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Published: March 8th 2006
OK, I started writing this a week ago, but have had very limited internet access/time - I'm being weaned from my electronic addiction and am still having some sweats and autonomic dysfunction (yes, I love technology!) - so its just being published now. We're still a few days behind, but will try and catch up over the weekend - I'm only covering up to March 1st here then Melissa will bring us into Queenstown and to the South Island of New Zealand.
Well, well, well...
One week of the big honeymoon trip has now passed. We're now in Auckland at a comfy B&B named "Amitees of Ponsonby" getting ready to go downtown and catch the ferry across to a little island (Waiheke Island) with over 40 vineyards where we'll spend the rest of the week!
How about a little recap of the last week of our travel lives:
The week started last Thursday when we left Ying's place in LA for the airport. Having slept about 5-6 hours that night and zero the night before I was in a bit of a fog (that kind of ICU month intern feeling) when we went outside on Ying's roofdeck to
take a few pictures of her and Melissa. We then came back down and quickly packed up to head to the airport.
Once at the airport, we went to check in when I noticed that my little carry-on bag was, oh, only half-full. Brainiac here managed to forget a pile of stuff over at Ying's house (iPod, print-outs of all confirmations, etc) on her desk. Brilliant! Luckily for me, we were able to call Ying and she sweetly brought it all back over to the airport, delaying her modeling appointment (fitting her wedding dress, that is)
So, after that rocky start, we cruised onto the plane, saying insightful things to each other like " I'm really glad we stayed up all night! Now we won't be jetlagged at all! (Brilliant! again)" By the way, this insane strategy for avoiding jet lag doesn't really work, we've still been sleeping 9-10 hours per night and Melissa still has gotten sick ... maybe she's just trying to sleep more ...
Then came the 15 hour flight from LA to Sydney. Good times. Especially good times if you like to eat about 18 small meals and watch movies nonstop. I put
my foot down this flight - as part of the Brilliant! strategy to avoid jetlag, I denied poor Melissa sleep, keeping her up so that we could fall asleep once we got to Sydney at 10 or 11 pm. The strategy does work, but a little tough to avoid the whole jetlag thing altogether - I think it took us a good 4-5 days to really get over it.
So, Sydney was beautiful - the city is extraordinarily clean and tidy. It also feels incredibly safe for a city of 4 million. Lots of beautiful sights and areas to explore right in the middle of the city. We went to the Opera House, of course, which is incredible. The architect, jorn Utzon, has apparently been re-hired at age 800 to oversee its renovation over the next several years. He left the project after the outside of the Opera House was designed in the 1st place because he didn't get along with the new Prime Minister at the time (there's a great article about this in the New Yorker from a few months ago if anyone's interested). Anyway, sounds like his rehiring is a big story in Aussieland, at least
according to our quirky tour guide there (who also has assumed a lot of ownership over the opera house - "my room over here ... when we decided to refloor this area... when we chose these seats" and on and on")
We also went to the Zoo, which was a short ferry ride away and had lots of our coolest cousins. Weird that in the Sydney zoo it would be next to impossible to find a kangaroo, though, but that is the case. You can see Wallabies (the smaller jumping marsupial) to your heart's delight, but can't see a kangaroo. We also stared at the Platypus tank for a good half day with Melissa hopelessly contorting her head and neck in hopes of fulfilling her lifelong dream of seeing one (to no avail, unfortunately). Ah, well...
That night we went for a walk over in one of the great parks and happened upon a huge outdoor short film festival (called "Tropfest") - luckily for us we just hung out for a couple of hours and left because it wasn't really starting up yet - they were expecting 80,000 people! The best part is that a torrential downpour hit that night and the event was drenched halfway through. From the newspaper it looked like much more of a disaster than a soaked film-party Woodstock or something of that sort
On our last night in Sydney, Melissa was all jazzed up for us to go to Chinatown and get some noodles. We'd already sampled Sydney's sushi scene, so I was keen to do this and we headed on down. To make a long story short, we walked in and out of about a zillion places before settling on a hotpot place. We got all cozy and then Melissa's superhuman sense of smell kicked in - the overwhelming smell of indeterminate meat suddenly seemed too much to bear so we gathered up our stuff and quickly headed for the nearest exit. By this point, we were swooning from hunger. As many of you know, I'm not at my best with low blood glucose, so I deferred the decision on where to eat entirely to Dr. Noodle. Fresh on the heels of having her schnauze filled with the stench of meat she doesn't eat, Melissa decided on a little joint called Purple Lotus vegetarian restaurant. One plate of shared steamed broccoli and a cup of terrible soup later (with miserable service to boot), I probably would have eaten a foot. Luckily, there was an ice cream joint on the way back to the hotel that saved us!
So, on to Auckland it was the next day. We had prearranged to stay in a hostel in Auckland - the (flawed) thinking there being that we would explore the city, spend minimal time in the room and should just find a bed rather than look for a B&B or a nicer hotel - you know, let the cheapness of that compensate for some of the more expensive places. Big mistake. We arrived and it seemed pleasant enough to me - actually it kind of made me nostalgic for all the youth hostel I've stayed in with many of you over the last decade or so - until we entered the room. I'll admit there was a bit of a, shall we say, dank odor in the room from the get-go. Between that stench, the huge hole in the mattress, the loud street, and non-existent pillow, Melissa was a shell of herself by the morning. I can't say i slept well either - and the perseverance side of both of us very much wanted to just stick it out. Still, some of you may have some idea what I'm talking about when I say that poor Melissa Ann was on the verge of a total system shutdown - you know the look (see the pictures below) - giving me the opportunity to pseudo-valiantly rescue her away to a nice little B&B a couple of streets away.
Both places were in a really cool part of Auckland (Ponsonby) that conjures up memories of Seattle. Maybe a little more raw and deodorant-free, but a lot like Seattle in style and feel.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading! You can rejoice in knowing that this will likely be the longest entry we write.
... read on in Melissa's entry ("from mold to forests") for more on Auckland the our little trip to Waiheke Island - a sweet little paradise just a 40 minute ferry ride from Auckland
We'll put some more pictures up soon - these computers are a bit too slow to handle them so we'll just throw a few up for now!
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