Thursday, September 17, 2009

Australia (Part 1)

[Editor’s note: There will be no Friday Five for last week. I had been meaning to post this earlier this week but alas I was rather tired the last couple of days and just didn’t have the energy.]

IMG_6151 As my faithful reader[s] may or may not know, Karin and I went off to Australia last week for TechEd Australia. It was really just an excuse to go to Australia, even if it was for only a week. Needless to say, Karin and I had a blast. For Karin and I it was our first intercontinental trip, so a part of this post will include our experiences with that.

IMG_5530 Before I get rolling on the rest of this, I must once again mention a big thank you to Anthony and Shane (and Ace), our hosts for a good part of the week. They were kind enough to open up their house to us and help act as a  tour guide to Brisbane.

IMG_5518 Our flight to Australia was Qantas flight 14, which leaves LAX at 11:30p. Unfortunately Continental doesn’t have a partnership with someone who flies to Australia, so there was no upgrading on this flight. It was about 13 hours long, so even though you sleep for a decent portion of it (I probably slept a good 6 hours), it’s still a very, very long flight. Leaving on Friday night and landing on Sunday morning is also a bit odd, but it does make it relatively straight forward to overcome the jet lag if you can stay up until about 7p.

Getting through Customs was a breeze, with the only real hold up being waiting for our bags. Australia does check through any foodstuffs you might be bringing, and we lost a bag of trail mix because it had dehydrated bananas. Not exactly sure what danger they might pose, but what do I know?

IMG_3359The Sunday that we landed on happened to be Australian Father’s Day, so we went out for a special lunch at Hundred Acre Bar (which I guess is like the Hundred Acre Wood, only better). It sits right on a golf course, and is a very cool outdoor bar. The lunch was good (but not great). Most of the rest of the first day was just spent trying to stay awake, which is certainly a challenge.

IMG_5531 Monday was our first tourist day, and we did pretty typical tourist stuff. Just outside of Brisbane is a place called Lone Pine Koala Reserve where, among other things, you can hold a koala. And they’ve certainly got quite the racket going there – it’s $28/each to get into the park, and then another $16/each to hold a koala[1]. While I had no real desire to hold a koala, you’ve got to figure that the majority of people do. I’d ask why not just build the price into the admission fee, but I’m thinking they make more money this way. In any event, Karin was under strict orders to hold a koala, so we headed off to there first.

IMG_5559 The one nice thing about them charging you $16 is they at least let you come over to take your own pictures. Taking pictures of Karin holding the koala turned out to be a bit more of an adventure as they also do posing with a huge snake[2]IMG_5566and sure enough there was someone right next to where they were setting up Karin to hold the koala. I wasn’t able to walk past the snake, but I was able to stand near where they were by just ignoring the fact that they were there. So for $16 we did get a couple of great pictures out of it.

IMG_5584 Lone Pine is small but very cool. They have an area where you can feel wallabies (the small ones with the red highlights) and kangaroos. IMG_5660On the whole they seemed to tolerate me, but really liked Karin. I can’t say as I blame them. They also do a demonstration with a sheep herding dog. If you know Karin at all you know we of course had to stop by and watch that. It was IMG_6063 very cool to watch, and the border collie reminded us a ton of Roscoe, in both look and mannerisms – she was all about heading out and rounding up the sheep.

For dinner Karin and I wanted to find some seafood after hearing that Brisbane had some great seafood. ThIMG_6738e place we found ourselves in is called Jellyfish. I gotta say, it’s spoiled me to swordfish for the rest of time. It was just beyond amazing. They do all fresh fish, and this thing was just grilled with minimal seasoning – I threw on a squeeze of lemon and went to town. The lemon was all it needed. The restaurant is on the river bank (close to where I got the night shot from (which, by the way, I managed to pull off without a tripod) with a huge patio area and open walls. Unfortunately it started to storm as we were eating dinner so we had to move inside, but it certainly didn’t dampen the experience at all.

IMG_3372Tuesday was a relatively boring day as we drive from Brisbane to Gold Coast where the conference was. [3]Anthony was able to score a ticket for Karin into TechEd, so Karin was able to join me that night for “exhibitor night”. If you’ve never attended one of these, it’s something that you have to see once. There’s a ton of booths (although here it was much smaller than the US version) with vendors doing almost anything to pimp their wares – from drawings to give away high end products, to tried and true techniques like booth babes. We suffered through dinner there and headed back over to the casino to play for a little while. I got to play some poker (finished up $150, thank you) and Karin played her usual penny slots.

And that was just the first half of the trip…

[1] – Note that I did not say koala “bear”. Koalas are not bears, they’re marsupials. Ask any Australian – they’ll tell you. (They even seem to get offended if you call them bears.)
[2] – I’ve mentioned before I have an extreme phobia when it comes to snakes. I hate mentioning this because every now and then someone will think it’s “funny” to take advantage of this fact. Trust me – it’s not in the least bit funny. If anything it’s the fastest way to get me to disown you as a friend. I’m not kidding.
[3] – Editor’s note. One nice thing about being married to someone so detail oriented is she helps correct my shoddy memory. The trip to the Italian restaurant was on Wednesday, not Tuesday.


~B said...

Awesome! I was in Brisbane and Gold Coast for 2 weeks a few years's a beautiful part of the world. OK, now the REAL reason I'm commenting...where are the footnotes? [1] AND [2] Inquiring minds want to know!

jersey said...

Crap! I was in a hurry to at least get something up and I totally forgot. Will update later today.

~B said...

Thanks!! I have this weird compulsion to read the footnotes first and--ah! They weren't there.
I am so with you on the snake thing. I grew up around insane amounts of them and my brother thought it was hilarious to chase me with them. And every time he did it I thought I would die...literally die. Ughhhhhh.