Thursday, January 29, 2009

Have I Ever Told You That I Now Hate to Fly?

Well...the short story is I'm back home. But this is a blog, so I'm going to tell you the long story. In the words of Sophia of Golden Girls fame...picture it...Sydney...last Monday...
Phil and I head to the airport to be there by 10:00 am for my 12:00 pm flight. Now for those not in the know, apparently January 26th is a holiday in Australia. It's Australia Day. Kind of like our 4th of July without the independence thing. Everyone carries or wears Australian flags (some literally, as in capes around their shoulders), has the day off of work, and many barbecue. It also means (for us in the city) road closures because of the classic car show that lined our street. Hence...the leaving extra early for the airport because we had to go an alternate route.

Anyways, we get to the airport and find out that my flight has a 5 hour maintenance delay. My first thought? Do I really want to get on an airplane that is going to cross the Pacific that just needed a 5 hour maintenance delay? My second thought? Well, shoot...I have a 5 hour delay before my 30 hour trip.

So Phil and I checked in my luggage and then left to go back to the festivities for a few hours. Well, from my previous post you've learned that it is hot in Sydney at the moment so I took off my sneakers and put on my flip flops to walk around. We got back to the apartment around 1:30 and Phil decided to go online to check the status of the flight.

Lo and behold...we learned the flight was now cancelled. I raced around the apartment grabbing my purse and my carry-on (that always has my ipod and at the very minimum 4 books, my crossword puzzle book, and my soduku book...remember, a 30 hour trip?). We get back to the airport and I have to go with an agent down through customs to baggage to retrieve my luggage. For a moment I thought I'd just made an episode of Border Security (one of my favorite Aussie tv shows) when the customs agents came towards us yelling that we couldn't come in this way. But made it through, got my bags, and wheeled them (all 3...yes, we are trying not to have to ship anything back, so everytime I come back to the states it looks like I've got everything but the kitchen sink in my bags) back to the ticket counter.

I was put on the United flight to Los Angeles that left at 3:15 and was on my way. After discovering that yes...I was still wearing my flip flops. No problem in LA, but a bit of a problem at my next connection. Which would be Toronto. Why? Because I was told that because it's an Air Canada flight, I have to have a connection in a Canadian city. Blame Canada, I say. And Toronto in late January is cold when you're wearing a light sweater and flip flops. The looks I was receiving as I was walking down the aisle were interesting. I could tell people wanted to ask me if I knew I was going to Toronto. Whatever.

Well...this is getting longer than I thought and American Idol is on in 10 minutes (I know...but I can't. stop. watching. it.), I got to Toronto, thought I'd have to leave my bags there so I could get into the US customs hall before it closed, but 10 minutes before they closed, got my bags, made the mad dash to US customs, got on the flight and made it back to Philly at 10:45 pm on the same date that I took off . The longest Australia Day ever. So I toasted the holiday once I got back to the house with a nice glass of cold Diet Coke filled to the top with ice while petting Sox. Australia is nice, but oh...I love America.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Yeah...It's Hot Out.

No, I'm not bragging about how warm it is here when everyone back home has been freezing. I'm's really hot outside. We've been in the 90's for a bit now. It had been predicted that today was supposed to be in the mid 90's with it feeling like 110 (really...who likes to be outside when it feels like 110 degrees out?) but they're now saying it should feel like the mid 90's out. Ah, well...that's so much better.

I was on my daily walk, didn't see my running buddy...perhaps it was too warm for him? Anyways, I was on my daily walk and thought, "What the heck am I doing outside?" It was 9:00 am and the sun was already beating down on me. I'm sweating like a pig, I'm sure my face was bright red...just not worth it. And today is much of the same. Although I need to go out and get something for lunch. We are hitting the back of the empty food cabinet here at the Lankfords. On a totally different note...

Last Saturday, Phil and I had a fun day. We walked next door into the Botanical Gardens to take a tour of Government House in the morning. After our usual walk over to the Renaissance Cafe for coffee, tea, and warm ham & cheese croissants. Mmmm...

This used to be where the governor of New South Wales lived (until 1996) but now is just where the governor works. They also have receptions and dinners there for visiting heads of states. It was interesting (and free...what are the odds of that?) and had some really nice views of the harbour from the back gardens.

We then drove out to the suburbs because Phil needed his hair cut at the mall. We were going out there (the suburbs, not the mall) anyway to meet a couple from church for dinner but had some hours to kill before the dinner. And let me say before I go on...what is with the Australian practice of everything closing up at 5:00 pm? Even on Friday and Saturday nights? The only night of the week that anything is open past then is Thursday when things are open until 9:00. It's Saturday night...the stores are pulling their gates down to lock up...the food court is clearing out...and it's 5:00 pm. And our dinner wasn't until 7:00pm.

