Archive for the ‘Bondi Junction’ Category

On the Beach & Inside the Opera House

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

There has never been a Lapointe family vacation that did not involve a beach or large body of water in some way. Even though it is winter in Australia right now, Mom was determined to not let this stop her from getting to the beach while in Sydney.  Her one request for our last full day by ourselves was that we go to a beach so she could put her feet in the Pacific Ocean. So after getting up this morning and spending a few minutes at USyd using the Internet to skype, we caught the bus to Central Station and then the train to Bondi Junction, and then another bus to Bondi Beach. Once there we had a light lunch and a pastry at my favorite café in Bondi- The Gelato Café. Unlike last week when I did the cliff walk with Kaela and her mother, today was a beautiful bright warm sunny day, and the beach was buzzing with surfers and families enjoying the weather.

Mom puts her feet in the Pacific Ocean at Bondi

Graffiti art at Bondi Beach

Surfer standing on his head for reasons unknown

A beautiful day at Bondi

So many surfers

Local wildlife

After spending a few minutes on the sand we started the cliff walk which goes is a roughly 5 km walk, but we only did the first leg of it which ends at Bronte Beach. We got off a Bronte and then took the bus back to the train station where we caught the train to Circular Quay.

On the cliff walk

We walked from Bondi to Bronte beach- thats Bronte in the background

While I have taken many people to see the Opera House when they have come to visit me this semester and I have walked around the exterior many times, I had not taken the official Opera House tour, but I definitely wanted to. Mom and I had attempted to do this on Monday but most of the performance spaces had been closed then do to rehearsals taking place, so we had agreed to revisit on Wednesday. So upon arriving in circular quay we went straight to the tour center and purchased tickets for the 4:00pm guided one-hour tour.

After meeting our tour guide, Daniel, everyone in our tour group of about thirty was issued a head set, and the tour guide had a microphone that he spoke through which we could hear in our headsets. Mom and I both remarked on what a brilliant way to conduct a tour this was since the guide never had to shout and you could always hear him no matter how close to him you were. One of the rules for the tour is that you were not allowed to take pictures inside of any of the performance spaces. This is because many of them have sets built inside of them that are under copyright, and the stage hands and musicians that work inside these spaces have signed privacy contracts that do not allow them to be photographed while they are working. Therefore, all my pictures are of the exterior hallways and lobby spaces of the opera house.

The first space we were taken into was the smallest one, which is a square theatre that has seating all the way around and chairs that can be brought out to fill the floor, or the floor can be left empty. This space can be used for intimate concerts, children’s shows, or any theatre performances that are done in the round. The second space we went through was the concert hall, which is acoustically designed so that no microphones ever have to be used and the sound evenly distributes throughout the entire room. The opera hall is similarly designed, so that the performers never have to use microphones, and a person sitting in the front row will receive the same quality of sound as a person sitting in the back row. In total the Opera House consists of seven spaces:

The Concert Hall, with 2,679 seats, is the home of the Sydney Symphony and used by a large number of other concert presenters. It contains the grand organ, the largest mechanical tracker action organ in the world, with over 10,000 pipes.

The Opera Theatre, a proscenium theatre  with 1,507 seats, is the Sydney home of Opera Australia and The Australian Ballet.

The Drama Theatre, a proscenium theatre with 544 seats, is used by the Sydney Theatre Company and other dance and theatrical presenters.

The Playhouse, an end-stage theatre with 398 seats.

The Studio, a flexible space with a maximum capacity of 400 people, depending on configuration.

The Utzon Room, a small multi-purpose venue, seating up to 210.

The Forecourt, a flexible open-air venue with a wide range of configuration options, including the possibility of utilising the Monumental Steps as audience seating, used for a range of community events and major outdoor performances. The Forecourt will be closed to visitors and performances 2011–2014 to construct a new entrance tunnel to a rebuilt loading dock for the Opera Theatre.

When the city of Sydney first decided to put an opera house on Bennelong Point, there was a contest held for architects everywhere to see who would get to design it. Hundreds of designs were submitted and discarded by the selection committee, but it was an American judge who arrived late to the judging process who asked to see the discarded designs that selected the design by Jorn Utzon, a Swedish architect, which had been placed in the discard pile initially but ended up being the winning design. The initial drawings done by Utzon were very crude and were more sketches than blue prints. He had no idea how he was going to construct the sails of the opera hose, and so work commenced on the base while Utzon and a team of mathematicians and architects worked on how they were to build the rest. This caused significant delays in the building process as the technology to be able to construct the building had to be invented.

