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January 29 - February 5, 2011

Meat Pies, Ocean Water, and Baz

G’day from Australia,

This email is sponsored by the new movie “Australia” (in theaters soon).  The country is “banking on” the movie doing well so if you don’t get see it, I feel I might not be able to return.

We arrived in Sydney on Sunday morning bagless, a little weary, and ready to buy a knife like the one that Crocodile Dundee had in his movie.  No luck yet on the knife front but Sydney was pretty cool.  In an effort to be culturally aware, we’ve decided to emerse ourselves in the culture by speaking with an Australian tongue.  So, that means lots of “g’day mates” and whenever ordering we yell out “throw another (fill in the name of the meat being ordered) on the barbie”.  This has been met with confused looks and a fairly regular shake of the head or eye roll.  Hmmm.  Nonetheless, we push on.  Our first day in town found us rolling out of the subway into an area that the Qantas Lost Baggage Agent said would have “lots of strip bars, you’ll like it”.  I actually wished I had my Dundee knife but we made it through safely.  We decided to stroll through the city and headed through a big park on the north side of town that was filled with different trees of the world.  Tiff’s favorite was one with big purple flower that were vibrant in the sun.  It was cool.  Hanging in those tree were also huge freaky bats making awful sounds which we later learned were wombats (wom means “very large and extremely freaky” in Australian).  Except they were just actually regular bats (wombats just seemed like a cooler name).

As we were just about to round the corner to see the jewel of Australia – the Sydney Opera House – Tiffy keenly spotted the markers from The Amazing Race and a finale point across the water, so we turned and headed that way.  We saw a team running in but our cheers were met with confused faces.  As we approached the mat, the regular host was no where to be found.  In his place was another well chiseled guy and a crazy old coot dressed in old Australian garb who would repeatedly ring a bell and yell “WELCOME TO SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA”.  Now that’s a greeting.  We later found out that it was, in fact, The Amazing Race, but it was another country’s version.

We eventually made it to the Opera house which was much more 70s inside that I would have ever thought.  Strangely, my bell bottom jeans flared a bit more and my sideburn appeared fuller in the mirrors there.  Coincidence?  I think not!  The Opera house does have a stellar location though and the harbor was an awesome sight.  We also paid way too much to climb the Harbor Bridge which was well worth the money just for the views from above.  I was a little nervous about the heights but when I noticed a 70 year old lady in our group I decided to swallow my fear.  While I didn’t get to pee or spit off the top, I did get a picture and scolding from Tiffany for fake throwing her off.

Other notable items include:

  • One guy from Naughty By Nature (it’s not that I hate ‘cha), who I recognized from my glorious amounts of MTV watching in middle school, was staying in our hotel.  After this sighting and the other Amazing Race host, I thought Australia might be the D-list capital of the world.  Later we saw Nicole Kidman’s bodyguards and limos and decided maybe it was the C-list capital of the world.
  • We went to the world famous Bondi Beach where it was blustery and probably in the high 60s.  Despite this fact, I decided to go swimming.  A couple of quick facts about Bondi that I liked: you can only swim between the flags (otherwise the current is too strong and you’ll die), sharks can’t get in because there’s a big net blocking the bay (otherwise they’d get in and eat you), and the lifeguards there are all volunteers (cool).  So I changed into my suit from my jeans and long sleeve shirts and started by sprinting up and down the beach to warm up.  I hit the water which was cold with unfortunate waves that liked to splash me in the jewels before I was ready.  Regardless, I pushed on and had a smashing swim (for about 1.5 minutes) before retreating to shore.
  • I’m enjoying sampling the local beer selections and really like trying out the different meat pies around town.  Basically, meat pies are little fluffy pies filled with deliciousness.  Last night I had a Tiger at a famous stand called Harry du Wheels.  It was a beef pie topped with mashed potatoes, mashed split peas, and gravy.
  • I’m writing this from Cairns on the north side near the Great Barrier Reef.  It’s always sunny and friendly here which means we arrived to rain.  No bother, we had a midget guy (who said “no worries” all the time) rent us a car so that’s a good start.  Tomorrow we’ll reef it and then it’s on to the Daintree Rainforest.

Hope all is well with you and yours.

Nate and Tiff


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