Future World

Tesla Enhanced Autopilot

Yesterday, Tesla announced the latest update available to their vehicles; Enhanced Autopilot. This is by far the biggest leap any car company has ever taken in the race for a fully autonomous (self driving) vehicle. To get a true understanding of what I mean, click the link above or, better yet, watch the video below.

Pretty crazy right? When I first started with Tesla in November of last year, Autosteer and Auto lane-change, along with the ability to self parallel park were, I believe, just being introduced. Later, in early 2016, the company introduced self perpendicular parking and the “Summon” feature which allows the car to come in and out of your garage or driveway all by itself.

Look at how much Autopilot has advanced from October 2015 to October 2016. In one year we went from Autosteer to Full Self Driving. Think about how refined it will be by the time the Model III comes out! This gives me hope that a very polished version of Enhanced Autopilot will be available by the time I take delivery of my Model III.

When I first heard mention that Musk wanted cars to be able to have self driving features, I thought it was cool but expected it to be years down the road. Little did I realize that perhaps as soon as early 2017, barring any regulations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, we will see cars driving around parking lots looking for places to park all by themselves! Clearly, we are living in the future.


For those of you who haven’t been watching, I highly reccomend you check out the new HBO Original Series Westworld. Based on the 1973 film of the same name, Westworld is a show rich in detail and shining in all categories. From writing, to cinematography, to acting, to costume design, every facet of the show is on point.

It reminds me of many things, The Matrix, virtual reality, a video game, and more that I’m forgetting but will come back to when I think of it. It brings up interesting topics touched upon in such films as Blade Runner which asks questions about humanity and what it means to actually be human.

The story so far is only three episodes deep but it is already layered in storylines and subplots. From the business side of Westworld and what is involved in keeping it from falling apart, to the hosts and how they interact with each other as well as guests in their daily lives, to the insidious and mysterious “Gunslinger,” to the hosts’ slow discovery of what they truly are and much more, the layers are deep and many.

On top of all this, the world building extends to our world. Just as was done with Jurassic World where they made a website for that “theme park,” HBO has not only made a website for Westworld the destination, they also made a website for Delos Incorporated, the company that created the “theme park.” It’s all pretty cool and makes everything feel that much more real.

Do yourself a favor and explore every facet of the “theme park website.” There are some cool easter eggs if you dig deep enough. Additionally, the most interesting part of the corporate site is the Corp Resources page. There, you will find two cool articles that show you how the corporate facility is laid out and how the “narrative loops” work for the “hosts” of Westworld.

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Japan + Design

I’ve know about the redesign of Narita Airport’s Terminal 3 for a year or so now. However, since making the firm decision that next summer I will be taking a trip to Japan, it was recently re-introduced into my brain.

The terminal has a very clean and straightforward “running track” design. The signage is clear and large; regardless of what language you speak you can easily figure out where to go. It is very reminiscent of an IKEA.

While looking at various pictures, articles and videos about Terminal 3, I found that a company called MUJI did all of the interior design for the airport. So now they are my new favorite furniture/design company… at least for the moment.

While Googling where there were MUJI stores in the US, I came across a store called Loyal Supply Co. Not only do they apparently carry some of their products, but they are located in Somerville, the city in which I currently reside.

img_4916Loyal Supply Co.

I say this all the time but sometimes it’s fun to be a tourist in your own town. Had I not looked up this other store I might have never know that this place exists despite the fact that it is right in Union Square.

It is a very small boutique with super hipster-y curated goods. Most of the stuff is knick-knacks and things that no one really needs, like $15 bars of artisanal soap. However, like Black Ink, there is a lot of cool stuff in there; definitely good for a goodie bag for mom or a girlfriend.

—Upcoming things

October: The Voyage of Time

Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life) brings us what promises to be a mind bending drama/documentary about the universe.

November: Woman

cicicicicWoman album art

Justice is coming out with their third studio album.

Arrival – movie comes out; could be good.

December: Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

I’m very excited for this to come out.

Passengers – movie comes out; also could be good

I feel like I’m forgetting something but I always feel that way. If I think of it or figure it out, I’ll add it later.

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Coming Home

Wednesday – September 14th

After getting showered and dressed and spending about 45 minutes packing and re-packing my suitcase and backpack as efficiently as possible I made my way down to the lobby and checked out of my hostel.

Realizing the night before that I hadn’t had a bagel the entire trip, I searched bagel places in Sydney and found one close to the train station. Weirdly, the place was called Brooklyn Hide, the second Brooklyn themed breakfast place I’d encountered. Then again, I guess if we can have a chain of restaurants dedicated to Australia, they can have a few non-chains dedicated to New York.

img_4883Breakfast at Brooklyn Hide

In any case, I ate my bagel sandwich in the corner and then grabbed all my stuff, hopped on the train and headed for the airport. I got there no problem but when I got to the check in line, I faced a decision. I could either skip the long line and do self check-in at the kiosk, or I could wait in the longer line and deal with a person.

Since I was plenty early, it was 9:40am and my flight wasn’t due to board until noon, I took the long line. Additionally, I wanted to talk with a human so I could request a window seat. The line took forever and when I got to the counter I was faced with bad news.

Unexpectedly, my flight had been delayed to 7pm! This meant I wouldn’t arrive in Texas until 7:30-ish and which meant that a) I was going to miss my connecting flight and b) I wasn’t going to be able to visit Gas Monkey Garage like I had planned. The only thing Qantas had offered as a consolation prize (besides getting me a window seat which they would have done anyway) was a $30 food voucher to be used only on that day in the terminal.

img_4886Cruise ship and Sydney Opera House as seen from Circular Quay

I called my parents to let them know the situation and then made my way back to the train station to head back into Sydney. I figured my time was better spent there than sitting in the airport. I took the train to Circular Quay (pronounced “key,”go figure) and walked to the Sydney Observatory. It was one of the only things on my “to do” list I hadn’t gotten around to.

As it turned out, I hadn’t really been missing anything and after about 20 minutes, I left. I walked aimlessly down the streets and ended up at Darling Harbour. I sat and collected myself for a bit and looked at my list to see if there was anything else I could do. The only other thing on there was the City of Sydney Library.