So...we hopped into the Jeep and drove over to the Sydney Olympic Park (just a few miles down the road) to see if anything was going on there. And we stumbled upon the Australian Youth Olympic Festival 2009! Going on from Jan, 14-18 was a group of 1,800 athletes from 25 countries competing in 19 sports. We walked into the Aquatic Center and were able to sit in the stands and watch some swimming competitions. Complete with medal presentations and singing of various countries' national anthems. I felt like I was at the Olympics. Sort of...the stands weren't that full and the athletes were just teens, but still...

All of this was to promote the...drum roll please...the first every Youth Olympic Games of 2010 to be held in Singapore! Truly! It's going to take place August 14-26 in 2010 for athletes between the ages of 14 and 18. The brochure we were handed (as well as the bracelet that Karen, I will give you for your Olympic collection) says that "Singapore 2010 will see some 3,600 young athletes from 205 National Olympic Committees competing in 26 sports comprising 201 events." Cool! For more info check out

Friday, January 16, 2009

Weekend on the Gold Coast

We flew back from the Gold Coast early Tuesday morning and had a very fun weekend. Why is it called the Gold Coast, you may ask? Not really sure, but I think it may have to do with the great weather. I think I read somewhere in one of those brochures they plaster your hotel room with, that this area of Australia boasts over 300 days of sunshine every year. Hence...the Gold Coast.
We arrived Friday night and with some serious map reading (nope...there's still no chance of us ever competing together on the Amazing Race...I think we'd kill each other), we made it to our hotel, the Radisson at Palm Meadows. Saturday morning we drove about 15 minutes north to Warner Brothers Movie World. Think of a Six Flags park, but smaller...much smaller.

We were warned that it would be very crowded since it was the school holidays, but no...not really. We didn't wait longer than 15 minutes for any ride. I think their concept of crowded is a bit skewed. I was expecting Disney in June...but thankfully, not the case.
There's a kiddie section (the WB Fun Zone), Shrek 4D (I hate those 3D shows that squirt water in your face), you can see the Batwing Spaceshot in the above picture ( did not go on that...I have this thing with heights), the Batman Adventure Ride (kind of like the Star Wars ride at Disney), the Lethal Weapon roller coaster, the Superman Escape roller coaster (which is below, and yes, I did get on that one...with my eyes tightly shut...can you see how high that first hill is?),

a log ride, some shows and arcade game shops, the Scooby Doo Spooky indoor roller coaster...and when I tried to take the picture of the outside of the building, look who rolls up in the Mystery Machine for the Scooby Doo Disco Detectives Show...zoinks!

The last thing we saw was the Hollywood Stunt Driver show. Very much like the stunt show at Disney's MGM park. Sunday morning we got up and drove over to Sea World. Here's my picture of the polar bear that would not turn around even if his life depended on it.

We did the Jet Rescue roller coaster (you're on side-by-side jet skis), the Corkscrew roller coaster, the Bermuda Triangle log ride, went to see the fish and sharks in the aquarium, watched the dolphin show, rode the monorail, did not go into the water park (I hate walking around parks in my wet bathing suit), watched the water ski show, and finally watched the Fish Detectives Sea Lion Show...picture below.

Sunday night we drove to the Australian Outback "evening dinner show filled with outback music, drama, and action." (taken from their brochure). It is "set in a giant 1000 seat indoor arena with a cast of larger than life characters, amazing animals, and spectacular scenes featuring wild horses, stampeding cattle, bush vehicles and suberb horsemanship."
Everyone received cowboy hats (yes, truly) to wear during the show which included a three course dinner. pictures...they weren't allowed. But you can check out their website to see pictures of it. Phil did get a picture of me in my hat next to one of the horses, but I look like a dork, so sorry...not posting it here.
Monday morning came very early...try 4:00 am. We set the alarm so we wouldn't miss the live showing (yes, at 4:00 am) of the Eagles/Giants game. Go Eagles!! the Lankfords have to be out of the country for any Philly teams to win playoff games??? We already missed watching the Phillies win the World Series. Must we miss the Eagles in the Superbowl as well???
Later that morning we went to the golf course that our hotel is next to. golf?...right...I just drive the golf cart. It's so fun...I drive Phil to his next hole, park the cart, whip out my book, and read until he needs me to take him to the next hole. My kind of golf!
Monday night we went out for dinner (at a Lonestar Steakhouse, of all places) and then took a walk on the beach in Surfer's Paradise. (Really...that's the name of the city!) So pretty. Except for the amount of men with big guts who insist on wearing speedos. Why?? Again, why?? And there was the, other way to say it but very large woman in the bikini with her head back, flinging her hair from side to side while pouring a sport bottle of water down her head and face. Phil leans to me and says, "That is an episode of Baywatch gone so bad." Literally, almost wet my pants I was laughing so hard. All in all, we had a very fun weekend!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Me and My Running Buddy

