By singular demand I am posting the trip.
I don't know if I do summaries very well, but I'll try it - enter the joys of a one-week trip to the other side of the world.
Saturday morning we flew from Atlanta to LA, then LA to Sydney. The best part is that because of the time change in the States and Australia, instead of flying over night as is the usual itinerary, we were able to fly "during the day" and land Sunday night Sydney time. This allowed us to get there, and pretty much go straight to bed and get a full night's sleep, rather than having to start in the morning. I think this was the key to the fact that neither one of us experienced any jet lag in Austrlia. Upon check-in at our hotel, this was our view.
Not bad, I say.
The next day was Monday, and I worked from 10-5 while Dave walked around Sydney and figured out where things were. After work, we walked around and went to dinner. Some of the sites:
Seriously, we were really there. At the Sydney Opera House. I still don't know if I believe it.
On Tuesday, I worked 7-12, and Dave went to the aquarium. Then we met my colleagues at a pub to watch the Melbourne Cup. This is a horse race that shuts down the country. Think the Kentucky Derby's influence on Kentucky, and apply that to Australia, which is the size of the US's lower 48. I looked out the window of the pub during the race, and there was no one on the street, not even cars. Well, unlike the Derby, these horses can race multiple years. And the favorite was on her third race. We picked her, and she won. This is the first horse to win three in a row. We won $37 on a $10 bet. Good times.
Then we went to the airport to fly to Melbourne - a one hour and 20 minute flight south. Since the cup was there just a few hours earlier, and the week-long Carnival was still going on, things were crazy in Melbourne. Our hotel was a few miles outside of the city - probably similar to Decatur, if you have to compare it to Atlanta. We were about two miles from the Italian area, and that's where we ate. I've never seen anywhere like this. All the restaurants are right along the same street, one right after the other. They all had their sidewalks full of tables and chairs. We had about five feet to walk between the restaurant and tables along with everyone else going in our direction and the other. Meanwhile the restauranteurs were accosting us to come into their restaurants. Bizarre. So we went across the street to one that didn't attack us.
Wednesday was another 7-12 day, while Dave walked around. We ate on the river
and then took a tram for about 45 minutes to this little beach.
Something we started to realize is that modern cities are modern cities. Outside of something like the Sydney Opera House, if we had been dropped off without knowing where we were, these could have been pretty much any city in America. Well, ok, and driving on the left side of the road. But still, the buildings could be just about anywhere. The key is getting outside of the cities. And we got to do that when my boss gave me Thursday off, and directions to Mooloolaba beach about an hour outside of Brisbane. Turns out, this is where he was a member of the Mooloolaba Beach Surf Lifesaving Club. These are lifeguards, but they also participate in competitions.
The drive was beautiful, with these cool mountains that would pop up. Then the beach was incredible. Blue, cool water, nice sand, and huge waves. Huge waves. Waves like I've never seen in my life. I couldn't stand up in them. They knocked me over until I figured out that I better go under them or get out entirely. The pictures don't do them justice because there's no context, but they were at least five foot breakers. We had such a good time. This is somewhere we hope to go back to.
Apparently this is a protected beach, and the waves "aren't that bad." Thank you to my boss for sending us to this one.
Brisbane was a short day, and our flight left at 3pm. We then headed to Auckland, through Sydney. The flight created some cool shots. We could see how big Sydney really is. This shot is only one part of Sydney.
Ah, and then there's Auckland, New Zealand. We actually had a good bit of free time here, so this was great. Kayaking, driving around hills and beaches in a Suzuki Samarai, and then a visit to the Auckland Museum.
Some Auckland shots...
From the ferry
Waiheke Island Kayaking and Driving
A beautiful park in the heart of the city.
A different park, also in the city.
I guess that about sums it up.
The flights? Long - 14 hours LA to Sydney. 11 hours Auckland to LA. The jet lag? None going over. At first it seemed there wouldn't be any coming back, either. Ah, but there was. And has been all week. I'm still wiped out at about 3pm every day.
All in all, an amazing trip. I was ready to get home, but I definitely want to go back. We'd like to see more of the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast in Australia, plus more inland. And we definitely want to go back to New Zealand and hit the south island. That's where the truly amazing stuff is supposed to be. I can't even imagine.