Trip Start Dec 31, 2008
40Trip End Mar 27, 2009
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If I had to compare Sydney to a U.S. city, it would be either a hillier/larger San Diego or a warmer San Francisco (or at least what I envision San Francisco being like, since I've never actually been there). The weather here is outstanding (in contrast to Chicago's 40 hours below zero yesterday), although it changes very quickly. Yesterday it got up to about 90 degrees, by far the hottest it has been, but within a few hours, it started raining and dropped below 70. It's also very windy here- windier than Chicago, I would say. The downtown area is pretty large and the neighborhoods, much like Chicago, have a distinct feel to them. I walked around Paddington yesterday, which I would equate to Chicago's Lincoln Park, and it has a very unique feel. The streets are a puzzle, winding up and down hills in no logical order at all and it is impossible to navigate without a map. All of the homes in Paddo (as it is affectionately known to Sydneysiders) are two story terrace houses which have a distinct Victorian architectural style. See the picture I've embedded. Paddo is similar to Lincoln Park in terms of demographics- mostly Yuppies and wealthy older couples and the streets are lined with high-end boutiques, the occasional pub and a lot of restaurants. It's also about the same distance from downtown as L.P. is. My apartment that we are taking is right at the border of Paddington and Darlinghurst, and has the same terrace-style architecture as the other homes in Paddington.
I've noticed that the people here, while not only friendly, are very trusting. I've seen this in two instances already. First, as I was looking at my map trying to navigate Paddington yesterday, a 50ish year old woman carrying far too much dry cleaning approached me to see if I was lost (which indeed, I was). After telling me where I should go, she then asked if I would help her carry her dry cleaning back to her place since it was on the way. A bit surprised, I acquiesced and followed her and her dogs to her apartment while helping to carry back her clothes. Another incident I saw on the street today, when a random guy carrying a guitar was walking down the street and stopped at a bus stop. Then, seemingly remembering something he had forgotten, he leaned his guitar against a wall and took off about a block down the street, probably to go get something. The guitar easily could have been taken, but no one standing around me seemed to blink.
The hills are everywhere here, and they are a beast- my calves should be rocks by the time I leave. On that note, I am trying to take advantage of the weather here to get back into shape. I went nearly a month without exercising over the holidays and while I was traveling and it is definitely starting to show. Hopefully by the time I'm back in the U.S. I'll be nice and fit (although the amount of imbibing of beverages that it is apparent I will be doing here may prevent this from actually occurring). As mentioned in a previous posting, I am not pleased that I have to pay for the school's gym, and I went and looked at it yesterday- it was a zoo. So, I'm considering just running these hills consistently.
I took it easy Wednesday and Thursday nights despite not having class the following days, and so last night (Friday) I went out with some of the LBS crowd that is here, as some of my friends I've made were travelling this weekend. Kristin, who went to UNC in undergrad, a couple named John and Lori, and a guy I met last night named Mark went to the Paddington Inn and Fringebar, both in Paddington, which were both fun, but it was relatively uneventful evening. The beer here is stronger than in the U.S. (about 4.8% vs. 3.4% in a Bud Light), so it is sort of tricky when you think you haven't had that many drinks but are suddenly pretty tipsy, which is exactly what happened to me last night. I'm not feeling so well today. And I just remembered I chowed down on some street meat at 2 am last night.
One last notable thing is that I've found out that my brother Andy and my sister Courtney are officially visiting me in late February, which is great, so if anyone decides they'd like to visit Australia, that might be a great time to come as we'll be doing the touristy stuff and will likely take a side trip to somewhere like the Great Barrier Reef or something else of that ilk. Alright, that's about all I've got. I hope all of my Kellogg friends that went to Vegas are having a great time- that's one of the things I'm most disappointed about missing while I'm over here.