Friday, September 3, 2010

All hail the Tiger Pie!

INGER and I visited the famous HARRY'S CAFE DE WHEELS pie cart in Wooloomooloo at lunch today.
I enjoyed the iconic SYDNEY dish, the TIGER PIE.
It includes:
1. A beef pie
2. Mashed potatoes
3. Mushy peas
4. Topped with gravy.
It was wonderful.
I've had three pies since arriving in AUSTRALIA. I've got such a taste for them now, I will need to get some (admittedly inferior) pot pies when I return to the States.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Top 5 animals at Sydney's Taronga Zoo

My TOP FIVE ANIMALS at the world-class TARONGA ZOO.
1. TASMANIAN DEVILS -- Never stopped running around... Always seemed to be having fun... Terrifying when they open their fang-filled mouths to yawn.
2. GOLDEN PHEASANT -- Name doesn't do justice to this multicolored southeast Asian bird. A rainbow of colors.
3. FRESHWATER CROCODILE -- Appears so content with life. Probably because of the razor-sharp teeth.
4. BLACK-HEADED PYTHON -- Fun fact: The black head heats up quickly in the sun, helping their brains work quicker and more effectively.
5. LEOPARD SEALS -- The villains of every penguin film.

Sydney: First impressions

Take parts of LONDON and graft them onto SAN FRANCISCO. Take all that and drop it onto SAN DIEGO, and that's my first impression of SYDNEY. INGER and I spent the day walking around The Rocks, the Circular Quay area and the Central Business District. In between, we drank some beers, photographed the Opera House like crazy and I managed to eat a CROCODILE PIZZA as well. What will day two have in store? Stay tuned...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Here I go

I think I'm ready. I hope I'm ready.
I just have a few last-minute tasks before I can head for the airport -- beginning a lengthy journey to SYDNEY.
Of course, I didn't sleep very well last night. I tossed and turned and eventually woke up well before my alarm was set to ring.
No worries. I listened online as ST. GEORGE ILLAWARRA beat the NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS, 26-18, to seal the NATIONAL RUGBY LEAGUE'S minor premiership for the Dragons.
Hard to believe, but I'll be in the midst of rugby league territory when this journey concludes.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tooheys New in my future

Did I mention I want to wash down an ICED VOVO with a TOOHEYS NEW when I get to AUSTRALIA in 11 days?
Preparing for my trip, I've spread VEGEMITE on my morning toast, I'm nibbling a VIOLET CRUMBLE I've been saving in my freezer for two years and I have been sipping FOSTER'S.
I know: The latter is a poor approximation of the beer I'll sample in SYDNEY.
That's why I want to wash down the Iced Vovo with a Tooheys New!
You just can't get good Aussie beer here in Dubuque. I wonder why that is...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Another iconic bridge in my sights

I have strolled across the BROOKLYN BRIDGE (on a shockingly cold January evening).
I have marched across my hometown GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE numerous times (I have a commemorative brick there, don't you know).
I now have plans to add another iconic bridge to that list.
I want to walk across the SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE in less than a month or so.
Here is how the brilliant BILL BRYSON described the bridge, in his Aussie guide "IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY:"
"The Opera House is a splendid edifice and I wish to take nothing away from it, but my heart belongs to the Harbour Bridge. It's not as festive, but it is far more dominant -- you can see it from every corner of the city, creeping into frame from the oddest angles, like an uncle who wants to get into every snapshot. From a distance it has a kind of gallant restraint, majestic but not assertive, but up close it is all might. It soars above you, so high that you could pass a 10-story building beneath it, and looks like the heaviest thing on earth. Everything that is in it -- the stone blocks in its four towers, the lattice work of girders, the metal plates, the 6 million rivets (with heads like halved apples) -- is the biggest of its type you have ever seen. This is a bridge built by people who have had an Industrial Revolution, people with mountains of coal and ovens in which you could melt down a battleship. The arch alone weighs 30,000 tons. This is a great bridge."

