Monday, October 28, 2013

Those are balls

I have a lot of friends who live in or who are from Adelaide.

When my parents first arrived in Australia as young immigrants, they each independently chose Adelaide as their first city to live in.  It was actually in Adelaide that they first met and it was in Adelaide that they fell in love and eventually married.

I also remember that Adelaide was the destination of one of the better childhood holidays that my family had.

All of this combined to give make me feel some kind of connection to Adelaide.

When a group of friends all decided to congregate in Adelaide for the weekend, I decided to jump on a plane and to join them.  It had been years since I had been there and it was the first time I had the opportunity to go there as an adult, independent of reliance on other adults.

The event I attended was of no real consequence.  It went off without a hitch and it was good to catch up with my friends.

What was more of a shock was the day we had left in Adelaide to explore.

Three of us had decided to take the evening flights out of Adelaide so that we would have the whole of Monday to look around.  We really didn't find much.  Within a few hours we felt as though we had wandered around most of the city of Adelaide.  We walked through the main CBD, through the museum, through the gallery, around some of the shopping malls and then we aimless wandered up and down the streets.

The highlight was the giant steel balls in the middle of Rundle Mall.

There is absolutely nothing "wrong" with Adelaide.

It's a beautiful city (city feels a bit strong... town may be a more appropriate description).

It just felt to us that it was the type of place that needed a weekend and a car so that we could explore the Adelaide region itself.  Staying in the town itself didn't give us tourists anything to be excited about.

By 4:30pm, we were bored enough that we decided to go to the airport.

It had been nice to reconnect with my Adelaide roots, but I don't think I'll be rushing back.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Fleet Review

There had been a noticeable increase in the military presence and regalia in sydney.  Most people didn't pay too much attentionto the changes. This was Sydney after all. There were events happening all the time.  In Martin Place alone, there seem to be memorial services held every second week next to the cenotaph.  Working in the city also meant that you'd be occasionally buzzed by black hawk helicopters as exercises were conducted around the city towers.  Most Sydney events are usually ignored by the locals as well.  No one takes any notice until several weeks after the event at which point they complain that they would have "loved to have gone" had they known about it.  To be fair to them, most events aren't well promoted.

As time went by, it became clearer that something was different with this event.  The number of military personnel kept increasing.  The decorations began appearing.  The chatter began to spread that foreign dignitaries would be arriving.  The words "Fleet Review" began to circulate the city.

This was no ordinary Sydney event.

This was the "Fleet Review".  It was a gathering of warships from around the globe for a "review".... the purpose of which is entirely lost on me.  Apparently it is a big deal.

So big in fact that this was the biggest event in Sydney since the Olympics.

I was fortunate enough that I had a dear friend in Rachel who had managed to get tickets to actually go on some of the warships as they were docked in the harbour.

It was special and unexpected treat to be able to explore these modern warships.  We went on three ships, one from each of the US, the UK and Australia.  Each one of these ships was the culmination of decades of research and development.  They were the pride of their nations and we were wandering around them poking and prodding, touching things we probably shouldn't have and generally gawking at all of the "cool stuff".

It was interesting seeing the different attitudes of the different countries as well.  For the Americans, we were shown very little, the exterior of the ship and a limited amount of the insides.  Through the whole trip, the Americans guided us very carefully through only the most superficial parts... such as hall ways and sleeping quarters.

The Brits on the other hand didn't seem to care as they seemed to let people wander through large parts of the ship.  Kids were seated in front of their computers, people were pushing buttons, trying to make screens light up and work.  All the while, the British sailors stood by smiling and helping the children up so they could get their chocolate covered hands on the precious equipment.
I grew up as one of those kids who was fascinated with the military.  As I've grown older, my interest levels have waned.  However, events such as these still have the ability to reignite some of the old passions.  
These are rare and wonderful events.  I keep searching the world when traveling for sights and events that will capture my imagination, when very often it is the things that are immediately in front of me that make me truly amazed with the wonders of the world around us.