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Daniel - Poker Journal

Sydney is Heavenly

03 Mar 2008


I arrived at the airport in Sydney at about 9am and a driver was there to meet me and take me to my hotel. I had a few hours to relax and freshen up. I read for a bit and watched some TV before a car met me downstairs at 2:45pm. After I did what I had to do I returned to the hotel and decided that I'd take a walk. It was a perfect day, and I mean perfect- not a cloud to be seen.

I was handed a huge binder with all sorts of suggestions for what to do in Sydney, where to eat, etc. I noticed a couple of vegetarian restaurants so I thought I'd check one out. I got directions to the closest one, about a 15 minute walk, but when I got there it was closed as they were renovating the park that it was located in. The walk was just breathtaking. I walked through Hyde Park and the place just seemed so clean. So perfect. So heavenly. No bums in the park, people playing Frisbee, reading a book on the grass, just totally relaxing.

I decided to walk back and was just soaking it all in. I went back to the hotel and decided I'd just stay in and order some room service. Nothing really sparked my interest so I decided to take a cab to the other vegetarian restaurant that was supposed to be much further. The route to this restaurant seemed very similar to the path I'd already walked.

Finally the cab driver dropped me off at Govindas on Darlinghurst St. The restaurant was upstairs in what appeared to be some kind of Yoga gym. I also noticed some strange looking posters on the way up. I get upstairs and it's basically a buffet. I decided to sit outside since the weather was so nice. When the waitress asked me what I wanted to drink, I said, "I'll just have a beer, thank you."

"We don't have alcoholic beer here, it's a Krishna rule. We do have a German non-alcoholic beer if you like?"

I decided to give it a try and it was actually quite good. In fact, I like a lot of non-alcoholic beers and this one hit the spot. I felt a bit awkward about being alone in the restaurant. No one else seemed to be alone and it's not something I'd normally do.

The food was really good, but I kind of decided to eat and run. Before leaving the lady said to me, "Are you not staying for the movie?" I started to feel a bit creeped out by this point and politely declined. Then I noticed some Hari Krishna's apparently getting ready for something, I didn't stick around to find out.

It brought back memories from my childhood in Toronto. There were lots of Hari Krishna's down there and my dad used to make us laugh like crazy when he would get in a line with them and dance while singing, "Haaari, Hari, Hari, Kriiiishna." It used to really make us laugh.

Noticing that the walk back to my hotel didn't seem too much further than my last trip, I decided to try and see if I could find my way back instinctively. I enjoy getting lost sometimes, so I made sure not to pay too much attention to where I was headed on the way to Govindas.

For most of the day I was feeling a mix of loneliness and freedom. Freedom in the sense that I could do whatever I wanted without having to ask anyone. I didn't have to justify my silly ways of entertaining myself. Lonely, because I don't know a single person here. Normally when I travel it's poker related so I'll know at least a few people, but here, I'm all by myself. No friends, or no acquaintances at all. At least not yet, hopefully I'll meet some cool people tomorrow.

The experience made me think a lot. About how difficult it must be for "normal" people to make friends in a new town when they don't know anyone. The loneliness people must feel when they have no one to talk to.

So I kept walking, and walking. I ended up on Oxford St. and noticed a bar up ahead that seemed to be hopping. There was loud music and it seemed like the place was packed. As I walked towards the place, still questioning in my head if I had the courage to just walk in and have a beer on my own, I noticed that this bar was a bit different than any bar I'd seen.

It was on the corner of a very busy street with music blaring. Many people were sitting outside, and despite it being only 5pm or so the patrons seemed to be having a blast and were a bit tipsy. As I got closer still, I noticed something else that seemed a bit odd. There were only two women in the whole bar? Then I noticed some colorful clothing choices, cut off t-shirts, and lots of pink for sure. The guys in the bar seemed very "friendly" top each other. Was this the Australian way? People just hugging and laughing? Um, well, then it dawned on me, duh, it was a gay bar!

I just never expected a gay bar to be in a place like that. On a busy street, in the heart of downtown. As I walked past the bar I started to realize that I'd entered a different part of Sydney. Lots of dudes, and they looked more feminine than Daniel Noriega. I was on Gay Street I guess.

I kept walking and finally found Hyde Park which meant that I knew the rest of the way home. It started to get dark and the vibe at the park changed a little bit. It was a darker vibe with a couple of drunks on the benches, but nothing like I've seen on other cities. Even the bums looked a bit more dignified than bums in Las Vegas or Toronto. Classy bums, if there is such a thing.

By the time I got back to my hotel room I was exhausted. So now I sit in my room writing this blog with no plans at all for the evening. It's 8:30pm right now and I'm supposed to be down in the lobby at about 8:45am. I don't have much of anything to do until Thursday (Australia time) and I have no idea how I'm going to fill that time. I can read, write, and hang out in the hotel, but that just feels like such a waste. I want to experience the city a bit more, but it is a bit more challenging when there is no one there to share the experiences with.

On that note, time to log on to PokerStars and see what games are going...

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