Posts Tagged With: New Zealand

Double Decker Fun and in London I Am Not

The washer dryer for our floor is very conveniently located next to the apartment and since I have woken up early I decide to be domestic and do a load of laundry.  I go out in my pajamas for I intend to climb back into bed and write my blog.  And I do so, however I am not alone.  Sox decides that I am an okay human to cuddle up to and as I go into bed he jumps up and snuggles.  I try to put my computer somewhere on my lap but Sox is quite big and heavy and is already asleep.  And I wouldn’t want to disturb him.  cat  cat shoe repairI have other errands to run once my laundry is done and, fortunately, Sox decides he will continue his nap under the sun so I am free to go to the shoe repair place.  I have brought my Born boots that served me so well in the fall when I went to Paris and I hope that they will keep my feet warm and dry in the cold that we will encounter in New Zealand.  But the heels are worn and I want to have them in tip-top shape for the trip.   Once I hand them in I’m off to the bus (I’m so glad to have my bus pass.  Bus Pass This is a pre-pay only bus. Bus stop) that will take me to Circular Quay which is where I saw a stop for the City Sightseeing Hop on-Hop offbus that I am taking today.

The tourist bus stop is in front of the Customs House (which is a library now, as you must know by now).  The place is not very busy today and a Silver Gull (the most common of gulls around here) is the one who greets me.  Customs House, Sydney, Australia  Silver Sea Gull

  Today I am focused on reflections and the juxtaposition of old and new construction.  Sydney has a lot of that to offer.  Reflections, Old and New, BuildingsBuildings, Old vs. New, Sydney, Australia    But I am visually digressing.  I must get my tourist mode on and jump on the Sydney Sightseeing double-decker bus to get a lay of the land and get an idea of what areas I would want to revisit.  The bus is $40 for 24 hours.  It’s a bit breezy today but I am just taking the plunge.  Here we go…  City Sightseeing bus, double decker bus We pass the area of Kings Cross that I would equate a bit to 42nd St. in New York when it was filled with adult entertainment both in the buildings as on the streets.  Love Machine Woolloomooloo with its converted warehouses (into apartments –flats for the Aussies- on the upper floors and hip restaurants on the ground floor) also offers a really nice view of the city.  May be a place I would like to revisit.  Woolloomooloo, Sydney, Australia  Woolloomooloo, Sydney, Australia

Harry’s Café de Wheels is famous for its meat pies which is a staple for Australians.   Harry's Meat Pies, Woolloomooloo, Sydney, Australia Terrace Houses, terraced housing, sydney, AustraliaTerrace houses are my new obsession.  They were built in the 1800’s and are heritage protected so, at least on the outside, they are exactly as they were back then.  They are everywhere and my camera likes them just as much as I do so please bear with me for I will bring them to you a lot.    Terrace Houses, Terraced housing, Sydney, Australia

Mary’s Cathedral will definitely also bring me in at some point. St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, Australia

 The new always follows and this is the RTA (Road and Transportation Authority) headquarters building.  

Back to the old.  Central Station’s (train terminal) clock.  Second to the Customs House it is a very common meeting point.  Central Station Clock, Sydney, AustraliaCentral Station, Sydney, Australia

Onward to Darling Harbour where the only casino in Sydney is.  It is also a huge shopping center.  Bustling.

    

Still liking the new/old overlapping.       And still enjoying looking at now familiar fixtures from a not so common perspective.  Here is the Harbour Bridge from below. And the top of old buildings at eye level.   So far this has been a “hop on and just don’t get off” bus for me but as soon as I spot the Sydney Tower Eye I know I’m hopping off and getting on that elevator to the top.   Bus Driver, please stop!  He did.  I buy a ticket for the Tower at $25 so I won’t have to wait on line and though it would later turn out that there was no line, I did save $1 by buying it on the bus.  As expensive as Sydney is, every little bit counts!  Just in case I am not going to get dizzy enough up on top, the stairs to get to the fourth floor from where the elevator departs, is dizzying enough! There is a Skywalk where you actually walk outside but it’s very windy, you have to change into what looks a skydiving outfit, I’m scared of heights, I can’t take my camera and it costs $40 so I am content to just look outside through the windows.  The photos speak for themselves so I’ll shush up now and let you enjoy.  

