Monday, May 18, 2009

Back from Australia

Down Under

I'm back from my 8 days in Australia, surely one of the world's greatest sporting destinations. My trip was more for pleasure though, so I won't go into detail of my time spent there on this blog, which is supposed to be about sports trips. But it was a great trip, saw lots of old friends, drank lots of good beer and wine, and spent a couple of wonderful do-nothing days on the beach in the Gold Coast. I did see two rugby games, one union and one league, and will post separately on my experiences there. I'll post a few pictures here though, just to give you a feeling of my trip.

Surfer's Paradise in the afternoon and evening

Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge from the Manly Ferry

Flying Jetstar

I do want to mention that I flew Jetstar from Tokyo to the Gold Coast and was duly impressed with their service. As a low-cost carrier, they don't offer free meals, instead you have the option to pay extra for two meals, about $30. If you don't prepay for the meal, you can still order on board, and selection and prices were reasonable. The quality of the food was also better than expected. They also had an entertainment system for rent for $9, which offered a good choice of recent movies, TV shows, and games. The planes were comfortable, staff was friendly, and the flights were on time. Perhaps their domestic service is less reliable, but for a cheap flight to Australia, I don't think you can beat Jetstar.

TV Sports in Australia

Recently I lamented the poor quality of televised sports in Japan. Spending a week in Australia only made me realize how bad it really is here. With 3 Fox Sports channels, you can watch dozens of rugby games live every week, cricket, Aussie Rules, English soccer, and even a few North American sports. The morning I arrived I turned on the TV to see Pittsburgh and Washington duelling it out in game 5 (live!); yesterday before I left I saw a few innings of the Mets in San Francisco, again live. Why, with 4 channels here, can't J Sports even come close to this level of live sports will always baffle me.

I'm a Jinx

Just before I left, I posted that the Vancouver Canucks were looking good for the finals. At the time I wrote that, the Canucks were up 2 games to 1 over Chicago, and leading game 4 1-0 with about 5 minutes to go. With Vezina Trophy candidate Roberto Luongo in net, it sure seemed like the 'Nucks were on to the semi-finals at least. About one minute after I posted that, though, Martin Havlat scored for Chicago, who went on to win in overtime. I wasn't worried though, and went off to Australia, figuring the Canucks would rebound at home. As you likely know, they did not, and were quickly eliminated in 6 games. The connection between my post and the Canucks collapse is clear; I apologize to other Canucks' fans for my jinxing them.

I'll post more on the NBA vs NHL playoffs separately, but that's all for now.



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