Location: Canberra, Australia
Timeline: Week 5 in Australia
Our days are dwindling down! Here is an account of this week’s escapades…
On Sunday we were finally able to return to the Ainslie Church of Christ. This Sunday they boasted a total of 26 people, so a few more than last time. Once again everyone was so attentive and kind and Lizzy fell asleep for once so we actually got to hear the sermon. Yay!
In the afternoon we visited the Mint and saw how Australia makes its coins. Out here they use coins for their $1 and $2. Notes don’t start until $5. In the late afternoon I invited Chris to take that same 3-mile walk around the lake that I took last week. I claimed it was “easy.” And so it was…for the most part. But Chris did start saying, “Wow, this is really long.” Muah ha ha ha ha (that’s my evil laugh). I finally tricked someone else into taking an “easy” Australian walk.
On Monday Chris and I visited the Canberra science center called Questacon. Initially we decided we wouldn’t go there as it is supposed to be for children, but then the locals said that we would enjoy it and also, there was a small playroom dedicated to babies for Lizzy. Plus Chris and I are basically large children anyway. We still make pee pee jokes so…. They were so right! We had such a great time acting like kids AND since we had Lizzy in tow, we didn’t seem too crazy at a children’s center. The center had an earthquake room, an indoor lightning generator, and tons and tons of buttons to push and experiments to conduct. We even got to go on a free fall slide and play air hockey against a robot arm. Chris was in little boy heaven! He, like many men, has an inborn desire to push all of the buttons. On our honeymoon a flight attendant on the airplane had to get me to check if Chris was alright in the bathroom because he had pushed the “help” button. He was fine; he just had to push all of the buttons. So the science center was a dream-come-true for him. I guess little boys that love to push all of the buttons grow up to be engineers!
Since our arrival in Canberra, Chris has been bugging me to visit the War Memorial, which I’ve been industriously avoiding. I used to be more agreeable until Chris talked me into visiting every war memorial across Europe during our vacations. He dragged me all over the Invalides in Paris where every sign was written in French and I had no idea what anything was. The only interesting part was the French military uniforms that were so ornately covered in buttons and feathers. The French seem to be the only army who thinks it can just “out-fab” its opponents. But I digress… Unfortunately while looking at Trip Advisor suggestions in Canberra, the War Memorial pops up as the #1 attraction, so then I basically had to agree that we should see it. Then, in an ironic twist of events, I ended up visiting the War Memorial without him on Wednesday.
November 11th is Australia’s Remembrance Day and involved a big ceremony with the Prime Minister and Prince Charles and Camilla visiting the War Memorial. Some Australian friends encouraged me to go and even said I could walk there from my hotel. It IS a 30-minute walk, but to an Australian that’s practically next door. So at 10:00 AM I loaded up Lizzy in the pram and headed off. Since it was cloudy outside I luckily had the thought to ask the front desk for a brolly (an umbrella) to take with me. About 10 minutes into the walk it began raining. About 20 minutes into the walk Lizzy decided she wanted to be carried. And so, for the last 10 minutes, I wore Lizzy, pushed the stroller, and carried an umbrella. Much to my chagrin, the entire ceremony took place outdoors and was largely invisible to us due to the numerous brollys. After 15 minutes of standing in the rain with Lizzy, I wondered why I had thought this was such a good idea in the first place. Lizzy was such a trooper and she was in a good mood for 45 minutes of the ceremony. We heard speeches and national songs. The Prime Minister was supposedly there, but he could have bumped into me and I wouldn’t have known it because who knows what the Prime Minister of Australia even looks like? After 45 minutes of standing in the rain, Lizzy and I took refuge in a very crowded café.
Once the ceremony ended I went to the front of the War Memorial to be let in. Unknowingly, I ended up getting trapped into an area where Prince Charles and Camilla were going to walk by. That would have been very exciting if the weather had been nicer, but it was awful, so I was just irritated to be stuck there. To make matters worse, the royals were involved in some sort of ceremony inside and delayed the opening of the building. In my frustration I kept running an inner monologue about how we fought a revolutionary war so that we wouldn’t have to be under the heel of the royals and here I was, standing in the rain like a peasant, waiting for them to come out. The Australians, on the other hand, were as chipper as ever. At one time I needed help to put Lizzy in her carrier and three different people helped me with various tasks. Or maybe I just look like someone who needs lots of help. Eventually Prince Charles came out and I actually got some decent footage of him. When they finally opened the War Memorial I saw that the entrance involved numerous steps that I could never get up with the stroller and so I needed an elevator. As I was unsuccessfully looking around, a young man, who had been talking to me in the crowd earlier, said that he walked all the way into the Memorial and then remembered I was still outside. He dragged his little son back out into the rain, found me, and carried my stroller all the way up the stairs. I can’t get over how nice the people are here. Once inside it was really pouring and I had to stay even though I was water logged and exhausted. The one small concession was that Lizzy decided to fall asleep in her carrier. And so, I went on a free 90-minute tour. Lizzy didn’t last 90 minutes, but she made it an hour. Thank the Lord, Chris got off of work early and came to pick us up in the car. I didn’t think I could face that walk home in the rain. When he arrived I had to admit that I had seen most of the ceremony and taken a tour of the Memorial all without him. He was irritated and I had to promise to go back on another day, but now I’m thinking he and Lizzy can go alone.
During church this past Sunday the minister invited me and Chris to dinner on Thursday. While we love visiting with people, Chris and I live in constant fear of eating in other people’s homes. You see, we are always worried someone is going to try to feed us a casserole or a salad that isn’t made out of lettuce (i.e. potato or egg salad). We would have to attempt to eat it while slowly dying inside of sadness and disgust; all the while still having to make small talk. So when Ken, the minister, asked us what we liked to eat we said simple food, like pasta! Pasta is almost always safe! When we arrived at dinner, Ken’s niece brought out an appetizer consisting of chorizo, quinoa bread, goat cheese, and smoked salmon. Ok, not the simple we were looking for, but it was good. While waiting for dinner Ken showed us around the church’s community garden and we got to meet their chickens. Once dinner was served Chris and I sat down to the most beautifully presented food I have ever eaten in someone’s home. It turns out that Ken’s niece is a professional chef. She made us the most amazing beef steak with vegetables covered with a homemade au jus sauce and topped with edible flowers! I was so surprised I took a picture! It was the best food we have eaten in Australia! In fact, my biggest complaint about being here is that I haven’t loved the food, but THIS food was UH-mazing. Chris and I both practically licked the plates and Lizzy helped us eat our sweet potatoes and asparagus. We had lively conversation and everyone was so willing to hold Lizzy while we ate that Chris and I had a delightful break. Now the trick is getting them to invite us back before we have to leave!
After all of this week’s excitement, Lizzy and I took it easy on Friday. The only activity of interest was that we went out to dinner with all of Chris’ coworkers at a Pub. We thought Pub just meant a restaurant, but no. It was a full bar that happened to serve food. When we walked in with Lizzy and the stroller we were quite out of place, but no one seemed to mind. Apparently children were allowed there until 9:00 pm and so we just acted as though this was normal. Lizzy is such a good eater, she even helped me eat my risotto!
This morning I took a crazy exercise class called FlyGym where you suspend yourself from the rafters in giant hammock cloths in order to workout. It seems cool until you start doing sit-ups and they’re just like regular sit-ups only harder. And I broke down this afternoon and went with Chris back to the War Memorial. I’m such a good wife.
Until next time!