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Friday, August 26, 2016

CIRCLE PACIFIC ADVENTURE 2016: Day #18--Pat's $2 Joyride in Sydney

The Four Points Sheraton offers nothing for Platinum guests, and when I get to San Francisco, I stay at the Four Points Sheraton at the airport, for it is much cheaper than the Airport Westin.  Here is my Sydney view, looking over the Aquarium at Darling Harbour and below the Australian flag:

Ostensibly, I'm here in Sydney to attend the University of Hawaii versus University of California at Berkeley in Sydney, the first ever American football game for this Sin City. 

Here is some local hype to encourage locals to attend:
  • The winner gets the Sydney Cup.
  • The game will be held in the ANZ Stadium which hosted the 2000 Summer Olympics Opening and Closing Ceremonies.
  • There will be a lot points scored (as opposed to soccer).
  • It will help reinforce how good we are at hosting sporting events.
  • American stadium food is comically decadent.
  • 2ft-long hotdogs;
  • Cal bear burger with beef patties, lettuce, tomato, bacon, caramelized onions, pickles & cheese;
  • Hawaii chicken burger with tomato, pineapple, cheese, bacon, lettuce & chili;
  • Nathans hot dogs with the lot;
  • Chilli Bean Corn Chips Corn chips topped with chilli bean salsa made from mixed beans, homemade bbq sauce and brisket burnt ends;
  • Cape Byron Angus beef brisket roll Texas style 12 hr slow cooked brisket served on fresh milk bun with dry slaw and homemade tangy bbq sauce;
  • Hot butter corn on the cob;
  • Salt crusted pretzels;
  • Buckets of warm popcorn and candy floss
  • Krispy Krème doughnuts;
  • Cinnamon churros with chocolate sauce;
  • American candy
Sixty years ago a world competition resulted in the Sydney Opera House, and, amazingly enough, what started with jailbirds and became simply corrupt and a hub for crime, was transformed into what is today a safe and beautiful city of 5 million.  

Walking around town, I was surprised at the ethnic diversity.  Australians think the Muslim population is NINE TIMES GREATER than the reality.  However, the reason could be that these surveys are generally out of Sydney, and ethnic minorities tend to concentrate in this city.  As it is, 27% of the Australian population today are immigrants, and the non-white percentage shot up after 1975 the Racial Discrimination Act.  Three percent of the population is aboriginal.

When I first visited Sydney a third of a century ago, the ethnic breakdown was white, with few exceptions.  I remember the year, 1983, for I went on to Perth, and right next door was Fremantle, from where came Australia II.  Early the morning of September 27 (in Australia) Australia II beat USA's Liberty in Newport (Rhode Island) to take the America's Cup from us for the first time in 132 years.  Prime Minister Rob Hawke pleaded with any boss not to sack any employee for celebrating the victory.

Mind you, you can still here find the funnelweb spider, whose venom can kill you in two hours.  It bites through nails and gloves.  The country also has the Big Mango in Bowen, where the movie Australia was filmed.

One of the stupidest things I've ever done, which was also illegal and dangerous, occurred in 1983 in Perth.  I was bored with the solar conference I was attending, so I decided to go back to my room for a nap, which was a short drive away.  However, I had to have lunch first, so I stopped by an Australian place.  Not sure what it was called or what I ate, but I asked for a glass of wine, and the waitress said I needed to go next door to buy a bottle.  The smallest one was a liter, so I bought a white wine (not sure what), ate my meal, drank the whole bottle and somehow drove back to my hotel.

Only last month I enjoyed a $1 joyride around the island of Oahu.  Today, I decided to make a practice run to Olympic Park and buy a football game ticket at ANZ Stadium.  The Sydney Train system is fabulous.  Frequent, clean, efficient and kind of cheap, I think.  But complicated.

I walked to The Town Hall Station to get something called an Opal Card, sold outside the station.  There is no ticket office or even a vending machine when you get to the gates.  Paid $20 and was instructed to go to a certain track and catch the T1 train.  One thing not explained to me was that the T1-line goes in many directions.  You need to read the video board to see what stations are included for the next train.  So I finally figured out what to do after one mishap.  Found my way to the Lidcomb Station, and was told how to find my way to the T7 line to transfer me to Olympic Park.  I did so, and when I got off at the park, there was no place to insert my card to get out, so I walked to the stadium, where advanced tickets were not being sold.

I could have taken a half hour tour of the stadium for $13, but passed.  So back to the Olympic Park Station I went and got on the train back to town.  Then, it occurred to me, why don't I take a grand circle trip around Sydney.  What's the most it could cost me?  So I rode for a total of four hours and did get a good view of things, like  graffiti and red roofs:

I decided to get off at a different station one removed from where I got on.  I wasn't sure if they had any kind of fancy wireless tally to add any cost to my card for everywhere I went.  However, when I departed from the final stop, my card showed $17.54 Australian, which means the whole trip cost me $2 U.S. 

Over the past few days I had overdid the foie gras, caviar, truffles and gastronomical treats, so I stopped by a Bottle Shop to purchase a beer and wine, then an Italian Subway, which I ate in my room:

I especially purchased a Wolf Blass to end with a story.  It was around a quarter century ago when with George Ariyoshi and Paul Yuen we formed a pearl culture company.  We had to find a person who knew how to do this, so I went to Sydney to meet someone named Neil Sims.  I took Neil and his wife to dinner and we had a Wolf Blass Black Label Syrah/Malbec, which today can be found for more than $100.  He came and later went on to found Kampachi Farms in Kona.

There are three major ocean storms.  In the Atlantic is Gaston, soon to attain hurricane strength, then become a Category 2.  However, all models show no danger to the Eastern Seaboard

In the East Pacific, Tropical Storm Lester is at 60 MPH, but will become a hurricane.  Too far away to determine if Hawaii will be affected

In the East Pacific, the enigmatic Typhoon Lionrock is now at 120 MPH and seems headed towards, again, Tokyo:

Lionrock is the most amazing typhoon I've ever seen.

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