The Pursuit of Happyness

Trip Start Sep 03, 2006
Trip End May 23, 2007

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Flag of Australia  ,
Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Now that we have our plans set for coming home, it was time to start doing as much as we could in the time remaining in Australia.
We had really been looking forward to January as over the last few months we had been buying tickets for sporting events and concerts. We were also looking forward to the Australian summer really starting, although slightly concerned about how high the temperatures might be.
Topic No 1 - Melbourne Weather
As you have all probably read in previous blogs, the weather is quite unpredictable here in Melbourne. January has been no different. We have seen the weather hit 41 degrees during the day - not falling below 31 degrees at night. Then Only days later we have had torrential rain (Although it has been good for Victoria to get the rain due to the amount of Bush Fires spreading across the state plus Australia is in serious drought at the moment). To be fair though, we have had far more hot days. Although they usually only last from Monday to Friday strangely enough.
There are two major outcomes of having really hot weather in Melbourne. The obvious one is of course, you can get really sunburnt, even if you are only out in it for 30 mins. The second one is the flies here. Actually, I will take a few lines to talk about the bane of my life. (and Ciara's).
Your standard fly that you get back home, whilst still a pest, never really causes much bother. They all hang about the crap piles in the street and have a laugh with their mates while stuffing themselves to their hearts content, or they sometimes investigate houses if they hear word of some jam or crumbs lying on a dirty counter or work top.
However the Flies in Melbourne have a different outlook on life. Along with all the convicts being shipped over to Australia not long after it was discovered, I think the fly marshals must have sent all the criminal flies over on the same boat (These were the flies who hated following protocol and just wanted to rebel). Ever since, these pissed off flies have decided to take their anger out on all innocent travellers who arrive over from their once homeland. These flies can easily identify travellers. These are the people who are not used to the heat and therefore are sweating like crazy. Once they spot these poor innocent victims, they attack. When they attack they do not leave you alone (I have even had a fly get on a tram with me and escort me to the city (and he didn't pay his fare). The sight you will see while walking down any street in the sun in Melbourne is an array of people flapping their hands uncontrollably in the air trying to hit these little shits. What is even worse is that they attack all your weak points - Eyes, mouth when open, ears, and up the nose.
Okay I think I have rambled on enough now. In short, the flies are complete pests here.
Topic No 2 - The Cricket
To be honest, until 2 years ago when England won the Ashes, I would never watch cricket never mind understand it. But like any sport I suppose, when you know some of the rules it becomes watchable.... For me anyway. We had bought tickets for the one-day international between England and Australia. Again just to tick another thing off the "must do" list. It was played in the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), which can hold 90,000 people. Although Irish, we were supporting England. Not only because they were the underdogs (after being whitewashed 5 nil in the ashes), but also because the Australians are actually more arrogant and up there own ass then the English (To anyone who is English reading this, I mean this in the nicest possible way - plus it is more of a generalised statement).
The MCG was an awesome stadium and we got great weather for the day. It was a day/night match starting at 2pm and finishing around 10pm. I wont bore you with the match. England lost again.... The most entertaining and interesting part of the match was some of the crowd participation. We loved the Mexican waves (one actually lasting 7 rounds of the stadium - and also included empty plastic pint glasses etc being thrown everywhere), we loved the paper airplane that was made by the guy in front of us that managed to fly down from us up in the 3rd tier all the way down to the pitch (people tried to repeat it, but got nowhere), plus we had a great view. The only down side was the hardcore Australian fans (and there was about 60,000 of these out of 72,000 at the game). It came as a major to surprise to us at just how insulting and arrogant they were. For example, one of the England Players - Kevin Pieterson got hit in the ribs by the ball and fell to the ground. The whole time he was getting treatment there was nothing but cheers from the crowd and insults thrown at him (Plus the guy who hit him with the ball didn't even go to see if he was ok). He played on a bit longer - top scoring in the match, but it was after the match that we found out he had a broken rib. To be honest we found the experience very distasteful and lost a lot of respect for the Australians and their supporters.
All in all the whole day was an experience - but not sure if we would go back to a cricket match as it is very long and drawn out.
Topic No 3 - The Australian Open Tennis
Part 1 - The False Dawn
Now this was definitely something we were looking forward to.
We had bought ground passes for the 1st Saturday of the Tennis. These would allow us to watch all the Outside Courts and we could queue up for the Vodafone arena (The second main court). However it didn't allow us access to the Rod Laver Arena (Centre Court), as that was a bit more pricey. We just wanted to enjoy the experience.
Like Wimbledon back Home the Australian Open takes over the TV viewing, so you cant get away from it. Unlike Wimbledon, which is usually rained out, they have an extreme heat rule here, which means if the temperature goes above 35 degrees the play is suspended. Although this wouldn't affect the Rod Laver and Vodafone Arena as they had retractable roofs. In the 1st week the temperature was mental and play was suspended on the outside courts a few times. One news company actually cracked an egg on one of the courts to show hot it was (61 degrees on the surface).
With the weather on the Thursday hitting 39 degrees, we were praying that it would cool down a bit otherwise we might not get to see anything.
Well on the Saturday it did cool down - due to rain. Although, we arrived at Melbourne Park still optimistic. Mainly because we are used to Melbourne weather ever changing.