The design work on the shells involved one of the earliest uses of computers in structural analysis, in order to understand the complex forces to which the shells would be subjected. In mid-1961, the design team found a solution to the problem: the shells all being created as sections from a sphere. This solution allows arches of varying length to be cast in a common mould, and a number of arch segments of common length to be placed adjacent to one another, to form a spherical section.

The tile pattern on the outside of the shells is the design it is because Utzon saw the same pattern on a woman’s bathing suit one day and he was quoted as saying ” I liked the way it flattered her curves” and hoped that the same pattern would flatter the curves of his design. The tiles themselves were triple glossed ceramic tiles so they would shine in the sun, but would not have reflective properties. Also- due to the triple glossing, even if they get dirty any amount of rain water rinses them off so they never need to be cleaned.

In the middle of construction on the project the governor of Sydney changed, and the new governor was not as patient or forgiving of Utzon and his expensive and time consuming project as the previous one had been. Tensions arose and got so bad that Utzon abandoned the project, returned to Sweden and a new group of architects were brought in to finish it. Utzon never returned to Sydney to see his completed masterpiece, although he was re-commissioned by the opera house board in 1993 to refurbish one of the interior spaces and draw up plans for several of the opera house spaces for the future. He died a decorated and famous architect, and now his son works with the opera house board to continue his fathers work and the refurbishing and updating of many of the interior spaces.

Tile detail

Inside the opera house- The famous opera singer Liberace hated this carpet and refused to have his picture taken in this area according to our tour guide

Harbor views from inside the Opera House

More internal opera house views

This glass was made in France, and it is special glass that expands and contracts with cold and heat. It is attached to the beams on elbow joints to allow for this movement. The opera house is called a "living sculpture" and not a building by its architect Jorn Utzon

The original cost estimate given in 1957 when work began on the Opera House was $7 million. The original completion date set by the government was 26 January 1963 . The project was not completed until 1973, ten years late, and it ended up costing $120 million, so it went over-budget by more than fourteen times.

The worst place to be in bad weather as the wind gets tunneled through here, and since the building has no rain gutters all the rain slides off and into this space.

on the inside

After finishing our tour the sun was setting, so mom and I found a bus back to Glebe. On our way back to our hostel we stopped and got some Thai food to go, and then did laundry at the hostel while we ate. When we wake up in the morning we will check out of our hostel and take a bus downtown to check into the Menzies Hotel near Circular Quay, where Dad and Julie will meet us assuming they made both their flights. So as of tomorrow all of the Lapointes will be in Sydney (hopefully). Here’s Hoping!

I never get tired of this view

Back to Broadway

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Knitted street art

Since living by myself I had been feeling a little lonely, so I decided to venture back to Glebe for the day. I also needed to drop off one of my bags at the hostel that mom and I will be staying at, which was also in Glebe, so after a leisurely morning I took the train from Bondi Junction to Central Station, and then took a bus to the hostel where we had a reservation. Once I had put my bag into storage I was facing a full day with nothing else to do. I thought about taking in another movie, but there wasn’t much else I was interested in seeing, and at $15 a pop for a movie ticket I like to be sure I want to see something.

Since it was a warm 70 degree winter day and I had worked up quite a sweat hauling my suitcase around I decided to pop into the Broadway Shopping Center to grab a fruit smoothie to cool down. I hadn’t been in the Broadway center in a few weeks, and even when I had been in there most of the time I had by passed almost everything in there to get to the grocery store. So this time around, with smoothie in hand I took my sweet time. I had remembered Kaela saying that there was a pet store somewhere in the mall, and where there are pet stores there are usually puppies so I set our with that vague goal in mind.

I meandered around three floors before finding the pet store in the corner of the third floor. I did indeed find puppies, and I was not disappointed by their cuteness. With a smoothie in hand and puppies in view, my mood lifted significantly.

puppies- instant mood lifter

Cuteness is spilling out everywhere

Furry little balls of adorable

Shameless marketing ploy, I used this network while I was in the mall, and it wasn't all that. Just goes to show you that things in thongs tend to be worthless.

After a little more wandering I found myself in a book store, one of my favorite places in any mall. This one was particularly large, and as I browsed I found no shortage of things I wanted to read and own.

Anyone who is around to be looking at this book clearly survived 2009 just fine, which might be why its been marked down to $2.

