SEANDOWN UNDATRAVEL AND OLYMPIC ADVENTURES IN AUSTRALIA
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Melbourne: 1 | 2
Sydney: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11


Sydney, Day 11. Tuesday, October 3.
I went down to the beach cafe to get my favorite chocolate muffin and fresh squeezed juice called the "triathlete" (orange, pineapple and melon) then it was off to the city to get my pictures developed and watch the athlete parade at noon. I ended up catching up with Heather, the penathlon ticket queen. We went up the big tower in Sydney, had a bite for lunch then it was off to the parade. Afterwards, we both went back to Coogie to hang out on the beach. Got my last shake from the Copenhagen ice cream shop then it was off to bed as I was leaving at 5:30am for my trip back to the states.

I've had a great time in Australia. Australia is kind of like a cross between souther California and Europe. Very hip, very laid back yet sporty. I look to coming back someday and checking out more of the country.

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Sydney, Day 10. Monday, October 2.
With the pentathlon events - and the whole Olympics - over, I was looking forward to a little down time. I went for a final run in the morning along the beach all the way up to Bondi this time. I went into town for some gift shopping, then came back to just relax on Coogie Beach. Eli and Justen left at around 6:00pm so all was quiet for the night. Went to bed early for once.

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Sydney, Day 9. Sunday, October 1. Women's Pentathon.
My alarm was set for the wrong date, so I ended up missing the shooting portion of the women's event. But I arrived to find out one our US athletes, Emily, was in the lead after the shooting.

I did get to watch Emily and Mary Beth fench each other, once again the fencing starts by fencing your own teamate. Mary Beth one, she was pretty psyched. The men yelled a lot when they one, the women did to, but about two octives higher. Yikes. And the women were just as intense as the men, maybe moreso.

Emily came was in first after the first two events, Mary Beth in 3rd. So now it was off to the pool. Both did pretty well, so remained in their places.

Both did well in the jumping as well so the run started with Emily in front and Mary Beth in 4th. But...Stephanie Cook of Great Britain was well known to be the best runner and was only staring off 27 seconds behind Emily, in 7th place. It turned out to be an incredible run with Stephanie slowly picking off the other runners. She finally caught Emily at about 400m from the finish line so Emily came in 2nd with another Brit coming in 3rd.

It was an incredible finish with Emily coming in 2nd. This was the first time the women's pentathlon has been in the Olympics and for a non-European to place was a pretty big deal. Also, Emily had introduced Stephanie, the winner, to the sport while attending Oxford...what a great story.

In the evening I hung out in Darling Harbour on my own to watch the closing ceremony fireworks. I bought a little dinner at a cafe just at the end of the pedestrian bridge at Darling Harbour and watched the closing ceremonies from there on a 13" TV. The fireworks after the ceremonies were synchronized in three locations thorghout the city and lasted for a half an hour. There were also fireworks going from building downtown buildings all over the place. Impressive and a great way to finish things off.

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Sydney, Day 8. Saturday, September 30. Men's Pentathlon.
Today was the big day. We all got up at 4:30 to head out to the park to make sure we got good seats for the first two events, shooting and fencing, that would be held in one of the pavillions.

We met up with Chad Senior's parent's at the park and tried to find a place with coffee and breakfast snacks. Guess the Olympic organizers hadn't really planned for a competition to start at 6:45 in the morning because nothing was open. We survived without coffee for a while and got some great seats to watch the fencing (not much to watch in shooting that was taking place at one end of the pavillion so we wanted good seats for the fencing).

Chad and Velizar both did pretty well in the shooting, but not spectacular. Chad on the other hand, had an exceptional fencing event and came out in first place. Countries with two athletes start off by fencing each other. What a way to start...fencing your teamate. Velizar won the first bout over Chad. Pentathlon fencing is pretty fun to watch. Since it is one touch fencing, the athletes get pretty psyched when they get their touch. Some of the guys got really into it, jumping up and down and the like. In the end, it was Chad that came out on top.

We did OK in the swimming event, Chad came in second, putting him in 1st place overall going into the show-jumping event. Three events down, two to go.

Next, we were off to the baseball stadium for the last two events. Show jumping and then the run. The athletes start by walking the jump course, pacing off the distance between the fences to figure out how many strides their horse will take. Then, the draw for the horses...one of the wild cards in the pentathlon is that athletes ride unfamiliar horses. All the horses have ridden the course and the riders that rode them provide a summary of the ride as well as their comments on the horse. Chad got a horse named "Riverine". Turns out Riverine wasn't one of the best horses to draw. Chad knocked down four fences, which surprised a lot of the people that know him as he is a pretty good rider. Velizar did pretty well and ended up in the lead in a tie with another athlete, so both of them would start out first in the run.