We decided on placing ourselves in the Margaret Court Arena (court 3) As Andy Murray was due to play there at 7.30pm. Although there was plenty of things to do and spend your money on we decided to stay put as we had good seats and the rain had become quite light. It was quite comical to see the rain stop - the ball kids would come out and dry the court and just as they had finished doing it, it started to rain again and this happened about 3 or 4 times - bless them.
Then about 2pm with the rain off for about 1 hr the players for the 1st match came out - and yes as they were about to start practicing, it rained again, and this time it pissed down. Everybody retreated inside for Shelter and Ciara took this opportunity to get us to move down to the front row in front of the net for the perfect view, because although it was raining we were hoping it would stop again. One by one, our group headed inside until after 1 hour and still torrential rain, Ciara looked a lone figure, sitting in the best seats in the court on her own. The rain was not stopping and eventually I dragged Ciara into Shelter.
With the 2 of us looking not too dissimilar to a drowned rat we tried to dry out. In the Park, Garnier had a tent where if you queued long enough you got a free facial or massage and a free goody bag, so Ciara, Jo and Kerry headed off there whilst myself Tarun and Liam watched the indoor matches on the TV screens around the Rod Laver Arena.
Whilst the 3 of us were walking about watching the screens, we must have looked like 3 lost orphans as a woman approached us to say did we want to go in and catch the last few games of the match in the Rod Laver Arena as herself and 2 friends were heading home. So after literally ripping her arm off to get them we went in. 3 games later the match was finished - we don't even know who was playing, but at least we got to experience a tiny bit of Tennis
Another bonus was after Ciara's facial in the Garnier tent (well apparently it was a wipe with a face cloth) she received a goody bag worth about 60 dollars and As there had been no play on the outside courts at all in the day, we were allowed to re use our ground pass for another day. So all in all the day could have been worse.
Part 2 - The Pursuit of Happyness
Well, our plan was to go back to the tennis the following week and re-use our Ground pass. However when we found out that Andy Murray was playing Nadal in the 4th Round in the Rod Laver Arena, we were going to move Heaven and earth to get there. The one minor stumbling block was - it was sold out (Well, when I say sold out, nearly half the arena is made up of corporate seats which are held until up to the last minute. So the only way to get a ticket was to keep checking all avenues for corporate tickets not being used and put back in the system.
It all started at 9am Monday morning, when I checked In Ticketek to see if any were available - again I was told NO but keep trying. Liam then tried a contact he had who had had spare tickets for the Saturday - that came back negative also.
Tarun and Liam went to the tennis with their ground pass (some of us had to work) and queued up successfully and got into the Vodafone arena for the day.
By 1pm, still no luck - So myself and Jo (Jo and Kerry are 2 English girls we met who live in our block) went internet looking - Myself whilst in work and Jo in an internet café. At 3pm, tickets appeared online, and then disappeared as quickly as they came.
After work, myself, Ciara, Jo and Kerry went into the town and around to Melbourne Park to check with Ticket touts - we then realised we could be fined heavily if caught purchasing as they have police undercover for this.
Our last hope was to join the queue for the box office outside and hope corporate seats became available. We were in the queue for 6.30pm. The Maria Sharapova match was on before the Andy Murray, so we knew we had a bit of extra time to get tickets. Meanwhile inside the ground Tarun and Liam had joined the queue for the Box office.
We were top of the queue but nothing was coming available and with our Box office shutting at 8pm we were running out of time. We were optimistic but facing reality as time drew near.
Finally 8pm came, everyone else in our queue had left and the shutters came down. As we were about to leave, the supervisor from the Box office came over to us and gave us 4 free ground passes as we had waited so long and not caused any grief - unlike some of the other ones in the queue.
Although they were not the golden tickets we were elated as we could at least watch the match on the Big Screen inside the ground.
Meanwhile Tarun and Liam were still queuing inside. We got ourselves some space on the grass in front of the big screen and got ready to watch the match as the Sharapova match was nearly over.
Ciara then left us to see how the guys were getting on the queue and 10 mins later came back like a woman possessed. Liam had got a ticket and Tarun was next in the queue. 10 mins after that Kerry came back as possessed woman number 2 saying we had got tickets and to hurry up and get inside.
And as we arrived inside, there they were in Tarun's hands. We now new how Charlie Bucket felt when he saw that gold flickering inside the Wonka bar (Only ours cost $77 - about 30 quid each).
As we walked into the arena, Sharapova had just won. We then found out that our seats were on the side of the court about 7 rows back. We couldn't believe how close to the action we were. This moment of all our lives was definitely called "Happyness".
What a match it was. Although Murray lost, it was one of the best matches we had ever seen. Absolute quality from both players.
As it was a night match and went to 5 sets, it finished at 2am. How shattered, but ecstatic we were at the end of the night.
And a bonus just to finish off the night - Ciara got a phone call from her Mum saying we appeared on TV back home in a crowd shot. We were minor Celebrities...
Well, that is our January to date - although I seemed to have rambled on a bit (Plus excuse my grammar as I am still tired from last nights events at the tennis). Hope you all enjoyed hearing about our experiences so far this month.
Will update again soon
Paul and Ciara
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