Saturday, August 23, 2008

Holy Sheep!

I went for a two day trip to visit the capital of Australia. I rented a car, dubbed it Sir
Wallaby, and hit the road. After a few tentative blocks I felt more comfortable driving on the wrong side of the road.

The main thing one has to remember whilst driving on the wrong side of the road-is what side of the road is wrong. From driving in Australia two years ago I usually remember which side is wrong. But when a roundabout spits me out on a side street that has no lines on it, I have to pause and think, “Now, which way do sane people drive? Okay, now I head the opposite direction and give it a go. There, that wasn’t too bad! Oh crap another roundabout!”
Then the cycle starts again. 

Several roundabouts later I was heading west of Sydney. One would think the best way to get to know a country is to visit its capital. With that in mind I took the four hour journey from
Sydney to the capital Canberra (pronounced “Can-bear-a”). After a few hours there I thought it should be renamed “Can-you-bear-it?” -that’s because Canberra is quite boring.

I don’t quite understand why Canberra is located where it is. It is in the middle of nowhere, with no access to the coasts that Australians seem to love so much. The capital itself does have a lot of interesting museums and attractions, but they are spread out over so many large and empty “parks” (also known as patches of grass). Walking between sites is a monotonous expedition that requires not only a heap of spare time, but food provisions and a pack mule.
After quickly getting my fill of the capital, I 
drove to the town of Goulburn to visit one of my favorite Australian "non-icons."  Sternly judging 
every manner of passing vehicle, The Big Merino is a wooly behemoth overlooking the Old Hume Highway. At 15.2 meters, Rambo (as he is affectionately known) is one bad ba ba you wouldn’t want to tick off…especially if you parked behind him. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Just say "Oi!"

Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! 

Oi! Oi! Oi! 

If someone cheerfully yells "Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!" 

Quickly respond with an equally enthusiastic "Oi! Oi! Oi!" 

Why? Well I'm not sure but just do it to avoid disheartening looks. With the Olympics in full swing this cheerful Australian rally call is being shouted all about the city so be a sport and just say "Oi!" 

Watching the Olympics in Australia is inspiring and hilarious. The announcers are completely biased. They are 100% for the Aussies and their announcements are so refreshing compared to the often politically correct U.S.A. announcers. They’re Australian, proud of it, and completely behind their athletes. Not saying America isn’t, but the Australian enthusiasiam is fun to behold. 

During the equestrian jumping competition tonight, the Aussie announcer said “Lets just hope this German horse knocks down a few posts to give our Aussie team a medal!”  

A competitor’s horse was giving a perfect run but when one hoof tapped a pole, the announcer said “Aww! Someone in the crowd give a poof! We need that pole down!” It’s all in good humor, and I at least was amused. 

Good news is that Bob and I finally have an apartment! YAY! It doesn't have the best view (we face a cliff), but it is modern, has it's own washer and dryer, and most importantly - the agent picked us out of a bag of applicants so we're taking it! My good friend Alexandra took us to second-hand stores so we could find furnishings. This week I'm going to get a new bed, and refrigerator. An odd thing with apartments here is that they don't include refrigerators - so anytime someone moves they take their fridge with them. Seems a bit of a pain. So a lot of shopping is in need, but at least we finally have a place to make our home!

So, for now, “Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!” 

Monday, August 11, 2008

In need of a cookie

When you're young you often get rewarded for doing something that's hard or scary. My question is why does this stop? Yes, I am an adult. But I would still like a cookie for accomplishing something trivial yet hard or frighting for me. Is that really to much to ask? Just one little cookie with m&m's in it? Well is it? Perhaps I should start a Good Girls and Boys Cookie Brigade-but I digress. 

Ahem! The conclusion of the weekend left Bob and me with the possibility of an apartment...I think. The realtor still has to check out references, but hopefully all will go well and our apartment hunting will be at an end. To celebrate I took the day off from house hunting for some book research. I hopped on a bus to the Taronga Zoo, changed buses, hopped on the wrong bus, hopped off, hopped on the right bus and felt like a freaking kangaroo by the time I got there. 

