9.00pm - G'day!

Trip Start Feb 09, 2009
Trip End Mar 25, 2009

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Friday, February 13, 2009

Thursday 12 February, 9.00pm, my room
Most of today, I've been devouring a book I was recommended by Laura from New Zealand - I was initially a bit dubious because I heard another girl in Queenstown talking about the same book and she said it was good, but there was an awful lot about God in it. (I just wrote a whole big paragraph detailing my feelings about God and religion in general, but have thought better of it and deleted it for the sake of peace. Suffice it to say I have strong feelings about religion generally and Catholicism in particular, but this is neither the time nor the place.) However, I dutifully started reading it anyway, and it's actually brilliant. Very funny, and more about faith than religion, which I am totally on board with (in my opinion, two very different things - but again, this isn't relevant. Except to say if you're bored, you could do worse than Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert). But as good as the book is, I found myself continually putting it down and staring in a no doubt off-putting way around me instead. Because if you like people-watching (and I bloody love it), then Sydney is just about the best city in the world to be in.
From the irritating American woman who had actually named her unfortunate offspring TJ, and couldn't tell a sea anemone from an octopus; to the tour guide who knew less than one of his tourees, and even made two mistakes that I, with my miniscule knowledge of Australia, spotted; to the street performer with the West Country accent who simply had the worst patter in all the land, today has been by measures both hilarious and fascinating. First of all, after writing my previous entry, I managed to drop off again at about 3am, and slept for another four hours, so I wasn't actually as knackered today as I'd initially feared. My laptop and I journeyed back to Alexanders (the coffeeshop I found yesterday), because they, unlike my trusty hotel, have free wireless. Since left to my own devices, I'd spend the rest of my life online and utterly neglect anybody three dimensional, it's probably a good thing that my alternatives are paying for the net or only being able to use it as long as my battery holds out. I posted last night's entry, checked my email and of course, my beloved Facebook, and generally had a fabulously lazy couple of hours, drinking my latte and nattering away to people several time zones away. Good stuff.
Returned to Vibe to drop off the computer, since it's a little weighty to lug around Sydney for no reason, then set off for the harbour (making a quick stop in a department store first to buy sunglasses. Remember the Oakleys I got in Auckland? Yeah, not a clue where they are. I feel like they might be in Didsbury, or possibly at Cookie's, but either way, I didn't realise I'd misplaced them until the morning I left, by which point it was a bit late to start shooting around trying to find them. Anyway, I bought some very nice DKNYs, which will do fine to protect my wee eyes from the cruel southern sunshine).
Thoughts on the harbour (or Port Jackson, to give it its actual name): well, the Opera House is nice. I properly started grinning when I got my first glimpse of it through the trees - it's weird, but having seen it so many times but never in person, it's like "Oh my God, it's the goddamn Sydney Opera House, and it's over there, look!" when you finally come across it. It looks different to how I expected, though, it's not as pure white, and definitely smaller than I would have thought. It's still pretty cool though, and I'd love to actually go to the opera there. They have some Shakespeare on this season, including The Taming Of The Shrew, which I bet is not as good as the current London production, because it does not feature the fabulous Michelle Gomez as Katerina - for those of you who watched Green Wing, Michelle Gomez was Sue White; for those of you who didn't, she's the Scottish woman in that Heat advert who asks in the doctor's office where the latest edition of Heat magazine is.
The bridge, on the other hand, is much bigger than I expected. It's ace. To my eyes, it's actually far more architecturally stunning than the Opera House (to each their own, I guess, but the Opera House didn't inspire the same visceral reaction in me that looking at the bridge did), and I can't wait to walk over it tomorrow (decided against it today as it was seriously overcast and I thought the pics would look a lot better with a bit of sun in them). There's a sort of Coney Islandesque theme park on the other side, Luna Park, whose entrance is a big scary face. I am well excited to go and ride the Ferris Wheel, I can't even tell you.
Had a spot of lunch at the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar, where I had Broken Bay oysters as big as your fist (well, maybe not your fist, you might have massive hands - HAHAHAHA! Sorry, private joke, and I didn't even realise I'd made it until I'd already typed that - massive hands are a great thing though - but anyway, as big as my fist). Took a pic of my glass of Sancerre in front of the bridge, continuing my series on Raging Alcoholism & Scenic Views. Maybe one day I'll put together an exhibition. Had a little wander in the Botanic Gardens for about an hour, before heading to the Museum of Sydney to see this Tails Of The City exhibition they were advertising all over the place. Sydneysiders (for that is what they are) love their pets, it would seem, and the museum decided to celebrate that love. I read the guestbook, where somebody had written something about eating their dog after it had died, to which I added a typically English "wicked comment" underneath (we are an evil species - maybe it's Brits generally, actually, because God knows Mark and Lowri are just as evil), before genuinely getting a bit teary at the animal cruelty and lost pets bits. Stupid animals, causing me to have emotions in public!
The MOS is where I had the aforementioned Best Tour Ever   - the guy was just hilariously bad, it felt like his first day on the job. He was unsure, he was quiet, he kept just wandering off and waiting for us to follow him rather than saying "Follow me!" or anything, he made mistakes (according to him, there were about a thousand English settlers who initially arrived in Australia - I decided against pointing at the board right next to him that said there were fifteen hundred), he kept messing with his phone, he read stuff off the walls, and in the final room, he basically stood back and let this woman who clearly knew a damn sight more than him answer people's questions, because he was giving crap answers that didn't really explain what they wanted to know. And this wasn't some young upstart who had just started, he was in his mid forties at least (although I guess that doesn't mean he hadn't just started). I kept covering my mouth so I didn't laugh as he mumbled his way through the tour. I only joined it because it was starting just as I walked in, and badly wanted to leave, but I felt it would be the height of rudeness. Sigh.
As I left the museum, it was starting to rain (again - beware the heatwave, they said! HAH!), so I had a glass of wine in the cafe and waited for it to subside. When it didn't, I braced myself and headed down to the Sydney Aquarium over at Darling Harbour. The aquarium was brilliant, but I only did about half of it because my feet were starting to ache, and I'd bought a pass for that and the Wildlife World next door that's valid for 3 months (it was cheaper than buying them separately, and you can pet motherfucking koalas at the Wildlife World - I am SO there!), so I'm gonna go again tomorrow and do the rest of it before I go and try and figure out a way to pinch a koala (we could go on the lam together like the A Team, solving crimes and making friends and wandering the Earth while wearing tight purple pants and occasionally I'd turn into a deaf wrestler and I'd call the koala Clive and oh, it would be magical). I will therefore talk about the aquarium tomorrow, and hopefully I shan't run into TJ's mother once more. (Honestly - "Honey, that must be the octopus, right?" pointing at a tiny, tiny anemone. When I helpfully pointed out the octopus, which was admittedly hiding behind a ball under a rock shelf, she just stared at me like she was trying to do complex quantum mechanics in her head. There was practically dribble. America, keep the idiots at home, okay? I know there are nice, intelligent, cool people living there, I've met them, so stop letting the rest give you such a bad name in the global community. Electing Obama was a good start. Now let's put an IQ test on United's booking page and we're laughing.)
Scoffed a lush octopus salad for dinner (felt mildly guilty after seeing the one in the aquarium, but screw it, octopus is gorgeous and the one in the aquarium was very unsporting by not coming out to play), then after waiting for almost an hour for the bill (good food, SHODDY service, I'm Angus - and what's with the name? Who, exactly, is Angus?) I scooted back home, in dire need of a drink. The offy up the road closed ten minutes before I passed it (GRRR) but joy of joys, the pub a few doors down sold booze to take away, so I'm going to have a glass of Little Penguin Merlot (I know, you thought they only sold it at Asda, right, but it really is from Australia), read my Bill Bryson book for half an hour, and then get to bed. I am sleepy, and there are bridges to be trekked tomorrow. By the way, for those of you waiting with bated breath to hear more about the West Country street performer, ask me the story when I get home. I can't do it justice in writing, it requires an impersonation of his tone of voice for the full effect.
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suzloua on

