Spent a lazy morning in, gabbing away. Watched The Queen (simply delightful! Helen Mirren is uncanny!) and then waited for a friend of Mac's to show up who was going to accompany us to the Gold Coast. He never did turn up and it was past 3:00 pm when we finally hit the road, and just about sunset when we got there. Walked out a bit on a pier that stretched well out into the ocean, where the catch must obviously be good -- there were anglers every dozen yards it seemed -- and then dipped our toes in the freezing Pacific and then went before having a nice pizza dinner in Surfer's Paradise (which is almost in New South Wales), in a beach front joint.
Here's what my Frommer's guide says about the Gold Coast:
Love it or hate it, the Gold Coast is one of Australia's icons. Bronzed lifeguards, bikini-clad meter maids, tanned tourists draped with gold jewelry, high-rise apartment towers that cast long shadows over parts of the beach ... but the glitz, glitter, and the overdevelopent pale as soon as you hit the beach. The white sands stretch uninterrupted for 70km (43 miles), making up for the long strips of neon-lit motels and cheap souvenir shops. Since the 50s, Australians have flocked to this strip of coastline, and that hasn't changed. Today, they're lining up with tourists from around the world to get into the theme parks, but everyone can still find a quiet spot on the beach.According to Mac, the bulk of those "tourists from around the world" are Malay and Singaporean Chinese. And the high-rise buildings (they're taller than anything I've seen on the US East Coast -- apart from these high-rises, and the mountains to the west, this really could be Florida or even Myrtle Beach!) have so messed up the wind currents that not enough sand is deposited onto the beach, and has to be artifically shipped in from elsewhere! Oy! There's also three major theme parks here (including Disney, Sea World and Warner Bros.) and a host of minor ones. [Shudder] Not my thing. At all.
Surfer's Paradise shimmering up out of the water. Not the New Jerusalem by any means.
On the way back, I got to drive Mac's Honda Accord hatchback. Now I drive quite comfortably in India (well, naturally. I learned how to drive in the madness of the strets of Bombay after all), so driving on the left in of itself isn't an issue. However driving on the left in the West (ie. not with random Indian traffic and not crawling along at 20km/h avoiding cows and bicycles and pedestrians and buses all crowding the same narrow strip of road) does require a different mode of alertness. But, I think I managed the 100km drive back quite alright.
Oh yeah, speeding isn't the done thing here. A speed limit of 100km/h isn't a suggested minimum. It's actually the maximum. Few will go over: the penalties are quite draconian. If caught doing more than 5km/h over the limit, one apparently loses 3 points out of a total possible 12 off one's license, and also faces a stiff fine. And traffic cameras are everywhere (and not easy to spot as in DC!) ... I stayed well within the 100 or 110 km/h limits. (110 clicks is about 70mph.)
Finally, Day 2 of "Mastering Aussie English." Here's a list of names that I've seen so far (most are Brisbane suburbs). Try and guess how they are actually pronounced. It's nuts!
Indooroopilly[Having decimated the native populace, I guess the least the settlers could do was keep the original place names!]