I made my way to where I thought it would be and after consulting a map, and a bit of wandering around, I found it. It’s not a traditional library but rather a “link” to other libraries as well as a wi-fi hotspot with chairs and desks. And so that is where I am now, writing this, figuring out my next move.

In all honesty, despite the fact that it’s 2pm, I might just hop on the train and head back into the airport. What else do I have to do? I can grab some comped food, maybe finally start the Musk book that has been dead weight in my backpack and just relax until my flight.

To be continued…

4:40pm SITREP: after traveling back to the airport I went through security and then hunted around for a place to eat. Eventually, after walking all over the international terminal I settled on a place and got a shitty sandwich and a shitty milkshake.

Literally as I sat down to eat there was an announcement that my filght had been delayed again and now it wasn’t/isn’t set to depart until 9:45pm! I am never getting out of here. I guess I’ll just have to transfer to work at the Sydney Tesla Showroom, which I wouldn’t be opposed to.

8:06pm SITREP: made friends with an Aussie named Scott who is on my same flight. Chatted with him and added photos to all my blog posts; one less thing to do when I get back home plus it was a good way to pass the time. I also used my second meal voucher to get anther sandwich and a drink.

Eventually it was about a half an hour before we were set to board. I had a third meal voucher that I wasn’t going to waste so Scott and I went in search of food. We eventually split the voucher getting one muffin each. The muffins didn’t take up the entire $15 so he grabbed a water. A short while later we boarded. To my very pleasant surprise, not only did I have a window seat, like I requested, but I had the entire row to myself. This was a really good consolation prize.

Taking off on runway 34L, we flew right next to downtown Sydney. Sitting on the starboard side of the plane, I was able to get one final view of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House before heading out over North Sydney and then banking out over the ocean.

Once there was nothing left to see and we had leveled off, dinner was served. Shortly after that, I filled another craving. Being that I recalled seeing it on the IFE on the way there and that I had taken pictures of some of the locations from it, I knew what I had to watch. I went into the “Classics” section of the movie selection and clicked on The Matrix.

The Matrix is one of my favorite movies and since I hadn’t seen it in a few years, it felt sort of new again. Plus it was cool to see all of these locations on film that I had just visited in person. The movie ended around 1 or 1:30am and once it was finished I lied across all three seats, used two pillows and a blanket and got 8 hours of sleep.

When I woke up, I was left with an 8 hour flight, which, compared to 16 hours is a cake walk. Upon getting up I watched the movie Focus. It was actually really good. Then between going to the bathroom a few times, tracking the flight on the touch screen, looking out the window as we flew into daylight (and later back into night), watching a few episodes of Entourage and Silicon Valley, and eating breakfast, the flight was over and we were landing in Dallas.

When we got off the plane all of us who had a connecting flight and had missed it were given a packet containing our new flight information and a hotel booking. There was also a shuttle provided to take us to said hotel. After waiting on my bus for what seemed like an hour, we finally got to the hotel and I checked in.

Sidenote: along the way we passed Six Flags Over Texas which I had been to in 2006 on a cross country road trip with my cousin and my uncle. The last time I was there was 10 years ago!

It was around midnight Dallas time but for me, still on Sydney time, it felt like 1pm. So, after getting a recommendation from the front desk, I took an Uber into Fort Worth. I found an open bar in Sundance Square and had a couple of beers. I chatted with this one woman Rebecca who, liked my shirt and wanted me to give it to her and who, unprompted gave me her number.

I then chatted with the woman, Courtney, who was sitting next to me. After a solid conversation about Texas and “yankee” stereotypes, it was 2am and the bar was closed. I grabbed an Uber back and along the way, had my driver Harrison (who was super cool) stop at Waffle House so I could pee.

Upon arriving at the hotel I conked out for a couple of hours before getting up at 4:45am to take a 5am shuttle to the airport. However, when I got to the lobby I was informed there would no longer be a shuttle coming so me and two other guys split an Uber to the airport.

Fast forward to getting by bag checked, finishing my muffin, going through security and taking a picture of the Gas Monkey Bar and Grill at the terminal before calling my Mum to give her an update and, shortly after, boarding my final plane. Unlike my original flight, which was set to be on a bigger 757, we were on a 737 with no IFE.

That’s false, there were drop down TV’s from the ceiling but they were playing The Angry Birds Movie, and who wants to see that. I listened to three podcasts and had the little biscuit and juice before essentially sleep/napping the rest of the flight home. It was a full flight and this time I was stuck between between two dudes in the middle seat.

Despite being a relatively short flight, the lack of entertainment and lack of comfort made it seem like it took forever. Eventually we landed in Boston where I collected my bag, took the shuttle to the Blue Line, took the Blue Line to the Orange Line, got off at Sullivan and then walked home.

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Australia – Day 8: Sydney

Tuesday – September 13th

I slept in a little before heading down to the downstairs café for breakfast. I tried Vegemite on my toast and didn’t like it. I then made my way down to the Sydney Tower Eye. I had booked a 9:30am entry to the observation deck because when you book online you save ~$10.

img_4820Hyde Park as see from the Sydney Tower Eye

I walked right in and after sitting through a 4D movie that I didn’t realize was included in my ticket, boarded the “lift” to the top floor. I looked around for a bit but I was underwhelmed by the views there. Unfortunately there were no real good views of the Harbour Bridge or the Opera House.

One cool thing was that I was able to see all the way to the airport. They had mounted metal binoculars which allowed me to clearly watch a Qantas 747 take off. The other thing I was able to see clearly was Hyde Park but that wasn’t very interesting.

img_4827Customs House

After hanging around up top for a bit more than half an hour, I went back down and made my way out to the Opera House so I could finally take a tour. Along the way I stopped at the Customs House which had a cool miniature/scale model of Sydney under the glass floor.

Eventually, I made my way to the Opera House to take the 11:30am tour. It was pretty expensive but I thought it was worth it. There were a couple of short videos that told the story of how the Opera House was built which I really enjoyed. The tour also gave us access to the playhouse and the opera house which we wouldn’t have been able to see without buying a ticket to a show.

img_4830Cruise ship docked at Circular Quay

Ironically, the tour made me really regret not seeing a show at the Opera House while I was there. The two things I had going against me was the fact that a) I didn’t want to pay to see one and b) none of the shows they were playing were shows I wanted to see. That being said, who knows the next time I’ll be here and even a “bad” show would have been good. Besides, most of my evenings were uneventful so this would have given me something to do. Oh well.