 

        

  It’s getting late      so I must take the ride down  (2 ½ min)     I take the double-decker to a few blocks from home.  Turns out I could have taken it there all along.  Ay!

I delight in the snapshots of daily entertainment the bowling club provides me as I walk home.       I look up and love what I see.   And once home am happy that it is not dark enough and I can still grab a quick view of the water from my window.    Feeling almost as if I’m a part of it all here.        The local newspaper, The Australian

Categories: Australia, Central Station, Circular Quay, Customs House, Kings Cross, Ramblings, Sydney, Sydney Harbor, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Woolloomooloo | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

On the Move

Today, 27th of September, we have another change of address.  We are subletting an apartment in Bronte.  It is a close walk to the beach, really on the border of Waverly and Bronte.

Espresso, Kitchen

Getting My Caffeine Fix!

The owner is an American from Boston.  He is at the apartment when we arrive which was good since he showed me how to use his espresso machine.  Yay!!!!  I won’t have to go in search of a café for my morning caffeine fix.  There it is… in the far corner.

Studio in Bronte

Home till we go to New Zealand

I don’t hear a Bostonian accent and it turns out he has been here for 15 years.  However he has American mayo, mustard and hot sauce in the fridge so he still hangs on to some American customs.  Mayo here is nauseatingly sweet, as is the tartar sauce. I am liking this place already.  The studio is nice and airy with pretty much everything that you could need.

Bill is going to Cambodia and I am immediately jealous.  But what am I saying?  I was there and I am now in Australia all in one year.  And New Zealand is next.  I think how fortunate I have been.  This year has been truly chockfull of incredible experiences.

AlleywayWe also have a cat.  Though he doesn’t technically belong to the apartment since it’s Bill’s girlfriend’s cat who lives two apartments down the hall.  But he visits… a lot.

Cat

Meet Sox

And fancies himself as the local “Don”

Cat

Overseeing His Territory

You can’t see it in this photo but we can see the ocean from here.  

The day is spent unpacking and making myself at home and when I wake up the next day I am ready to become Lidia The Explorer once more!  I am dropped off not far from the Circular Quay where the impressive Sydney Opera is.  I choose to come back to this area since I am familiar with it.  Tomorrow I will be more adventurous.   Besides, I needed a place to meet someone who I have been emailing with, Dianne.  I belong to a travel group on-line called The Travelzine.  We have GTG (get-together) with local people from the group when someone visits.  It is really a lovely set of people.

Already I am enjoying the walk.  I like to walk leisurely and capture familiar scenes from unfamiliar viewpoints.

Train Tracks

Train Tracks from Above

It is around 10 am and the city looks almost deserted.  This is a city that sometimes makes you wonder if it really is inhabited.

Street

I am spotting a yacht I wouldn’t mind being on.

Yacht

I forgo the water and head inland where I will meet with my Travelzine friends.  The easiest and most recognizable place is the Customs House which is a library now.  Makes me smile that the street has a reminder as to where to look before you cross.  My mind adds “You, clueless visitor, do not cross before looking both ways or else you will be run over.”

But it would  be hard to be run over here ‘cause drivers are -as a rule- super courteous towards pedestrians.

There’s a bird roaming around the street.  Nobody pays any head to it.  I figure this is Aussie’s equivalent of pigeons.  I’ll have to find out what they call it.   The photo isn’t a good one –the darn thing would not pose- but I think I will easily be able to capture a good one on other walks.    Sydney is starting to bloom.  Keep forgetting that it’s spring.  This is a reminder for me.  Flowers

I get to the Customs House. A local meeting point and a building you will see in more of my posts.  Customs House, Sydney, Australia

Though I was going to avoid the harbor, it beckons and after I find my new friends Dianne and Murray we head to the water for a drink and a chat.  After a few hours I say good-bye and head out to do some more exploring.

These stairs try to guide me back up to land.  Stairs  But I do not climb them and am rewarded with the image of this duck, calmly swimming in the harbor among ferries, yachts, and others.    Duck

I am feeling a bit tired.  The bus pass comes out.  Bus PassYou can buy these bus passes in most newspaper stands.  Handy to have since some buses are “pre-paid only”.

