Monday, September 22, 2008

Random Travel News: Brisbane

Well, yesterday after almost 2 days of traveling, I finally made it to Brisbane.  Woo!  Travel was uneventful, at least once I got on the plane.  The fuel spill on the road between Edinburgh and Glasgow seemed to portend dire things, but other than an extra-long, scenic trip to the Glasgow airport, all was well.  I would recommend Emerates Airlines for long trips, with good food for economy class and plenty of leg room.  The only downside is their ridiculous 7 kg carry-on baggage limit -- just not realistic if you're going to be traveling for TWO DAYS. 

So can I now say that I've been to Dubai and Singapore since I've transited through their airports?  Probably not.  By the way, Singapore wins as far as nicest, most original airport decor.  It almost didn't feel like Any Other Airport for the whole hour that I got to enjoy it.

I am staying at a very cute B&B in the middle of Brisbane, the Eton Bed and Breakfast.  Unfortunately, it is in the middle of Brisbane and nearly surrounded by backpacker and youth hostels.  Actually, it hasn't been as bad as I expected, noise-wise, for which I am thankful.  It does, however, look out of place, this cute, historic house surrounded by Modern City.

After arriving yesterday morning, I did exactly what they say you should not do to get over jet lag, which is to sleep during the day for 6 hours.  That and getting dinner in the evening was pretty much my day.  So much for my grand plan to knock myself out on the plane with drugs and arrive bright-eyed and bushy tailed so that I could get some work done on Sunday.  The drugs, which I especially requested from the doctor, did not deliver the knock out as promised.  Argh.

So this morning I woke up earlier than planned and went for a run!  It's always fun to run in a new place.  Brisbane has some nice trails along the river, although it took me a while to actually figure out how to get down to one of them.  But in the end, I had a nice, scenic run starting with the William Jolly Bridge and then around the South Bank.  Way more hot than I'm used to though, and it's only spring!

After the run and breakfast, it was off to the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary.  Sorry, no pictures yet.  I won't be able to download them until I get home.  I will say though that, yes, koalas are pretty darn cute, and yes, I did get to pet one. His name was Mike. :)  I also got to see frisky kangaroos, lorikeets, cockateels, kookaburras, emus, a cassowary, bats, and sleeping wombats. 

And then I came back and took a late afternoon nap.  Sigh...

Tomorrow the conference starts, so no more major sight-seeing until Saturday.  But today, I got to pet a koala.  I think my trip to Australia is now complete.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

New Word Wednesday

knackered - what I will be when I get off the plane in Brisbane on Sunday after traveling for two days

More specifically, knackered means to be utterly exhausted or worn out. It's actually one of the first new words that I learned after I moved to Scotland (almost two years ago!). I'd stayed up all night working on something (or possibly reading a book), and when relating this to my officemate, he said, "You don't look knackered." And after giving him my I-have-no-idea-what-you-just-said blank stare, he explained.

Since then, I've learned that knackered can not only be applied to people, but objects as well. For example, you can say, "After walking home last night in the ferocious wind and rain, my umbrella was completely knackered." Umbrellas don't have a long life here in Edinburgh.

Knackered is fun to say, although I have to admit it's not one of the words that's crept into my regular-use vocabulary. It would have been very appropriate to describe my condition on Sunday after my running partner and I tried a new route. We're experimenting with hills. The less said about that the better.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Great Scottish Run

This morning I ran in my first 10k race, the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow!

The largest trial of the day turn out not to be the race itself, but actually getting to the race. I ended up having to take a taxi to the bus station, because no local buses were running yet, and then the bus to Glasgow ended up leaving 15 minutes late. Given that the race started at 9 and the bus was schedule to arrive at 8:45, this made me a bit nervous. But we made up some time, and I made it to Glasgow and George Square in time but with no extra time. Whew!

I was at the back of the back, given my late arrival, which meant once the race got going, much dodging and weaving past the walkers was requried. I've decided that when there is room, I don't really mind this. It gives me the illusion that I am fast. :+)

One fun thing about the race was the bagpipers stationed at every kilometer. I liked that I could hear them playing up ahead and know that one more kilometer was almost finished. (And men in kilts* - Win!)

At the end of the race, my running partner Elaine and a friend of hers were there to cheer me on! Definitely a good feeling. I don't know what my exact finishing time was, other than under 1:20 (I hope). [Edit: Just checked and my official race time is 1:17.24, a 12:29/mile pace! Yeah!]I messed up setting my watch timer at the start. Oh well. I wonder if this helped me to enjoy the race more, because I wasn't worrying abut my time. I could just focus on running at a comfortable, sustainable pace. Just one short walk break at the 5k point! And I finished! Really, that was my goal!

One funny thing that I wondered about. When running along the bridge over the Clyde River, I noticed that they had police stationed periodically along the sidewalk (backs to the water). It looked like they were guarding against random runners who are suddenly overcome with the urge to hurl themselves over the side. I mean, come on! It was only about two kilometers into the race. No one should be that desperate yet!

One last tidbit. When visiting the Great Run website, I noticed that they had this game so that you too can take part in the Great Scottish Run. It's somewhat trivial, but enjoy!

*Although there were also boys in kilts and at least one girl in a kilt playing as well.