Australia - Manly
Trip Start Dec 05, 2005
124Trip End Ongoing
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The show was simply spectacular; from the very beginning we had beaming smiles of astonishment across our faces, amazed at the unbelievable ways in which the performers could manipulate their bodies and the strength and balance that was required to do some of the tricks and stunts. It was relentless and by the end of the show our faces were aching from the perma-grins we had been wearing for the last 90 minutes.
There was supposed to be some sort of fantastical storyline that flowed throughout the show, complimented by the extravagant costumes that the performers were wearing, but we were so transfixed by the performances that they could have just presented the stunts back to back with no story and we would have been just as dumbfounded.
As you may be able to ascertain, we loved the show and would strongly urge anyone to try and catch a Cirque du Soleil performance whenever you get the chance. We would gladly have watched it again the next day if the price were slightly cheaper and we will definitely try and see the 'Beatles' themed show in Las Vegas when we get there in a year or two!
The 6th of November was our 13th Anniversary - YES! 13th Anniversary - it kind of amazes us too. That's almost half our lives that we've been together, yet it seems like we met only yesterday - and have known each other all our lives - both at the same time. Unfortunately we had to work on the day (saving money being all important) but cards, flowers (for Verdi) and a dinner made the day special.
Verdi had been working at various locations over the last couple of months, from the usual (and close-by) Brookvale, to Chatswood and Hornsby, which are up to 2 hours away from Manly on the bus and train. Despite the inconvenient travelling Verdi met some lovely people who made the time at the two offices a pleasant change from the usual working environment. Part way through November Verdi was back to Brookvale for good - a welcome decision as the commuting was beginning to really grind, especially in the warmer summer weather.
Throughout October and November we had a personal trainer (sounds posh - we know!) named Carl who used to train us on the grass alongside Manly beach - not a bad office hey?! We trained between 2 and 3 times a week, normally a 30-minute warm up on our own and then a 30-minute intensive session with Carl. It started off REALLY difficult but we soon got used to the pace; and our stamina, strength and general fitness increased greatly over the couple of months we trained.
Carl was particularly impressed with Verdi's strength and flexibility and slightly grossed out by the fact that Andrew can hyper-extend almost every joint in his body. Carl, who has previously trained many elite athletes, also kept insisting that Andrew was a terrible waste of an elite athlete with his physique, power and flexibility. We weren't quite sure what he saw in Andrew but Andrew still readily agreed!!
The time had come when we had to get Gizmo on the market. As reluctant as we were to get rid of our only form of transport and flexibility, and also a good friend who had been with us for most of our journey through Oz, we knew that we had to get it on the market with about a month left. We wanted to get a decent price and not have to sell it for peanuts at the last minute so if this meant having no van for a few weeks we would have to catch the bus!
We travelled into the city and posted about 20 advertisements for Gizmo in hostels and Internet cafes (PIC), pricing it at a slightly ambitious $6,400. We spoke to a couple of backpackers who showed an immediate interest and, feeling encouraged, we set off back to Manly. En route we decided to pop into the Sydney Opera House and see what was showing in the next few weeks. We had always wanted to see something in the main concert hall and luckily enough there was a show that appealed to us coming up soon. Normally the main concert hall is reserved for large orchestral performances and, perhaps not surprisingly, operas. The show we were interested in was called 'Showstoppers' and is essentially a medley of Broadway and West End hits presented by five well-known stage performers. We booked it for two weeks time and made our way back to Manly.
A fortnight later, with a couple of interested locals and a backpacking couple, but no successful sale, we returned to Sydney to drop the price on the advertisements to $6,000. This would still be a very good price if we could get it so we had our fingers crossed for a few more interested parties.
The main reason for our return to the city was to go to the Opera House performance but we figured that this would probably be our last visit into the centre of Sydney so we wanted to do a few more 'touristy' things before we left. Our first stop was the Sydney Tower to go to the OzTrek show. This is a simulator type show that takes the viewer through various Australian landscapes whilst throwing you around in a rollercoaster style chair. The OzTrek is free with the Sydney Tower ticket and this is probably a good thing. The show might be fairly entertaining for tourists who won't see other parts of Australia, although the unnecessarily uncomfortable jolting doesn't add anything to the experience. However, as we had seen most of the scenes from the show in real life it paled in comparison.
We made the effort to go to the 'Star Casino' in Darling Harbour to see what it had to offer but after the long walk round, we were told we couldn't go in with a backpack on and as we weren't going to be gambling anyway we decided not to bother. Instead of walking right back around the harbour we waited for a ferry to pick us up and take us back to Circular Quay. The first boat that arrived didn't look much like a ferry as Andrew noticed a couple of topless women wandering between a boat full of drunken blokes - clearly a bachelor party that tours around the harbour. Andrew wanted to pop on board and check whether they could give us a lift back to Circular Quay but Verdi felt it might be better to wait for the actual ferry!