After my tour I made my way through the Royal Botanic Gardens. I tried to stop in and check out the Government House, but it was closed. I continued to meander through the gardens and to the Calyx. There was an exhibit on about chocolate and I thought there might be free chocolate there, but there wasn’t.

img_4842Inside the main arch which houses the Opera/Concert Hall

I then made my way out of the gardens and to the Art Gallery of New South Whales. My feet were super tired but I soldiered on anyway. There was a lot of interesting work there and I really enjoyed the contemporary pieces. However, due to how tired my feet were, and the fact I had a few more things to hit and not a lot of time to do them in, I moved on.

One of the things I had found out about in a book I looked through at the Sydney Eye was the Aquatic Centre. To my surprise, while walking form the Art Gallery of New South Whales to the Australia Museum, I literally tripped on the Aquatic Centre; it was below the sidewalk I was on. I went down to investigate and found out that a day pass would have cost $7, which, though  not bad, I didn’t have time for, plus I didn’t a have my bathing suit with me, so, I moved on.

img_4862Royal Botanic Gardens – Sydney

After a short detour to a nearby Ducati dealership that caught my eye, I made my way into the Australia Museum. However, I didn’t realize that a) you had to pay and b) that it was mostly artifacts and things I didn’t care about. So, I bailed and headed to the Queen Victoria Building.

I had seen a bit of the QVB on the free walking tour and had stopped in briefly to get my doughnut but I hadn’t walked through it end to end. So I did that and got a couple of good interior shots before heading out the other side and stopping into the Apple store to steal some their internet.

img_4869Interior of the Queen Victoria Building

After looking up what I needed to look up, I headed over to my final destination, O Bar. The bar wasn’t set to open until 5pm and it was only 4:45pm so I waited in the lobby and rested my feet. Eventually I grabbed the elevator to the 48th floor and was given a seat right near the window. Luckily, if I didn’t like my view, it didn’t matter because it was constantly changing.

Basically the building that the bar is in is round and the place where you sit is on the outer ring which slowly revolves around the center. I grabbed a beer and a burger and took in the sights as the evening crept in and it got darker. As I was drinking, I overheard the table next to me talking about Tesla, and since I was wearing my corporate jacket, I had to chime in.

img_4881Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House as seen from the O Bar

I got up and chatted with them for a bit, being an ambassador to the company for a bit. Eventually I went back to my seat and got a few pics of the Habour Bridge and the Opera House. A while later my Tesla friends waved me over and a I chatted with them a bit longer until they had to go.

Sidenote: my waitress didn’t seem to have an accent so I asked her name and where she was from. She told me her name was Brittany and that she was from New York and living in Australia for the past 4 years. It didn’t hurt that she was very attractive.

I then walked back to the hostel. Shortly after getting to my room, two new dormmates from the UK showed up. We chatted for a bit and they seemed really cool. It’s a shame tonight is my last night because I think it would have been fun to sight see with them.

img_4882Me and my new Japanese friend

I then made my way down to the first floor to write this post. While writing, I was sitting across from a Japanese school group. One of the girls mentioned that she wanted to marry a non Japanese boy. I jokingly raised my had and told her I was available. This led to her asking how old I was and what I did for work. She even came over and took a picture with me. I wrote down my email and told her to write to me.

I also chatted with a guy named Jos from Holland whom was also attacked by the Japanese girls. Of course I’m meeting all of these people and and making all of these “friends” on my last night here. Oh well, it makes for a good send off and a good story.

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Australia – Day 7: Sydney

Monday – September 12th

I woke up early due to my dorm mate being loud while getting ready for work. It ended up being for the best as I was set to go to Bondi Beach and I knew it was going to be a longish train/bus ride. I started with a bit of a clusterfuck, wandering around to find a place that I knew wasn’t open yet. Then, once I gave up and walked to Central station, I spent several minutes running around in circles looking for the right platform for my train. Eventually I found it, and from there it was smooth sailing.

I took the train to Bondi Junction where I switched to the 389 Bus to Bondi Beach. Despite the fact that it was in the low to mid 60s I was in my bathing suit, a t-shirt and my Tesla corporate jacket. I hadn’t yet gotten breakfast and I was quite hungry so I stopped at a place called Depot.

I ordered a mocha coffee as I had the day before and the “big breakfast.” As it’s name described, it was big; toast, eggs, avocado, spinach, tomato, ham and bacon. While eating, a non-accent couple sat next to me. I asked if they were American and sure enough, they were from New York. They were transplants temporarily living in Sydney. They told me I had picked a good local spot to eat. Honestly, it was the closest spot to where the bus dropped off.

img_4783Bondi Beach

After filling my tank and paying, I cross the street and down the hill/stairs to the beach. I changed out of my sneakers and into my sandals. I then made my way onto the beach. I walked along the shore and let the water run over my feet. Not only was it not warm outside, but the water was cold too. Eventually I got used to it but the initial shock was a lot. My initial plan was to try and learn surfing but in this weather, that wasn’t gonna happen.

Soon my flip flops were becoming uncomfortable and weighing me down either by the waves or by sinking into the sand, so I took them off and carried them. Barefoot was definitely the way to go. As I go used to the water temperature I let it splash higher and higher, almost up to my waist.

Eventually, I got to the other side where I left my backpack, sandals, jacket and t-shirt on a rock and waded in a bit. I bent over to get my hair wet. I purposely hadn’t showered and so the ocean was my shower. Shortly after, I walked back to the other side, appreciating the women in bikini’s as I did. I cleaned off my feet and found a bench to (I realize this is lame) sit and post an Instagram.

While on it, I found out that my friends Nick and Liz, who I knew were set to get married this month, had gotten married. I posted a congratulatory message before heading to to restroom briefly and then to the bus. On the way back to Bondi Junction, the breakfast and coffee caught up to me. Luckily, the stop right before my stop was at a mall around the corner. I got off there and ran to the bathroom.