I browsed through the humor and travel sections, my two favorites, and ended up leafing through this little gem:

I learned that 98% of white people are thoroughly predictable

Some memorable exerts from Christian Lander on what white people like:

TRAVEL

“White person travel can be broken into two categories- First World and Third World. First World is Europe and Japan, and man, this travel is not only beloved but absolutely essential in the development of a white person. Every white person takes at least one trip to Europe between the ages of 19 and 29. During this time they are likely to wear a backpack, stay at a hostel, meet someone from Ireland/Sweeden/Italy with whom they have a memorable experience, get drunk, see some old churches, and ride a train. What’s amazing is that all white people have pretty much the same experience, but all of them believe theirs to be the first of its kind, so much so that they return to North America with ideas of writing novels and screenplays about it. Upon returning home, they will also find an affinity for a particular beer or liquor from a country they visited. They use this as an excuse to mention their travels when at a bar. “Oh, I’ll have a Czechznlishiyush Pisner. You see, that was my favorite beer when I was traveling through Slovenia and the Czech Republic.” The second type of white person travel is Third World. This is when they venture to THailand, Africa, or South America. Some do it so that they can one-up the white people who only go to Europe. As with Europe, white people like to believe that they are the first white people to make this trip. As such, they should be recognized as special and important individuals. That’s right, by going to a country, riding around on a bus or train, staying at a hotel or hostel, and eating, they are doing something important for the world. If you are someone who lives in a country that white people liked to visit, there are some things you can do for personal gain, the best of which is to make them feel fantastic by saying how you’ve never seen a white person before, and that you are amazed by their ipod- “a device that plays that many songs? Impossible!” They might give it to you, then you can sell it for profit. Repeat as necessary.”

STUDY ABROAD

“In addition to accumulating sexual partners, binge drinking, drug use, and learning, white people consider studying abroad to be one of the most important parts of a well-rounded college education. Study abroad allows people to leave their current educational institution and spend a semester or a year in Europe or Australia. Though study abroad is offered to other places, these are the overwhelming favorites. By attending school in another country, white people are technically living in another country. This is important, as it gives them the opportunity to inert that fact into any sentence they please. “When I used to live in {insert country}, I would always ride the train to school. The people I’d see were inspiring.” If you need to make up your own study-abroad experience they all pretty much work the same way. You arrived in Australia not knowing anybody, you went out ot the bar the first night and made a lot of friends, you had a short relationship with someone from a foriegn country, you didn’t learn anything, and you acquired a taste for something (local food, beer, fruit). This latter point is important because you will need to be able to tell everyone how it is regrettably unavailable back home. It is also important that you understand the study abroad ranking system. Europe/Australia form the base level, then Asia, then South America, and finally the trump card, studying abroad in Tibet. Then there is the conversation killer of studying abroad- Africa. If you studied in Africa, it is usually a good idea to keep it quiet: it will remind white people that they were too scared to go and they will feel bad. Use this only in emergencies.”

HIGH SCHOOL ENGLISH TEACHERS

“Though white parents do a good job of introducing their children to culture, literature, and creative writing, they can only take them so far before the inevitable rebellion sets in at 12 or 13. At this point, the parents must hand off their child to a high school English teacher, who is responsible for educating the child in literature, art, creative writing, and New York City. Many white people will have up to four different high school English teachers during high school, so how do they choose the “one”? While you would think that this is a complicated procedure requiring the forging of a deep bond, ungraded poetry, and the lending of extracurricular books, it really isn’t so complicated. The way that a white person identifies the “chosen one” is dependent entirely on who guides them through The Catcher and the Rye. Simple as that. The high school English teacher is instrumental in leading white people toward arts degrees and eventually careers in law, nonprofit, and media, or as high school English teachers. The latter course represents the “white circle of life.” The importance of high school English teachers goes far beyond everyday life. They have inspired such classic films as Freedom Writers, Dangerous Minds, and Dead Poets Society. In fact, white people are so convinced that teaching high school English can make a difference that the U.S. government has created “Teach for America” to accommodate the overwhelming demand from white people to teach underprivileged children about the importance of Faulkner. But how is this information of any use in day-to-day dealing with white people? Its value is twofold. First, white people who are unhappy with their jobs will often say they wish to go to graduate school or to teach high school English. So whenever a white person is complaining to you about their job, giving them the advice to become a high school English teacher is always welcomed and appreciated.”

