Day 1: Impressions

20150525_184447
Eight bags for a year!

First impressions aren’t always the most accurate, but often times they are what stick with you the longest.

But first, a few peculiar things about our flight. First of all, we were delayed by almost an hour because according to the captain, the computer system that is in charge of getting us from point A to point B had gone down and they were working quickly to get it fixed. While the computer system was being rebooted we got to watch an inebriated American guy (as he described on the phone to someone “I had only one beer…and a few gins”) try to be friendly with the two French Canadian girls next to him, but was promptly dismissed when they changed seats to avoid him. Finally, we were blessed with the weirdest announcements from the flight attendant, including intense Ebola symptom descriptions and quarantine measures, long ramblings about how we needed to fill in our customs forms now rather than later because, you know, things get lost…all punctuated by horribly awkward loud slow breathing. All passengers were equally confused.

15 hours later:

Stepping out of the airport into the crisp morning Sydney air I had a feeling of being in a similar place. Possibly a less humid Hawaii or Okinawa. I’m still not sure why I had that feeling. Our driver and host was prompt and ready to help us get our eight bags of luggage into his economically sized car. Luckily there was not another person in the car or someone would have had to get a taxi back to the apartment. Fun fact, the apartment building which we are currently occupying is actually a renovated flour mill. At little drafty, but it has large windows and allows for a good deal of natural light to come through. It’s the kind of apartment where you can lounge around and read for most of the day.

After getting settled, Christina and I made our way to the downtown area. I don’t know if it was the loss of a day or me being extremely hungry, but when I took my first steps into that famous city I was a bit underwhelmed. It probably has to do with the fact that not only did the time zone change when I entered the southern hemisphere, but so did the season. And winter is definitely off season for Sydney. Funny enough, winter in Sydney feels very similar to summer in the San Francisco Bay Area. The city felt strangely under populated. I thought, you know, a city with a population with just about 5 million people would have a bustling downtown, but this felt like some areas of Reno. But this view of a sleepy city soon changed as we sought out the cell phone store we were looking for. It turns out that we just got off at the wrong stop and that all the people I had expected to see were all hanging out on the street with “the largest Apple store in the Southern Hemisphere”, as described by the lady at the Sydney Visitor Information Center. And it’s true, this was one of the largest Apple stores I’ve ever seen-4 stories. We then headed off to see the Sydney Opera House.

20150527_130626

On our way we found a nice park that had a few interesting birds (ibis and cockatoos!) and some space for us to rest since Christina and I were starting to feel the affects of jet lag.

After resting for a little while, we finally made it to the Opera House. It’s pretty nice. You know, large pointy, and gleaming in the sunlight.

20150527_135455

20150527_140112

Once we had our fill of staring at a national icon, we took our leave and made for the nearest train station to go back to our flour mill apartment.

Overall, good start to our year long journey. I just can’t wait to be out of the city and on the road. Cities are cool and everything, but I still haven’t seen a kangaroo yet!

Advertisements

What’s with the name?

Curious TortoiseAustralia has more species of vascular plants than 94% of countries on Earth, more species of mammals than 93% of countries, more birds than 79% of countries, more amphibians than 95% of countries, and more reptiles than any other country on Earth.

Except, of course, for one missing group: tortoises.

There are a few marine and freshwater turtles, but alas no land-dwelling tortoises.

(Differences between turtles, tortoises and terrapins)