My body isn’t used to that much food in the morning and the coffee certainly didn’t help. I used the opportunity to change into my pants and sneakers. I then walked to Bondi Junction and hopped the train to Town Hall. There I got off and made my way down George St to the Museum of Contemporary Art.

img_4788Inside the Strand Arcade

Along the way I stopped into the Strand Arcade, a sight I’d been meaning to check off my list since day one. Additionally, I passed the downtown Tesla store and since I was in my corp jacket, was compelled to stop in again. I saw Hardeep and, to my surprise Adele (who apparently splits her time between both stores) and chatted for a bit before continuing on to the MCA.

Thanks to my early start time, I arrived at the museum at 11:30am, still super early in the day. I took my time going through each of the exhibits. Not only was it a very interesting museum, but I knew I had the time to spare. Eventually I left and headed out to the Museum of Sydney. Unfortunately it was one of the few museums you had to pay to enter, so I skipped it.

img_4794This might look like a regular bicycle, but look closer, it’s actually a sculpture with three bikes combined; photo taken at the Museum of Contemporary Art

Instead I looked up the locations of some the places they shot The Matrix. I was able to find a few of the key exteriors. I then found the building which houses the O Bar so I would know where to go tomorrow night. After that I gave into a craving I had been fighting since the day previous, Doughnut Time.

When I saw it in Melbourne I was unaware it was a chain. I knew I was sort of near one so I headed to the QVB and found their underground (literally, it’s below street level) location. Once it was my turn to order, I was faced with a terrible dilemma. do I go with the Oreo one, which is what I had my heart set on, the Kit-Kat one or the Ferrero Rocher one. The woman behind the counter told me that the one I’d been originally looking at had a creme filling. That sold it for me.

img_4804One of the buildings used as an exterior for the movie The Matrix

I took my doughnut to nearby Town Hall square and ate half of it on a bench before packing the other half up and taking it back to the hostel.

To be continued…

I went back to the room and decided to try taking a dip in the pool. However, when I got up there the pool was not as heated as I expected it to be. So after getting a little higher than knee deep, I turned back and went down to my room again.

There I changed back to my regular clothes and headed out to The Local Taphouse, a bar I had researched before leaving. Since it was so early (~6pm), and a Monday night, it was pretty dead. I ordered a burger and, since I was trying to conserve money, just got a water.

img_4811The Local Taphouse

I slowly made my way through my burger before heading back to my hostel. I only stopped into the lobby to see if there were any activities planned for that night. Seeing that there were none, I made my way out to Darling Harbour. My plan was to check out a night club called Home, but it was too early in the evening so they weren’t open yet.

I ended up just awkwardly climbing the same rope mountain thing I had climbed the day previous before heading back to the hostel. Along the way I grabbed a couple of drinks at the local mini-mart. I think after that I just updated photos to some of the previous blogs posts before going to bed.

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Australia – Day 6: Sydney

Sunday – September 11th

After getting showered and dressed, the first thing I did was to head to the bus stop so I could go to Deus Ex Machina. I’ve known about Deus for a long time but have never been to one of their locations. The cool thing about this particular location is that along with a large retain location, they have an attached bar/cafe. It was a great way to not only get breakfast but also, after I was done, check out the store.

img_4676Eating breakfast at Deus Ex Machina

The design of the cafe was very cool, modern and sleek. I got poached eggs on sour dough bread with bacon. I also did something I never do… I ordered coffee. However, I cheated, I got a mocha so that doesn’t really count. Everything was delicious and by the time I was done, the retail store was open.

I was a man on a mission. I had made a small list of things I wanted to buy, so I began my hunt. After looking around for a while, unsuccessfully, I eventually asked for help. The guy I dealt with, Henry (Harry?) was very helpful. He wasn’t able to find either of the shirts I was looking for, but he was able to find the pin I wanted. I ended up leaving with a pin, a sticker pack and a coffee table book.

img_4681The shop side of Deus

After that I left, taking a few exterior shots of the store before I did so. I then hopped on the bus back to my hostel so I could drop off my bag of new stuff and grab my jacket. Fun fact, I’m pretty sure the bus driver that took me to Deus was the same one that brought me back.

After getting reorganized, and a stupid Opal card confusion which led to me topping up for no reason, I hopped on the train and took it to Wynyard. From there I made my way out to Darling Harbour and eventually to the Wild Life Sydney Zoo and the Sea Life Aquarium. The “2-pack” pass I bought was pretty expensive even when converted back to USD.

I did the zoo first and immediately remembered why I hate them. Not only was this one crappy but they’re overall fairly boring and filled with families, specifically small children which is super annoying. The only real reason I wanted to go was to see some indigenous animals, which I did, but I was not worth the price I payed.

img_4718Found Nemo

I kept the aquarium for second because I thought it would be the better of the two. As it turned out, it was about the same. One funny thing was that there was this one tank everyone was crowded around because there was a “Dory” fish in that tank.

I crowded too and eventually got my picture, only to find that the next tank over was literally filled with them. I thought that was funny. I also liked the fact that, regardless of whether they spoke english or not, they knew the name Dory and only referred to it as Dory.

After I finished at the aquarium, I made my way past the Home nightclub, before cutting through Tumbalong Park. My plan was to go into the nearby Chinese Garden of Friendship. However, when I saw it was $6 to get in I was like eff that, and made my way back out to the harbour.

img_4744Looking out on Darling Harbour

Along the way I did a ropes course at the park and climbed to the top of the rope tower. It was mean for kids but it looked super high and not just for kids. Plus I was like, who cares, might as well do it. Once finished I made my way out to Darling Island (which is not an actual island), along the way passing the International Convention Centre Sydney (which was currently playing host to OZ Comic Con) and the Australian National Maritime Museum.

Sidenote: I really liked the Darling Harbour area.

My plan was to stop by Google’s Sydney headquarters but I was unable to find it. After walking all the way out to Darling Island and walking all the way back, plus all the walking I had done before that, my  feet were super tired. I decided to call it a half day and headed back to the hostel to regroup and rest my feet.

