Past The Velvet Rope
B-Town Boyz
Huffington Post
xkcd (webcomic)
Stile Project
Urban Dictionary

Powered by Blogger

07 July 2008

holiday, part I : no bridge too high (sydney, australia)

so, i've been back from the australian holiday for a couple of days now. i've been a bit slow in getting back in the groove of working and such. kinda sucks, this "working for a living" thing. anyways, i KNOW you are all dying to see the pix, so here is another HUGE picture post, i apologize. again, sorry about the length, i hope it's worth it.

jules and i left wednesday afternoon on our way to sydney. we flew singapore airlines which TOTALLY rocks. even in "coach", you get free alcoholic beverages, on-demand movies, and a pseudo-business class "perks" kit with a toothbrush, face mask, etc. the planes are modern and clean, and the flight attendants are courteous, friendly, and attentive. i was highly impressed by the airline overall. we had a short 1-hour layover in singapore that would've been very tight had the plane not needed some small maintenance that delayed us a bit. we arrived into sydney around 4:00PM or so on thursday afternoon (it's a damn long flight, no matter how you look at it). we checked into the marriott in downtown sydney and showered quickly so we could make it to the 7:30PM show of hamlet we'd bought tickets for at the sydney opera house. the show was absolutely amazing. the acting group is known as "bell shakespeare" put on an intense and pleasing performance led by brendan cowell as "hamlet". brendan is phenomenal at getting into the neuroses of hamlet in this production. sadly, after the long flight, quick check-in and shower, 3.5 hours show + intermission, jules missed the last 20-30 minutes of the show. she needed a bit of a nap, so i did my best to hold her head from bobbing and finished watching the rest of the show.

after the show had ended (even the crazy-loud simulated "cannon" fire didn't wake jules), i roused her, and she was rejuvenated enough to want to find a lounge for a few drinks. we walked the route back to our hotel until we found a bar called "the ship inn" that is only a few blocks from the hotel. we were a bit hungry so we ordered a pizza and had a few drinks. we were both a bit sluggish, so i stupidly suggested doing a shot of tequila. we went to the bar to order where we ran into a young lady who was also ordering tequila shots for her dad and herself. we were invited to join them, and we did. she, TheSam, and her dad, TheGraham, told us all about australia, where to go an whatnot. TheSam was from melbourne if i do recall. she was having a few drinks with her dad since he's NEVER in town due to work travel. now i have to apologize in advance. this is going to sound coarse, jaded, even downright insensitive, but... i think she was a working girl. the "dad" thing to me seemed just a cover for their public dalliances until they could remove themselves back to his hotel. granted, they weren't groping or kissing or anything, but there was just an intangible thing between them that seemed non-familial. then, on the walk back to our hotel (he was staying at the same hotel as jules and i), they just seemed a bit too... cuddly. granted there are more- and less-affectionate families throughout the world, but something just didn't seem right. anyways, not that we didn't have a good time talking to them, we learned quite a bit and had a few good laughs over a few strong drinks. i bring this up, because on this holiday, i seemed to just "feel" a similar pattern (only after i got back from australia, did i realize prostitution is legal, only strengthening my earlier suspicions). we were out fairly late, thoughi couldn't tell you when, maybe 2:00AM or so. this wasn't good since we had a reservation booked for the Sydney BridgeClimb just shy of 9 hours later at 10:45AM, friday morning. this was gonna hurt.

jules and i woke up around, oh... 10:15AM or so, knowing we weren't going to make our time, so she called and got us moved to the 11:45AM spot, which we made with no problems. you have to wear special suits with clips everywhere. anything you take up with you has to be clipped, so it doesn't fall on the passing traffic below. we got on our jumpsuits and were taken into the orientation room where they give you a brief description of the tour, ask about health issues and give you a breathalyzer (all of which was known beforehand from the website). you have to be below 0.05% before they'll let you climb. as they are doing the orientation, they are putting a breathalyzer to your lips and you have to count to "5", checking the results while talking before going on to the next person. jules and i were the last to blow, they finished the orientation, and directed everyone through a door to get geared up. at this point, they quietly called my name and asked if i could wait back for a minute. FUKK!!! they said i'd failed the preliminary test, but it was a general test that measured ANY alcohol something-or-other, not blood alcohol level (BAL), and i'd have to take a more detailed breathalyzer. i've never had to blow in my life (which they probably didn't believe), but i got it done alright, and finally, with the official test, i was cleared and allowed to carry on with gearing up. jules and i were BOTH surprised that i got stopped and she didn't, since she's like half my size, and she was keeping up with me the night before. damn fast metabolism. so, we climbed. we were a group of 12 + our guide. we all are issued a harness that clips into specially designed "lifelines" that are run across the entire bridge. there is never a time when you are not connected to the bridge due to their cool (from my engineering perspective) slide-through design connectors. if you want to wear a hat, toboggan, windbreaker, or fleece, they supply them with special clips that clip to your jumpsuit. sunglasses have to be clipped to your jumpsuit as well. there can be NO chance of something falling into traffic.

