A few months ago, my mom and dad decided to take a trip to Australia for our yearly vacation. The reason why Australia and not some other place like (… err…) Scotland was unclear.

A week before we were scheduled to board our plane, my dad presented me with an early birthday present which he said might help to pass the time on the plane and while driving, and in a big box at his office. Inside the big box was another box. And inside that was another box. And so it went on for about 10 iterations, until I was presented with 2 boxes, one smaller than the other. Opening that box, I found…  An envelope. Inside that was bubble wrap, and then inside that was finally two of the gifts: Professor Layton and the Curious Village, and Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box. You can probably guess what was inside the other box.

A week after that, we finally arrived in Brisbane, Australia and ate a bacony cheeseburger. From then on we each had our separate schedules that we had to agree on. I wanted to go to science museums and movie studios, play the Dsi, and possibly go to the beach.

Mom’s schedule: WaterparkbeachbeachbeachBEACH!beachbeachBEACHbeachbeachbeach. (practically)

So, we looked around Brisbane, and found a beach, which Mom was prepared for. In the city. Because of this, I found that you can use air bubbles in long pants (which I always wear) to float. There was also a closed carnival and a Da Vinci exhibit which we had already seen in San Jose. We stayed for 2 days longer, meeting Mitchell Riley, and picking up a disposable phone from Optus, because At&t internet costs a LOT in Australia.

However, one thing went my way. Australia has lots and lots of puzzle stores!

We went down the coast, going to Surfer’s Paradise (a town) which makes the best California beach look like a mud pit, and Byron Bay, where we realized that EVERY Australian beach makes a Californian beach look like a mud pit. We got through the humongous dust storm, Dad saying “I think I played this level in Fallout 3”, and finally made it to Sydney.

Sydney is like San Francisco, except with less fog. Parking spaces were hard to find, and the coffee and book stores were numerous. It’s famous for being where they filmed The Matrix, possibly because it looks like a city, with clear skies, park-looking parks, and cars. When we were there, we saw a McDonald’s ad being filmed, and a callout for extras for a Dunkin Donuts ad. The reason why this place has not been labeled the new Hollywood is unclear. Sydney not only looks like a movie, it acts like a movie also. My Dsi had been without power for 3 days, so we picked up an Australian Dsi charger at GAME (the gamestore)— moments before a couple bought every single other one. Other differences of Sydney from San Francisco- Toy store: Mr.Toy’s Toyworld, Donut store: Donut King, Coffee store:Various, the best being Gloria Jean’s.

We drove back to Brisbane, caught the plane, which stopped at Sydney, where— like a movie — we caught the plane to the U.S. in the nick of time, and flew back.

I somehow, during that time, managed to completely finish Professor Layton and the Curious Village (every single puzzle), but not the Diabolical Box- due to a peg solitaire puzzle.

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