Thursday, October 25, 2012

three days in sydney.

I realize my last post was "three days in auckland" but actually I was in Auckland for 7. So I figured this time it's appropriate because I was actually in Sydney for just three days.

To be honest, I got here and couldn't believe it. I have wanted to come here ever since the 2000 Olympic Games were held here. I remember the shots of the Sydney Opera House and I thought, it's so, so far away. I never will get there. And I got here. So let me tell you about it.

Basically the first picture I took when I got here.
While it seems far, I think it's worth the trip. I can see why people would travel for hours and hours (sometimes a full day) to get here. We actually don't have it so bad in the United States. If you were in London and wanted to fly to Auckland, it would take you something like 26 hours of travel. My travel day back is rough, but I would say it was worth it.

I was only in Sydney for three days, like I said. If you have more time, and you can swing it, stay longer. Part of me wishes I was staying an extra day, but considering I have been gone for two weeks now, and I have been mostly on my own the entire time, I would say it's time to go home. Now I know though - I want to come back.

So what did I do while I was here? A lot. At least, it seemed like it.

I stayed in an area called The Rocks. It's very close to Circular Quay (pronounced "key" here - and a main hub for ferries) and has a lot of history, being that it was basically the first settled area of Sydney. So, thankfully, I was able to walk everywhere, with the exception of from the airport to my hostel.

In three days, I:

Took the ferry to Taronga Zoo and saw elephants, kangaroos and many more animals.

Went to the Sydney Aquarium... which was kind of a bust, I think. They had some cool exhibits like a mock Great Barrier Reef and a great number of sharks... but there are probably other things to do. Still, I liked going. I learned some things, like there is this giant crab called a Japanese spider crab, and it can be as big as 12 feet long from claw to claw. GROSS. I would not want to meet one in nature.

Took a tour of the Sydney Opera House and saw an opera - my first! It was a great experience, I think. I like activities like that, and wish I could do things like that more often. The opera was called Lucia di Lammermoor and it was in Italian. It kind of reminded me of a Romeo and Juliet type story. They had subtitles, but it seemed to me like there was more to sing about than just the few words on the translator. So, I was continuing the story in my head. It was fun anyway, but that kind of made it more comical. I'd definitely go to another opera.

Saw whales on a whale watching tour. This is maybe the most questionable part of my trip. I bought a ticket for a two hour "adventure ride" because the boat is smaller (not a ferry) and goes faster. Cool. I like boats. Except, riding in a boat in the tiny 7-mile lake my parents have a house on, even when it's my uncle's faster boat, is WAY different than riding in a boat on the ocean when there is wind and huge swells. I was doing just fine until we started cresting the waves and slamming back down to the water, and huge amounts of water came into the boat. I remember thinking, I did not sign up for this!!! I was scared, to be honest, and I think it was the constant feeling that we might just tip over into the ocean that led me to be seasick. Like I said, I like boats. A lot. But not in the ocean with waves that big. Like I said, we did see whales (a mom and a calf) and they were very active, jumping and playing. But I was holding on for dear life and covered in salt water and digging out my camera to try to get a shot of a 3 second whale jump did not seem all that important.

The lesson here? When they say you can get off the boat and book another time because of waves/swell? DO IT.

I also went to Manly Beach and got sunburned (but only on my back. My front barely looks like I was outside at all).

I ate some delicious food... seafood (including Sydney Rock oysters, which I would highly recommend if you are ever down here), a kangaroo burger, crocodile pizza... I figure if I am here, I might as well try it, right?

Crocodile pizza from the Australia Hotel

Plus I had a few good beers, including one at what is touting itself as the oldest pub in Sydney (called Fortune of War), and some wine.

I spent a lot of money (which I didn't really have in the first place - ha!), walked A LOT, stayed in my first hostel (albeit in a private room), and had another successful trip on my own.