Along the way I stopped into Krispy Kreme and got one of their Reese’s donuts. It was pretty good, maybe not what I paid good, but hit the spot. So now I’m in the hostel writing this and gearing up for the rest of my evening.

To be continued…

After chilling for a bit I made my way into the city again. The first thing I did was to stop under the bridge where Neo gets into the car with Trinity in The Matrix. If I have time, I hope to see a few more sights from the movie while I’m in town.

img_4766Imagine this tunnel in the pouring rain with a 1960s Lincoln Continental in it; boom, you’ve a scene right out of The Matrix

After that I made my way towards a bar called Grandma’s. However, upon arriving at the address, I’m pretty sure I was either at the wrong place or that it doesn’t exist or something. Cut to a montage of me walking around the same few streets figuring out what my next move should be.

I considered moving up the timetable on my visit to the O Bar. However, upon going to the Sydney Tower Eye, I found out that this was not the location of the O Bar and that it is in fact located at a different building. Continue montage of me walking around aimlessly. Eventually I headed back to a pub that was still open (I hate Sundays) but before I went in, I checked the Deus website.

img_4771Cool neon back at Deus

After a phone call confirmed that they were still open, I made up my mind to venture back out to Deus. I caught the bus no problem; it’s a super easy ride, and got off to find it was still open. I grabbed a chicken sandwich, which was delicious and cost exactly one dollar less than the amount of money I had in my wallet. Luckily tipping isn’t a thing in Australia.

Sidenote: The guy sitting next to me didn’t have an accent so I asked if he was American. Turned out he was Canadian (close enough) and was in Australia teaching skiing or something. He was cool.

After finishing my food I took a few more pics of the Bar/Kitchen before waiting for the bus and eventually taking it back here so I could write this and plan out my last couple of days in Sydney.

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Australia – Day 5: Sydney

Saturday – September 10th

After getting showered and writing my blog post for yesterday, as well as planning out a bit more of my day today, I made my way to Town Hall to join the 10:30am I’m Free Walking Tour. On my way out of the train station I grabbed a bit of breakfast at one of the underground food spots.

img_4598Town Hall

After eating outside of Town Hall I met up with the rest of the group and made friends with a fellow American. The tour made it’s way through the city and eventually while at one spot, I noticed something I didn’t expect to see, a Tesla showroom! I asked one of my tour guides where they would be headed next so that I could stop in the showroom and then rejoin the group.

img_4604Tesla Showroom downtown Sydney

I entered the showroom and after a quick walk around, introduced myself to one of the Product Specialists, Hardeep. He was very nice and excited to meet a fellow Product Specialist/visitor to his city. We had a great conversation and after a few pictures of the showroom, I left to rejoin the group.

However, upon going where the tour guide told me they’d be, there was no one to be found. To be honest, this was probably a blessing in disguise because as it is I was stressed about how I was going to get everything into my day after a two and a half our walking tour.

IMG_4613.JPGOn the Ferry from Circular Quay to Milsons Point

So instead, I made my way to Circular Quay and grabbed the ferry to Milsons Point. There I got off and immediately went to Luna Park. Luckily the rides require a wrist band so admission to the park is free. I walked around just to see it and say I’d been there.

I considered riding the Wild Mouse but I found out that the cheapest wristband is $20 for two rides. As it is I had been spending more on food, transportation and admissions than I had anticipated so this was definitely and unnecessary expense.

img_4627Sydney Harbour and Bennelong Point as seen from Milsons Point under the Sydney Harbour Bridge

I then left Luna Park and took a few pics of the Opera House from underneath the Sydney Harbour Bridge before heading up the hill which led to the train. On the way up the hill I passed the Olympic Swimming Pool. I don’t know if that was the actual one used for the Sydney Olympics but either way I thought that was cool.

Next I hopped on the train and took it a few stops into North Sydney to St Leonards station. There I walked a bit down the street to the Tesla Showroom. This was the original plan as it was the only Sydney showroom I was aware of. Alex and Adele, the OA and PS I met, told me that the downtown location was only a month old. In any case, we all had a good chat and again I took a few pics before leaving.

I took the train back to Milsons Point station, and, after a half hour of walking around going the wrong way, a local pointed out how to get onto the pedestrian footpath to cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Apparently if I had gone right out the station instead of left it would have saved me all my trouble.

Sidenote: along the way to find the entrance to the Sydney Harbour Bridge I passed this really cool car place called Classic Throttle Shop. I never went back to go inside but the collection from what I could see through the glass was incredible.

img_4638Starting my walk southbound on the east side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge

Regardless of all my trouble, the walk across the bridge was well worth it. The views were incredible and it was just a very fun and interesting way to see/experience the city. After about a half an hour of walking, I made it to the other side.

Cut to a montage of me trying to find my way, doing a lot of walking and eventually ending up at the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel. There I had a half pint and a sandwich while chatting with a really nice older gentleman named Ian. We watched the footie game and talked about Australia and he gave me some suggestions of sites to see.

img_4643The Sydney Opera House as seen from the Sydney Harbour Bridge

After I finished my food, I checked out the nearby Barangaroo Reserve. It is essentially a super modern park on The Rocks and looking out to Darling Harbour. After a relatively brief stroll through the park I made my way to the nearby Sydney Observatory. Unfortunately it was closed so I then headed over to the Shangri-La Hotel.

I when to the Blu Bar on the 36th floor which offered good views of the harbour if you were eating but from the bar there wasn’t much to see. I should have just left but, since I had trekked over, I got an expensive (not by choice) beer which I nursed and didn’t end up finishing.

Afterwards I went back to Circular Quay where I grabbed the train back to Central and headed back to the hostel where I got things organized and wrote this.

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Australia – Day 4: Sydney

Friday – September 9th

I woke up early and after getting everything together, checked out of the hostel. It was drizzling outside. My plan was to take the City Loop tram around the city for one final tour, one final goodbye. Unfortunately, when I got to the station I saw a sign that said they don’t start running those trains until 10am. My plan was to leave for the airport by 10:30am, so this would be too late.

What I did instead was to do my own makeshift tour of the city by hopping on and off trams in the Free Tram Zone and riding them around the CBD until I got back to Southern Cross station where I would board the Skybus to Melbourne airport.