Friday, July 30, 2010

All creatures great and small and DEADLY

I read the BILL BRYSON book "IN A SUNBURNED COUNTRY" years ago, before my upcoming AUSTRALIA trip was even a glimmer in my eye.
I am reading the book again, with less than a month to go before the trip.
I was always struck by his memorable, introductory paragraphs about the country, particularly about the dangerous animals found Down Under.
Bryson writes:
"It has more things that will kill you than anywhere else. Of the world's 10 most poisonous snakes, all are Australian. Five of its creatures -- the funnel web spider, box jellyfish, blue-ringed octopus, paralysis tick and stonefish -- are the most lethal of their type in the world. This is a country where even the fluffiest of caterpillars can lay you out with a toxic nip, where seashells will not just sting you but actually sometimes go for you."
I seriously doubt
INGER and I will encounter any of Australia's dangerous creatures. Indeed, I probably run more risk of eating a PIE FLOATER and getting heartburn.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Aussies and alcohol

As my upcoming AUSTRALIA trip draws nearer (I leave Aug. 28), I have stepped up my background reading of the land DOWN UNDER.
This morning, I came upon this memorable passage by British-Canadian travel writer Ronald Wright, about the role alcohol plays in Australia:

"You cannot enjoy Australia without enjoying pubs. Australia drinks more alcohol per capita than any other English-speaking nation. In Sydney, I'd drunk at the Hero of Waterloo, which claims to be the oldest pub in the land. I was persuaded when I saw the cellar: a dungeon complete with iron shackles, where sturdy lads who got too pissed were held for sale to navy press gangs. To sit in the Hero's 19th-century drinking chairs -- like pews with arms -- was to understand the sacramental role of alcohol in Australia. It would be a formidable task to work out how many gallons of beer and rum, on that very spot, have been poured down the gizzard of Oz."
I'm certain my sister INGER and I will sink a schooner or two in the HERO OF WATERLOO -- the pub is located on Lower Fort Street in Millers Point, The Rocks, not far from our hotel.
I'll steer clear of the "dungeon," mind you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Two months to go? Yeah, I'm not ready

I don't feel ready at all.
INGER and I leave for AUSTRALIA two months from today and I haven't spent much time reading about the place (well, besides the past 30 years or so) and I haven't really done much other preparation, either.
I am on vacation next week, and I would like to devote some of that time to preparing for my trip DOWN UNDER.
With two months to go before my LONDON trip, I was much more prepared than I am for Australia.
Time to worry?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Beware sharks bearing "frickin lasers"

I found a funny AUSTRALIA map online.
It purports to show the country's many and varied dangers, including crocs, spiders, snakes, "SHARKS WITH FRICKIN' LASERS" and of course, DANNI MINOGUE.
All kidding aside, Australia is home to some of the world's most dangerous animals.
SYDNEY itself is part of the range of the FUNNEL-WEB.
Bites can be fatal from this big, black hairy spider, but there have been no recorded fatalities since the anti-venom was developed in 1981.
I'm afraid I could find no such reassuring statistics about prolonged exposure to Danni Minogue.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Preparing myself for a "Tim Tam Slam"

The Aussies call it the "TIM TAM SLAM."
Here is how it's done.
1. Take a Tim Tam. One of AUSTRALIA'S iconic delights, a Tim Tam is a popular biscuit (cookie) consisting of a layer of chocolate cream between two chocolate biscuits (cookies) covered in -- you guessed it -- chocolate. That's a lot of chocolate... not that I'm complaining, mind you.
2. Bite off two diagonally opposite corners of the Tim Tam.
3. Slurp hot tea or coffee through the cut corners, such as you would suck liquid through a straw.
4. Pop the entire remainder of the Tim Tam into your mouth just before it disintegrates.
I plan to attempt this feat at least once when I visit SYDNEY in August.

Friday, June 4, 2010

I feel compelled to eat animals that hop

I ate rabbit in LONDON and there was hell to pay when I got home.
Well, 11-year-old ANNIKA doesn't want me eating cute animals.
So, I'm not going to tell her that I am going to try a low-fat, high-protein indigenous meat when visiting SYDNEY in August.
That's right. I plan on trying KANGAROO.
It would feel like an incomplete trip if I flew Down Under and failed to eat that particular delicacy.
Kangaroo meat has been exported from AUSTRALIA since 1959 -- mostly to Europe. Australian supermarkets stock various cuts of kangaroo, including fillets and steaks.
There's also something called a "kanga banga," which is a kangaroo sausage.
Will it taste like venison? Will it taste like beef?
I aim to find out. I just might not tell Annika about it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Fetch Me My Vegemite, I'm heading Down Under

I needed another blog, right?
This one will chronicle my preparations for my TRIP TO AUSTRALIA, as well as experiences in SYDNEY.


About Me

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I am a Bay Area native and former Oregon resident, now living in Iowa with my family. When it gets cold, I recall my high school days in Phoenix, Ariz. I am a music geek with a passion for funky jazz, obscure soul and early reggae. I love the Giants, the 49ers, Blazers and MY BELOVED OREGON DUCKS. I am also a soccer fanatic who adores Leyton Orient and Sheffield Wednesday. I love Japanese cinema, especially the films of Seijun Suzuki and Ko Nakahira's "Kurutta Kajitsu."