Clare & Rob's Olympic Odyssey 2000
> see more Aussie Trips
Brisbane to Sydney
After a week's holiday and a conference in Brisbane, we made our way further south to Sydney to join the Olympic celebration. On our way to the airport, we stopped at the Ettamogah Pub (one of the few around the country) for a beer. The sign said that there is' free beer tomorrow', though unfortunately we wont be back here. We arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare and dropped off the hire car. Once we were in the air, we realised that we forgot to return the keys! It worked out OK, with us leaving the keys at Sydney airport when we arrived. Mel was there to pick us up and take us to her place, where we will be staying for the first few nights.
We woke to a lovely day in Sydney, with the sun shining. We ventured into the city by bus with Mel to do some tourist things. Everything around the city has got Olympic fever. We went to the Powerhouse Museum which was featuring the Olympic Games of course. There were lots of facts about Olympic History, Leonardo da Vinci and Australian inventions. From there we dropped into Darling Harbour precinct - busy, busy, busy! We had to fight off thousands of people for a table to eat our lunch. Even so, we ran into a friend - Al Monson. We dropping into one of the many 'live' areas to listen to some latin-American music and watch some Olympic highlights on the big screen. Back home via some vegetarian food for a quite night watching more Olympic action on the TV.
Our first Olympic sporting experience! We started early for our long journey to Olympic Park, in time to have a look around first. We had to line up to enter the expensive Olympic Store, and at the entrance were required to seal our backpacks into a Hessian bag. We bought the cheapest thing in the store - a couple of Australian Flag stickers. We walked to the south end of the park where the hockey stadium was situated. Our 'A' seats placed us directly behind the goal, and behind the protective netting too. Luckily it was the scoring end. The Pakis were spectacular beating Great Britain 8-1. For the next game we relocated to some empty seats along the side of the field - at least the area was empty when we arrived. Not long after a roudy group of Germans came along to cheer their team against Canada. Once we got over the initial noise shock, it was quite entertaining. The game was a tight tussle with the Germans coming out ahead 2-1. Between the games we ran into our Hockey coach friend Butch, and saw ex-player Mark Hagar. It was a good first day of action.
Another great weather day, for Sydney. We joined Peter and his family in the city for lunch, before venturing to the big screen to watch some women's hockey. After a quick bite of sushi we headed to SFS (Sydney Football Stadium) for an evening of soccer. Both Australia men's and women's played. The women lost to Brazil 1-2, while the men lost to Honduras also 1-2. The honduran team were injured badly apparently, as they were always falling to the ground in pain. Both were very exciting games.
A sleep in after the late night yesterday, we fitted in some watching of some events on TV before lunch. We made our way as usual to Olympic Park. Today's sport on the menu was handball, something new for both of us. The MC was very entertaining and explained all the rules to the crowd. Cuba and Egypt were first up, followed by an Australian game. It was very good and the crowd got into it. In the evening we went to Newtown for some African food for a AIS reunion with Howie and Simone.
Again we followed a well trodden path to the Olympic Park. This time to the south end and the tennis arena. We headed straight for show court 1 to see the big names - then later ventured to some of the outer courts for variety. Some of the stars we witnessed included Phillapousous, Seles, Sanchez-Vicario, Martinez, Hubsudova, Tillstrom, the Williams sisters. After the last match, Clare spotted Bill Gates in the VIP section. We stalked him out of the stadium and was able to get a photo of Rob walking along behind 'the richest man in the world'. Afterwards, we changed our accommodation. Jim and Ellen picked us up and took us back to Manly for the next few days.
After some roaming around town during the day, we headed to the main stadium and some athletics. We saw our Nova and our Cathy compete in their 400m heats, the second half of the 100 sprints (Melinda, Shirvo, Green), men's shot put, women's triple jump, men's high jump and men's 10 k heats. We were seated up towards the cauldron, above the 100m start. The view was pretty good. It was a nightmare joining the crowds wanting to leave the place. We gave up on the bus line that was not moving, and joined the slowly moving train line. We then had a ferry from the city to Manly and then a walk home, arriving at 2am after 3 hours of travel.
