Sunday, September 09, 2018

Australia Trip Report - Part I

I have now been in Australia almost an entire week. The escapade has certainly been interesting, even right from the start. thundering36 had told me that the Qantas non-stop flight from San Francisco to Melbourne was the inaugural one. He was right. When I got to San Francisco, I saw some balloons at the airline gate. Then I saw some flamboyant dude in a navy blue raincoat with a red hat. I later learned that the guy is tWitch, and that he was filming for an episode of the "ellen" show. I was subsequently filmed entering the airplane and briefly interviewed by tWitch. I wasn't asked to fill out a waiver sheet, so I doubt that I will make it on the show, but it made life interesting for the flight.

Oh yeah - the flight. 15 hours. Ouch! I was fortunate to have the two seats next to me empty, which was nice. I had already slept most of the flight from Chicago to San Francisco, but was able to sleep more during the first half of the flight. Meals were actually welcomed not for the sake of eating, but for burning time. I listened to a lot of music and watched a couple movies (most of Woodstock and the whole movie of Blockers). The whole period of travel, starting from my leaving home to getting to my brother's place in Melbourne was about 36 hours. Yowsa!

The trip from the airport to my brother's place was interesting. We got lost and I have having a difficult time negotiating driving on the opposite side of the road and all the other opposites that entailed. I had to concentrate unbelievably hard. But ... We eventually made it, although thundering nearly suffered two heart attacks from my driving!

I pretty much begged the first day, and on Sept 4 we headed to the Crown Casino to celebrate thundering's birthday with an exquisite buffet. thundering's birthday was actually the day before, but it was still his birthday in the US. Melbourne is actually 15 hours ahead of my regular time zone.

After the lunch buffet, I headed to the Crown poker room for some $1/$3 turbo NL Hold em. If you start taking, the dealer hits a timer, giving you ten seconds to decide. If you pay an extra $3, you get a little extra time. You have to pay a time charge of $5 When you first sit down. Rake is 10% up to $15! When I inquired, I was told "Welcome to Australia!" And by the way, there is no tipping to the dealer on winning hands!

The players seemed loose and bad. Bluffs were rampant. I played patient poker and made a tidy profit. It felt good to get off to a good start.

The next day (Wed) thundering needed a day of rest, so I took public transportation into the city, roamed around a bit, and then headed back to Crown for my second session. Again, the players seemed really bad. I caught some cards and got paid off on some big hands. Would it always be this easy? Ha - I believe we call this foreshadowing!

I headed back out from the city, and thundering and I had dinner at a great Greek restaurant.

On Thursday, we parked at the administrative offices and members club for his footy (Australian Rules Football) team, ate lunch, looked at their grounds and hall of fame, then headed into the city for the first post-season footy game. thundering's mobility issues got our seats moved from the top row of the stadium to main floor handicapped seats. Score! After a great game, we headed back out of the city pretty exhausted after a long day.

I am posting this on my phone, so I will need to pretty it up with pictures when I get back home in another week or so.

There will be more to come. Thanks for reading!

Saturday, September 01, 2018

A Land Down Under

Today begins quite an adventure for me. In a few hours, I will take the first of three flights that will result in a trip to visit my brother, thundering36, in Melbourne, Australia. It's been several years since I have traveled far from the USA, and this trip will easily be the farthest.

The flight from San Francisco to Melbourne is a straight shot -- over 15 hours, almost completely over water. Mrs. lightning and I were debating whether it would be better to be eaten by sharks or munched on by miscellaneous ocean fish if the plane crashed. I think I would prefer feeding a group of many fish. I guess it's just my nature!

We've planned a few things for the trip. thundering36 and I will celebrate his birthday with a nice brunch buffet at the Crown Casino. Strangely enough, I think I'll find a little time for poker!

We also will be going to a footy game, which I am really looking forward to. I imagine the experience will be quite different than watching Australian Rules Football on television in the USA.

The real challenge of the trip will be driving on the opposite side of the car and the opposite side of the road. I'm gonna have to make sure I concentrate and don't do anything stupid.

I'll be staying for 11 days before heading back via Sydney and Dallas Fort Worth. It should be quite an adventure. I decided not to take a laptop computer, so I'll probably be communicating mostly via phone and social media.

Thanks for reading!