Now that the Olympics are over it's time to say farewell. I have been so fortunate to be able to cover the Sydney Olympics, I only hope I have been able to share some of that excitement with you.
It is so exciting to see athletes trying to be their best, whether they have a chance at a medal or not. They do many things to inspire us all. The Sydney Olympics have been full of those stories, but the story of Sydney and Australia is just as fascinating. The people here have done a fantastic job of organizing and putting on the Games. Everyone will leave here with a good feeling about Australia.
There are a few last things I wanted to tell you about Australia before my adventure ends:
* Water does go down the drain in the opposite direction. I am as mystified by this as I am by the International Date Line.
* It's obvious the Puritans didn't land here when they went to the New World. Attitudes about drinking, gambling, sex and public behavior are much more relaxed than in the United States. You can drink at 18, there are pokies (slot machines) everywhere and prostitution is legal and regulated. When local reporters wrote about rumors of wild goings-on at the athletes village, the honorary mayor of the village seemed unconcerned, saying he had seen no evidence of "open bonkage."
* The Aussie smiles almost never faded. Things got a little tense now and then but they still seem happy to see us even after weeks of people asking them to "speak Australian for me."
* I almost never saw bratty children or parents who got mad at their ankle biters. Mum and Da always seemed to find a common ground with the kids that left everyone happy.
Now it's time for me to take the great Australian walkabout.
See ya later,