February 18, 2005

Yay, a new country!

I first arrived the afternoon of Friday, February 11th, but was too tired to really do anything, so let's fast-forward to Saturday (12.02.05), when I met up with my friend Glenn Reid. Glenn came down about a month prior, and has already seen several of the sights, so he decided to show me around a bit. We took the train from his place in Rockdale up to Sydney Town Hall. From here, we disembarked and decided to walk around a bit downtown (hereon referred to as CBD, or Central Business District). I absolutely love the CBD...lots of stuff constantly going on, with streets (full of nice cars) forming the borders for the malls (in Australia, a mall is a park-like area, or a street closed off to cars, rather than a shopping centre).

Sydney CBD Posted by Hello

Of particular note in that picture is the Ferrari, which is the rare "Challenge Stradale" version of the 360 Modena.

Ferrari Challenge Stradale Posted by Hello

(Pardon the poor image quality - this was on full zoom without a tripod)

Glenn and I then proceeded through Circular Quay (the docking hub for the numerous ferries which run through the harbour) towards the famous Opera House.

Opera House Posted by Hello

While walking towards it, we were joking about how Japanese tourists, regardless of where they are, always do crazy poses in pictures they take. One of the most common (and least back-breaking) poses is a simple peace sign, which, as a joke, I got Glenn to perform.

Peace! Posted by Hello

From there, we boarded the ferry to Manly, the infamous beach town. The beach here is wonderful, and the worry-free beach-town atmosphere is lovable. Just before we left, however, we saw this dude making an insane sand castle!

Insane Sand Castle Posted by Hello

On the return ferry trip from Manly, I had the opportunity to take a few shots of the harbour and related sights from a water vantage point.

Opera House Posted by Hello

The next day (13.02.05), after doing a bit of shopping, I called my friend Grant, who was born and raised here in Parramatta (the Sydney suburb where I'm based). Grant and I have known each other for a few years over the internet, as we are both moderators at AutomotiveForums.com, but we had never actually met. He came and picked me up at the campus where I was temporarily staying, and we went out for a drive. Just 4 days prior, he had bought himself a 1998 Nissan Pulsar SSS, so he was keen to show it off. We went north of our location into the mountains, where there was some incredible scenery and equally incredible roads. We stopped at a nice park by the water for a few photos.

Scenery Posted by Hello

From there, we trekked on further into the boondocks. We came to a small car ferry and loaded on behind a guy in a Miata. This proved to be a good thing, as he was just as keen to enjoy the mountain roads as we were.

Miata Posted by Hello

After driving for a while, Grant asked me if I'd ever driven a right-hand-drive (RHD) car before, and after my negative response, he suggested I give it a try, as this was a fun area devoid of traffic. As we were switching places, however, I noticed a couple kangaroo in the adjacent field, so I snapped a couple photos of them.

Kangaroo Posted by Hello

We'd had our fun, and it was going to get dark soon, so Grant took me to his favorite coffee shop. This shop is in a shopping centre in Parramatta which is half-indoors and half-outdoors, with the coffee shop being in the outdoors section. They have indoor seating, but we much preferred to sit outside. We were presented with the menus, and I realized what I'd been told seems to be true - it's virtually impossible to get just a regular, plain coffee here. I had no idea what all the different varieties of coffee were, but after hearing that I favour strong, black coffee, Grant suggested a "Long Black," which I ordered. We also got a plate of wedges, which I've fallen in love with. Wedges here are potato wedges much like in Canada, but rather than the herb-ish seasoning we usually get, they come seasoned with what appears to be the red powder that garnishes BBQ flavour potato chips, and they are served with bowls of sour cream and sweet chilli sauce. After thoroughly enjoying those, we went back out to the carpark to leave. Grant and I were expectedly talking cars while driving out, and I mentioned that I had yet to see a R33 model Nissan Skyline GT-R. Just as I said that, we found one parked to our left.

Skyline GT-R Posted by Hello

On Wednesday (16.02.05), after my new flatmate Mike and I moved into our new place, we decided to go to the beach. The easiest and also most pleasant way there from Parramatta is to take the RiverCat ferry, which rides directly into Circular Quay. This particular ferry we were on was the express one which makes no stops in between Parramatta and Circular Quay, and takes 30 minutes.

Sydney Posted by Hello

We had a wonderful time at the beach, but got quite tired, so we went back home to sleep. Thursday (17.02.05) morning, our landlord decided to take us to the Olympic Park and show us around. One of the first things we saw when we got out was this strangely UFO-ish fountain in the midst of gold, silver, and bronze coloured tiles, each of which had the name and sport of an athlete who received the appropriate medal.

Fountain Posted by Hello

Walking further along, we came into view of this large hotel in the park.

Hotel Posted by Hello

On the other side of the large Telstra Stadium were these poles, each of which had several names on it. I'm presuming they were all the athletes, but they may also have been the people who contributed to the Olympics. Among the name poles were poles with other features, two of which contained torches - one the regular Olympic torch, the other, the Paralympic torch.

Olympic Torch Posted by Hello

Paralympic Torch Posted by Hello

Telstra Stadium Posted by Hello

You will likely wonder why I took this next picture. To understand, note that some of the bricks have a corner cut out of them. Wherever there is a tree, all the bricks in the perimeter have a corner cut out of them, so water can get down through and feed the roots of the tree. I thought it rather clever.

Tiles Posted by Hello