Archive for the ‘Parliament Building’ Category

A City Without a Soul

Monday, June 6th, 2011
Our last morning in Canberra consisted of waking up, packing, and walking to the bus stop. While the city had been eerily quiet and empty the whole time we were there, it was especially spooky early on a Sunday morning. It felt like we were walking through one of those sci fi movies where there has been some massive apocalypse and we were the sole survivors.
It would be incorrect for me to express any sort of passion for Canberra, even if it were a passionate hatred. There is really just nothing in the city to be passionate about. It is a city that is devoid of life, character, and energy. In short, it has no soul. It is boring and yet extremely important at the same time. It is a perfectly-planned capital in the middle of nowhere. Its museums are highly interesting and of national significance and yet the whole place is boring, even ugly in places.  The city is so large and characterless that I spent much of my time there feeling as if I was on some kind of long layover in an extremely spacious international airport.

Julia Guillard, current prime minister of Australia, who Lindsay thankfully had no motivation to assassinate

Interestingly enough, Lindsay went to Canberra the weekend after we did, and also did a self guided tour around the Parliament House. At some point during her time there she got turned around and accidentally walked into the reception area for Julia Gillard’s office. (Julia Gillard is the current prime minister of Australia) Lindsay didn’t know where she was, but could sense that she was somewhere she was not supposed to be. Guillard’s secretary looked up from her desk, noticed Lindsay and asked if she was lost. Lindsay said she was, and the secretary mistaking her for an office intern assured her not to worry and that it happens to everyone. A nearby security guard, witnessing this interaction noticed that Lindsay did not have a security badge on and asked her if she was lost. She said that she was and he said that she must have gotten turned around because she was one door away from the Prime Minister’s office. Good thing Lindsay is not an international terrorist or else Australia could would be in search of a new Prime Minister about now. I am trying to imagine how this would have gone in the US. “O excuse me Mr. Obama, I just got lost and now I have eight snipers breathing down my neck with M-16s, could you please call them off? I just got a little turned around” Yeah, right. Poor Australia, they are so insignificant in international relations that they can’t even attract any decent international terrorists.
Justin snoozed most of the 3.5 hours back to Sydney while I gazed lazily out the window at the rural landscape slipping by. Less than 20 minutes into our journey we ran into a heavy fog that decreased visibility significantly so it really felt like we were coming into or out of some sort of odd twilight zone. Percy Deane, who was the Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department in 1928, once said, “The best view of Canberra is from the back of a departing train.” While Justin and I departed Canberra by bus, not train, we still felt quite inclined to agree.

It was a dull and dreary day in Sydney, and after getting back to my apt we spent much of the day lounging around. It was Justin’s last night and he had packing and laundry to do in preparation for his long trans-pacific flight home. The previous night Angela, Justin and I had gotten into a big discussion about Mexican food and the sad lack of it in Australia and it had made all of us crave it. While we had made some late night guacamole at Angela’s and chowed down before going to bed, Justin wanted to check out one of Glebe’s premiere mexican restaurants, Baja Cantina for his last meal in the southern hemisphere.

Baja Cantina, one of two superb Mexican restaurants on Glebe Point Rd

Being that it was his last night in Australia we agreed to go all out. I ordered a mojito and Justin got a margarita and then a few shots of tequila. For dinner Justin got fajitas and I got a taco grande, and as is typical with Mexican restaurants both our meals came with way too much food for us to finish in one sitting. We lingered over dinner, and then after we were finished, dawdled in leaving since it had begun pouring rain, but once the rain let up we decided to make a run for it.  We had almost made it back to my apartment before the rain started up again, but we ended up sprinting up the last 500 or so yards in the pouring rain.

So tasty

The rest of the evening was spent packing and trying not to focus on the fact that the next day thousands of miles of distance and an ocean would be put between us.