Nov 22-24:  Los Angeles to Sydney

Starting weight = 162.5 lb.

My flight from LA was at 11:45pm.  The Tom Bradley International Terminal is full of strange people going to strange lands at that time of night.  But before I became dizzy from the stench, I found out that I was in the wrong terminal.  The Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services do operate out of the TBIT, except for Sydney flights which leave from Terminal 4.

While waiting to check in I observed that Qantas passengers are generally attractive, well-mannered and normal-looking.  But those must have been only Aussies.  When I got to the gate the American tourists stood out.  There was a group going to Sydney for a cruise on the Star Princess and all they were able to talk about was the details of their itinerary.  No actual conversation or banter, not even anecdotes about previous travels, just facts about this trip.  Given that, I'm surprised they didn't express fascination with the time difference.

For 5 months I'd been looking forward to sitting in seat 49A, because I can't sleep on overnight flights unless I'm in a window seat.  Then shortly before departure, they paged me and changed my seat to 52E.  WTF?  And 52F-G were a couple of hip-hop-style guys, noisy and e'er-moving.  I suspect it was their first flight because one kept asking other passengers if they were also going to Sydney, and he also thought that US money was good in Australia.  Nonetheless I got a full night's sleep.

After disembarking, all passengers were forced to walk through the duty free shop.  Same concept as a casino-hotel that makes guests walk through the gaming floor to get to the check-in desk.  I didn't stop at the duty free shop.

Sydney smells like food, chocolate and wet dog.  At least that's what I smelled when I came out of the subway.

East view down Park St (which transverses Hyde Park) from my room at the Park Regis Sydney.  According to the plaque near the elevators, it was once a Koala Motel, and maybe still is.  You can't be a world-class city without a Hyde Park, although a special commendation goes to Hyderabad, India.

North view from my room.  That's the AMP Tower Centrepoint, 325 m (1066 ft) tall, which is 3 m shorter than the Sky Tower in Auckland, so I didn't bother with this comparatively short tower, even though I think the observation deck is higher than Auckland's.

Classic shot of the Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge from Mrs. Macquaries Point.

Mrs. Macquaries Chair.  I had the same problem here as in Greenwich--I had to wait for Japanese tourists to finish getting their photos taken one by one in front of the rock.

Closer shot of Opera House and Harbour Bridge.  Near this spot an American couple asked me to take their picture in front of the bridge.  Same thing happened when I was at the Tower Bridge in London.

Sydney skyline.

Even on a rainy day like this, I encountered lots of joggers.  Health is important to Aussies.  Americans need to spend more time out of their chairs.

I never noticed this in London but I did in Sydney--pedestrians keep to the left as they pass.  Makes sense on account of automobile traffic, but it took some getting used to on my part.

Off Mrs. Macquaries Road are the Royal Botanic Gardens, in which fauna exceeds flora in entertainment value.

As a child I was intrigued by flying foxes.  I don't remember if they're at the Philadelphia Zoo or if they were in a book I read.  But here they are out in the wild, sort of.

I was waiting for a bird-fish confrontation here but nothing happened.

It may not be a pleasant sight to see a fluffy duckling taken by an eel.  (Who put the eels in our ponds?  I'm still trying to figure out who let the dogs out.)

Flying foxes.  Not flying in this photo.

Waiting for lunch to swim by.

Ficus tree.

The Rockery.  Elias, you just got ROCKED.

Harbour Bridge, from the Opera House.

Sydney Opera House.

From here I continued walking to Circular Quay, where I had fish & chips (with chicken salt) and waited out a downpour.

The Rocks Square.  The Rocks is the site of the original British settlement.  Elias, once again you have been ROCKED.

On the train to Olympic Park there were a bunch of schoolgirls.  One told another that someone said she looked like a fruit bat.  And she kind of did.

Telstra Stadium, site of the Rugby World Cup final two days prior (lost by Australia).  Also the site of the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Even though Christmas comes in summer down under, the image of Will Ferrell in tights adorning numerous buses put me in the holiday spirit.

Heavy rain started when I was at Olympic Park, so I called it a day and went home.  I needed to take out my contacts (they'd been in for two days straight) and rest my legs.

Museum subway station.  The CityRail system and stations are reminiscent of (inspired by?) the London Underground.

Museum station.

After my first day in Australia I concluded that the country has its shit together.  The US does as well--the only thing it lacks is Australians.

I read and watched TV until 10pm when I was overcome with sleepiness.  Best thing I've ever seen on a hotel TV:  South Park.

The hotel room was incredibly noisy because of the traffic outside, but that's why I brought earplugs.  I slept 10 hours.