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The Australian Adventures: Week Three
Back again after another week. Before I begin, I created another photo album with pictures from the past week and a half, available here. Let's start where we left off, then, on Tuesday of last week. Jesse had work in the morning, and school started for Lucy that day as well, so Polly drove Kirsten and me to Parramatta, a western suburb of Sydney, and home of the Parramatta River, which runs all the way down to Sydney, the harbor, and the ocean. We boarded a ferry there that morning, and took it down to Circular Quay, the bay that houses the Opera House and Harbor Bridge. It was fun to see the city from the water, though it was a cold day to be on the water.
Kirsten and I walked from Circular Quay south, by the botanical gardens, past old buildings like the first hospital in Sydney and the parliament house, to Hyde Park, where we had a nice lunch. We walked through a large war memorial there, checked out the fountain, and continued our walk east onto Oxford Street and into Paddington, another area of Sydney, to an independent theater where we met Jesse. We were going to watch the documentary The US Vs. John Lennon (for obvious reasons, as we are all hopeless Beatle lovers), but, to our disappointment, the theater had neglected to update its website, and the movie had stopped running last week. We walked around Paddington a bit more, stopped into a few clothing stores, and had chocolate drinks at a cafe called Max Brenner's: Chocolate by the Bald Man, a sort of high-class chain store specializing in excellent chocolate drinks.
Wednesday was our Newtown shopping day. Kirsten, Jesse, and I spent most of the day in Newtown, walking up one side of the street and down the other, exploring the shops. We visited thrift stores and quirky little boutiques, stores with names like "Tree of Life" and "Braintree Hemp" that sold clothes of all different kinds of styles, and we stopped into a huge, almost overwhelming used book store, where Kirsten found an old JD Salinger book she's been wanting for a while. We ate a late lunch and headed home around five, exhausted as one always is when done shopping.
On Thursday, David drove us to an animal park about a 15 minute's drive away from their home. We got there in time to see the koalas being fed- really, it was only one koala that they woke up and fed eucalyptus branches to so that people could pat its back under the watchful eye of the keeper. Its fur was very soft, and it was adorable close up, with funny little eyes and ears. The other koalas were all asleep like little marshmallows on their perches, clutching the branches tightly as they slept.
We wandered around the animal park for a good hour, and I saw kookaburras, emus, wallabies, wombats, an echidna (perhaps my favorite animal there...it waddled around its cage, looking like a small cross between a hedgehog and an anteater), wedge-tailed eagles (we had seen them flying high up in the Blue Mountains, and they were massive up close), a dingo, cockatoos (which I've seen in the wild, making a racket on rooftops in suburban Sydney), a large bird called a cassowary (according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the most dangerous bird in the world because of their large claws and tendency to become violent when cornered, though they didn't look so bad when I saw them), and, of course, kangaroos. The kangaroos had the option to come into an enclosure where people could pet them, and so we got to pat them. They're really cool up close, using their tails as a sort of fifth foot to walk around. Two of the ones we saw were mothers with joeys in their pouches. The babies go into the pouch head first, but also pop their heads out occasionally, meaning that we either saw their feet and tail sticking out of the pouch, or the feet, tail, and head all sticking out- they must be very flexible babies. It was really fun seeing and getting to meet all these foreign animals.
We headed to a shopping mall afterwards where I purchased a few meters of black cloth in preparation for the Harry Potter book release, as it was may intention to dress up as Hermione. Jesse and I went over to Jesse's boyfriend's house for dinner that night, and we played pool and watched Coupling, another great British comedy series.
On Friday Jesse had work again and Lucy of course had school, so I worked on sewing my robes with lots of help from Kirsten. That evening I went out with Jesse and her friend Emma to see James Morrison at The Basement, a rather swanky jazz and dinner club, after another great meal in Newtown, this time at a North Indian restuarant. The bouncer was apprehensive to let me in to the club even though I had an International Student Identity card for some reason, which was annoying. We bought cocktails to fit with the atmosphere and waited for the show to start. The show was quite good, even though I'm not a big jazz fan- James Morrison is a good showman, quite funny, and he played the trumpet, piano, trombone, and saxophone all quite well, and he even had a jazz violinist come on stage. We had to leave at half past midnight, just in time to catch the last train out of the city, and made it home very late, where I worked a bit more on my robes.
I woke up at 6:30 on Saturday morning, finished my robes, and had a quick breakfast. The seventh Harry Potter book was to come out at 9:01 AM to coincide with its release in Great Britain. Both Jesse and I had qualified for the final round of a Harry Potter quiz competition at the bookstore at 7:45 AM that morning, and at around 7:30 with both her parents still in bed, I decided to run to the bookstore as Jesse tried to wake them up, in order to make sure we could both still compete in the quiz. It was quite humorous, really- me, dressed in robes, sporting a S.P.E.W. badge and an egg timer tied around my neck (my timeturner, for those who have read the books), running through suburban Sydney on a Saturday morning. I made it to the bookstore and David caught up with me just as I was running into the parking lot driving the van, bringing everyone else to the bookstore. Of course they were way behind schedule at the store, so I didn't even have to run in the first place = )
We caught the tail end of the "house olympics" they were doing, we all wrote down our guesses about the number of jelly beans in a jar, looked at all the costumes people had, and then, finally, Jesse and I played in the quiz game along with two other contestants. It was kind of random, they made one question worth twenty points, and as I answered that one correctly, I won that match. It would have been rather close otherwise. My prize ended up being the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records. Kirsten ended up winning the jelly bean contest, so we came back with a jar full of them. Finally, we bought our books, and walked home, very excited. We read aloud to each other until Lucy had to go to work, cooked food and napped while she was gone, and continued reading into the night, stopping for dinner and to watch the latest episode of Doctor Who, yet another great TV series to which I've been introduced here.
Sunday was spent reading Harry Potter aloud for more than six hours, until we went out for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. That evening, realizing that there was no way we would finish the book together before the next morning, when Lucy had school and Jesse started back at University, Jesse and Lucy read the book to themselves, and Kirsten and I watched Monty Python videos.
Today Kirsten and I were home alone, so we both finished the book to ourselves. It was a wonderful, wonderful read, and now I'm actually fairly sad, that being the last of a series that has captivated me for the past ten years. The book lived up to all my expectations, though, and made me cry on two separate occasions, a first for me in any book.
Anyways, Lucy's just come home from school and Jesse is bound to come home soon, so I'd better go. It's hard to believe that there's only one week left here and in less than a month I'll be back at Grinnell.