It became pretty clear that Velizar wouldn't have his best run. We found out after the event that his legs started to spasm about halfway through. Chad didn't have a great run either. According to his family and friends, he did have it in him to get into a medal spot, even though he started off fifth. Well, it didn't happen. I was told later that Chad is one of those athletes that is going for the gold or nothing at all. Once again, to family and friends it was apparent that he wasn't giving the run his all.

It ended up that the Russian, who started the run in 7th place, came in first. It was quite an upset for Chad and the US. He was doing so well early on, only to lose the momentum in the ride.

It was back to New Balance for dinner, where things were prtty somber. We looked forward to the women's event the next day.

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Sydney, Day 7. Friday, September 29.
This morning I set off early again to watch the men's platform diving preliminaries. Besides athletics, I figured diving is another one of those sports that you don't get a chance to see live very often so this would be a good Olympic viewing choice. The US did OK, but nothing too impressive. The Chinese really did some impressive dives. After diving it was back to New Balance, a little souvenir/gift shopping, then back to the hotel for a change of clothes before going out.

While waiting for the bus a good friend from Seattle, Mike, ran by during his evening jog. I knew Mike was in town, but didn't know how to get ahold of him. Pretty small world to run into him along Coogie. We made plans to catch up later at a bar where a bunch of the swimmers had turned up the night before. It was his brother's birthday, so I was to plan for a long night. Back to New Balance for dinner, then a little strole around downtown before meeting up with Mike. As usual, Darling Harbour was full of people so I had a good time just people watching.

The bar I ended up catching up with Mike at happened to be one of the hottest drag queen clubs in Sydney. Surprise! Turns out that after the movie "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" that came out several years ago, Australia has become very proud of their draq queens. One of the drag queens in the movie happened to do her thing in this bar, so that's why it was so popular. That night we ran into more swimmers, a bunch of athletes from the French equestrian team and serveral of the Taekwando (sp?) teams, including the gold medalist. During the show, the drag queens really made a scene with Mike's brother since it was his birthday, as well as the gold medalist. My stomach hurt I was laughing so hard. Turns out, the Aussies are so proud of Priscilla and their drag queens that there will be a whole bunch of them in the closing ceremonies...should be quite a show.

I didn't stay out very late...had to get up at 4:30am to get out to Olympic park to get situated for the men's pentathlon.

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Sydney, Day 6. Thursday, September 28.
I got up extra early this morning to get to Olympic Stadium in time to watch all of the morning athletics. This time I was 26 rows back from where the decathletes were throwing discuss...more great seats. I also got to watch the qualifiers for the the women's high jump, as well as the women's 20k walk. One of the high points was an Aussie almost winning the women's 20k...until she was disqualified just outside of entering the stadium for bad walking form. Another high point...the WAVE around Olympic Stadium. Yes, I got to be part of a wave at the Olympics. I stayed to watch two pools of decathletes (one American was in each) and was then off the the Olympic Superstore. Took almost 45 minutes to get in! Once inside, it was quite a let down...they didn't have any sports specific stuff...well, at least not for pentathlon anyway. But I got some stuff and then headed back over to the New Balance center to update my webpage and have dinner. Planning on watching the fireworks along Darling Harbor tonight.l

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Sydney, Day 5. Wednesday, September 27.
Eli, Justen and I got up early to head out to Olympic Stadium to watch the morning 'athletics' (we call it track and field). It took us almost two hours to get there! But it was well worth it. This was my first visit out to the Olympic Park (aka Homebush). The entire park is huge and it was pretty breathtaking to walk up to Olympic Stadium after I'd seen so much of it on TV. And the day was beautiful after we had such lousy weather last night. Eli and Justen had seats way up in the bleachers which they had bought on the street the day before. I lucked out...the ticket I bought later the same day for less money was 23 rows up from the field right by the decathlon long jump. Pretty cool, I got some really great pictures of the men's 200, the decathlon long jump and various other events going on.

I had to leave the park early to catch a modern dance matinee at the Opera house. The route back to the trains that go to the city is about a mile walk. I got back to the new balance center just in time to have lunch and find out that we had been moved out of our cozy apartment right on Coogie Beach. I guess someone more important wanted. Bummer, but we're now right across the street in the Holiday Inn.

The matinee at the opera house was incredibe. The performance was called "Skin" and included two individual dance pieces, the second included several artists that were in the opening night ceremonies. The first was nice, but didn't engage me. It was a troop of women dancing to half aboriginee, half modern jazz music. The seconds was a troop of men and a small boy. It started with a native aborignee hanging himself then shifted in to dance and some singing dealing with some of the issues natives in Australia and New Zealand are dealing with today. The set was only a burned out car shell that was moved to many different positions for different acts. The final scenes were of one of the older performers sitting down and singing songs to his guitar. The last song was about how for a time, native children were taken from their real parents to be raised by white parents in hopes of civilizing them. Once again, I teared up at the end.

