Monday, January 31, 2005
At this rate...
Today was the first day of apartment hunting. After a slow start in the morning, we paid our last months rent on the current apartment, and made our way down to the housing boards in ISS. After a search of the listings there, we came up with one candidate. Just one. And the only difference in the address from where we live now would be an 8 instead of a 4. I called up to make a time to see it, and was told to call back after 6 and she should be home. Back home, a little reading and a short nap later I call again, only to be told that she doesn't know when she'll be there, but she will give me a call. So we are waiting and waiting, and no call comes. Finally Lisa, Yan and I decide that we need to eat dinner so we run over to Coles, grab some pasta and come home and make a nice tortellini in a cream sauce with basil and semi-sundried tomatos. I try calling again, no answer this time. I'm guessing at this point nothings happening tonight, and I'll try again tomorrow and hope we can get a look at it.


Wednesday, January 26, 2005
Our Land Abounds in la la la la
Australia Day 2005 started with a bang. Well more like an incessant beeping from my alarm clock telling me to get up and out of bed and ready for the day. Although not an obscene hour, 7 am still felt early after being up late the night before for no particular reason. Christina Langer (Germany) is staying with us for a few nights before she heads home, and Jeff came by, so Lisa, Christina, Jeff and I headed down to Circular Quay where we headed over to the Gum Nut Café on Harrington Street. Andrew and Nat met us there shortly after we arrived and we ordered with gusto, eager to get the day started right. The favorite choice was the French Toast with Caramelized Bananas which was had by three of us (myself included) and was quite excellent. After eating and dallying a while we sauntered over towards Mrs. Macquaries Chair, picking up Yan on the way, where we settled in to watch the ferry race, along with the 100’s of other ships, small and large, that rode along with them.

A short nap followed the race for me while the rest enjoyed the bright sunny day, just relaxing on the lawn for a while. Eventually we made our way up towards the park, passing dozens of vintage cars, on our way to find lunch. After traversing Hyde Park and checking out all the stalls available, we agreed to split up, grab what we wanted and meet at one end of the park. Lunch for Jeff and myself was a Turkish Gozleme, which is like a crepe, although quite oily, and filled with spinach, feta and beef. Yummy as long as you don’t think about what you’re eating.

After lunch Jeff left us to head back home to get some work done, and Christina went to go meet with some other friends while we headed over to the NSW barracks, one of the many museums that was free to the public on Australia Day. We admired the artifacts dating back to when the building was used first to house convicts, and later as the post house along with a handful of other uses before being saved from destruction in the 1960’s and made into a museum in the early 90’s. Then it was more classic cars that we strolled through while watching the Royal Australian Air Force Roulettes do an aerial display over downtown.

After deciding against taking a ferry over to Darling Harbour, we ended up grabbing some ice cream at The Rocks and then walking around along the harbour for a while. Andrew and Nat left us and the three of us remaining made the short walk over to Darling Harbour. We grabbed a front row seat at just after 4 and settled in to watch the parade of ships that made their way across the harbour over the next few hours. At around 7, ostensibly in search of food, I decided to get up and see what else was going on around there. I wandered over to where some music was playing and caught the tail end of an Aussie rock band, which was followed up Fiddlers Festival. I ended up staying for their whole set, as they fiddled, banjoed and mandolined (along with various drums, accordions and a guitar) their way through a number of high energy delights that only a fiddle can bring to life. Afterwards I squirmed my way back through the crowds to find where everyone else was sitting (Christina and her friend had returned) and after a few short speeches on the jumbotron the fireworks show began. We had the perfect vantage point and they were just beautiful.

Afterwards, we slowly made our way out through the massive crowds, and headed towards the bus stop. When we made it there though, after watching a full bus drive by, we realized it might be a while till we managed to get on one, so just decided to share a cab instead, which ended up being not that much more than for the bus. All in all it was a wonderful Australia Day- quite long, but filled with lots of fun activities, good food and wonderful people.


Saturday, January 22, 2005
Symphony in the Domain
The flight back from Tasmania touched down at almost 8:30 am concluding the 10 day trip. (Pictures and details to come). Joe and I were picked up by Sam who thankfully saved us from waiting for the bus and brought back to our respective apartments where we could both relax from our travels, do our best to scrape off the dirt and mud, and rest our tired bones and sore muscles. A hot shower did a world again, and the early afternoon was spent attempting to return my room to a normal looking state, as it was still filled with my half unpacked bags from my travels back to the US.

At around 5:30, after a quick swapping of pictures from the trip with Joe, I made my way downtown to meet up with Nat and Andrew to attend the Symphony in the Domain. One of several free concerts put on over the summer here, this years theme was a Journey to the Stars with the Sydney Symphony. We arrived there at just before 6:30 for the 8pm program, and were hard pressed to find space to throw our blanket, but eventually we found a spot and settled in to have some cheese and crackers and wine and chicken along with other assorted snack goodies.

We were entertained through the sporadic drizzle that came down by a whole host of events, including a whistling contest (the song was to be Land Down Under by Men at Work) and lots of random trivia about anything even remotely related to the program or any of the sponsors. By 8 o’clock the rain had stopped and the symphony came out and started with the Theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey. This short, recognizable piece was followed by Sculthorpe’s Earth Cry, which featured William Barton on the didgeridoo, who was just amazing. The circular breathing needed to play that instrument consistently leaves me awestruck. Bellini's Norma: Casta Diva was next, followed by the Saturn and Mars movements of Holst’s Planets.

After a short intermission the 2nd half began with the E.T flying theme, which was played just as the half moon broke through the thick clouds for a few minutes to shine down upon us. Stridano lassu from Pagliacci was next, trailed by another movement from Holst’s Planets, Jupiter, which happens to be my favorite. You can just close your eyes, relax, and believe that you are floating through space as the music washes over you. The final piece scheduled was Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture, a classic piece at any Australian Symphony (it ends the program every year), complete with fireworks and several firing cannons along with thousands of sparkler producing audience members who all conduct it in nearly perfect time. As a special treat they played an encore of the theme from Star Wars, which fit in perfectly with the theme of the night and left everyone humming as we slowly made our way to the exits after the final notes had been played, and the final bows taken.

A quick jaunt down to Circular Quay followed, to see the bridge all lit up with the dancing New Year’s lights and the giant pinwheel globe hanging from its side. Some gelato from a stand at the foot of the Quay and we were off to stroll along the harbour, taking in the buskers, ranging from Spanish music to the ever present steel drums playing Dancing Queen for 2 slightly intoxicated looking women who just couldn’t stop dancing. At that point the rain started to fall a bit harder than before and we parted ways, leaving me free to hop a bus back home where my own bed awaited me for the first time in almost 2 weeks.


Tuesday, January 11, 2005
For a brief instant
Im back in Australia. Landed safely although short one bag. Fortunately they got it back to me that night. Off to Tasmania now. More when I'm back.


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