Thursday, May 29, 2008

New Kingston, Blue Mountains and Mobay

Seeing off most of the Flaggers heading off to the next island and the next test, I have taken a few more days to see bits of Jamaica...after coming all this way!

That day I walked through New Kington, taking in the local life, and viewing the backdrop of the Blue Mountains. I stopped for lunch at the Georgian Devon House, before continuing the walk to the Bob Marley Museum. Very interesting look at the man, his music, and all he stood for, and the troubles around. Not sure about his politics, clearly something to read more about!

Sparrow actually organised by Knutsford Express bus across the island, part of his never ending service as part of Flag captain. My bus was at 6am, just at the sun was peeking over the mountains, of which we made our way through and over. Rainforest, green and lush, the mountains were amazing at that hour, even with a rooftop of cloud.

I arrived at my hotel, the Gloustershire Hotel in the 'Hip Strip', checked in with a complimentary rum punch...quite unneeded! I then headed straight arcoss the road to the Doctor's Cave beach, and took in the white sand, blue sea, and blazing sun for much of the day.

Wandering through the strip of stores, and finding Mum another hideous magnet for the fridge, I have soaked in the experience. Have just had dinner at the Jamaican Bobsled Cafe, proceeds of which go to the team. My last chance for Jamaican Jerk Chicken and one last Red Stripe!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sabina Park Mound Stand and Victory

On Day 3 we traded our regular seats in the stand in for a ticket into The Mound, the Party Stand, with all you can drink all day...a physical challenge the Flaggers took on with much vigor!

Getting our posse in the shade, we settled in for a day of drinking, cricket from a different angle...with Belinda and I opening our day's account with a Red Stripe before play. Needless to say, by lunch the beers were going down very nicely!

Lunch as part of the deal, the drinking pace kept on, with cricket watching and much silliness! Changing to rum for the final silliest of silly session, the collapse in this session out in the middle seems to be a bit of a blur! I do remember Hussey's wicket falling with shock! And it raining at one point!

A dip in the pool, clothes and all when we all managed to make it back to the hotel on the bus, a rowdy trip that was, with travellers to keep the madness going. We all got dressed up and headed out to a bar, Quad, within walking distance of our digs.

The next day, very much worse for wear, the group was back to Sabina Park for Day 4. Admittedly I did sleep for some of the first session, much needed hangover time! After hearing of the Hawks 9-nil result back home, I dossed the footy scarf despite the humidity, loud and proud. At the end of play the bus of Flaggers headed to Liguana Bar and Resort for very cheap drinks.....and after swaering I wouldn't drink again, the run was flowing better than ever! The group chatted with Jim Richards, which was a treat.

Today victory was had by the Aussies, with an amazing match by one Stuart Clark, after tension and drama at the prospect of a loss for a day and a bit.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Flaggy Green and Chick Pink Day

I flew from NYC to Kingston, Jamaica on Wednesday, in time to eat and drink as part of the pre-test match dinner for the beginning of the Windies tour with Waving The Flag. Checking into the Knutsford Hotel, after our airport pick up, with travellers and travel stories aplenty.

Catching up with fellow Flaggers, and being introduced to Appleton Rum, I settled in for a session as the pre-tour instructions were disseminated. Up for breakfast on Day 1, bus to Sabina Park, and the group gathered for the toss, and then the presentation of the Flaggy Green. Same make and model as the Baggy Green of the Australian team, each Flagger is presented with their cap at the first test, and this is actually my first official tour. Presented with Flagger number 398, I perservered with the hat for the day.

A solid day's cricket with a great knock by the captain, kicking back in the stand in the shade, with beer and food coming to us, and nothing else to worry about but the red ball out in the middle, nothing could be better!

Drinks at a near by rooftop bar, and a Thai dinner kicked off Day 1, with several nightcaps by the pool.

Today, being Day 2, I donned the Chicks on Tour pink t-shirt for the first time, much to the joy of my fellow Flagger chicks. Born to the fact that girls actually like cricket too, the decking of pink attracts much attention, and leads to even more merriment than usual! This year all pink attrire proceeds go to the McGrath Foundation, bringing breast cancer awareness and cricket together.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Take Me Out To The Ball Game

Yesterday I walked from Tali's place, through Central Park and past Strawberry Fields, down 5th Avenue, to the beautiful Grand Central Station. I could sit in there all day and take in the gorgeous interior and people watch!

Out into the rain, I walked down to the UN Plaza, and joined a tour of the UN buildings. Having been locked out of this on previous visits, this was another thing I wanted to do this trip, and I was hoping for some restoration in my faith and belief in all that the UN stands for. Taken through the Security Council, and into the General Assembly, our guide was great - although really didn't teach me anything I don't have a HECS debt for already! Would be great if I hadn't studied about this organisation, and knew very little!! A focus on landmines, and the emphasis that the UN is an action from all of us, including the vast array of countries respresented within of tour group was strong...but nothing new and hopeful for me! Sadly.

Finishing the tour, I walked out into the pouring rain, and started to give up hope for our evening plans. Stopping for another mammoth dose of caffine, and waiting it out, I met up with Talia when she finished work, and we decided to head out to Yankee Stadium anyway. They hadn't called of the game at that point, despite me being soaked from the downpour!