Then...back to the New Balance center for dinner. After that, I cought up with the cousins of one of my best friends Peter in Seattle. We went to the Lord Nelson pub in an area of town called The Rocks, the pub was just under the Sydney Harbor bridge. We had a great time and it was fun to be in a local pub when the Aussies cheer on their team.

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Sydney, Day 4. Tuesday, September 26.
Eli and I headed into the city around 9:30 this morning. About half way in we figured out that our bus went right along where the women's bike race was going to be held so we decided to hop off and watch the start. We followed the helicopters and arrived at the start line just in time to see them take off. There was a big screen TV showing the race as they went throught the course at the first turn, so we planted ourselves there and stuck around for several of the seven laps in the race. Pretty cool, definitely felt like I was at the Olympics. The riders were so close you could touch them. I'll be off to track and field tomorrow at the Olympic stadium to watch some of the decathlon events. The symphony tonight at the Opera House was fantastic. The arias were fantastic and the Mauri dance/singing group that performed with the symphony were amazing. The men's parts were basically made up of a lot of shouting and stomping and it was pretty moving to see and hear this in concert with the symphony. The view from the opera house was spectacular as well, especially as there was a lightening storm as we left the building.

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Sydney, Day 3. Monday, September 25.
I started the day with a run with Eli, north from Coogee Beach where we're staying to alomost Bondi Beach where the Olympic beach volleyball events are being held. The run along the beaches and cliffs lasted about 45 minutes and was incredible. See my pentathlon journal for more details.

Got my postcards down nice and early then headed over the the New Balance Pentathlon Center at the Maritime Museum for lunch. Getting meals free at the center is a great deal, especially since they are really tasty. The lunches have been incredible. After lunch I tried to update this website, but for some reason, I couldn't link up to MSN well. Gave up on that, came back down to meet up with Eli and his brother Justin. Amy showed up to let us know what tickets Heather, the ticket queen at the pentathlon center, had left. I was able to nab tickets to the men's diving prelims and track and field tickets later on in the week during which the decathlon will be starting up. Most of the tickets are really pricy...over $US100 which is out of my range. I also got a cheap ticket to track and field on Wednesday while Eli and Justin were waiting in line to get Equestrian tickets. They didn't get them, but did get some for weightlifting. They went off to weightlifting and I went off to go for a swim at a pool by the Royal Gardens. Along the way, I bought some really cool penthathlon pins (everyone's into trading pins here), a couple Sydney ones and a bunch of Russian ones.

The walk through the Royal Gardens was pretty neat. There are lots of birds mingling around, ibis in particular were pretty interesting. There was also a whole lane filled with flying foxes overhead. Really cool. I got lost for a bit in the succulent garden too, cactus, huge aloe vera plants and the like.

Turned out that the pool was closed. Bummer, no swim today, but I'll try another tomorrow. I then headed over to the opera house to check it out and hopefully buy some tickets. I'm not just satisfied with seeing the opera house...I want to see something in it. Tosca and la Traviata were playing, but I wanted to see something more, well native, Aussi. I ended up with at ticket to the New Zealand Sympany with a mauri seprano that should be incredible, as well as a ticket to a performance called "skin" done by the same guy who did the aboriganl part of the Olympics opening ceremonies.

Then it was back to the New Balance center to catch up with Eli and Justen and grab dinner. The fish tonight was incredible, still don't know what it was though.

Finally, it was back to our apt. at the Coogie View. Long train and bus ride, it was very busy.

Sydney, Day 2. Sunday, September 24.
The boys didn't get in until 11:30pm last night, so I slept in until about 8:00am. Justen woke up first and we deciced to go for a run (see pentathlon journal fo details). We eventually made our way into the New Balance/Pentathlon center for lunch and hooked up with Heather, the ticket queen, to figure out what events we would try to get into. I basically just bummed around for the rest of the afternoon before heading back to Coogie Beach to just hang out on the beach. Nice second day to settle in to Sydney.

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Sydney, Day 1. Saturday, September 23.
I arrived just fine to Sydney, but it went down hill from there...at least for a little while. I called the hotel for my free pick up to find out that the pentathlon organizers (IUPM) had overbooked. So I called the IUPM contact and was told to come out to the Maritime Museum in Darling Harbour where the UIPM and New Balance had a hospitality house, I would get further instructions there. The cab took about half an hour, then there I was...right in the middle of one of the main Sydney action centers, serveral of the venues are located here...boxing, fencing, volleyball, etc.