No, no...I have not taken up running. Please, that's just silly. As I was on my daily hour walk in the park this morning, it occured to me as I saw my running buddy pass me again, that I've seen this guy a lot since we've been back in Sydney. No...nothing creepy. (At least I hope not.) We just both happen to run/walk in the park around the same time every day. Where am I going with this? Nowhere, really. Just making an observation that my life right now is at a pace that one may call leisurely. Some might say a crawl...What have my days been like since returning to Sydney?
Get up really early. Slept in till 7:45 this morning...finally getting back to a full night's sleep.
Eat toast and tea for breakfast. favorite breakfast food, toast.
Walk for an hour in the park. (and see my running buddy.)
Shower and get dressed. (I am dressed when I walk in the park. I know this is Australia, but I think even here, people would stare a bit at that.)
Go on the computer.
Play some Yahoo games. I'm frustrated I just can't get past making $360 a day in Penquin Diner. What is the secret?
Clean or do laundry.
Eat lunch.
Finish cleaning or laundry.
Go on the computer.
Maybe go on another walk. (Although it's been in the 90's here a lot this week...too hot for me.)
Sit on the balcony and people watch.
Eat dinner here or walk and meet Phil at some restaurant.
Watch reruns on tv. Seriously...Friends is still the funniest show on tv.
Go on the computer.
Read some more.
Go to bed.
Yeah...I life is tough. But this weekend will break up the vigorous pace. Phil and I are flying to the Gold Coast tonight. I don't know too much about it, except that it's about an hour or hour and a half flight to an area on the coast (uh...duh) between Sydney and Brisbane. We're going to Sea World, Warner Brother's Movie World (sort of like Six Flags), and the Australian Outback Spectacular Dinner and Rodeo show. Whoo hoo! I'll be sure to post some pictures when we get back. That is, if I can fit it in sometime in my schedule.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Sure Beats the Ball Dropping!

We saw some fantastic fireworks last night! The whole day was a bit surreal. I woke up (grrr at 3:45 am...just love getting used to the time zone changes) and put on shorts and a tee shirt. Shorts on December 31st. Just cannot get used to that. Did some quick grocery shopping in the city (after six weeks in the states, the cabinet was a bit sparse, to say the least.) I can now say that I've ridden in a taxi while surrounded by my bags of groceries. Weird.
On the ride back to the apartment, it didn't look like I was going to be able to get all the way back since the road closures for the fireworks had already begun. But the nice policeman who stopped the taxi took a quick look at me in the back seat surrounded by my bags of groceries and let us through. Thank you, kind sir!

I'm sure I looked comical enough if anybody saw me trying to grab all the bags in one trip (didn't happen...had to make two) from the taxi to the door of the building. I won't even mention trying to hold the door open and get all the bags into the lobby (that took three trips). I think that one may have rated a video on You Tube.

To say that the New Year's Eve fireworks in Sydney are popular is quite the understatement. People began lining up around the harbour area with their blankets, towels, umbrellas, and coolers of food at 12:00. That's 12:00 noon. Yep...these crazy people were willing to bake outside in the sun for a full 12 hours to get a prime spot to watch the fireworks.

But I think we had the best view! There was a mini-firework show at 9:00 pm for families with kids who wouldn't make it until midnight, a lighted boat parade, fireworks shot off of the office buildings next door, and of course, some great fireworks off of the Harbour Bridge and two barges in the harbour. We invited our pastor and his family from the church we attend here to join us and had a great time. If the idea of pulled pork sandwiches ever makes it big in Australia, you heard it here first, that the Lankfords brought it over from the states. They were a hit as well as the lasagna that I made. (No, Faith...not my famous pepperoni lasagna. I can't find pepperoni over here.) Here's some pictures of the night...enjoy!!

Part of the 9:00 pm show

Part of the boat parade (if you can see it in blurry picture...sorry about that)

Fireworks off of the tops of the office buildings next door

Part of the finale