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Heat wave in Melbourne

Saturday, January 31st, 2009

This week has been defined by the weather.  The high of 44.6 degrees on Friday was the peak of the insanity.  On Wednesday when I was at the Australian Open for the quarter finals, they closed the roof on the main arena and suspended play on the outside courts because of the temp.  While that was fantastic during the matches, when I left and walked to the train station it was like walking into an oven, the wind is hot, the suns intensity burns right through you and there is no relief.

This weather continued on Thursday and Friday with records being set for high temperature in what is apparently the worst heatwave here for 100 years.  Lovely when the place I’m staying doesn’t have air conditioning.  Due to this fact I spent many hours swimming in the bay over the last couple days.  Today is back to reasonable summer temps.

I did get some work on Friday, just half a day, but with quite a few more days likely when they need extra people.  Some income at last!

Australian Open pt2

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

I have spent 20+ hours in the last 2 days at the Australian Open, and what fantastic hours they’ve been.  If you aren’t a tennis fan you probably wont find much of anything interesting in this entry.  Also, I took pictures of just about everyone I saw, way more photos than I’m posting on here.  See my flickr page.

Ok then.
Saturday I got there at 11:00, saw Mario Ancic play Gilles Simon, Radek Stephanek play Fernando Verdasco and in between those games, check out the practice courts to try and see the top player practicing.  This paid off big time, I saw Andy Murray, Fernando Gonzalez, Novak Djokovic and then, just after leaving a game that was tailing off, I saw Roger Federer.  Got to watch him practice for 15 minutes, and then autograph a ball for me.  Score.

Roger Federer

The evening was even better, the night match on the outside court (one I could get in to) between Fernando Gonzalez and Richard Gasquet was fantastic.

Fernando Gonzalez

Richard Gasquet

Starting before 8pm and not finishing until almost midnight, the match lasted 4 hours and 10 minutes.  The fact that I was starving hungry and freezing for the entire match took absolutely nothing away from the enjoyment of it.

Gonzalez Vs Gasquet

A stunning match with fantastic tennis by both players, what looked like an easy match for Gasquet near the start ended up going deep into a 5th set and Gonzalez finally winning it 12-10. Epic, the match of the tournament so far.

Chilean fans during Gonzalez vs Gasquet

Gonzalez vs Gasquet

On Sunday, there was no singles tennis on the outside courts due to the draw being advanced now so I watched a few doubles games and spent lots of time staking out practice courts.  It paid off wonderfully again.  I saw Federer for a 2nd time, and then Gael Monfils, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, Venus Williams the Bryan brothers and then to cap it all, Rafael Nadal doing an intense hour long practice session that I watched the entirety of.

Rafael Nadal

Ironically at the end of it all, Federer’s was the only autograph I ended up with, and I’m just fine with that.
So over the last 2 days I have eaten very little, drank litres upon litres of water and spent a surprisingly small amount of money to see great tennis and a who’s who of the tennis world.  I’ll be back there for more on Wednesday for the Quarterfinals.

Australian Open

Thursday, January 22nd, 2009

I spent all day yesterday at day 3 of the Australian Open, and by all day I mean 10AM to 9PM. 

Cilic vs Tipsaveric

I had a ticket for all the outside courts (anything but the main two), managed to see several good players including Marat Safin, Fernando Gonzalez, Marcos Baghdatis and Tomas Berdych.

Fernando Gonzalez

Watching tennis at the arena is so much better than on tv, the players are stronger, faster and hitting the balls harder than you get the sense of on tv.  I now have a ticket to the quarter finals next week and will probably go again this weekend if the weather is reasonable.

In general the weather since I’ve been here in Melbourne has been great, no rain in almost 3 weeks and most days aren’t too hot.  It can, however get really hot here if the wind is coming off of the desert.  One day earlier this week it got up to 40 by 2pm, then the wind changed, and by 2:30 it was less than 30.  I’ve never seen the temperature change so fast in my life.