I was told that we'd be staying at the Coogie View, which was a ways out of town, but it was on the beach. I was a little nervous, had lunch, then left for my new home. WOW! It was an apartment right on the beach!!! Needless, to say, I was pretty happy. Since Eli (one of our up and coming pentathletes) and his brother - who I would be rooming with - were due to arrive in later, I did have to stay in to wait for their phone call, since as far as they knew, we were still at the original place. So I watched the Olympics...and the sunset. Not aa bad way to start my Sidney stay at all.

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Melbourne, Day 2. Friday, September 22.
I started my day with a run around some of the sites around Melbourne. The Huge MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground), which seats 105,000, along the Yarra River, by the rowing club houses, through Fitzroy Gardens, then back to Sibylle's. Then I had a quick breakfast at the George St. Cafe, just diagonal from Sibylle's place and finally set off for the city. I stopped in to the nearby Holiday Inn to check out tours down to see the penquins along the way. Hmmm, dilemma...the tours takes off at 1:30 and gets back at 11:30pm. It includes a stop at a sheep station and Koala Conservation Center, but I'm not sure if I wan't to be gone for the whole day and get back so late. After thinking about it in the gardens for a bit then walking around downtown, I met up with Sibylle to catch the view from the Shell building where she works...incredible, you could see all the way to the ocean. Then we had a quick lunch and I was off again. This time to look for some aborininal artwork...that I could afford! I found a great little shop and boght a 5x7 of "flying ants dreaming". The aborigine style is a kind of large pointalism and the 'dreaming' genre reflect much of their spiritual and cultural heritage. The little painting, done by a 10 year old, is in reds and yellow, the orignial colors they aborigines used before westerners brought in many more dies and color schemes.

With my artwork purchase finished, I headed up to check out the university, walked through the Carlton district known for its Italian feel and finally back over to Fitzoy to have a spot of tea and cake before heading back to Sibylle's. She was having a dinner party with some friends from work. I took a quick nap and woke up to an incredible seafood paella smell. We ended up watching the Olympics most of the way through the dinner, including a show called "The Dream" which is two comedian-sportscasters that interpret the days Olympic happenings. Pretty funny stuff. I'll try to update on further The Dream shows later, it runs every night.

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Melbourne, Day 1. Thursday, September 21.
I had a great flight over the Pacific. I actually slept much of the way so it seemed to go very quickly. The best part: the maps they show of the plains location. On this flight, they had several different GIS views including a very detailed local map so it was need to watch us approach Melbourne.

I arrived earlier than expected so surprised Sibylle, the person I was staying with. I met Sibylle in India three years ago on an Earthwatch study researching snow leopards, so was really looking forward to catching back up with her. She has a great little place near downtown. It reminded me a lot of the places you would find in New Orleans...one story, but lots of lattice work on the outside and very narrow but long living spaces. We had some coffee then I walked with her into the city as she had to work that day. We crossed the beautiful Fitzroy Gardens on the way and she told me the stories of how people pack into the park at night to feed the possums.

My first stop downtown was a bookstore that Sibylle said I'd find on Bourke St. I wanted to pick up a guide book for Melbourne. Well, in Melbourne they have Bourke St. and then Lt Bourke St. which stands for Little Bourke Street. Took me a while to figure out that Lt Bourke wasn't Bourke (they don't make it obviouse) bit I did make it. I walked all over downtown that day. One of the highlights was the Victoria Market. The "Vic" resemble any other open air market in the world, fruits and vegis, meats and of course all of the cheap leather, watches and other miscellanea that you find in places like this. What really made this market different was the overwhelming number of stuffed koalas and kangaroos at some of the booths, overwhelming...really.

After a quick visit back to the bookstore to pick up a book on good places to jog arond the world, I made my way to the Melbourne City Bathes which is really more like a gym in a very historic building. The building was quite beautiful. The swim felt great as well (Details in Pentathlon journal soon). One of the gals at the front desk notice my UW rowing shirt so I chatted with here for a while.

Fitzroy, a neighborhood in Melbourne, was next on the list. Sibylle said this is the Bohemian part of town. That it was. It reminded me a lot of Haight-Ashbury (sp?) in San Francisco. I sat and had cake for a while listening to an aborigine fellow play American standards on his guitar on a street corner. I can't remember his name at all, but I do recall it meant "little black kangaroo". He was a great singer, had a great smile and busted out quite a few jokes as well including "If Adam and Eve would have been aboriginees, they would have just eaten the snake and we wouldn't have had any of these problems we do today".

Then had a great dinner with John and Sibylle at a Thai restaurant. John brought his own wine, an Austrailian red, it was fantastic. Then it was off to coffee (hot chocolate for me) along the Yarra River.

With jet lag, walking around all day, swim and a late night with dinner and coffee, I was really tired and slept really well that night.

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