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Crickey! It's cold down here, mate.

Written on: Wednesday September 10th, 2008

Leaving NC, I boarded Quantas Airlines flight 92 headed for Australia. The time went quickly as I sat next to a wonderfully pleasant woman from Tonga. It was so fun to discuss the country I had just been to last month. And, as it is her job to fly literally everywhere in the South Pacific, it was very informative to pick her brain on the destinations that I will be seeing in my near future. Hopefully I'll see her again in micronesia!

So now I find myself staring at the backpacker advertisements lining the wall of the SYD airport. They all look the same, and cost about the same. Asking another onlooker where he was thinking of going, we decided to choose a spot together and set off. We were both feeling a bit tired upon arival to the room, but managed to head off for beer and pizza before calling it an early night.

The next day we intended to be a typical Sydney tourist...and the city did not disappoint. Sydney is a wonderfully laid out city. Most everything is walkable, and a simple transit system exists for places that are not. We started off on foot to the Sydney Botanical Gardens, which is a huge park right in the middle of the city. The highlight here has to be the giant fruit bats that roost in the trees all day. Continuing toward the sea, we spotted our first glimpse of Australia's most famous landmark: the Sydney Opera House. Photos were taken from many angles and vantage points, as this structure truly is unique. Walking further, we met three ladies from USA...one of which was from St. Paul...how 'bout that! They invited us for a drink, so we found a cosy pub in The Rocks and chatted a bit before continuing on with our day. A quick train and bus ride found us at Sydney's surf spot: Bondi Beach. The scene was a bit bleak, as it is winter here now, but one can see how this place sizzles in the summer. After another pint, we headed back to the city to treat ourselves to an all-you-can-eat buffet atop the Sydney Tower. Over 1000 feet high, the tower provided some wonderful views of the city, and the kangaroo meat was certainly a cullinary highlight.

The next morning we arose early to tackle the blue mountains, which are in a national park about two hours out of Sydney. We started off in a eucalyptus forest where we spotted several kangaroos in the wild. It was interesting to watch them in their natural environment. Continuing on, we arrived at the 'grand canyon' where we began our three hour trek down one side and up the other. An experienced zoologist led us past towering cliffs and beautiful rainforest. Rock overhangs and waterfalls abound in this spectacular setting. Departing the canyon we set off for Katoomba and the famous 'three sisters' rock formation. Eventually we arrived back in the city, and set off to enjoy Jamie's last night here. To my amazement, the first pub at which we stopped was showing a tape delayed viewing of the Packer game! Sweet! I had yet to check the score, so it was all new to me. We arrived in the second quarter and stayed until the end, at which time I was a very happy boy. This might be one of the few times on my trip where I would like to be back in Minneapolis, if for no other reason than to collect my $1 from Lisa. Hee hee! After the game, we ventured around town until finding an Irish bar with live music, where we stayed for the duration. Our night consisted of listening to tunes, having a few pints and watching many, many drunken Irish stumble about. Hope you made it to the airport ok, Jamie!

Wednesday found me solo again, and I took the opportunity to go for my first run of the trip: a ten kilometer jaunt through what is quite possibly the most beautiful urban track I've ever run. A relaxing afternoon allowed me to prepare for the evening, where I decided to treat myself to sushi, wine and an opera. Sure, it may be a bit of a cliche, but seeing 'Don Giovanni' at the Sydney Opera House is an experience that I will never forget.

So now I write before my last evening in Sydney. It has been way more fun than expected, and I am glad to have come here. Tomorrow I put away the shoes and jacket, and hop back into the swimsuit and flips, as I make my way to Indonesia! Cheers mates!


From Larry and Cindy on Sep 10th, 2008

Awesome trip! It's a funny coincidence that Cindy and I were just reading your adventures for the first time yesterday and then we got an email from you today. We're headed in the opposite direction to France the end of the month. Enjoy Australia.

From Will and Maria on Sep 11th, 2008

You're a crazy ass fool...and I wish we where with you watching Don. (from Will) Shawn did you see some dangos?? or some Kangos?? Love you.

From LIsa Garvy on Sep 26th, 2008

Hi Shawn, We so enjoyed meeting you and Jaime. I also enjoyed reading what you have been up to since we last saw you in the pub. If you ever get to Chicago, look my sister and I up - Good Luck and best wishes on an eventful and inspiring experience.