I realize, in doing these trips on my own, the kinds of places I like to go and things I like to do. I wish more people felt empowered to do things on their own, even simple things like going to a movie or eating in a restaurant alone. It's weird, but it makes you aware of the world around you. You watch other people, you watch your surroundings, and you can learn, just by observing. I also realize that even though it can be a little nerve-wracking to do something like this (and by that I mean, travel to a foreign country alone), it is a great experience. If you wait for someone else to do something with you, you might miss out. So take advantage of your time to do things you want to do, when you want to do them. Don't let chances pass you by.

My trip might be over, but there are more exciting things to come, like trips to Michigan for weddings (including one in just 1 week!) and holidays, and more new places to explore next year and in the future. And maybe, my next international trip? I'll have a buddy to drink a beer with and take my picture for me in front of a landmark, so I don't have to do it myself. ;)


Thursday, October 18, 2012

three days in auckland.



So I’ve been in New Zealand for three days now, and I thought I’d fill you in on what’s been going on here, since it’s not all that close to the States.

My view of Auckland from my hotel.

I’m here to work the ITU Triathlon World Championships, which take place this weekend. That’s actually how I find myself here in the first place. Very cool trip! It’s going to be a busy weekend, that’s for sure. Saturday and Sunday we have 13 American athletes competing in a total of six different races… which is not so bad, to be honest. The true test will come Monday – around 400 athletes in 3 races! It’s good practice for writing, photographing, interviewing, etc. Even without the trips I enjoy my job so this is a great test.

ANYWAY.

This event is happening in Auckland. I think there are quite a few places people hit up in New Zealand, like Wellington and Christchurch. I’m not sure that Auckland has all that much to do, compared to a place like London. (This may not be a fair assessment, but I was just there.) Mostly, I have been walking around town, going from my hotel to the race venue and to try to find fun new places to eat. Personally, I think new foods are one of the best things of traveling anywhere, within the U.S. or internationally.

Here are some things I have noticed while I’ve been here these past three days:

I feel very rude when I eat. I notice this in London too. In other countries (at least here and in GB), people are very skilled with knives and forks. I can’t cut with my right and eat with my left. I cut and eat with my right. I switch utensils. I don’t know about you, but I am just not good at silverware. Plus, people here (and in GB) eat sandwiches (read: BURGERS) with a knife and a fork! I might be sloppy but if I order a burger, I’m totally picking it up.

It’s kinda cold here, on the water. I know this is not new… but today it was FREEZING here. It’s early spring, and I am more familiar with the hot, dry sun in Colorado. I never thought I’d miss it as much as I do now. I also am cold just sitting in my room. Fun fact: I am using the robe they had in here as a blanket on the couch.

Traveling alone is just okay. I really do like traveling alone. If you have a chance to do it, I recommend it. You can go where you want, when you want, on your own schedule. However, it would be nice to have someone to eat dinner with sometimes. Maybe that’s just me. I am kind of chatty. I’ve noticed it’s more difficult here since there aren’t wifi networks to connect my phone to when I’m sitting alone.

I miss running. I don’t know if it’s seeing all these triathletes around, or if it’s trudging up all the hills around downtown Auckland… but I do miss running. My shins are not so pleased about all the wandering I’ve been doing, but I still have that urge to run. That’s not related to travel, but I had to say it.

One does not simply walk into Mordor. Especially when one cannot figure out where they even filmed the movie here. I guess it was not in Auckland anyway, so I’m out of luck!

The world is full of great things. If you’re not going out to experience them, you’re missing out. It’s great to see what is happening in your own community, your area, whatever. But still… you have to know, there’s more out there than just what’s right in front of you.

The best time to leave the country is the immediate time period leading up to a presidential election. Self explanatory.

The worst time to leave the country is during baseball playoff season.

Thursday is almost over here, but it’s kind of hard to know what day it is. I mean, considering I skipped a Monday and thought today was Wednesday when I woke up (which I guess it was, at home). So that’s all I’ve got for now. I’m here for a few more days, and then it’s off to Sydney!