Yesterday was the first nice day I had in Australia. In the morning, I went to Paddington with Mom to window shop in the fancy independent stores and managed to find one reasonably priced one where I bought a salmon pink crochet overtop which looks a lot nicer than it sounds. Then lunch in the Sydney version of Forest Hill and back on the bus to visit the Sydney Opera House.
The SOH is stunning from every angle. The history is more controversial than I had realized (original budget $7 mil, 4 years; actual budget $102 mil, 16 years) and got so bad that the original designer was fired after completing only the iconic shells of the building. The interior is lovely but nothing spectacular, although I was quite fond of the seats. According to our guide, each of the large halls books out years in advance and renting them costs $15 000/day! On the day we were there a girls’ school rented it out for morning graduation and a boy’s college (high school) did the same for the afternoon. The boy’s school also had a Scottish marching band which treated us to a fine concert of bagpipes and drum corps. Mom said I wonder how hot they are in those uniforms, to which I responded, “I know *exactly* how hot they are right now.”
Then we flew to Melbourne. Unlike Sydney, the second I arrived here I felt at home. Just like in Wellington, Melbourne has that special quality which attracts you to it. Maybe it was the amazing weather, maybe the nightlife (the malls, streets, lanes, pubs, restaurants, stores were absolutely packed even at 9:30 pm), maybe just the visible livability of the city. Either way, I’m definitely coming back here - 5 days is not enough!
Fourth day in Sydney and the weather is slightly better, yippeee! Mom and I got lots of sleep last night, which we desperately needed, but still got up in time to catch the only ferry out to Darling Point, where my grandfather’s best friend lives and where we spent almost the whole day. She has the most magnificent view, and her next door neighbour searched the entire world to find this particular view and chose her building, so you know it’s good. Picture to follow.
After our brunch and Skype with my grandfather, which turned into a Skype then talk then lunch, Chris drove us around Sydney to see the Botanic Gardens, where we chanced upon some wild ibis and rainbow parakeets and cockatoos. Then we bid Chis adieu and made our way to the Market St shopping district and Queen Victoria Building which were spectacular(ly overpriced). All in all quite a lovely day.
Sydney at sunset
Ok, well, two of those are true. I am in Sydney, Australia, and I did just witness a gorgeous sunset over Bondi Beach. Surfing not so much, due to the coldest start of summer in over 50 years and the fact that all the learn to surf courses take 6 days apparently. Things I’ve done since I got here: - visited the aquarium (pretty good, but the Boston Aquarium is better and there weren’t enough of the tropical coral reef fish I was expecting.) - window shopped in the David Jones Market St. Mall and Westfield Bondi mall - got a free make up “demonstration” - watched The Ides of March (highly enjoyed seeing both Ryan Gosling and George Clooney in the same movie although the film itself was not stunning) - visited the Wildlife Centre (koalas and kangaroos and wallabys, oh my!) I haven’t really done sight-seeing stuff partly because of the weather which has been cool and rainy, partly because Sydney is way too fashionable for my vacation mode self and partly because I’m saving it for tomorrow when my mom comes(!). I’ve decided that Sydney is nice, but I’m really glad I went to NZ for the year instead.
Swimming with bottlenose dolphins in Paihia. No pics of ne with them but we did see one pod “resting” i.e. swimming slowly in circles and jumping up for air and got to swim in a fairly sheltered bay with a pod that was very playful. Seeing a dolphin swim under you is a beautiful thing.
Sorry Mom! I didn’t tell you ahead of time, but believe me you were in my head when I got strapped in and jumped off. I didn’t do the bungy, just the swing. (It’s not much better). The bungy is 134m of straight drop. Here is Jens getting ready.
He did the big one. I have video, which I will upload shortly.
Marcel and Bjorn did very well too, although Bjorn couldn’t release his legs so he got pulled up upside down.
Yay Marcel! After we got to see all of them bungy (and Elin and Morgan too!) Susanna, Mica and I all went to do our swing. Susie and Mica are insane and did it backwards.
I don’t have any pictures of myself doing it (for obvious reasons) but I will hopefully get some soon.
I will say two things about it: 1) The worst part is in your head. Honestly, I was freaking myself out about it unneccesarily, because the actual doing of it was an amazing rush that I will never forget. 2) It is the best rush in the world. You feel like you’re going to keep dropping (it’s a 60 m drop before the rope catches you) but then you get to swing close to the ground and then when you get pulled back up you swing high above the river.
I took a whole bunch of pictures while travelling around on the Kiwi Ex bus and I don’t remember where all of these are, so they’re getting posted in one large batch. Enjoy!
View from my hostel room window of a foothill of the Franz Josef Glacier.
Standing under a waterfall. Not sure where.
First glimpse of one of the lakes around Queenstown. And it just gets better from there.
Some poor bugger about to jump off the Kawarau Bridge. It’s ok though, it’s only 43 m until he hits the river. This is the site of the first commercial bungy jump in the world. Sweet as!
Queenstown Underwater Observatory lets you turn a calm lake into a feeding frenxy, complete with Scaup Ducks, the endemic New Zealand diving duck. It can dive up to 8m!
Further to my post about kayaking in Abel Tasman, here are some pictures of said adventure.
Split Apple Rock.
First time sterning a two person kayak. I think I’ll stick to canoes and single kayaks, thanks much.
Yeah, it was as good being there as it looks. Sunny and warm day, beautiful clear waters.
Rosetta, Mandy, Caroline, Louie, Rachel and me - a good bunch of kayakers.
View from the top, or at least part way. The weather was gorgeous in the morning and only a slight misty rain moved in upon our descent. Quite lucky, given that we’re in the middle of a glacier/rain forest.
One of several ice tunnels we slid, crawled and climbed through. The brilliant blue colour is due to the pressure the ice is under. The more pressure, the deeper the blue. The top of the glacier is covered in snow the consistency of party ice and is called the sun crust. Basically, the sun can’t just melt the ice so what happens is a decompression followed by melting.