Posts Tagged With: Sydney

QVB and Legally Blonde

Today we are visiting Queen Victoria.  Well, not quite, for that we would have to travel back in time.  I’m visiting the Queen Victoria Building (QVB as it is fondly named) in CBD (Central Business District), Sydney.

It’s the building on the left.  It was built in 1898.  History in stone.  Queen Victoria Building, CBD, Sydney, Australia

And here she is presiding over her domain.

QVB, George Street, CBD, Sydney, Australia

She doesn’t seem jolly, does she?

QVB, Sydney, AustraliaAs soon as I walk in I know I’ll like the place.  Lovely tiles.

It’s an upscale mall.  Most well-known international and the best local designers are here.  I dare not enter any of the shops though. I am already having enough problems with the prices of regular things.  Don’t want to think how high the prices in these stores are.  Besides, I have a knack to pick out the most expensive item in any store I go into.  Sydney, Australia   Queen Victoria Building, Sydney, Australia

So I concentrate on the patterns and burst of colors as I go on the escalator.

QVB, Sydney, Australia

I’m getting dizzzzzyyy!

I have a weakness for colors and stained glass windows, and light coming through and patterns and architecture and history attached and all of them combined!  Stained Glass, Stairs, Color  Stairs, Color, Stained Glass   Stairs, Stained Glass, Color

Unfortunately I do not bring my good camera and capture these images on my small pocket one. I have a small purse and high heels on today for we are going to the theater to see Legally Blonde Theater Ticketsand maybe to the casino.

We drive to Darling Harbour, another busy, bustling shopping center that has a marina.  It is a harbor after all.    Sydney, Australia

The Star Casino is the only casino in Sydney right now and is where the Sydney Lyric Theater resides.   We are a bit early so we walk around.  Sydney, Australia

Lyric Sydney Theater, Sydney, AustraliaWe walk around for about an hour before going into the theater.    Though not exactly embraced very enthusiastically on Broadway it did have good reviews out of which I like Variety’s the best: “It may not be bulging with subtext or boast a score for the ages, but this pinksapoppin funhouse delivers exactly what it promises.”   Click here to read a review of the Sydney ensemble of Legally Blonde.  You come out smiling and that is good enough for me.

Of course, though I can’t hear the hypnotic song of the slot machines, I know they are there and they pull me in as mermaids seduce sailors with their songs.  Hopefully it will not have the same end result on me.  I am happy to report that although I did not win much I left the casino with a bit more money than I went in with.  I may go on a supermarket spree tomorrow with it!

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Categories: Australia, Darling Harbour, Queen Victoria Building, Sydney, Sydney Lyrical Theater, The Star Casino | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Walk, But Not on By… and not Laboring on Labour Day

Though I’m living in the Bronte/Waverly area and I can see the ocean from my window I have yet to go to Bronte Beach or finish the upper part of the Coastal Walk which goes from Bronte to Coogee.  I’m sort of in the mid-point.  So today we are off to walk it all!

It’s October 1 and Labour Day (labor for Americans), a national holiday in Australia.  Though a bit on the chilly side the sun is out and it is just the perfect weather to walk around. Being an Angelino has diminished my tolerance to cold and at the least breeze I am shivering!  Don’t know how I am going to handle the real cold in New Zealand.

Keep healthy, Sydney, Australia

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind!!

The street has these clever signs painted on the floor indicating what you will find ahead and the benefits of walking.  Wish I had taken the time to photograph them all, they were so amusing.  I took a photo of only one and it was far from being the best.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bronte Park, Sydney, AustraliaWe have to cross Bronte Park to get to the beach.

It’s literally like venturing into a forest.  Bronte Park, forest, Sydney, Australia

 

The green starts thinning out eventually and the most wonderful blue peeks through.  Trees, forest, Bronte Park, Sydney, Australia    Blue Sky, Bronte, Sydney, Australia

Up till now the park had little to no people but as we see the beach ahead of us so come the masses.  It’s a holiday, it’s beautiful outside and hence it is crowded.  And though I am not one for crowds there is a festive air that makes it all okay.     Bronte, Sydney, Australia

Bronte, Sydney, Australia

Bronte Beach, Sydney, AustraliaPeople don’t seem deterred by the Dangerous Currents sign.

 

 

 

 

After all, the surfers here all seem to really know their thing…  Bronte Beach, Sydney, Australia

Even when the seagulls just stare and wonder what the heck they are doing.

Coast Walk, Bronte, Sydney, Australia

Why do they surf?

The sea is rougher here and rockier making it more fun to photograph.  This photo doesn’t show me at my best but it does show well how I felt.

Happy 🙂

Bronte Beach, Sydney, Australia       Bronte Beach, Sydney, Australia

We climb heading out towards the Coastal Walk path and what I hope will be a bit away from the crowd.   Bronte, Coastal Walk, Sydney, Australia

I still am just smitten with the custom of having these tidal pools/swimming pools next to the beach.    Sydney, Australia

Ah this dilemma of mine.  Should I point my lens towards the rocks?  Coastal Walk Wall, Sydney, Australia

Sydney, Australia Or towards the water?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further up there’s Waverly Cemetery which has to have the best view ever!  If I were to be buried I want to be in this prime real estate spot.

Waverly, Sydney, Australia

This is really resting in Peace!

And if I were a lawn bowling enthusiastic I want to belong to this club on top of the hill with the most incredible view.  Bowling club, Sydney, Australia

Of course if I were a bowler I would be looking down as this one is, and not out.  Sydney, Australia

This chatty father and son duo were having so much fun!  Turns out they are from the bowling club close to home that was closed today so they all landed at this club to play. Sydney, Australia

Another beach.  Another swimming pool.  Sydney, Australia

This one was rockier.  Sydney, Australia

 

Some mosaic steps beckon us to take a short cut.  

 We continue on.  Sydney, Australia

 The sun is hiding and as we go we see a photo shoot.  She must be freezing!  

 We end up in Coogee.  Time to take the bus back ‘cause we are definitely walked out!

Categories: Bronte, Bronte Beach, Bronte Park, Coastal Walk, Coogee, Sydney, Waverly, Waverly Cemetery | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Seeing Red and so much more…

Starting today with last night won’t confuse you, right?  It seems perfectly normal to me since last night we were surprised with an offer from a friend of Dean’s of two tickets to see a play I knew nothing about:  Red by John Logan, an American playwright.   A play I should have been well aware of since it won six Tony awards in 2010.  It’s about an episode of a Russian/American painter’s life in the late 50’s: Mark Rothko.  Only two actors in it. Quite intense and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  We went into a pizza place Pizzeria Rio afterwards.  The owner is Greek and the pizza was wonderful.

I was not about to let the remainder of my 24-hour double-decker fun go to waste and since I realized Bondi Rd. (a street very close to home) was on the bus’ route, I headed over there.   Unfortunately, Citysightseeing Tours stops are not clearly marked –in fact, not marked at all- and I couldn’t find one, so I walked over to Bondi Beach where I knew there was one.  Though still on the breezy side it was a lovely day and off I went.

Yesterday I learned that “Bondi” or “Boondi” is an Aboriginal word meaning water or noise of water breaking over rocks.  The Australian Museum records show that Bondi means a place where a flight of nullas (nulla being an aboriginal hunting stick) took place.   Bondi Surf Bathers’ Life Saving Club is the world’s first surf lifesaving club.  Bondi Beach, Lifeguard, Sydney, Australia   After asking around I finally found the Tour Bus Stop but have to wait about 20 minutes before their first pick up at 10:00 am.  So I sit on a mosaic bench and stare at the beach.  Breeziness turns the temperature to cold.  Beach, Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia  When the bus arrives it takes me up a street I had not been to before. We are headed away from the beach. Dover Heights, Sydney, Australia

It gives me a different perspective and view of the city.   Dover Heights, Sydney, Australia

We go through an area called Dover Heights which I really liked.  Of course it’s one of the most expensive areas in the city.  Property values are above $2 million. It’s hard to avoid views of water no matter where you go.  Sydney, Australia

We go back towards the CBD (City Business District) and we pass Woolworths, Woolworth food store, Sydney, Australia a store that reminds me of the now defunct Woolworth’s of my youth though this one is essentially a food store.

That’s another bus like the one I’m on and The Sydney Tower Eye I went up on yesterday.  It’s a Westfield mall on the first five floors. Sydney Tower Eye, Westfield mall, Sydney, Australia I love that the buildings here have names.  This was one of my favorites.  Sydney, Australia  Town Hall, built in 1875 maintains its dignity while being restored by the scaffolding being cloaked with a veil imprinted with its original façade.  Town Hall, built 1875, Sydney, Australia This Coca-Cola sign is heritage protected.  How lucky for Coke that their ad is a historic landmark!  Heritage protected, landmark, Coke billboard  Coke billboard, Sydney, Australia   After going through city, the bus loop takes me back to where I started.  I have to get off since my 24 hours officially end at around 1:00 pm.

It’s quite chilly so I’m craving something warm. I stop at Chocolatería San Churro which caught my attention when I arrived.    Touring is serious business and considering the weather, I succumb to a cup of hot chocolate before I walk back home.

Back on the road with my legs as transportation I see graffiti that makes me smile…  Graffiti, Park Bench, Bondi, Sydney, Australia   And graffiti takes baffles me, this one is inside an apartment.  Graffiti, Bondi, Sydney, Australia

Though Sydney people are not exactly friendly and outgoing I love how courteous they are.  Something that is reflected even on their mailboxes…

No Junk Mail

Respectfully Decline…

They even give reasons for rejecting things.  This photo is out of focus but it’s kind of appropriate it is so.

No Junk Mail

Your Junk Mail Will Go Unread!

My artist side was fascinated by a whole window display that started off with an explanation of what art is.

Art, Storytelling

Art is About Life

The rest of the window display explained that through the months, a piece of a story would be added and illustrated through found and borrowed objects.  I spent a while reading the story and saddened that it also had a good-bye note saying that the storyteller/artist was asked to vacate.

Storytelling, Art

A story unfolds…

I’m getting hungry and start searching for a reasonable place to eat and find a fish place, The One That Got Away, (half fish market, half fast food restaurant) that has a whole instruction manual on how to order.

Instructions to Order at The One That Got Away

I’m not reading all this just to be able to order!

The One Who Got Away menuAs I order a guy asks me where I’m from and starts talking to me.  I am surprised by the fact that he is a local, they don’t normally approach you and initiate a conversation.  But he was charming.  We exchanged some travel stories, he told me about the big Footy (Australian Rules football) that was on and that he was headed out to the stadium.

Today would be a day of conversation.  When he left, I approached a couple that were talking in Spanish.  He was from Uruguay and she from Argentina.  They shared my same thoughts.  They were shocked at how expensive Australia was even when they knew it wouldn’t be cheap.  They had planned to stay about a month and a half but were returning in a few days after being here a month.   The lady on the left was also speaking Spanish to her mom as she fed her.  It was obvious that her mom had Parkinson’s. My mom had Parkinson’s and their interaction brought back so many memories.  I still miss her so very much.

The One Who Got Away, Sydney, Australia

The One That Got Away

I still have a ways to go and decide to explore a supermarket and get some things to snack on at home.  Found a brand that reminded me of home.  🙂

Latina!!

The city reminds me once again that even with the chill, it is Spring.   I go by a flower store with orchids, trees in full bloom and flowers at ground level.             Orange Flowers

As I get close to the apartment (flat for Aussies and Brits) the bowling club (lawn bowling for us) is in white.

This is how I picture lawn bowling.  So civilized.

Young Bowling Fan

 

The church a block from the apartment is usually closed.  Today, as I pass, it bids me to come in.     

Australia is a very laid back country.  Even the signs take a rest at times…   My turn now.

Categories: Australia, Bondi Beach, Bronte, Dover Heights, Kings Cross, Queen Victoria Building, Town Hall | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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

Bye, Bye Bondi

It’s Saturday, September 22.  Tonight we head over to Dean’s sister’s house in Peats Ridge.  So today I pack in the morning so that I can have the rest of the day to say good-bye to Bondi Beach.  It has truly been wonderful to be at a beach in an apartment where I got to know my neighbors and surroundings and live a bit as a local.

I was going to do the Coastal Walk once again but decide to stay close to home.  It is the weekend and the weather is still beautiful so the people are out and about the beach.

The grass along the beach is also packed with people enjoying the sun.  Perhaps these are the people who do not consider sand between the toes as enjoyable or romantic but still want to be at the beach. I can’t resist some of the graffiti walls and as I pass I photograph.  

I cross the street into Bondi and am fascinated by the mosaic benches.  No one seems to notice them or care.  No one is even sitting on them.  I just photograph them and do not listen to them beckoning for me to sit down since I have barely started my exploration today. 

  

I’m hungry and consider eating at one of the fish places on the beach but decide to go further into the town itself. I pass Gertrude and Alice  that seems to be a café but basically has books outside for sale.  I continue and then make a U-turn.  Has been a while since I’ve heard the name Gertrude.  I imagine very prim and proper women having tea around an inviting fireplace when I read it.  Need to investigate this place. People are having coffee and I smell food.  I go in and it is in fact a café and bookstore.  It’s cozy and I’m digging the vibe inside.

Once done I go back home where I will wait to be picked up and head to our next home: Peats Ridge which is about 45 minutes from town. After getting into the apartment and checking all is ready to move I go outside and as the sun goes down I bid Bondi Beach farewell.

Categories: Australia, Bondi Beach, Sydney | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Switching to Tourist Mode

Today, Friday, September 21, I am going to be a tourist!  First I do the usual: open the door and assess the weather.  It’s early still and brrrr… it’s a bit nippy.

Perhaps that is why the beach is still mostly unpopulated.

Bondi Park is practically deserted.

By the time Dean wakes up the breeze has let up a bit and it is not too cold.  We head out to the bus.   He’s bought me a Bus Pass that makes me feel like a local again.  Never mind that I don’t know where the bus stop is or what bus to take.   This outing will help me familiarize myself with the routes.  We stop at the Circular Quay (which I would have pronounced “kwa” with a long “a” and is actually pronounced “kee”) where the Sydney Opera House is.

The Harbor Bridge greets us.  

I had wanted to do the bridge climb tour where they take you on top of this beautiful bridge.  Was willing to pay the $223 until I saw how high up they go and how windy it could be.  Uh, no thank you!  Ah, but what a view they must get (one that I would not be able to see with my eyes shut!) 

Just in case the sight of this Sydney icon isn’t enough of a recognizable and welcome sight there is a big sign welcoming you to The Opera House.

Didn’t realize that the tiles form a pattern that makes it even more beautiful up close.  1,056,006 glossy white and matte cream tiles!

Across the harbor is Luna Park, an amusement park that immediately brought Coney Island in New York to mind. 

The light is changing and giving the Opera House a different hue.  It’s as impressive up close as it is from a distance.   

One photo of me just to prove I really was here and then we are off toward dinner.  On the way we will see the Opera House from another angle.  But first I glance at the Harbor (Harbour written in Aussie) Bridge once more as the sun goes down.  

People at happy hour don’t seem to give it a second glance while the birds seem to stop and stare.  

And then here, in all its glory, is the Sydney landmark from the other side.

Dinner was at an Italian restaurant, Zia Pina Pizzeria, in The Rocks, a historic area of Sydney’s city center.

We don’t roam much since we have to get back to the Bondi Pavilion to see I Want to Sleep With Tom Stoppard.    My first independent theater outing in Sydney.  I much enjoyed it.  At intermission there’s a large balcony (the theater is on the second floor) from where you can gaze at the beach.

We walk back home.  It’s gotten cold but I am getting to like the fresh breeze on my face and it makes a nice warm bed so much more inviting.

Categories: Australia, Bondi Beach, Bondi Park, Bondi Pavilion, Circular Quay, Luna Park, Sydney, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Opera House | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

My Rested Body Awakes

Last I left you I was going to bed with full intention to write…

But when I get under the covers, slightly tired as I am, the only thing that I could possibly accomplish is sleep.  4:30 pm and I am gone into a land of slumber.  So deeply am I asleep that I barely hear the loud knock on the door three hours later.   Tonight I will sleep well.  Besides, there is no better lullaby than the sound of crashing waves. And I did.  I wake Sunday morning, September 16, at 9:00 am completely refreshed and ready to go out and explore.  The day is miraculously mild and sunny.  What a treat it is to set off on foot toward the beach, camera in hand.  People are already out.  I forgot it’s Sunday.  No wonder the little park in front of the apartment has been so packed.

I walk down the steps onto to the beach and after opening the gate to the beach I am already snapping away.   

    This is a surfer’s paradise.

 Love how they made a little salt water kiddie pool next to the beach.  Don’t know if it is so in the rest of Sydney but the people here seem to be quite body conscious.  Women and men are thin and athletic.  On the beach there’s a lot of sunbathing and surfing going on. I walk along the beach and realize there is an “official” coastal walk/road filled with locals running, walking, chilling.  Populated as well by tourists.  I can hear so many languages spoken but –curiously so- no Spanish.  All sorts and types of people pass by but somehow hardly any look like me.  I am starting to feel like an actual minority.  Funny how in a land that speaks my language I am feeling a bit out-of-place.  Yet, as soon as I write this I realize I am so at ease in this beach town. I think it could turn out that I have been a beach bum at heart all along!

 

 

The views are really gorgeous. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The water is the most beautiful blue.   All shades of it.

The walk offers a lot of other type of views too…  some are quirky like these ants painted on a house container wall.     Some are imposing as these rocks along the way.   Some infuse you with total tranquility as this lonely bench and kite… Some sculptures as well, framed by the crashing waves. Ahhhh… what visual overload this walk has been.     I follow it up to Tamarama Beach and go a little further before turning around.       I stop on the way back and have a salad.  The place is not a fancy one; my grilled chicken salad is $18 AUD, nonetheless.  The exchange rate is $1 AUD =$1.01 USD, however I have done an exchange in a Foreign Exchange place and got only $81 AUD for my $100 USD.  Later I would learn that going into a bank they give you a better rate and charge only a nominal fee for it.

As I leave, before I cross the street, I hear it:  Spanish, albeit from Spain. I head out to the supermarket, which is a relatively small one, and buy enough for snacks for the week (fruit and yogurt) and dinner tonight.

I pass a Chocolatería San Churro. That caught my attention. It is manned by Asians and on the wall they state that while eating a churro “you indulge in an experience in one of the oldest chocolate cultures in Europe.”  I’ve been in Los Angeles so long that I have associated churros solely with Mexico, forgetting the late nights or early mornings (depending on how you see it) -while in Madrid, Spain- of dipping a churro in a chocolate so thick you could make it stand in it.  I resist and do not stop and have one, even when the sign above the door says bienvenida, making it a welcoming sign catering exclusively to the female gender.

I get home and one of the neighbors is outside and, after I smile and say hello he immediately starts talking to me.  Australians will not go out of their way to start a conversation but are innately friendly if you do.  He started talking about the area and how a small one-bedroom with a kitchenette, like the one I’m staying at would go for $700,000 and his, a two-bedroom for about a million plus.  So real estate prices are almost as high as in New York!  He, his girlfriend, and baby boy are English and moving to the Canary Islands in a few weeks to be closer to the grandparents.  He said that in the Canary Islands they could buy a house while here everything is pretty much out of their price range.  Fortunately they have an Internet business which they can run from anywhere in the world.

I cook a bit with the door wide open listening to the sounds of people packing up and leaving.  It is getting breezy and cold but the day has been truly perfect.

As I cut up some vegetables and find my bearings I marvel at the fact that I have been two days without an Internet connection.  I could have and should have stopped at the café close to home and sat there a while but was on the lazy side and didn’t.  I have one of those connection sticks I installed this morning but it didn’t work.  I miss Facebook and being able to use Skype, however, I am doing things that I probably would not be doing if I were online.  By tomorrow I’ll have it and am hoping that I won’t be whittling time in front of a computer when there is the whole of Sydney to discover.

Categories: Coastal Walk, Sydney, Tamarama Beach | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 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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