Once back in my neighborhood I am reminded by this sign that though we speak the same language I may actually need (considering the accent and the slang) a dictionary to translate some things.

Do Not Queue

Translation: Do Not Block the Intersection!

 Tomorrow I am taking a sightseeing double-decker bus and expanding my horizon.  

Categories: Australia, Bronte, Customs House, Sydney Harbor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Not Friday the 13th…

It’s Thursday, September 13, 2012.  My friend is taking me to the airport.  I am thinking how fortunate that it isn’t a Friday the 13th or Tuesday the 13th.   The first is an unlucky day in my American culture, the other one is unlucky in my Latino culture.  I’m not superstitious but…  It occurs to me that the other thirteens on other days of the week must be unlucky in other parts of the world but for now I am giving thanks that it is neither Friday or Tuesday.   But is it really Thursday?  Yes, it is… just making sure that my travel day has actually arrived. I tend to be a bit compulsively insecure on my departure date.

As she talks to me about exchange rates and how to benefit from them, my mind wanders for I cannot seem to be able to grasp the concept she is so patiently explaining.  I could perhaps grasp it on a normal day but today all I can manage is to check my passport and my permanent resident card for the third time in a row. I say out loud –though not meaning to- that maybe I shouldn’t go.  But I’ve already paid my for my round trip, nonrefundable Qantas flight ($1,505.64), plus $20 for my seat assignment and for the Australian visa ($115) and for the New Zealand visa ($140), all for a grand total of $1780.64 which I would lose, so I think it best to go ahead.  She, with her humor puts me at ease once more.  Reality is that for the first time I am a bit hesitant.  So weird that being a long time traveler, I am concerned about going to Australia.  They speak English (well at least some sort of it) and even if I can’t understand the accent at times there is nothing a “What?” or “Could you repeat that?” can’t fix.  Perhaps it’s the length of this trip.  It will be even longer than my Asia trip.  Seven weeks of suspending my life-as-I-know-it and forming part of life there.  Is it the flight itself?  14 and ½ hours is only a bit more than my flight from Hong Kong.  Is it the weather?  I don’t like the cold and it will not be that warm yet.  Who knows?  But I do want to go.

As we park in front of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at the Los Angeles airport (LAX), we hug and I feel the warmth of true friendship.  “Contact me when you get there, okay?”  I like to have someone who cares and wants to be assured of the fact that I’m safe. Oh gosh… Internet.  I don’t think I’ll have it where I’m staying so the worrier –one that I thought was pretty much defunct- starts wondering how I will manage without it.  But as I walk into the terminal my wondering and hang-ups disappear.  It is here, at the beginning of a trip, in an airport, where I go into another mode.  I am happy here.  I am confident, assertive, in control.  I am now hearing in my head Helen Reddy singing “I am woman, hear me roar!” How appropriate that she is Australian born!

I check in and watch as the Qantas rep rips off about 3 of my tags from my Southeast Asia trip.  I see them go remembering what a wonderful, life-changing trip that was –forgive the cliché.   Two of the tags  are labeled Business (it was my suitcase that was labeled as such since, unfortunately, I had traveled coach).  The girl asks me about it.  I don’t want to explain but do tell her that unless she intends to upgrade me I am not flying business this time.  Oh well, it didn’t work.  No upgrade for me.  Not even remotely so; worth a try, however.  I am handed the economy boarding-pass and sent on my way.  At the gate the Ecuadorian that checks boarding passes says to me “Must be a mistake. You have an economy boarding-pass when you seem to be a first-class person.”  I’m sure he says it to all, but he made me smile.

I go to the cantina and have, of all things, a hot dog and do what I usually do, establish conversations with total strangers.  An impeccably dressed and stylish couple sits at the table next to me.   The man lovingly runs his fingers through his wife’s hair.  Well, it could actually be his lover and not his wife.  The place is packed so a man in a stocking-like wrap around his head asks if he can sit with them.  What a table of opposites.  They start talking and it turns out that he is headed to Auckland, New Zealand where he lives; they are headed to Fiji for two weeks.  I’m going to New Zealand as well as Australia and I’ve always wanted to go Fiji so I interject.  Turns out, the couple has been together for 25 years.  From North Carolina. High-school sweethearts.  And he still runs his fingers through her hair in public?  I want that! The other guy is traveling with his sister.  He tells me to prepare for very cold weather in New Zealand.  The couple tells me it’s been a dream of theirs for years to visit Fiji.  We all talk about Southeast Asia, the Islands, New Zealand and before we know it an hour has passed.   I go to my gate.