The activity of today, in addition to job hunting, was fruit buying at the Queen Victoria market here.  I picked up passion-fruit, peaches, strawberries, pineapples and more.  All fresh, all cheap and all delicious.

Melbourne pt2

Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Well I’ve been in Melbourne for a week now. 

Melbourne across the river Yarra

I keep liking it more every passing day.  Today I went to the Aquarium, saw the strangest looking fish I’ve ever seen and King penguins from the Antarctic.  These guys blow the little blue penguins out of the water (figuratively that is).

antartic penguins
antartic penguins

After that, I had Japanese for lunch, stopped at a pub for a couple great beers and was on my way back to my hostel when I stumbled across a really good band playing SRV style blues at another bar just off the main square. 

I stayed there and listened to them for a while, there was also a jazz quintet playing at another place across the square.  The choices I have to make.  The most amazing thing is, I keep randomly finding stuff that’s great.  For the most part I’m not reading this stuff in guidebooks, or even getting many recommendations from people.  There’s just cool stuff all over the place here, plenty of people out and about enjoying it too.

federation sq

The weather has been just about perfect almost every day since I’ve been here too.  Next thing, just need a job.  That’s this coming weeks goal.


Thursday, January 8th, 2009

I’m in Melbourne now, loving pretty much everything about the place so far.  I’m based in Prahran, which is South of the city but there’s plenty going on here.  There’s a great market, restaurants of any kind and shops selling anything you can think of. The neighboring suburb of St Kilda is a centre of nightlife and live music.  Everywhere I’ve been in the city so far I’ve liked, and the weather the last 3 days has been to die for.  I keep seeing posters up for concerts that I now want to go to and the reputation Melbourne has for being a city of sport are well earned as far as I can tell.  The Australian Open tennis grand slam tournament starts here in a couple weeks and before that there’ s a international cricket game.  I want tickets to both.  Then there’s the F1 Grand Prix in March, a 10 minute walk from where I’m staying.

So far a great start to my stay here, and I’m looking forward to being here for the next few months.

trip update

Friday, January 2nd, 2009

Today is my last day in Sydney, I’m flying to Melbourne tomorrow morning after one week here.  Great week, great New Years celebration.  If my current plan works out tomorrows flight will be the last time I travel to a new city for a while, hopefully I’ll find a job in Melbourne for a few months.  My travel has slowed down immensely since I got to Australia. (3 towns – 2 1/2 weeks).  Quite a change from New Zealand and even more so from Asia before that.  So this basically marks the end of the first half of the backpacking part of my trip, 4 1/2 months in.  A few months working, then there will be around 5-6 months backpacking 3 more continents (plus hopefully both coasts of Oz) after working.

I’m looking forward to settling in to a new city, going to shows, some of the plethora  of sporting events in Melbourne and it’ll be nice not to have to stuff everything into my backpack every few days.  Still, in another way I’m already looking forward to backpacking around the remaining places on my trip.  Travel is addictive!  I’ll probably be updating the blog less during my stay in Melbourne, less stuff to blog about.  So don’t think I fell off the planet or anything.

I hope everyone back home had a great New Years!  2008 was a fantastic year for me, particularly the 2nd half of it.  Hopefully 2009 will be even better, and there’s every chance it will be.

Happy New Year from Sydney!

Thursday, January 1st, 2009

Happy New Year From Sydney!  Waited for 10 hours in the hot sun yesterday holding a good spot for viewing the fireworks on the harbour front.

me waiting for the fire works

It was totally worth it.  Best fireworks I’ve ever seen by a long way!

sydney fireworks

sydney fireworks

sydney fireworks

Apparently there were 1.5 million people around the harbour viewing the show, almost all of the streets downtown were closed and turned into a sea of people.  The after party went on all over the city, I went to The Rocks, then to Kings Cross hitting the sack around 5:30 and the area was still full of people then!  Citywide all night party!  I have some videos that will be uploaded at some point.

Fantastic night, great way to end a fantastic year. I hope 2009 is even better, Happy New Year to all!