Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sydney - Day 1

I've had a day that has lasted about 53 hours now. Which isn't to say that I didn't sleep in the coach class of the non-stop United flight to Sydney. I slept 9 hours in total (not bad for a 14.5 hr flight). More that sleeping in coach class (even the bulk head I sat in) does not really qualify as the type of rest that would separate one's night from day, day from night or day to day. And so I write this after a full day exploring and enjoying, to the fullest extent, the very essence of a first impression of a new city. A new country. A new continent. And that, my friends, is unique.

Sydney is, upon first impression, a wondrous city. A mix of Seattle's laid-back attitudes, Europe's driving style and San Francisco's eclectic cuisine sprawled over the rolling hills of a modern metropolis. The streets on the outskirts have a modern US-suburbs feel -- organized and busy; convoluted but well-kept. Oh the wonder.

Post arrival we headed for the suburbs of Sydney to the Shimano office. Whereas the airport lies 5 miles south of the city proper (Downtown), Shimano is another few miles south in an industrial area. We worked straight off the plane for several hours. I pondered VPN and network configuration in a thick daze of post-international fight stupor and double-espresso clarity. Hashing through the hardware and architecture we found common ground and deepening trepidation about the swap of an technological infrastructure I'd travelled 8,000 miles to change.

And then came the break. Mid-afternoon we departed the office for the day and headed out for beers and sustenance. A solid meal of "Old" beer and a quality Turkish tofu sandwich. What's not to like there? The fries (frites, chips, whatever euro-style you call them) here are fantastic as well. Our hosts tell us that Australia is the 2nd fattest country in the world, 2nd only to the good ol' USA. But my initial impressions are that the people are beautiful and laid back. involved in life with an injection of a "We don't give a damn, mate" attitude. A few beers and some people-watching later we headed off to our hotel for a quick shower.

Off to the bars then, mates. We headed into Darlinghurst proper in which we are staying. Beautiful beings surround (men and women). It's a mixture of extremely gay eclectic cafes and bars, chique hotels and tourist trap attractions. We adeptly avoided the latter thanks to colleages who had visited previously and our most generous host, Greg. Mojitoes all around. And for those who think that leads to Sydney having any sort of decent Mexican food, I've been told that's all wrong. But the rum/mint/lime drinks were made with the utmost care and were absolutely on the spot.

All this warm-up (truthfully, work, lunch, hotel and bar were just the start) leads us to the finale of the evening: Fish Face restaurant. The fish and chips and grilled Kingfish were to die for. But the piece de resistance was truly what I happened to order: the Ocean Trout with Mushrooms and Leeks encrusted in a Filo Pastry. Right mate, it's the best! Accompanied with a Grove Mill Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough, New Zealand this dinner was among the top I've had in my business travels (and having been through many a travel to Switzerland's top establishments -- see previous entries) that's really saying a lot.

With a belly full of wine and the freshest of Pacific sealife, we proceeded on to the Fig and Pecan truffle. Lord help us. It was pecan pie taken to to the next tier of taste sensation. Normally I'd stop and say, "Well, the fish was fresh but the desert left something to be desired". But it did not. Truthfully, with an espresso in hand each of us was left with nothing but the tantalizing taste of satiation and gratitude. Thanks "Fish Face".

The night-cap and day's true awe-inspiring ending was a quick cab ride to the harbour overlook. From here the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House are lit up for romantic yet fulfilling nighttime views of Sydney's finest. The Opera House at night is a monument to behold. A true spectacle of what fine architecture run amok and billions over budget can do. Though art lovely and spectacular Opera House. The round of dirty martinis (Grey Goose of course, we're travelling business here) kept the awe that much more inspiring.

And so my dear friends I find myself back at hotel Kirketon, a lovely post-modernist art deco hotel with an abundance of spacious red carpet, nouveau simplicity and tasteful clean linear architecture in what they call a "Contemporary Lifestyle Hotel". I do not fear that after 53 hours I will now get a proper night's sleep only to start the adventures anew tomorrow. Adieu, adieu. Don't let jealousy drive us asunder. With love from Down Under, GP.

No comments: