conundrum for sure. So, we finally get to the aquarium, wet and exhausted, but we've come so far that our will-to-win carries us through. They have a few animals there that we've never seen, the highlight of which was the duck-billed platypus. There were a lot of other great animals there like Manatees and sharks and the like, but at a certain point, I was more interested in getting off my feet than enjoying the show. But 1st we have to hoof it back to the hotel, in the rain. So we get back and I figure that we've walked about 5 miles at least, but who knows. We have a couple hour now to relax before we meet up with our friend Doug Elliot. I choose to use this time to pop some pain killers and soak in the tub. It helped a lot. It was a good thing too, because Doug wants to take us to a restaurant at Darling Harbor. You guessed it, 20 minute walk away. But we're feeling game, so we go. We went to a Thai restaurant called Thai Phoon, a have a Kangaroo stir fry and my second beer in as many nights. Yes, they serve Roo down here, its very beef-like but gamey. Doug explains that Roo is good for the environment since they're a natural inhabitant of the continent (unlike cows) and they're easier to take of and require less water, there is a real water crunch down here. Another 1st for us was the wobbly glasses that they serve water in, it was like a weeble-wabble toy, it rolled around but the water never falls out. It was strange. After dinner Doug takes us (another long walk) to a hidden gem here in Sydney, the Orbit Bar. It is a round building ironically named Sydney Square, at the top of this building is a bar that rotates and gives you a 360 degree view of the city if you sit there long enough. Its a little unsettling seeing the world around you move around, you keep looking at your drink like "what is in this?!?!?!", but after a while you get used to it. We have fun discussing American politics from an outsiders point of view (very refreshing) and then we head back home.

Today we climb the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Our legs are still hurting from yesterday, I hope we make it... To be continued...

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