The Wonderful World of Oz

September 2, 2019

The Sixth Continent

Filed under: Uncategorized — B @ 1:53 pm

So, I’ve now officially visited six of the seven continents (the seventh being the obvious). Getting there involved taking the longest operated commercial flight (Houston to Sydney), and our time in Oz was relatively short compared with many of our trips. We did manage to make the best of the time by focusing entirely on the east coast of Oz, spending several nights at each stop. Perhaps the greatest disappointment was the temporary closure of the train line from Sydney to the Blue Mountains. Because of this, we opted not to take our planned day trip there. We could have made it work - there was bus service operated in lieu - but part of the appeal was the train journey, and this did present me the opportunity to be flexible. And being flexible means having an opportunity to be considerate of my partner, and demonstrate my willingness to not insist on fomo. So, I was flexible, and we spent that day returning to Manly, where our time the day before had been cut short, and viewing a light show projected on the side of the Opera House.

Highlights of the trip:

- Snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef: far and away the #1 highlight of the trip. Honestly it surpassed my already-high expectations. In fact, in a way a misfortune made this fortune possible. When we embarked on our trip from Bundaberg out to the Reef, we were given the opportunity to do an intro scuba dive. I hadn’t planned on doing SCUBA because I thought you had to be certified in advance, but seeing this wasn’t the case I planned to give it a shot. And then I was medically DQ’d from doing it and had to settle for snorkeling after all. Though snorkeling was what I always planned and expected to do anyway, it was disappointing to be told I couldn’t do something. In hindsight, I think it was a blessing. What we saw snorkeling, I don’t think we would have seen with SCUBA. Too much time would have been spent on instruction about how to use the equipment, we would have had to stay close to the instructor, and we wouldn’t have full control over visibility in the way we did while snorkeling. The freedom of snorkeling enabled us to see absolutely amazing things. And apparently, we went at the right time: the Reef is suffering, and its splendor might not shine as bright in the future. In hindsight I am extremely glad to save SCUBA as an experience for some time in the future when I wouldn’t have to sacrifice an even greater opportunity: that of maximizing my time viewing the greatest underwater landscape in the world.

- Food: especially the extremely-great-value tasting menu we had at Supernormal in Melbourne (Asian fusion), and the unbelievably great barramundi we got as take-out from a seafood place at Barangaroo pier in Sydney. I didn’t really view Oz as a food destination, so we didn’t focus much on food over the trip but we did have some good stuff (including surprisingly amazing dumplings/dim sum for how cheap and dumpy the place was, and lamb sausage), and these were the two highlights. Also, the absolute cuteness of buying random bottles of Oz Shiraz at a bottle shop and having it with take-out at our hotels.

- The Opera House: All we did was really walk around and look at it, but I love this kind of architecture. It’s the icon of Oz, and just happens to be in line with my interests.

- The Great Ocean Road: I love contemporary architecture. I also love rugged coasts. Missing the Blue Mountains was tolerable because we saw such impressive rock formations along the coastline in Victoria.

- Wildflower Brewery: a wild ale place in Sydney. Actually what screwed up our schedule and cut our time at Manly short the first day. Shockingly more than worth it. Because this is maybe the second best brewery I have ever been to, after Cantillon in Brussels. Which is seriously bizarre, because has anybody even heard of this place???

- Art: I talked about this in one of my earlier posts. Art wasn’t even on my radar as something to see in Oz, and yet what we did see completely reframed how I will view art as part of future travels.

- The Johnson: One of the coolest hotels I have ever stayed at. And because I am awesome it was only $85/night.

- Petting Kangaroos: We didn’t just see kangaroos. We pet them.

- Also platypus: Because I have literally never seen one before in my life, even at our country’s best zoos. And that guy is crayzay.

- Cricket: I talked about the MCG in the Sportball post. It was a highlight if for no other reason than it made me realize there is a tour of Dodger Stadium I need to go on!! But watching cricket every other night on hotel TVs may have been the real highlight.

- Making Amy happy by going to Manly, and then going back to Manly: Because I love Amy.

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