Once there I checked my balance on my Myki card just to see how much I was leaving on the table. To my surprise, I had actually overspent and so I ended up coming out ahead. Next I went to Hungry Jacks (aka Burger King) and got a “Brekky Hero” sandwich and a latté. I then went over to the Skybus where I ate my sandwich and sipped my coffee.

I had two options, wait in the city or wait at the airport. I decided to wait at the airport. I took a 9:30am double deck Skybus to the airport where, after getting my tag for my luggage, I easily passed through security. Security at Melbourne airport is an absolute joke. I didn’t have to take off my shoes or show my boarding pass or show my ID. It literally took me 30 seconds to get through.

img_4547My Boeing 737 as seen on the tarmac at Sydney airport

I then spent the next ~3 hours fighting bad internet, looking for a power outlet and writing part of yesterdays post. I figured I’d write the rest of it on the flight. Boarding started at 1:10pm and pushback was at 1:30pm. The 737 was packed and I was literally sat in the last row, in the center seat. Both armrests were being used so I was squished typing in an uncomfortable position.

I then started watching Sherlock and shortly after, they started serving food and drinks. No sooner did I finish my drink when they started collecting my trash, and no sooner after that we were preparing for landing. The flight was almost exactly an hour and, apart from the turbulence, the entire flight was fairly turbulent, it went by smoothly.

The only other scary thing was the landing because a) we came in over the water which felt like we were too low and b) because of the crosswind and what felt like a tailwind, it felt very fast and unsteady.

img_4548An OG Qantas aircraft at the domestic terminal in the Sydney airport

I got off the plane, took some pics in the terminal and by the time I got to baggage claim, saw my suitcase right away, grabbed it and headed for the train. I then got my Opel card, topped it up, and waited for the train. It was a short ride into the city and from Central Station it was a short walk to my hostel.

After checking in and getting situated, I grabbed my map and ventured into the city. I made my way straight down George St, took a right on Liverpool St and when I saw Hyde Park on my left, entered it. I walked through Hyde Park, stopping and paying my respects at the Anzac Memorial.

img_4554Looking back at the Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park

At the end of Hyde Park, I exited the north east corner and made my way down Art Gallery Road. I headed all the way down to Mrs. Macquaries Point to Mrs. Macquaries Chair, a bench built into the rock, along the way getting a glimpse of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I then rounded the corner of Mrs. Macquaries Point and as I did, got my first glimpse of the Opera House. I paused, I wasn’t sure I was ready for it. I had waited my whole life and traveled so far just for this moment, I didn’t want it to disappoint me. As I rounded the corner, I kept my head down until I was sure I’d be able to see it in full. And then, suddenly, there it was.

img_4560Not my best picture of the Opera House but the first of many that would follow

I stood and took it in for a few minutes before making my way around the Royal Botanic Gardens and passed the Government House to get to the bottom of the steps of the opera house.

Once there, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of it. I fervently walked around shooting it from every angle. I eventually made my way inside the lobby and enquired about tours. I then found the Opera Kitchen where I grabbed dinner under the glow of the Opera House. Eventually I said my goodbyes and made my way through the city.

img_4585Walking away from the Opera House and heading back into the city

I was just sort of wandering. I knew the general direction I needed to head in to get back to my hostel. The only real goal I had was to get to the Sydney Tower Eye. Eventually I made my way to its entrance so I would know how and where to find it when I went on my last night in town.

After that I headed back to the hostel where I wrote a blog post and Skyped with my Mum and my Dad before going to bed.

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Australia – Day 3: Melbourne

Thursday – September 8th

I woke up later than I wanted to and so after a quick shower, I made my way to Centre Place to grab some breakfast.

img_4487Restaurant in Centre Place

I had wanted to check out one of those restaurants after having seen them the day before. I ended up getting a poached egg on toast with ham, avocado and hollandaise sauce. It was excellent.

img_4492State Library of Victoria

After that I headed up to the State Library of Victoria. I had been told by Tom that it was worth checking out because the building is beautiful. He was right, it felt like something that should be featured in a spy movie or a period piece. Who knows, it probably is.

img_4495Raptors for the Jurassic World Exhibit in the Melbourne Museum

After a short walkthrough of the library I headed further north to Carlton Gardens to see the Royal Exhibition Building and the Melbourne Museum during the daytime. I was not able to go into the REB but I was able to go into the lobby of the MM. If I had wanted to go into the museum itself I would have had to pay and if I had wanted to check out the Jurassic World exhibit, I would have had to pay even more. Luckily I a) had little interest in either and b) I was on a bit of a time crunch.

From there I walked south to the Parliament House where there was a big protest going on. From what I could gather, the labor union was fed up with their wages… or something like that. I stuck around for a bit before heading through China Town. I didn’t really care about seeing it, but it was right there and essentially in the way of where I needed to go so I used it as a pass though.

img_4500AC/DC Lane

Where I was headed was AC/DC Lane; another Melbourne laneway but this one dedicated to the band (you guessed it) AC/DC. It was a little underwhelming. There were a few murals and graffiti themed and dedicated to the band but that was about it. I figured they my be constantly playing Back in Black or something, but no. One thing that did look cool was the Cherry Bar. I would have liked to have grabbed dinner or a drink one of the nights I was there and take in a local band or something, but I never got around to it.

img_4503More AC/DC Lane

After that I made my way over to the Australian Centre of Contemporary Art. The building looked pretty cool and I appreciated most of the art that was in it. My one complaint, it was too small. There were only three galleries in the entire museum and they weren’t even that big. If I knew that, I probably wouldn’t have wasted my time.

After that I made my way to Flinders station to top up my Myki card. Along the way I met a female  Irish tourist. We shared some of our respective travel stories and I did by best to direct her to where she needed to go before parting ways at the St Kilda Street bridge.

