Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Sydney, Australia: Day 1

It's Tuesday evening, and my trip is about 4 days in ("about" because of having crossed the International Date Line)

I left Toronto Friday evening and flew to Vancouver. I had wanted to break up the long trip Down Under, and I still have a few friends in Vancouver. Even better, SIGGRAPH (the computer graphics conference I used to attend almost every year) is in Vancouver this week, so lots of old friends are there.

I stayed at the YMCA hotel downtown, and it was actually pretty nice and comfortable, and very conveniently located. On Saturday I got together with my old friend Tony. We met for lunch (Szechuan) in the west end, walked around Stanley Park for hours and got caught up on each other, grabbed dinner (Italian, right across the street from where we had lunch!) and then saw a movie (A Most Wanted Man - so so). I hadn't seen Tony in several years, but we picked right up.

Vancouver seems like more of a big city than I remember. I lived there from 1985-88, just a few blocks from where we ate. Obviously there have been massive changes since then, but even since my last visit for the 2010 Winter Olympics, it seems to be more densely filled with tall buildings, and busier. It no longer feels much smaller than Toronto to me.

 Arriving at Vancouver airport; these walls looked very climbable!

 In Stanley Park, at the waterpark, where we managed to cross through unscathed
until I said to Tony I was surprised we didn't get wet,
at which point a woman squirted us with a super soaker.

On Sunday morning I had lunch with another old friend: Crazy Judi, whom I had last seen in 2010. As with Tony we picked up where we last left off, and got caught up on each other's kids. After brunch we went back to her downtown condo and chatted some more with her husband Mike while enjoying their amazing view of the harbour.

I picked up my luggage from my hotel and then headed to The Rogue, where a bunch of ex-Alias employees were gathering, some who live in a Vancouver and some in for SIGGRAPH (and me). I had a few drinks with them and shared old stories, and then hopped on the Skytrain to the airport.

The 14-hour flight to Auckland wasn't as bad as I had expected. I'm not sure I slept much, but I did get some rest, and wasn't completely zonked on arrival.
 Good advice for me at the Auckland airport, as I awaited flight NZ101 to Sydney!

I caught my connecting flight to Sydney a couple hours later. That flight was delayed on arrival due to a backup at the Sydney airport. I got through customs quickly, got my bag, waited a while for my shuttle van, and got to my hotel a little after 11am local time, about 25 hours after leaving Vancouver.

I dropped my suitcase at the hotel, walked around the neighbourhood a bit, and found a place nearby for lunch while waiting for my room to be ready, then checked in. I spent most of the afternoon relaxing and reading. My room is large and comfortable, though the hotel is showing its age in some ways. The location is decent, but there is internet only in the lobby (which gets crowded at times with guests all staring at their phones!).

I walked to a nearby pub and had a beer and pizza for dinner. Back at the hotel, I managed to stay awake reading until about 9pm before crashing. Hopefully that helps me adjust to the local time zone quickly!

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