A Fast Week Down Under

This week has me in Australia of all places, for work-related meetings. My typical work travel generally takes me to cities in the continental US, when needed. But this is a rarity to go to such a distance for my job.

A week may not sound like a quick trip at all, but it really is when it’s this far away. Coming out here I drove south into Colorado, and departed from Denver International which brought me to Los Angeles, California (LAX). Then it was on for the long leg of the trip overnight to Sydney, Australia. The week definitely felt like it was shortened from the start when I departed on a Sunday evening and arrived, nearly 20 hours later, on a Tuesday morning (time zone shift).

Nearly every moment of the week would be taken with either meetings, dinners with colleagues or jet lag, so it definitely would not be the most conducive trip to outings. This made me want to use the opportunities I did have to see what I could.

2019-02-19 Sydney 01On landing, I had expected to be so tired and out of sorts I’d want nothing else to do other than sleep. However on arriving in Sydney, after working my way through customs, I felt nothing of the sort. Energized, I taxied to the hotel I was staying at and showered for my first excursion. On walking out into the street with iPhone walking map in hand, I began to find my way towards my only “must see” of the trip: The Royal Botanic Gardens. Interestingly, these oddly billed birds were everywhere. Much like you’d see pigeons in US cities, I later found these to be the Ibis. Local teammates later filled me in that the ibis is a wading bird, but much like most wildlife, was lured to the bigger cities due to trash and the result of humans enticing it inland.

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Hyde Park is really a beautiful green space where I was staying with my team. It is filled with buildings, monuments, fountains and the most gorgeous and impressive trees I’ve seen yet in my travels.

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Being at the lunch hour, the park was filled with those taking in the day as well as those taking lunch from work. This was a pretty intense game of chess in the park that had a small gathering intensely following each move.

2019-02-19 Royal Botanic Gardens 01Now keep in mind, I’ve just left Wyoming where it was snowing and cold and dry. At this point in my first day in Australia, I’m walking in the heat of summer in a more humid region. It quickly came to my attention I was struggling. And it wasn’t any one particular thing, but a combination of registering the fatigue from an entire 24 hour period of driving/air travel, feeling like the air was dripping off of me and noticing everyone else in the park was huddled under any shade available. Thus, my tour of the gardens became more direct and guided by shade trees.2019-02-19 Royal Botanic Gardens 02

I do not know the history of this monument to the Australian Desert Corps, but I’m interested now to find out.

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The fountain looked and sounded so refreshing on this hot day, I could have easily been tempted to walk right in (though I’m pretty sure I would have been asked to leave).

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I took this photo of this monument not for the monument, but as an example of the many park-goers who took refuge under any shade they could find.

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The park gates were noticeably ornate and very stately. The full gates were actually wider than I’ve captured here in the photo, but there were large advertisements for garden activities on either side so I elected to snap only the middle section.

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As I mentioned earlier, the trees were just amazing. Larger, very healthy, and sprawling. Each variety was distinct and offered welcome respite on the many winding pathways throughout the gardens.

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Due to the heat, this was one of the few bunches of blooming flowers I could find. The park was still massively expansive and full of lush greenery, but it seemed to be a bit past the blooming season we might expect in the US spring time.

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The ornate rose garden reminded me of the type of presentation a historic English manor garden might have (which of course I’m sure is reflective of the English/Australian historical relationship).

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The rose garden design was really quite lovely, even if it was in the heat of the summer-to-fall transition.

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Trees like this one have surely made for fantastic hiding places for birds and small children over the years. What stories these trees must know.

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I did find an interesting treat in the conservatory building where a carnivorous plants show was available indoors. Granted indoors was still in a tropic green house, temperatures and all, but it was a bit more comfortable.

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Hanging bromiliad arrangements were something I was surprised to see among the jack in the pulpits and venus fly traps. (But they do indeed belong).

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The “creepy” fog effects were a fun touch with added plant glass sculptures.

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With so much greenery and standout arrangements, it’s easy to not look down and admire the tiniest of the botanic carnivores, yet there they were.

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Someone obviously spent significant time planning, growing and building the living wall as the backdrop for it all.

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More jack in the pulpits.

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And this hanging display I have no idea what it was – you can see some growths that resemble pitcher plants but I’d need to do some research to figure out what they are.

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You simply can’t have a creepy botanic carnivore display without fright night movie posters setting the theme in the hallways, naturally.

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Just on the outside of the building here, was a giant-sized display of cloth and metal structures of pitcher plants and fly traps that definitely did the job in attracting attention of passing tourists.

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After I made the return walk back to the hotel of roughly a mile, jet lag began to set in. Honestly I thought I’d arrived unscathed and had evaded the price we pay for jumping time zones, but I was not to win that battle.

I elected to take a “short nap” before meeting colleagues for dinner that night. The short nap became a 6 hour rest that I realized included 2 hours of sleeping with my alarm going off. This was NOT a pleasant wake-up either. This was a near head-ache, foggy-brained, what-happened-to-me-sleep. Needless to say, after earnest regrets, I declined the informal dinner and after ordering a quick meal via room service, fell into another long sleep.

Sleeping in was not to be had, though. This began my habit this week of waking at unholy early hours (the following morning, my day started at 2 a.m.) as my body worked to adjust to having lost an entire day in time zones.

With business meetings, come business dinners. Our team enjoyed a delicious meal of superb seafood at Nick’s Seafood in Sydney off Darling Harbour. It was open air seating and eating and afforded us a beautiful view to enjoy while we ate.

2019-02-20 Nicks Seafood

After this lovely night on the harbor, work resumed and the next two days were non-stop. I kept waking up at 2-4 a.m. every day and there was nothing for it other than to do some work online until breakfast and then start the day. Evenings usually extended through 9-10 p.m. until I returned to my room to take a quick shower and fall into bed.

However on the last day (Friday), after the last of the meetings concluded, those of us who remained one more night due to Saturday flight departures elected to make a last-minute run to Manly Beach via one of the area ferry boats.

2019-02-22 Manly Beach Trip 01

We passed the famous Sydney Opera House which was still striking despite the foul weather that evening. It sprinkled on us off and on nearly all evening but nothing so much that we couldn’t keep on with our little self-guided food tour.

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The views from the Ferry were just beautiful. It almost reminded me of a modern, Mediterranean town somewhere remote. What isn’t captured in these photos is the impromptu storm we rode out on the ferry. Swells rose to such a height the captain brought everyone inside the boat to ride it out as best we could. A few faces did look a little green.

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Once the storm clouds began to clear the sail boats came out to race and enjoy the evening light.

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Evening seemed to last quite a while and it seemed everyone who had a boat was out in it. It made for quite the show for the ferries.

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The sun started to go down though, as it always will, and we made it to Manly Wharf and then the beach walk just in time for a few final pictures before the night fell.

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The evening was really quite comfortable and the air surprisingly didn’t seem to smell that salty. However it was a harbor after all so I’m guessing the actual ocean-facing beach probably had a bit more salt in the air.

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We noticed this restaurant on the main walking street that strongly resembled Burger King from the US, quite a bit. We even walked up to it and took a peek into the restaurant and even the menu and interior was nearly identical. Possibly the Australian branch of Burger King?

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On our way back from an amazing restaurant we ate at, the Manly Grill, the shops and eateries were lit up for late night business and kept our path illuminated.

Our group just barely made it back to the ferry wharf where the boat was waiting and we enjoyed a peaceful and swift trip back to Sydney where we all collapsed back in our rooms, packed our bags, and took off the next morning for the long flight back to the US.

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