Riding the subway out to the Bronx, we emerged out of the tunnels into daylight and blue sky! Amazing! This season is actually the last one in Yankee Stadium, with a new version being built next door, so it was exciting reaching the ground amid the blue and white clad fans to fit our seats.

Sitting directly above home plate, we had a great central view, and settled in for the Yankees verses the Baltimore Orioles with beers. Refreashing the basics of the match, the first half of the first innings saw 7 runs scored, by the Orioles - apparently a massive score!

A slow game, the Yankees didn't score until around the 5th innings. The highlight was the potential of a bit of biffo, with a "wayward" pitch almost taking an Orioles head off, and a pitch invasion by both teams....but no punches. A rare event apparently! We finished off the night with more beers at Talia's local bar. All good for New York City this visit! Thanks so much for having me Miss Tali! (And for your photos!)

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A Moment on the Brooklyn Bridge

Yesterday I ventured down to Downtown, and caught the Staten Island Ferry across and back to get a close up, and front on view, of the Lady. I had only ever seen her from behind, in Jersey, on previous trips, and so taking the ferry over - and straight back! - was another of the NYC things on my to do list!

After that I walked over to South Street Seaport, and had a lunch reminiscent of one Tali and I had on my first trip to this awesome city, all the way back in 1999! Taking a long look at the expanse of the Brooklyn Bridge from here, my aim to walk across it was starting to look like a wet prospect, in this unseasonably cold NY Spring week.

Stumbling across the greatest bookstore in the world, The Strand, and lucking out on completing my Armistead Maupin set and my missing US edition paperback Harry Potter (and sending them home, couldn't have been easier! Very dangerous!), my resolve to complete my Bridge mission was alive.

I took the subway under the river to the Brooklyn Bridge walkway, and then started the walk across. Taking in the view of the city, and the beauty in this structure, was a one of those special travel moments. The sun was peeking out from the clouds in a brief period of warmth, cars speeding past below the walkway....awesome!

A walk through the neon dazzle of Times Square, and a little shopping, before Tali finished work and come and found me. We made our way to a rooftop bar in the Garment District, for cosmopolitans and dinner, with the illuminated Empire State Building in front of us. Provided with hot red robes to battle the chill of the night, we took in the views and the New York experience....before Dr Talia was called in for a sick little puppy, and I got to see her in action!

Monday, May 19, 2008

Top Of The World

I am in New York! One of my favourite cities in the world!

Upon arriving at the new, mammoth Bangkok airport after 9 hours of flying, I received texts from home giving me the details of the latest Hawk victory, which made the prospect of getting on another jet for double the time I had just been sitting all the more bearable. I walked the length of what I assume was one section of the airport for the hour layover, passing every shop imaginable (they have Boots, Jen!), before finding my next seat.

The screen on this next flight was plotting our flight path as the crow flies, from one side of the world to the other, and I had assumed that that was just sat nav gone wrong - but then our pilot confirmed that we would be flying over Mongolia and then Siberia, the North Pole and then down over Canada. Very cool!

I glimpsed out into the dazzling brightness to catch roads snaking through a snow covered Russia, and then fell in love with Juno all over again, before a well timed peek outside had me squinting out at the top of the world! Big cracks through the surface, and absolutely no movement, it was eerie and magical. At one point the view outside turned pink...although that could have been my eyes objecting to the brightness after the dim cabin interior!

Landing at JFK airport, and following my instructions on the subway, I met up with Talia here in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I haven't seen Talia since her visit to London back, September! So cool to catch up with her again.

In a cloudy-headed state, I headed over to the Musuem of Modern Art (MoMA), which has been one of the NYC things that I have not done in past trips and wanted to do on this stop, and wandered around the many rooms and floors of art, design and light. Pushing my sleepiness to the limit I left MoMA in the rain to grab a massive caffine hit, and then met up with Tali at Rockafella Plaza.

Despite reservations about the weather and the view, we headed up to Top Of The Rock, which is the on the rooftop, and with full views of the city and beyond. Looking out over Central Park, and then walking around to the other side and taking in the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the bridges, and staking out the other many sights of this awesome city, the view started to clear as we were up there. Awesome.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Heading Off

It's around this time of year that I have been posting my Visited Countries map...but sadly in this 12 month period, I have been NOWHERE new! How scary and new for me! Hee hee!

That said though, I am writing this from the International Departure lounge in Melbourne, ready for a hugh trip! I have finished all the work I had to do, handed over my cases to Consultant babysitters for 5 weeks, and packed (rather hastily this monring). And now I am about to board my first of 13 flights, off to 10 different country stops (including stopovers), for a trip I have been planning for months and months and months. It's been a long time of cheese and bread for lunch!!

So this afternoon I am off to New York City, via Bangkok airport. So excited!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Hawks 7-nil!

All things footy are all things good! Hawthorn are undefeated after 7 matches, and are looking good! The only thing stopping us being top of the ladder at the moment is .19 percent....hmmmmm!

Yesterday I went along to the beloved MGC, with 47,000 other people, for a massive match against Collingwood, which had mounted as a huge test. My last match now for 5 weeks, as I head over to the other side of the world for my other sporting love. It's also the last match Jessie and I will attend together for some time, with her and Heath set to head off for their travels very soon also.

It's hard not to get carried away with it all, with the Hawks going along very well! Buddy and Roughead, and Willo sensational. The likes of Mitchell and Sewell, Crawford and Brown, alway good. September action is looking very exciting indeed!
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