After topping up my Myki card I made my way over to the Melbourne Star. I wasn’t sure whether or not I wanted to actually go on it but I at least wanted to see it up close and I wanted to have the opportunity to say no. Tom said it would only be worth it if I had a Groupon. He was right as prices were $35! Additionally it was in a crappy part of town so I feel like the views would have only been so so and I didn’t really have the time to dedicate (I assume the flight would have been about a half an hour).

img_4515Flinders Station, Federation Square, St Kilda Street and the Yarra River as seen from Eureka Tower

When I’d had my fun looking at the Melbourne Star, I hopped on the PTV and made my way to Eureka Tower. ET is the [name a famous tall building of any city, ie. Empire State Building] of Melbourne. Initially my plan was to go to the tower at 5:30pm and stay to watch the sunset and see the lights come on over Melbourne.  However, knowing that I had plans to meet up with Tom for about 6pm, I bumped up my timetable.

I’m really glad I did too because I ended up having a really clear view of the city. It was so cool to have a real (non Google map) view of the city I had been exploring before the trip (via Google maps) and during the trip on ground level on foot. It gave me a great perspective of where things were relative to one another, how big they are relative to one another and how far or close they are to each other.

Additionally, there were these looking glasses strategically located throughout the observation deck. They didn’t magnify or anything but they zeroed in on specific sights or buildings so you could know what it was you were looking at. I thought that was really cool.

The other thing that was kind of cool was this airlock you could go through which led to the outside. You were still fenced in but there was no glass blocking you and you were exposed to the wind/elements. Not only are high elevations more susceptible to wind, but on top of that it was a windy day. I wanted to take a picture or video but I was too afraid I’d let go of my phone. Regarless, it was another cool element of the building. I ended up spending an hour on the 88th floor before heading back to the ground. Eureka Tower was definitely the thing I enjoyed the most in Melbourne.

Sidenote: not that I ended up doing the Melbourne Star but I can guarantee that Eureka Tower is better value for money. Not only is it easier to get to, it’s also in the heart of the city much much taller, offers better 360 views of the city (I assume) and is only $20.

After I was done at ET I made my way to Southern Cross Station to take a train to West Footscray to visit Tom where he was staying with a friend. I ended up leaving a bit earlier than I originally was going to because I didn’t want to start my evening too late. I boarded the 5:30pm train no problem, but, because it was rush hour, the train I took was limited and thus skipped my stop. I ended up having to get off a few stops later at Sunshine. Luckily, Tom knew where that was and ended up just meeting me there instead.

Next was something I was afraid of and excited for both at the same time. Tom had mentioned that he had a car and I had been thinking that it would be cool to let me drive in a foreign country. As we were walking to the car, he handed me the keys and asked if I wanted to drive. Now, there are a few things you have to be aware of in order to understand why I was nervous.

img_4541Going for another gear in Tom’s Civic

First and foremost was that I was going to be driving a manual transmission. I don’t mind driving stick but I have only done it on a handful of occasions, thus,  because of my lack of experience I am not proficient at it. Second, because the car was right hand drive I was going to have to shift with my left hand. This is only a problem because I am right handed and thus, not as coordinated with my left. This also meant that the blinker was on the right side of the steering column. Third was the fact that because I was in a foreign country I was driving on the opposite side of the road than I’m used to. It also meant that I wasn’t familiar with all of the rules of the road. It also meant that I didn’t know where I was going. Next was the fact that I was using kilometers per hour which I’m not used to. And lastly, his 1998 Civic 3-door hatchback had no tachometer so I had no training wheels to tell me when to shift, just the sound of the engine.

So, as you can see I had a lot going against me. When we got to the car, the first thing I noticed was that he had fronted in, I was going to have to back out of the parking spot. This probably wouldn’t have been so bad in a left hand drive car, but, because I had to put my left arm over the passenger seat to look behind me, I was very much out of my element. I basically just sort of backed out slowly without really looking and hoped there wasn’t a car coming. However, I backed out to the left thus making me have to drive the wrong way in the parking lot. This ended up not being that big of a deal.

The first real challenge was making a right turn out the lot. This meant having to cut across traffic in order to get to the correct lane. Luckily due to fact that it was evening and we were in a rural area there really wasn’t a lot of traffic. Plus Tom did a good job keeping his eyes peeled for me. The only other this that I thought would be a nightmare was when we came to a roundabout. Luckily I just had to go, essentially straight through. Shortly after a few more stop lights and turns, we arrived at the bar.

The bar, which name already escapes me, was pretty ordinary. Tom ordered us some drinks and shortly after his friend/the guy who’s place he was crashing at, showed up. The three of us chatted and chilled on the patio. I was hungry so Tom suggested I order Beetroot… something. It was purple and it had rice and beets and cheese and it was good.

img_4544Tom, Dan and I playing a card game

After we were done eating/drinking, Tom drove me and him to his friends’ house and his friend arrived shortly afterward. We played with his dog Kip who was super lovable. After that, I rode Dave(?), Dan’s(?) waveboard in his garage while he smoked his pipe and chatted with me and Tom. Next we played some tabletop game that I never fully understood and was terrible at, followed by watching a bit of “footie” before Tom walked me to the train station.

We said our goodbyes and I grabbed the train back to Southern Cross station. From there I walked back to hostel and wrote some of yesterday’s blog post followed immediately by going to bed.

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Australia – Day 2: Melbourne

Wednesday – September 7th

After getting breakfast at my hostel, I made my way into the CBD to check out the Royal Arcade. To be honest I was a little disappointed. Though it was featured in the guidebook I’d browsed shortly after booking the trip, there wasn’t much to see.

Royal Arcade

I then made my way down to Centre Place. This is one of many laneways in Melbourne. However, what makes this one special are the tiny restaurants that line both sides. It’s hard to capture in photos but it feel very packed and crowded in a good way. It reminded me of the scene in Blade Runner when Deckard is getting food at an Asian restaurant. That whole movie feels like the city is filled with activity and people. All I’m getting at is that this felt the same way. Looking at the restaurants and what people were eating, I made the decision that I would go there for breakfast the next day.

Centre Place

After I finished exploring, I made my way to the Arts Centre Melbourne. There I had an 11am tour booked the day previous. The group met in the lobby, a young (probably my age) couple and three older women. The tour essentially took us through the three theatre’s housed there, the State, the Playhouse, and the Fairfax.

img_4451Arts Centre Melbourne

The tour told us about the types of shows that they host there, the history of the architecture and interior design and told us some the back end mechanics of how the shows are put on.

