Monday, September 18, 2006

18 - September 2006

It was our last day in Australia, so we were on a mission for an authentic, great meat pie. We were also in need of additional luggage, as we'd done a wee bit more shopping than we could comfortably accommodate in our compact carry-on pieces. So after quick morning showers (Brisbane is experiencing their worst drought in 100 years), we set off on foot (no easy task--the city is hilly, multi-layered, and not nearly as well signed as Sydney!) to the West End, which we heard is everyone's favorite Brisbane suburb.

It was an interesting place for sure--very bohemian, with coffee houses, curbside musicians, and vegetarian markets on every corner (and quite a few discount luggage shops--score!). We'd gotten on good authority (from a couple of guys we met downtown earlier in the day who were positively astounded that we'd never had a meat pie and quite disturbed that we'd opted for chicken pie elsewhere--"what's a chicken pie?!" they'd asked, incredulous and with crinkled-up noses) that a true and truly fantastic meat pie could be had at the bakery right next to West End's "The Fat Carrot" market. They recommended the plain meat pie as well as the steak and mushroom variety, so we got both along with a sausage roll, which we understand completes the quintessential Australian food ensemble.

We took into account one Aussie's advice ("just don't ask what's in the pies"), and with great enthusiasm and much anticipation, we each tried several hearty bites of every item...and aside from the delightfully flakey crusts, all three were unpalatable (oh, were they bad!). We're thinkin' you really gotta be Australian (or maybe British?).

(Frankly, if we weren't big-time seafood fans, we'd be sorely disappointed by Australian restaurant offerings--other than to-die-for fish and shellfish, it's all fried potatoes, fried eggs, bacon, sausage, and meat; and it's nearly impossible to find a salad with anything but rocket greens and bacon drowning in dressing or a fresh fruit platter with anything but cantaloupe and honeydew melon and maybe, if you're really lucky, a chunk of pineapple or two. We're very much craving our fruits and vegetables. And while there's lots of Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, Mediterranean, and Italian food, we Californians are in desperate want of a Mexican meal!)

Since the pies hadn't satiated our appetites (we covertly re-wrapped them, casually tossed them into the rubbish bin, and got the heck out of dodge lest we offend the entire nation), we grabbed an afternoon bite at the hotel lounge while waiting for our taxi. This meal definitely hit the spot.

We were sad to leave Australia and particularly Brisbane (we still wanted to hit Chinatown as well as nearby Moreton Bay, Noosa, and Fraser Island). As our cab driver put it, and we had to agree, "Sydney is an easy town to leave; Brisbane is a hard town to leave" (next time, we'd like to check out Melbourne, too). But it was a bittersweet goodbye, as we had our entire New Zealand vacation still ahead, and we were all that much closer to getting home to our Sawyer and Sadie!

Ours was a late-afternoon international flight to Christchurch, New Zealand, and by the time we had cleared customs and retrieved our Toyota Camry rental, it was after midnight local time. We arrived at our bed and breakfast within just a few minutes, but much to our disappointment, there was no answer at any door and no sign of light or life inside! After poking around the dark grounds to no avail, we drove to a nearby Shell station pay phone and called reception. We got an answering machine with an emergency number and called that only to reach a disheartening voicemail system. I left a friendly albeit desperate message, and then we headed back to look around some more. As our hope was waning and our stress compounding, a sweet lady (the innkeeper's mom) came to our rescue. She was warm and welcoming and apologetic as could be (she's Japanese and reminded us so much of Grandma Hanaki!), and she offered wine, coffee, tea, snacks, and anything we could possibly have wanted before showing us to our delightful room, where we fell asleep the moment our heads hit pillow!


twomels said...

Hey, thanks for being such a faithful blogger. It's been great seeing/hearing all about "the time of your life!" I wonder if I missed out by not actually doing the glacier hike in Alaska. Are you not scared, walking between those glacier crevices? I thought you were taking it easy in your delicate condition?

Speaking of being cautious, Sawyer appears to be adjusting to the cast as though it were not there. He skips and runs about, and the girls still chase him, and some of the girls are quite aggressive chasers. Melody was happy to announce that she can finally tag him. I think he is the only kid in 2nd grade that she can tag.

When we were in Alaska, we were seeing parts of the glaciers calving & breaking off into the ocean with a thunderous boom. You must've seen a different kind of glacier. Those are incredible photos. Well, now that you've got your "Sawyer" street sign, you will also have to take Sawyer up to Sawyer Glacier in Alaska.

While you're out there experiencing thunderstorms, we were here experiencing a fire on Mount Burdell with planes flying right above our house yesterday; the fire was less than one mile from our house. Lia called me in a panic, worried about us, but thankfully I never saw anything other than smoke in the distance.

Enjoy the rest of your trip. We'll be seeing you soon.

9:34 PM  

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