As I’ve mentioned, I still don’t feel like I’ve done Sydney justice. To try and make amends I think I’ll share the Aussie Rules game experience and the story of the races.
First up, the Aussie rules football game aka AFL aka footy. It was the Sydney Swans versus the Hawthorn Hawks (thanks for reminding me Simon) being played in the Sydney Cricket Grounds. It’s sort of like playing football in a baseball stadium, but different in that the whole field is always used, meaning the size of the footy pitch changes with each stadium.
I’m not going to try and explain footy to non-followers. If you really want to know more Google the rules because that’s probably what I’d have ended up doing anyway to try and explain them to you. To put it briefly, a rugby-ish shaped ball is thrown and kicked around by a lot of guys running back and fourth on the field. It creates some really good moments of colliding bodies flying through the air. The stadium was nice enough and the fans were pretty into it until the second half when the Swans basically forgot to come out of the locker room and ended up getting shellacked.
To try out the stadium food, I had a traditional and delicious meat pie doused in ketchup. Just like any other stadium in the world the lines were long for the food, beer and bathrooms; just as it should be.
However, there were a couple of notable differences. First, there was a severe lack of scalpers anywhere near the stadium for the sold out event. I mean, what kind of self-respecting ticket swindlers don’t show up for a sold out footy game? Tisk, tisk, Sydney scalpers. I should mention this particular difference was made evident to us because we were trying to get rid of an extra ticket. Looks like next time we’ll have to bring a sharpie and some cardboard with us…
The second difference was the opportunity to run out onto the field after the game. We took full advantage and went out onto the pitch to try and feel like we had just played in the game. The grass was green, the night beautiful and there were footy balls flying all over the place. Unlike soccer balls, the footy balls kind of hurt when you get hit by them so we did our best keeping an eye out for them. Overall, the whole match was fantastic and it was good to have a couple resident footy know-it-all’s (Troy and Clare) with Jeff and I when we had all our AFL related questions.
As for the races, well, they were quite the event. By races I am referring to, of course, horse races. I believe the place we went to was called Rose Hill Downs. I had never been to the races before and apparently it is quite the gala. Everyone was dressed in tip-top shape (even your humble narrator who borrowed some nice clothes) and we all had some fun placing bets.
Our occasion was Jeff’s surprise going away party. We got Jeff to think just a couple of us were going to go to the races but soon after arrival he found out just a few of us was more like 20 of us. We got a couple tables near the track with drinks and food and watched not only the horses but the people as well. There were hats, dresses and suits of all kinds.
As far as betting goes, we had had one ace in the group. Ms. Emma won on almost all her bets and managed to guess the tri-fecta to much jubilation within the group. We highly suspected tomfoolery in her bets but found out it was just a well-read boyfriend in Wollongong who knew his stuff. I won a couple, lost a couple, but to the best of my memory ended up coming out on top if you don’t include the awful $8 food item I purchased… All in all the races were fantastic and even those without Emma’s luck had a good time.
Finally, in this post I’d like to make a suggestion for anyone planning a trip to or from Australia. Fly in a Qantas Airbus A380. Jeff and I took it back to the states and I have to say it was a glorious 13-hour flight. The entertainment system is filled with a vast amount of content including every best film Oscar winner ever. The food was above average, especially when you count the always available and free snack bar, the foot rest thing was more comfortable than normal and the ambient lighting system is really cool. Although I’m not sure it actually does anything. Also, I’m pretty sure the landing in LA was as smooth as could be.