Australia Day 1 / Departure, Arrival and Arrival

Greetings mates!  I’m officially in Australia and the “going down under” jokes have officially come to an end; apparently nobody says that here.  Before I lump two days of exciting adventure into this post, I’m going to point out that I it’s 4:00 am here as I type this (I don’t know what time it will be when I post this since I have to find a coffee shop with WiFi) and my body STILL knows to wake up.  I’m not sure if I should appreciate or despise that my body knows 4:00 am regardless of the time zone.

 

“Stephanie, if it’s 4 am and you’re blogging, isn’t Travis really upset that there’s a bright laptop screen illumination your hotel room?”

No.  I’m blogging from the bathroom, or toilet, as they refer to them in Australia.

I intended on documenting the packing process, waiting at the airport, and most of the tedious plane ride here, but I’ve never wanted to forget a 24 hour time span more than I did all of that, so I’ll quickly run through it.

I’m a great planner and am fairly organized when it comes to packing (please refer to my last post when I mentioned that I actually had about 30 pounds left of allotted baggage weight).  I cannot say the same for my boyfriend, who seems to channel his inner Mariah Carey when travelling.

Needless to say, we used up every ounce of our combined 70 kg (140 lbs) of allowed baggage and even had to check in our carry-on bags.  Those too were over the allowed 7 kg (15 lbs).

After a stressful (I emphasize the use of “stressful” and how it doesn’t completely describe the way I was feeling during the entire pre-flight) journey through airports, we boarded our plane.  We flew V Australia (Virgin) and that plane was badass.  Richard Bronson, thank you.  It was the largest aircraft I had ever been on and by far the coolest.  Every seat had it’s own monitor.

The in-plane entertainment saved me.  They had a large selection of movies to choose from, you could play games, open a chat with another passenger, watch TV shows, and monitor your flight and how much longer you had to your destination.  My movies of choice were Love and Other Drugs and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.  Travis watched Sucker Punch, Due Date, and another movie I don’t remember, and already picked out the movies he wants to watch on our trip back.

Like I mentioned earlier, the flight it one I would like to forget about.  For one, it was 15 hours long.  Two, I slept a total of about 3 hours (imagine my jealousy when Sabrina and Travis both mentioned that they had slept a good 6-7 hours during the same flight.  Most importantly, I want to forget about it because I don’t want to be reminded that I’ll be doing the exact same thing (backwards though, duh) in about 12 days.

When we had finally reached our destination, I was too tired to appreciate where I was.  The feeling thankfully didn’t last long and I got it together in time to hang out with our luggage.

Enough with the journey, lets get on with the destination!

 

Our hotel is so frickin’ sweet.    I didn’t know what to expect since I come from Las Vegas, the “frickin’ sweet” hotel capital of Nevada.  It’s the only casino in Sydney and the casino portion reminds me a lot of Red Rock (note to self: take a picture of the sign markers that IS the same as one they use at Red Rock so you don’t think I’m making it up) and the room is surprisingly spacious and modern.  The one thing I appreciate most is the location of the hotel.  We’ve only walked so far and we’ve been able to see so much already.

(The view from behind our hotel, picture out of sequence, but still… check out that backdrop!  That’s the Harbour Bridge on the left.

We had arrived early and weren’t able to get into our rooms yet, so we saw it as an opportunity to explore what was around our hotel.  Our first stop was a coffee shop for breakfast.  I think I already got the hang of it, but ordering coffee here is complicated.  What in the hell is a flat white and why can’t anyone just say “OK” when I ask for a coffee, black!?

Just kidding.  It was actually ignorant of me to say as I live by the expression “When in Rome…” and complete it appropriately with “… do as the Romans.”  That statement should not finish with “…expect everyone else to adapt to your obnoxious American customs and ignore the culture being presented before you.”

I ordered a flat white (coffee with milk, or so I’m told).  Even though our bellies were asking for some form of dinner, we adapted to the hour and ordered omelettes to accompany our coffees.

After roaming a couple blocks, our hotel room was ready.  We unpacked, showered, freshened up and continued on with ourselves.  We’re literally a couple steps from Darling Harbour, so we spent the rest of the night exploring and trying to find some place to eat.  Some discoveries we made during the journey…

NESPRESSO STORE!!  I lit up when I saw this.  An entire store devoted to my favorite kitchen appliance?!  Was I in heaven?!  Yes.  I was.

 

 

It’s a two story store a with an awesome mural made our of Nespresso capsules.  They have a ton of other gimmicky, cool things at the store and as patient as Travis was being, I knew I was going to have another opportunity to soak in the espresso-scented store.

 

After walking through Westfield (“How did you know that’s a mall?  Did you read about it?” “I’m really offended that you questioned my Salonga-to-a-shopping-mall magnet that went off the second we left the plane.”), being assisted by Kurt from Glee at Louis Vuitton, and getting lost in Chinatown, we headed back to the harbour and found The Meat and Wine Company.  The Meat and Wine Company?  Why don’t they just call it the Travis and Stephanie Company?

We made some great decisions for dinner.  Soaking up all there is about Australia, Travis ordered Kangaroo for dinner.  The waitress compared it to venison, which was correct.  It’s a game-y protein that has a deeper flavor than meat.  It was recommended to have it medium rare since cooked any longer, it would take on a beef jerky-like texture.

I ordered the Grain-Fed Fillet (pronounced “Fil-et” and not “Fil-ay”, as I learned) that was served with gnocchi, spinach, and this incredible mushroom red wine sauce.

For dessert, “The Grand Finale.”  How appropriate.

That’s crème brulee, a chocolate pistachio cake and vanilla ice cream, a banoffee tart (my favorite), raspberry sorbet, and a mango-passion fruit yoghurt.  I ordered this with a Long Black (“Can I just order a black coffee?” “Of course, espresso or long?” “(Dammit)… Long please.” And got my coffee just the way I wanted it, long and black.  I think my “backspace” key just worked overtime from how many jokes I came up with and decided far too inappropriate for this post.

 

During our walk through this part of the city, I hadn’t felt happier and my smile had never felt more real.  I am really excited live life the way I wholeheartedly believe; to take in the culture of the city, adapt myself to the city’s formalities and relish every moment.

 

It’s winter here and the unfortunate part of that is that the 5 am hour is still too cold for an outdoor run.  I will absolutely not settle on an indoor run considering the location I am in, so I’m either going to suck it up, or find something else to do until it becomes the weather is bearable.  I’m going to suit up and try anyway.  The big difference between this and me running back home is that I WILL be running with a digital camera carefully belted onto me.  I want to share all that I see!  This could easily become my favorite part of vacation (or holiday, as the Aussies say).

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