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Upside down, update down

So to backtrack a bit and fill in the boring gaps... I left Boston two weeks ago, though I've only been in Australia for 10 days after two days in Auckland. That was a bit of a crazy trip, since I had to go into Logan Airport in Boston early on the 8th to get my stupid paper ticket reissued, which took them a nice 2.5 hours, and arrived in Auckland the morning of the 11th local time. Got my ticket done, and had time saved to wander back out of the airport for a while to behold ravishing beauty one last time around the place that I call home but have left behind yet again, for 5 months this time. Back to Logan for my 6PM flight out to LAX, overnight layover in LA, then 13 hours to Seoul (sitting online almost the entire flight of course!), 4 hour layover in Seoul, and 11 more to Auckland, which I almost entirely slept through. Guess not sleeping the night before I left Boston and then barely sleeping in LA made that easy; I woke up at 10AM New Zealand time and was magically un-jetlagged. For once one of my crazy travel-sleeping plans worked! I think travelling internationally not in coach for the first time ever helped; biz class on Korean Air LAX-ICN-AKL was actually quite relaxing. Stepped off the plane and was immediately flipped upside down, being on the bottom side of the globe.

Spent two days in Auckland, the first being travel-weary and lazy, but the next and last full day I had there I spent 7 hours wandering around in the rain being wet and touristy (found a couple geocaches and took a bunch of pictures while I was at it.) Then it was on to Sydney; I've been staying with Maureen there, so that's been great since I haven't seen her for something like a year and a half. Her son Kane's living there as well; he's one of the most hilarious people I've ever met. Being a bit north of the city I've been a bit lazy, though Maureen took me around the area there and I've done some exploring myself (I went off hiking on Thursday and got back 7 hours later, as seems to be a common theme, worn to death because there was TONS of up and down and up and down and up and down, especially since I tend to veer off trails and go straight through trees, up and down sheer rocks, or through whatever else is in the way that isn't too deep or death-inducing.)

We had a nice surprise visit for a few days from Chloé, Maureen's daughter and crazy fluent speaker of over half a dozen languages, which was fun since we'd never met before. Chloé took me into Sydney via the ferry one afternoon (TONS of people use ferries here as mass transit) for a bit of wandering around; I did get to see the Opera House and the Sydney Harbo(u)r Bridge, as any tourist must do or face execution. I still have tons of the city to see though, but I have plenty of time to do that. And I am definitely going to climb over the bridge while I'm here; sadly they don't let you bring ANYTHING along, so no photo-taking of my own while I'm up there. How many large arch bridges in the world are you allowed to walk over at all though!?

Wonderfully coincidentally, Shana happens to be visiting her family in Australia while I'm here, so now I'm up in Newcastle visiting her. Took the train up here on Saturday (all of AUD17 for the nearly 3 hour trip, quite the deal.) We wandered around Newcastle for a good while yesterday (they don't have napkins here, they have serviettes! NOT NAPKINS!) Today we went to a cool little wildlife reserve where I got to meet some koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, emus, wombats, and some other fuzzy animals. Tomorrow Shana's taking me on a tour of the wine country around here, which is supposed to be rather nice. Somehow I've never managed to go to a vineyard in my life, so that should be a lot of fun. I'll have to roll my way around so I'm sideways rather than upside-down.

Anyways, back down to Sydney in two or three days. Weekend after next I'm visiting a friend in Tooraweenah (population 76), way out in the middle-of-nowhere, New South Wales. The Blue Mountains are along the way, so I may wander around and camp out there on the way out or back; I'll definitely be in the mountains being eaten by the local wildlife for at least a night at SOME point in my travels here.

That about sums up the past couple weeks... Australia's been a lot of fun so far, and I have a ton of stuff yet to do and more people to visit! Oh yeah, I have limited Internet access in Newcastle (I'm connected via roaming GPRS on my US cell right now) so not much online time until I'm back in Sydney. If anyone wants to harass me you can always SMS or call my US cell or my Australian cell (+61 0420217220.) I'm UTC+10 (EDT+14) here as a reminder; though that 6AM call that woke me up this morning barely starts to make up for the people I've accidentally woken up at strange hours. :)

Anyways, off to sleep so I can be up reasonably early to see some vineyards! (AND I'M STILL MAKING PROGRESS ON SORTING THE (now up to) 13000 DAMN PICTURES! But everyone can feel free to keep harassing me.) Look for some pics and more unexciting blog updates in the next couple weeks. No promises, but it'll happen!