Second Time Around travel blog

Monumental scale

Remembering the dead from many wars

Public art

I did not know Australia's government is a constitutional monarchy. The constitution recognizes the Queen (or King) of the United Kingdom as sovereign. The Queen appoints a Governor General to represent the Crown. The Governor General rarely gets involved in any part of Australian government. Until the 1980s, the British Parliament had the legal power to change the Australian constitution.

In lieu of a House of Lords and a House of Commons, the Australians adopted the US model of a House of Representatives and a Senate.

All this and more from our gracious and informative guide in the Australian Parliament House, Canberra. For example, we were reminded of the fact that the Parliament House had been designed by an American.

Our guide in the War Memorial was as gracious and informative. Yes, he is one of the best in the place, we were told by his volunteer colleagues. The War Memorial is both monument and museum, and it is the best war museum I have ever experienced. The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier is a chapel-like space that I found to be extraordinarily moving.

After the War Memorial tour, Mo and I were sitting near the exit as I tried to figure out why Uber didn't work for me. Our guide happened by and asked where we were off to next. When we said the National Library, he told us it was on his way home and offered us a ride.

We gratefully accepted.

We had discovered the hard way that Canberra and the government grounds are too spacious and sprawling for efficient walking. Bus service is confusing and expensive. Uber and taxi service were options we didn't try.

So we walked until near exhaustion. Even after finding the free event shuttle from the Parliament grounds to downtown near our hotel, we were so worn out from two days of walking that a) we could not find the entry into a grocery store, b) I walked into Mo and nearly knocked her over, and c) after paying for our cookies with gold and silver coins and leaving the grocery store, I realized I had left behind a souvenir coin bag given to us by our Thai tour leader. Of course the bag was nowhere to be found.

Hopefully, I'll learn to keep track of things better. And to take more care when walking with Mo.

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