Our first rest day of our Olympic Campaign. A sleep in, a late lunch with Cath and Odin, then into Darling Harbour to watch Thorpe and Perkins take gold and silver. Tried to catch up with Stevie Sly but he must have been lost in the crowd. We did manage to find Peter and family and watch some more events at a bar in Circular Quay. To top off a great day, we saw Paul Kelly and Neil Finn at the Domain with 79,998 other people. We were not able to find the Crisps among the crowd, and headed home on the ferry.
Aussie, Aussie, Aussie
Another bus into town from Manly. We scouted around town for a discount store selling Aussie Flag T-Shirts - everyone was wearing them, and every second shop was selling them. Back to Olympic Park for some more hockey. Our good fortune in seeing Australia play continued. The games were Argentina v The Netherlands and the Aussie girls v NZ. Our seats were further behind the goals this time, right up in the second last row in the stand. It was cold and windy too, which we were not prepared for. From the hockey we headed back to town, this time in search for some Indian food for dinner, and had to settle for a food hall serving Indian food. It started to rain, which was no good as the next adventure was to see the Whitlams in Martin Place. We started at the back and wormed our way forward to see and hear much better. They were excellent.
The morning was spent moving ourselves form Manly to our next guest house at Stanwell Park. Once we arrived, not long after we were heading back to the city for our Water Polo session. We saw some riveting games between Croatia and Hungary, and Russia and Kazakhstan. The venue was fairly warm which was not what we were expecting based on yesterday's weather. On the way back home we met up with Mel for a lovely Italian meal and was fortunate to be able to watch 'our Cathy' winning gold on the big screen. Back to our 'trailer bed', which was actually quite comfortable.
The Last Lap
Hockey again today. It was a brisk walk up the hill. If we missed the train we would have to wait an hour for the next one. On the menu today was hockey games between the Aussie men and Korea, and the Netherlands and Pakistan. Both were excellent matches, the Aussie overcoming a slow start to win 2-1. After the match we caught up with a few Perth Hockey girls and with them made our way to the Lidcome Catholic Workman's Club, where there were a collection of familiar hockey faces from around Australia. Here we had a couple of cheap beers, about the only thing cheap we have come across so far on this trip to Sydney. Back in the city for dinner, we met a friend of Cathy Freeman who was able to score us tickets to the 'Last Lap' athletes nightclub. Although it was free entry, stubbies of beer were $7.50! We were not too successful in celebrity spotting. The best we could do was 'Dipper' and the Crown Price of Monaco. We caught the last train home at 1.43am (and a 1 hour train ride too).
A rest day from the Olympics for us. We could have watched the cycling on telly, but instead chose to play with Rachel, and drive down the coast to Austinmer and Theruell. On the way back we stopped at the Imperial for a beer for us and a fire engine for Rachel. It wa again a late night playing games with the kids and catching up with mum and dad who had arrived today.
A special day today, Rob's birthday. We still had some games to see. We had to leave early for a 9am start at the Hockey. It was forecast for a fine hot day so we were not expecting the rain. We sat in the rain and watched the first tow classification games, and the third we were there to see was the semi-final. Unfortunately we drew the wrong semi and did not see Australia. The game was between Pakistan and Korea, entertaining nevertheless. We made it home by 6pm, and had time for another beer before heading to Thurril for a Thai meal in celebration of Rob's birthday.
Another day off the hectic Olympic schedule. The main adventure of the morning was a walk up the Wadi Wadi Track for a great view of Stanwell Park and the coast. In the afternoon we headed into Kings Cross, and here watched the hockeyroos win Gold! Time escaped us and we did not arrive back at Stanwell Park until 3am! So much for a recovery day.
This is our last day in Sydney. We had only 3 hours sleep before we had to head off to the airport, and then back to Darwin for a rest! Bring on Athens.