Sunday, October 19, 2008
Sometimes I can't believe we live here...
Friday morning before work I went for a swim in one of the public pools in The Domain, a large park in downtown Sydney. It’s a heated outdoor saltwater pool overlooking the harbour. After a lovely swim, I walked to work through the Botanical Gardens and past the Opera House. I mean, seriously.
On Sunday, Eric and I did the Spit Bridge to Manly walk. It's about 9.5 km and skirts the edges of two peninsulas that overlook Sydney Harbour. Sometimes you're walking along the beach, sometimes you're hiking along a high cliff, and sometimes you're meandering through the bush. We saw giant lizards and tropical birds, as well more of the mysterious tree-bound dirt mounds that we saw in the Royal National Park. We're going to have to figure out what those are and how they stay aloft. When we got to the Manly end of the trail, we walked along the beach for a while and watched the surfers brave the cold water. Now we're looking into surf schools...
Sunday night, Kevin Rudd, the Australian Prime Minister, had a roundtable with random citizens, allowing them to ask unscripted questions about the economy. Since the current "crisis" began, he's been on television every night taking really tough questions from the reporters who aren't afraid to express the hostility and fear that many people feel right now. Eric and I are astounded with his accessibility and don't think the Australians even realise how unusual this is to some of us -- they just expect their elected officials to be directly accountable to them. I can't remember any US president, and certainly not the current one, opening himself up for regular television grilling.
Yesterday I stopped into the clinic near my office to make an appointment for an exam. In the US, I typically had to make an apppointment 4-6 weeks in advance. When the receptionist asked whether tomorrow morning or afternoon would be better, I almost fell over. I guess the people who say that universal health care would cause people to have to wait forever to get an appointment might be off! As usual, the Australians were amused by my surprise. They all think our health care system borders on barbaric anyway.
Last night was our second trapeze class. We now know three tricks: birdsnest, half angel, and mermaid. Today the tops of my feet are raw from wrapping them around the ropes. Don't let the clowns fool you -- circus work is hard!
At least we're building up the calluses, because tonight we're finally headed climbing for the first time in many months. Our local climbing gym is the largest in Australia with over 100 top ropes and 250 routes: http://www.indoorclimbing.com.au/. I can't wait!