Re: Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie!
Well bless your heart, little lady, you are too kind :) And I would never tar all Americans with the brush of some - there are plenty of Brits out there too, making idiots of themselves much to the rest's displeasure (anybody in Ibiza or watching any kind of football match abroad usually fits the description of 'national embarrassment').

I shall endeavour to continue providing you with happy Australian descriptions and to jog your own memories, my dear! xx

rokrchik on

If my fellow Americans are stupid enough to book United, then they've already failed the test! I think, like driving, that you should need to pass a test before you get your passport. Period. (And buy a computer but that's another story for another time). Know something about where you are going. And handed a booklet on how to act proper in the country you are visiting. Any violations will be handled with immediate exportation. I've people watched other Americans in London and been so SO embarrassed for my country.

I love that you wrote an evil comment in the guestbook but didn't want to offend the bad tour guy by leaving. Bless your British heart!

suzloua on

Haha, no, I didn't write a wicked comment, I wrote "wicked comment" - meaning "What a hilarious and quality thing you just said, sir" ;) The English have a twisted sense of humour, but you're quite right, we would also rather die than offend someone so yes, I couldn't possibly leave the tour no matter how bad it was!

As for Americans on tour - you're exceedingly enthusiastic and it's very touching. Don't let anyone tell you different ;)

rokrchik on

Ah, that's kind. Enthusiastic. Hm.

Also - I duck into covered doorways and alleyways to read my map too, but I do it to get out of the way unlike some other tourists who like to take up the whole frakkin' sidewalk and then just stop to get their bearings/read their map/yell at the top of their lungs, etc.

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