we took the DiscoveryClimb as opposed to the BridgeClimb, because the DiscoveryClimb actually lets you walk on the trusses and girders under the bridge before going up on the spans to the top. it's more of a engineering start to the tour, than the touristy "let's start climbing the bridge ASAP". we were issued bone-induction headphones rather than audio headphones which was pretty neat. it works nicely when you get towards the top of the bridge where it gets a bit windier. one of the scottish guys in our group was hearing-impaired, i'm guessing close-to-deaf, but he had hearing aids and they have TDD induction loops for his enjoyment. the climb was fun, a good workout and very interesting. we learned about the bridge, australia in general, sydney. we were informed that australians aren't very creative when it comes to naming things. for example, there's a bridge on the sydney harbor = sydney harbor bridge; there's an opera house in sydney = sydney opera house; there's an island made of rock in the harbor = rock island (later built up to house fort denison thanks to some US warships unexpectedly docking on the harbor overnight without anyone noticing); there are mountains in the distance that look blue from the atmosphere = the blue mountains. easy peasy. we were also told a story about some of the original criminals who were shipped to australia. once the UK lost the american territories, they had a hard time finding a place to send their criminals, then they eventually settled on australia. one of the first exiles to australia was sent because he murdered someone in the UK. upon landing in australia, he immediately murdered yet another person, so as a deterrent, they executed him by hanging him on rock island... FOR FOUR YEARS!

when the climb was done, we went back to the hotel to clean up. we were planning on going to a place called the tasting room in "king's cross" (formerly known for being the drug/red light district of sydney) then onto iguana bar. we couldn't find the tasting room, though we found a nice italian restaurant where it should've been. here, i think we encountered another lady of the night. she was fairly attractive, brash and with a trendy young professional man. they were at a table across the walkway from us. she seemed a bit intoxicated and loved telling nearby diners and waiters that her "boyfriend" just got back from business in italy. she constantly pestered one diner to her right who seemed to be on a legitimate date himself. she put cigarette butts on the back of his seat and flicked his ear on several occasions. from the looks of confusion on everyone EXCEPT the girl, it seemed they were strangers enough. at one point, the guy being bothered said something we couldn't make out to the other guy, which prompted an outburst from the obnoxious girl who stood up demanding an apology for her guy friend. the guy did apologize and a look of "man, i didn't see this coming" was exchanged between the bothered couple and the "boyfriend". again, i could be just a jaded field engineer seeing the worst where there is only a drunken daughter or girlfriend. i apologize. after dinner, we walked down the road to iguana bar where we drank and danced and wiled away the night. jules got hit on by a guy who "needed help rolling up (his) sleeves". she didn't get it. come on, any guy who can't roll up his own sleeves doesn't deserve to be allowed out in public (unless he's an amputee, then it's OK). he just wanted a hot girl to roll his sleeves up and then... and that's the best come-on line he had.

the next day, saturday, we took the ferry to manly beach where we got most of the pictures you see here. we got a late start thanks to a much needed "lie in". there are some markets that set up on the weekend and we got there around 3:30PM, just when they are starting to close up. still, jules and i managed to purchase, respectively, a beautiful green opal ring and a two-tone gold-plated fountain pen before heading off to find dinner. we ate at a pseudo-fancy restaurant called whitewater that's right on the main road in manly. there were tried the "degustation menu". this holiday for me was going to be an adventure holiday (climbing a bridge while being afraid of heights, diving, etc.), and this was definitely part of it. i'm not big on fancy food, give me simple, don't mix sweet and non-sweet, and i'm happy. there was nothing simple on this menu. it was a 7-course meal, $145/person including specialized wines for each course. every course had at least one thing in the description that i didn't want to try (check the menu out from the previous link, can you guess what i initially disliked about each?), but i went for it, and i have to say, it was an impressive and enjoyable culinary experience.

we had a show to catch at the sydney opera house around 9:30PM, so we had to catch the 8:10PM ferry for the 30-minute ride back to sydney. the dinner was spread out a bit and we missed that ferry, instead having to take the 8:50PM ferry. we left the restaurant with a bit of fire in our step because it was about 8:45PM, and we had just about a 5 minute walk ahead of us. if we missed this ferry, we'd definitely miss the show, and even if we made this ferry, it would be cutting it quite close to make the door, being about a 10 minute walk from the sydney ferry port to the opera house. as we walked into the manly ferry port, they sounded the horn... the ferry was buttoning up. jules and i made a mad sprint through the ticket turnstiles and bounded onto the boat, the last people aboard. too close for my comfort, i don't like being out of breath, and this isn't a body that "bounds". we were the first people off the ferry in sydney and walked briskly to the show. we arrived as they were already dinging the "get your ass in the seats NOW" bell, but we managed to get a glass of wine before the shut the doors. the show, between the devil and the deep blue sea, was great. it's a 3-person show by a troupe called "1927". very little rhyme or reason to the show, just 10 funny/twisted skits taking about an hour. we were lucky enough to see the last show they were doing at the opera house, as they were moving onto melbourne the next day. if you see the show on and have an hour, i suggest taking it in.

the next day, we flew to cairns, australia. that is another story for another post. i'll let you catch your breath for now. here are the rest of my pictures if you care to see more of sydney.


Blogger themom said...

Oh WOW! How beautiful. I'm impressed. Still can't figure out what it was on the menu that you didn't like though. So very happy you both had a wonderful time.


8:10 AM, July 07, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very interesting...

11:42 AM, July 08, 2008  

Post a Comment

<< Home