Australia, Day Two: Thurs 1/14 and Fri 1/15
I know what you're saying - - how can Day Two be two days? Well, our flight left at midnight on Thursday morning and after 17 hours in the air we landed in Sydney at 10:30 AM local time on Friday. I call that two days.
We booked our seats in coach and planned up upgrading to first or business class closer to the date. But it's high season in Australia (it's summer), so the flight was sold out. Ah well, I flew coach to Japan, could it really be any worse?
We got on the plane, got settled, and they turned the lights off not long after take-off, it was beddie bye. I took half an Ambien (given to me by a generous friend) and fell asleep pretty much immediately. I don't know how long I was asleep, but I would guess somewhere around four or five hours. I woke up feeling rested and refreshed. I watched *Bridge of Spies*, which was very good. I was thrilled to see Scott Shepherd playing such a big role in a major Hollywood movie - - he played the lead in the Elevator Repair Service reading of *The Great Gatsby*, he has memorized the entire novel. I've also seen him twice with the Wooster Group.
I thought I'd watch *Ricki and the Flash*. Screenplay by Diablo Cody, directed by Jonathan Demme, starring Meryl Streep - - it should be good, right? I watched not even ten minutes and turned it off. Drek. I should be fair and say that part of the issue is that I was sucked into watching what Richard was watching, a priceless documentary called *Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel*. You might remember that Mrs. Vreeland was the star of one of the first days of my Viking cruise blog (see "Viking river cruise, Day Two" for her story about Rudolph Nureyev and "men in the mornings"). You might think that Mrs. Vreeland is a constant presence in my life, and you might be right.
They gave us chicken salad sandwiches when the lights came back on. Rather delicious. They had a basket of them sitting out the back of the plane, along with some pretzels and crackers and the like, so we ate more of that later.
I read more of my book, watched a TV tribute to Mary Tyler Moore, watched a very interesting TV special about Dick Cavett's coverage of the Watergate scandal and Nixon's demise (makes me want to read *All the Presidents' Men*), did some cross stitch. Funny thing about this flight: the first nine hours went by very quickly (I was asleep for maybe five of them, which helps), the next six were tiresome and endless, and the last two went by like that.
We landed and got through customs pretty quickly. Paul and Anders met us at the airport, so sweet of them to pick us up. Anders was being shy at first but got over that pretty quickly.
It might be helpful to give you an overview of our trip:
Fri 1/15 thru Mon 1/18 AM: in Sydney, staying with Annie's parents
Mon 1/18 PM thru Weds 1/20 AM: in Sydney, staying at the Vibe Hotel
Weds 1/20 PM thru Fri 1/22 AM: in Cairns, trip to the Great Barrier Reef
Fri 1/22 PM thru Mon 1/25 PM: in Sydney, back at the Vibe Hotel
Mon 1/25 PM: fly back to NYC
Paul took us to Annie's parents' so we could see them, drop off our stuff, and have a quick shower. We adore Sue and Mark, they couldn't be sweeter or more marvelous. And their house is off the hook! Big and gorgeous and oh so comfortable. It felt so good to shower and change clothes. Here's a cute pic of Anders putting on his shoes at Sue and Mark's front door:
Then we went to Paul and Annie's house, not far away. So good to see Annie and Sebbie, kisses all 'round. We had a fabulous lunch (sausage rolls and meat pies from a local bakery), got caught up, talked through some ideas for the upcoming days, generally just shot the breeze. Here's a pic of Sebbie doing Annie's hair:
And a pic of me and Paul. I look a little green in the gills:
They had a nanny candidate coming over so Richard and I went for a walk. Paul thought it would be a good idea to bring an umbrella just in case - - good thing, because we were twenty seconds out the door and the sky completely opened up. But it was a warmish summer rain and it just made things feel fresh and clean. You have to remember that we'd just spent 17 hours on a plane. We walked around their neighborhood and it reminded me so much of San Francisco: the oceanside setting, a similar hilliness, and a similar groovy yet urban vibe.
We got back to the house, and Annie had taken Anders to his swimming lesson. Paul, Richard, and I played with Play-Doh with Sebastian. Sebbie wasn't entirely pleased with what we made.
Annie and Anders got back, Anders had a stellar swimming lesson. Sebbie was all over his older brother like a rash, it's like he hadn't seen him in weeks, it was rather touching. Anders was courteous but not as into the idea. I started feeling a little droopy around 4 so Annie made a nice strong pot of tea. That perked me up, Richard too.
Before too long it was dinnertime - - we went to the Bather's Pavilion Cafe in Balmoral, a gorgeous oceanside restaurant. We were trying to have a meaningful conversation with Paul and Annie but the boys kept trying to pull the spotlight back onto themselves. Anders insisted that he wanted to go swimming immediately, Paul and Annie assumed him he could go swimming after dinner, but that the water would be cold. He wasn't put off by this and went back to his plan to go swimming immediately. Anders had a bit more luck: he got a nosebleed, he had stuck a straw up his nose. Ah, the joys of parenthood!
Spectacular dinner: I had a pizza with sardines, goat cheese, slivered garlic, and arugula. Richard had an arugula and pear salad and a small main dish of half-shell scallops. Sublime. Annie had a nice piece of broiled fish, Paul had lamb, Anders had spaghetti bolognese (which vanished in under five minutes, it's his favorite meal on earth), Sebbie had Hawaiian pizza. He shared a piece with Richard and me, how sweet is that?
I was sure that the boys would run into the ocean and run straight back, the water was surely very cold. But no, they were totally into it.
Paul and Annie dropped us at Mark and Sue's. The four of us had a lovely chat - - Mark told us about the book he's writing on the subject of golf, Sue told us about the ins and outs of playing bridge. We watched a bit of the news. It was 9 PM and we were knackered. We went to bed and were both asleep within four minutes.