Taronga Zoo is on a large hill across the harbour from the Opera House and provides spectacular views of the city. It is mainly and easily accessed via ferry from Circular Quay. It is not so easily accessed by bus, so I took the bus. 

The 2 advantages to arriving by bus are: 

1) You get dropped off at the top of the hill and can easily work your way down 

2) You don't have to get on a boat (I don't like boats or large bodies of water) 

I meandered through the zoo for a couple hours. Once at the bottom I was disinclined to walk back to the top for my bus. Therefore, I decided to be a big gi

rl and get on the ferry. Trying to boost my confidence I asked an elderly zoo volunteer, "Is it a rough boat ride?"  

"A rough boat ride?!" she somehow cackled sweetly, "Rough in our Harbour? Where are you from?" 

"Ohio," I said. 

"Well then, just think of it as a big lake." 

And to this sweet old lady I said "Okay," and I felt much better. I need to learn how to cackle sweetly. I waited to be the last person to board the green and tan ferr

y ... the colors reminded me of pea soup. I sat on the bottom floor outside at the stern and though the ten minute crossing wasn't bad, the boat still rocked a bit more than I would prefer. I was the third person off the boat when we docked at Circular Quay and happy it was just a short trip (I'm a complete whimp on the water). 

Deciding it would be a day to face fears I went to walk across the Harbour Bridge. I'm not a huge fan of manmade heights (mountains and natural heights don't bother me). Why do I not like manmade heights? Well you watch a few carnies uncaringly put a ferris wheel together and you would start to question structural designs as well. 

I walked through the historic settlement of The Rocks and followed the path up to the Harbour Bridge. It shook a bit with passing traffic but provided beautiful sights of the Opera House. I had an absolutly stunning shot lined up with the sunset fanning gentle shades of pink on the Harbour, a beautiful sailboat arching past the Opera House-the perfect shot. So naturally my camera battery died and that picture was lost. Guess I'll just have to relive that in memory...and bu

y some more batteries tomorrow. And a cookie.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Finding housing in Sydney is a pain in the . . .

 The past week has been spent apartment hunting ... and we're still hunting. I can't wait to find a home base so I can drop my bags and go exploring. Of all the apartments I've looked at I found two that are promising-meaning there are no kicked in doors or security warnings about recent break-ins posted at the entrance. It's not that Sydney is decrepit. It's just that the places that Bob and I can afford are decrepit. 

While Bob started work, I continued to search for a home. I found a nice looking apartment online today and called the agent. He was, amazingly, showing the place this afternoon. So I loaded up my backpack with copies of every form of identification he would possibly need-I'm so desperate at this point I'd give a free sample of blood if it would help my chances. I headed out on my 20 minute walk to the place-and the heavens opened. It poured. I quickly moved all my documents to the inner most pocket of my backpack, put up the cheap rickety umbrella I bought yesterday and kept on walking.

Not surprisingly, my cheap umbrella did not hold up to the thunderous deluge. But my umbrella also didn't attract one of the numerous bolts of lightning, so I didn't hold it's flimsiness against it. Trudging up to the apartment I looked very much like a drowned rat. But with the need of a home, I shouldered my sogging backpack and went up to meet the agent. 

Maybe my disheveled appearance would arouse some pity. "Why my dear!" the concerned agent would croon, "You are drenched! Your determined little soul looks like it could use a warm one bedroom apartment-and hey I'll do you a fave and knock $200 off the rent! Now, would you like a cup of tea?" Unfortunately that didn't happen. Just a curt "Hello," a roll of the eyes on my waterlogged appearance, and a farewell. Oh well. Time I go dry off and rally for another day of apartment hunting...and I'll make myself a cup of tea.