Day 75: Australia!
Trip Start Sep 02, 2007
92Trip End Dec 25, 2007
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I caught myself feeling like this was sort of my space, that I'd earned with my dedication to it. I know very well I have no right to think that, but I will admit that it had passed through my mind and did not go entirely unheeded. The harbor was beautiful, and there was a buzz of excited conversation that I (at first grudgingly) appreciated. Then suddenly, around the corner, came the first view of the opera house, its white sails spiking above the curving hillside of the land in front of it. It was a certain "oh wow it does exist" moment for me. And right behind it followed the harbor bridge, sweeping from right behind the opera house and over into the colorful suburbs of North Sydney. I can't express how beautiful it was, the awe carried from one end of the ship to the other by the alternating cheers and silence. There is no better way to see the opera house for the first time than by sea, the way it was designed to be seen. We passed by it to a fanfare of cheers and congratulations and then on under the bridge and into Darling Harbor faster than I could keep track.
After we had crossed under the bridge, a noisy bird caught my attention. It was flying towards us and I almost took a picture of it but figured we'd be seeing tons of seagulls and would have ample opportunity for every kind of picture we could possibly want of them. (Mine? Mine?) It wasn't until after it had come and was on its way to going that I realized it wasn't a seagull. It was a cockatoo. And I didn't take a picture! Aaarrgh! As we pulled into Darling Harbor, more and more mobile phones started coming out and the chatter reached its excitement high. There were figures on the docks and balconies of buildings, waving frantically and yelling. People on board were picking out their families and calling to them
Finally we were docked. And all before breakfast. I ate early and then went downstairs to get checked through immigration - this time they came on board and took each of us through immigration and actually stamped our passports for once - and met Jonathan and Liz, who had just gotten up, in fact dragged themselves out of bed for immigration. I couldn't believe they had missed the sailing but what really got to me was that they didn't mind. I still don't understand how something as fleeting and routine as sleep can possibly be a priority as some of the once-in-a-lifetime experiences we are getting, not the least of which is seeing the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge in sunrise light with early morning clouds clinging to them as you round the last curve in the harbor in a boat, on the bow of which you are standing with friends from all over the world. How can sleep compare to that? Yet another of the many questions in this life I will never be able to answer.
Liz and Jonathan and I hung around the ship for quite a while, just hanging out and waiting for the chaos at the gangway to calm down. We were playing Nintendo Wii, actually. It was nice to just sit a little bit but it did start to get frustrating as it neared ten, and then eleven o'clock. Finally we made it off the ship and onto Australian soil, computers packed and cameras ready and already hungry. I don't need to describe the whole day, since it was almost entirely all the same thing: wandering aimlessly around the city
We wandered around some more and found a place to eat - we had fish and chips and the best chicken Caesar salad I've ever eaten in my life (and those of you that have eaten with me often enough know that's saying a lot). We sat there for a long time just spending time together and Liz got out her video camera and taped Jonathan and me doing funny quotes form Finding Nemo and generally goofing off
So then we promptly got lost trying to get back or to find some free internet, because don't forget we're all carrying heavy laptops around all day and my shoulders are really starting to hurt, not to mention my feet. We tried every darn coffee shop for miles and nothing had a free connection we could link to. Finally we ran into this little noodle stand tucked back in some corner and at that point I was too grumpy to care about anything and just bought dinner, although I did buy the cheapest thing on the menu which turned out to be fried rice for $4.00 that was really good and plenty of food anyway. Well I felt a lot better after that and I played my soundtrack and felt even better and then we were all a little more amiable with each other and finally just headed back to the ship. We hadn't found any internet but I was frantic because I'd been at sea for four days but waiting for important academic emails so I finally just broke down and used some of my remaining minutes on the ship's satellite internet to check my email. Everything's fine and it was no big deal but I felt better. The biggest bother was that despite the fun I'd had (and only some at that) I really felt that I'd wasted the day. That didn't really change, I still feel like I wasted that day no matter what I try to tell myself, so that evening I really got down to some homework (well, blogs actually) and got everything organized so that I could get right to work on some of my research and get things posted quickly when I did find some internet. I felt bad that I was holed up in my room all night; Jonathan came by to see if I wanted to do anything and of course I did but I told him I'd come after him after I got some things done, then just never did because I finally got on a roll with some work. Finally. I probably have 60 hours of work due in the next week. No joke. And that's not counting the blogs, which I consider a priority since I actually get some real reward out of them. Geez. This working on vacation business, it's not easy!