After the tour was over, we were able to use our ticket to get a free (we had essentially already paid for it buy buying a ticket) muffin and either coffee or tea. When we got there, the young couple bailed so it was just me that the three older ladies.

Two of them were there together and got a seat at the cafe. The third, the oldest was there on her own and asked if she could join them. They obliged without hesitation. I however, held back, deciding what to do. As they sat, three people at a four person table, I asked if they wouldn’t mind me joining them (what else was I gonna do, eat alone). They quickly waved me over and pulled out a chair for me.

They were all lovely and we chatted about where we were from (they were all Aussies) and they were asking me about my trip. They asked about work and I found myself being an off duty Product Specialist. Then they gave me recommendations of things to do and see. When we were finishing up, I started wrapping up my muffin and putting it in my backpack. They quickly went into mom mode and offered me their leftovers as well.

Sidenote: talk about fitting in as an old lady, they all got cafe olé and I was the one who got tea… not them! Also, there was this cool domino video playing in the lobby.

img_4452NGV as see from the Arts Centre Melbourne

Afterwards we parted ways and I made my way over to the National Gallery of Victoria which is literally next door. In the lobby there were two cool displays, a crushed VW Beetle (pictured below) and this weird interactive mirror installation.

For the most part however, the rest of the exhibits weren’t that interesting to me. The museum was quite nice and an art piece in itself, but the subject matter and era of the artworks and artifacts were just not of my interest.

img_4456The first piece you see upon entering the NGV, a crushed VW Beetle

There were two other things that stood out. One was the room called Everyday Devine by Subodh Gupta who took everyday objects and bronzed or metal-ized them to turn them into shrines. He also did things like simply displaying them is ways that are different from how they are usually presented. That was cool and that I really liked.

The other thing I enjoyed was the room that had artwork from maybe the 20s to the 40s. I’m not 100% sure but it was modern enough that I was able to find it interesting. There were also these DaDa-ist [may be wrong art style] films that were really interesting and so far ahead of their time which I enjoyed.

img_4458A piece from the Everyday Devine exhibit

Following the NGV, I crossed the street to the center to wait for a train to take me to my next stop. Unfortunately, because most of the trains are light rail, the street stops rarely if ever have Myki (tap card) dispensers. This meant I had to walk back to the Flinders Street Station to get one.

Upon getting there, however, I was unable to figure out how to use the ticket vending machine. Meanwhile, people who knew what they were doing kept queuing up behind me. Eventually one, who could see I was struggling, pointed me in the direction of customer service so I could a) get a card (the machines don’t actually vend them like in Boston, you have to buy them separately) and b) to not only put money on it, but figure out how much was appropriate.

img_4462Luna Park – Melbourne

The woman who helped me was very knowledgable and from there I was finally ready to embark on my trip. I crossed to the center and seven minutes later my 67 train arrived. It took me south all the way down to the beach, and to Luna Park.

img_4465St Kilda Beach

I knew the park would be closed, but it is essentially the Coney Island of Australia so I needed to at least “pay my respects.” I then made my way down to the beach where I put my hands in the water (I only had shoes so I didn’t want to get my feet wet) just to say I did it. Then, after hanging around for a bit, I walked back to the train stop.

The 16 train I was waiting for seemed to take forever (at least 20 minutes) but eventually it did come and it brought me back to Queen Victoria Gardens where I took a pleasant stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens. There were a handful of things I wanted to specially see but two that stood out.

img_4471Fern Gully

The first one I went to was the Fern Gully. Being a fan of the cartoon as a kid, I had to know what it was like to actually walk through a real one. It was actually really cool. There was this metal elevated foot path that carved through this little forrest and over small streams. It felt like you were in the jungle; very peaceful, very beautiful.

img_4474Guilfoyle’s Volcano

Next, with time running out (the park closed at 6 and it was 5:30-ish), I made my way to Guilfoyle’s Volcano. With a name like this, I had no idea what to expect. I knew it wouldn’t be an actual volcano but what would it be. As it turned out, it was this hill that had all of these flowers and plants on it. There was a wooden spiral footpath that led to the top at which there was a pond in lieu of lava.

img_4475The top of Guilfoyle’s Volcano

After that I exited the garden and started to make my way back to the city. I was going to walk and normally could have but my feet were so tired that I had to take the train. I got off a few stops later at Fed Sq. There, under the advice of the three older women, I visited the tourist centre which had tons of brochures for tours and sites in the city.

After grabbing a few things, I walked over to the bar where I was set to meet up with Tom (whom you may remember from MttS). On the way over, I saw this group of four girls standing and watching a vid that was playing in the square. It was of a bunch of hi wheelers and so I told them I that I actually owned a penny farthing myself. In hindsight I should have invited them for drinks, but I was there to see Tom so I didn’t want to fuck with that.

I arrived a little early but after ordering and sitting for a bit, he showed up. It was great to see him. He’d been living in Australia for almost a year and it was great to catch up. After a bit of chatter and finishing our respective drinks we grabbed the train and headed north to Fitzroy.

He had a bar he wanted to show me and I had one I wanted to show him. Along the way we walked through the Carlton Gardens and past the Royal Exhibition Building and the Melbourne Museum.

Our first stop was a dive bar called Catfish where we had drinks and wings and sat on the patio out back. After finishing all that, we went to our next and final bar, my choice, Naked for Satan. (Sidenote: on the way out there was a band playing in the main bar area. It was pretty cool and normally I might have stayed but I wanted to hit the next spot and so we both silently agreed to just leave).

fullsizerender-2Tom and I on the rooftop of Naked for Satan

While heading to the next bar, we stopped at a Korean market so Tom could buy a bottle of this Korean booze he likes. Eventually we got to NFS. The bar was really cool, dark red vibes with a hipster-y/dive-y feel. However, the reason I wanted to check it out was because it had a rooftop deck.

We found a seat sort of far from the edge but shortly a better location opened up and we swooped in to grab it. We chatted and drank and enjoyed the skyline. Before leaving we had a fellow patron take a pic of us.

Afterwards we made our way back to the train and took it through the “Free Tram Zone” to Southern Cross station where we parted ways. Tom took a train back to West Melbourne and I walked back to my hostel and went to bed.

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