All doubts have left my mind.  It is Sydney where I want and need to be right now.

I go to the window seat I have been assigned after consulting with www.seatguru.com (a site that gives you seat recommendation on the aircraft you are flying) and start hoping that no one sits beside me, knowing that as tired as I am, the window and I will become one no matter what.  Don’t think there is much that can keep me awake until I feel a kick, and another, and another.  The child in back of me is sitting on a booster seat, which shortens the space between him and me.  I debate whether to say something or not.  Now, not having someone beside me is the least of my concerns.  So I turn and in the best of ways tell the parents that I know it’s hard to travel with a small child but could they possibly see to it to keep the kicking to a minimum?  To my surprise they are more than accommodating and understanding.  And now a woman is sitting in the aisle seat but no one is in the middle seat.  The doors close and we look at each other and go “Yes!”   The whole plane is packed to the max.  We are the only ones with an empty seat and my row partner can’t be more pleasant.  Ah, it’s going to be a good night.  Anyone hearing The Black Eyed Peas “I Gotta A Feeling”?

Nine hours later I awake.  The flight has been the best one yet.  Qantas crew has not been the most solicitous or charming –hope that is not indicative of the population- but they are definitely efficient.  Some turbulence at the beginning caused by a plane ahead of us -according to the co-pilot- and smooth from then on. The five hours that are left are interspersed with mini-chats with my row companion and listening to Aussie music and discovering that some singers that I actually have on my iPod (like Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu)  are Australians.

As we approach landing my heart starts beating faster.  No trepidation left, just excitement for a new adventure. I go through immigration and customs and frankly they are the friendliest of any of the countries I’ve been to (and there have been many).   For some reason going through immigration always causes me some anxiety.  And that’s without anything that should concern them or me.  So, thank you Australia for welcoming me so kindly.   You will be my home and home base for almost two months so I love that we start off in such good terms.

I left on a Thursday and today is Saturday, September 15.  I have lost a day that will take me almost two months to recuperate.  And I feel no sadness for it.  🙂

I enter the “other side” the place where I will reunite with someone dear to my heart and… there is no one there.  It becomes clear to me that I have changed dramatically through the years.  I am not troubled or annoyed or even worried.  As the minutes go by I chat with a couple that says there was a bad traffic jam as they headed for the airport and they offer to look after my bags as I get my coffee. I sit, open my Mac and was going to send a message, then look for a hotel if necessary but crisis averted as I see him arrive.  I am home for now.

Nothing seems foreign really.  The climate is as Los Angeles.  It’s sunny tending to be on the warm side.  Perfect weather.  Then I see the dark clouds and it starts raining for a little while.  Then the sun is once again out and it is beautiful and warm.  I am staying in Bondi Beach.  As we go through the corridor to the apartment, the beach lies ahead.  A park is right in front.   I am reminded in some way of Venice Beach in California.    It all seems so relaxed and laid back.  He goes to work and I am left to go explore.  I am wide-awake so choose to unpack.   I open the door and the beach feeling surrounds me.  The park is becoming crowded.  People sunbathing, some are alone, some with kids, some with friends and/or lovers.  The sounds of laughter, conversation, and even different languages pour into the room and, for some reason it comforts me.    I start getting tired.  3:30 pm here.  Since I don’t have Internet and my brain is a little fuzzy I can’t and don’t want to figure out what time it is in Los Angeles.  But I’m fading fast.  I take a shower to wake up, determined to stay up and suffer from no jetlag.  It has the opposite effect.  That bed is looking goooood…  No!  So I get dressed and open the door to head out to the café where I can get some caffeine and some Facebook time.  The park is now packed but it’s gotten really much colder.  So I take a step back, get undressed and crawl under the covers and start writing.  That ought to keep me awake, right?

Categories: Australia, Bondi Beach, Ramblings, Sydney | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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