Back at Circular Quay we wandered around to the Opera House and grabbed some dinner before the show. The setting for the restaurant under the Opera House was quite spectacular with a great view over to the Harbour Bridge and Luna Park (PICS). With a quick meal tucked away we entered the Opera House and climbed the steps to the cheap seats! We had no choice but to have the second last row in the concert hall but had we been given the choice we still would have opted for the same seats.
During our time travelling we calculated that we had spent an inordinate amount of time and money in internet cafes so after looking around, comparing prices and weighing things up we decided to buy a laptop. After some haggling and negotiating we actually ended up with one heck of a bargain; a high end Asus laptop worth over $2500 for $1500 including a load of extras that we got thrown in for free. We could now edit our photos and update our diary at our own pace and in the comfort of our hotel / B&B / Hostel / Campervan.
Having just splashed out on the laptop, Andrew found out that his project for Prysmian had come to an end with little hope of any more before we left. It was time to look for another short-term job to see us through until we continued our travels. With not many agencies requiring anyone for such a short period Andrew was forced to accept a job at a local warehouse...packing and stacking boxes of soft toys. This came as a shock to the system; after many years as an office bunny the hard manual labour involved was like an 8-hour workout each day. Andrew returned each evening covered in dust, dirt and sweat all for less than half the amount he was on at Prysmian. We kept reminding ourselves that every penny counts.
In an endeavour to 'save every penny' Verdi decided that for the Melbourne cup celebrations at work, instead of buying a pretty little hat, she would raid a couple of 'cheap tat' shops for supplies. Andrew helped fashion together a plastic toy horse (that nayed when you pressed its belly) to a gold sequinned bowler hat with a small black feather bower on it - classy! Verdi's work colleagues were suitably impressed and thankfully Verdi was not the only one that went for the comedy approach (PICS). Verdi and the team had a great afternoon with everyone getting stuck into the wonderful food that had been put on (especially Alfa's cake!) and partaking in a few bets on the home made race course (again provided by Alfa) in-between watching the real race on TV and quaffing a few non-alcoholic cocktails (yet again provided by the hostess with the mostess Alfa Jones!). It certainly put our non-existent Grand National celebrations to shame! Melbournians even get the day off work!!!
With the clock quickly counting down to our departure we had a sudden influx of interest in the van leaving us in the enviable position of having two French people vying for the van. Ultimately we sold it to Gaelle, who had seen it first and paid for an inspection, (which it passed with flying colours thankfully) for an impressive $1000 MORE than we paid for it 8 months previously. Needless to say we were quite chuffed with ourselves and our bank balances looked substantially healthier. The only downside was that we had to adjust our lifestyle slightly for the final three weeks; bus to work and no more popping to the mall.
Lynne & Paul's
One other inconvenience was that on the day that we sold Gizmo we had also arranged to go to Lynne and Paul's new house over in Cherrybrook. What would have been an hours drive away became two and a half hours involving; two buses, a train, a bit of a walk and then getting picked up by Lynne at the other end!
Having enjoyed our first visit so much and wanting to say goodbye to Lynne and Paul before we left, we paid another visit just two weeks later. This time we were accompanied by two other friends of Lynne & Paul; Ash & Cat with their 5 week old baby; Taylor, who was adorable and kept Andrew occupied for a good few hours (PICS). Taylor was incredibly well behaved and happily slept while we all; ate, drank, talked, played snooker and loudly competed on the music quiz game 'Buzz' (PIC). All in all yet another good weekend.
As all good things must, Verdi's time at IPC came to an end. Her last week was made much easier and more enjoyable as her sole project was to design and create Brookvale's entry into the company wide 'Best of the Best' competition, to be announced at the Christmas party and for which the rest of the team (should they win) would receive the day off work and $160 each to spend on a day trip of their choosing - the previous years winners got a limo to the Hunter Valley and spent the day wine tasting!
The entry eventually consisted of;
1) A resume for the Brookvale office with quotes from satisfied clients and employers along with the long list of awards the team had won over the year
2) A PowerPoint storyboard for a mock 'job interview' of Brookvale for 'Best of the Best' (including the resume) which was subsequently filmed
3) And the 'piste de resistance' which was also performed and videod - new IPC related lyrics to Tina Turner's 'Simply the Best'
Fingers crossed for the guys that they win. Even if they don't, Verdi had a great laugh on her last day filming it all and enjoyed the wine and facial voucher she was presented with at the end.
The only thing that was left was for the team to meet up at the pub for official leaving drinks and dinner (PICS) on our penultimate night in Sydney. The night was made even more special by the brilliant hand made card they presented Verdi with at the end - everyone had contributed a personalised quote for the card, which was imaginatively put together by the effervescent Alfa Jones.