The whole section on study abroad I found to be shockingly accurate, and even though my favorite english teacher is the one that got me through Catcher in the Rye, that isn’t why I like her. In fact, I never thougt Catcher in the Rye was all that great. I thought Holden Caulfield was just depressed and whiny. Before I knew it two hours had passed, and it was getting dark. Thats what happens when I go into book stores, hours of my life just disappear. To finish out my day I purchased an apple strudel scone at the bakery on the corner to munch on while on the train and headed back to Bondi for my last night in my swanky high rise.

Shopping in Bondi

Monday, June 27th, 2011

WIth a whole week ahead of me and no scheduled activities I decided that I would spend each day wandering around various sections of Bondi and document my findings. My first stop was the Westfield Bondi Junction Shopping Center. This shopping center is a six level massive high end shopping center, and the architecture on the inside is stunning and modern. It is bigger than Tysons in Northern Virginia, but type of stores inside more closely resembles Tysons 2. It contains stores that sell things that are so expensive I shouldn’t even be allowed to look at them. Stores like Coach, Harvey Norman, and David Jones. They also have some stores for us little people, like Target, Coles and Woolworths (the two major grocery store chains in Australia).

The entrance to this complex is quite literally right across the street from my Bondi residence, so I decided I would spend a few hours perusing the mall and then finish up at the grocery store since I needed to purchase  a few things to put together dinner for that evening. So I began:

Australian's don't go "Beyond" apparently, they just go to the table.

I would think this store name would lend itself to some very "Who's On First" kind of situations. Like, where are you going? My house. O you're going home? No I'm going to my house. Right, your house. No, My house, to buy linens. You buy linens from your house? NO! I buy linens from My house! I would think it would just be confusing/frustratingly comical

This makes me ashamed to be American

Either this company is affiliated with Dunkin Donuts or somebody's copyright lawyer is slacking

Super swanky lounge/cafe near the movie theatre

More of the swanky cafe

Milking the Shrek cash cow for those last lingering lactate drops.

Another fancy cafe space, this one with a view

What parent wants to purchase clothing for their child from a store with "bratz" in the name?

Nifty lighting fixture in one of the food courts

If there is a Build a Bear here surely Chipotle can't be far behind, because this continent is in dire need of some cheap readily available Mexican food thats good, and nobody is in need of do it yourself stuffed animals that cost way more than regular stuffed animals that are pre-made. Also- quote from one of my favorite comedians, Bo Burnham: "I adopted a child from overseas to rescue it from child labor factories, and on his very first birthday we went to build a bear workshop...oops"

Something I miss terribly from home, my bathrobe. Sadly it was too bulky to have been reasonable to bring with me, but I have missed it. I have this wonderful Martha Stewart Robe that makes it feel like I am cuddling into plush cloud of magic and happiness. Martha Stewart isn't so great with insider trading, but the woman can make a bathrobe.

For shame America, FOR SHAME! As if the bump-it didn't plague the northern hemisphere enough but now it is being exported?! Tragic.

This girl is bilingual at age 3 and yet somehow can't find things when they are right behind her? I MEAN COME ON.

I bet most Australians don't even know where Montana is, or that it is even a US state, and in this instance most Montana residents are probably grateful.

Hot pants for your toddler! Because they need to be selling more than lemonade on those street corners!

Very direct advertising. It must be affective because I bought one. It was quite good.

After  a few hours of wandering around the mall I went to the Woolworths, did a little grocery shopping (tim tams were on sale, it had to be done) and then headed back to my 18th floor apartment.

Bondi residence for the week!

I felt like such a little housewife for the day, because I spent it shopping and then came home and had dinner ready by the time Kaela and her mom returned from the zoo. Then we all hung out, chatted and watched television until we drifted off to bed.

How the Other Half Lives

Sunday, June 26th, 2011

This week has been a week of transitions and finishing up. Kaela’s friend Shelby left on Thursday morning, the same day that I had my last exam of my Junior year and my Australian university experience. On Friday Kaela’s mom arrived, just as we were beginning to pack up our apartment. The weekend we spent packing, organizing, and cleaning to get ready for our big move. Our move out date was dependent upon which school you attended and when that school finished their exam period. I had till the 26th, Jill had till the 28th, and Kaela had until July 2nd. We were told that if someone in our room needed to stay past our move out date then we could stay as well.

Well apparently the housing coordinator for Study Australia goofed and it turned out that we all needed to be moved out by the 26th. For most people this was not a problem, since the group flight back to LAX left on the 26th, but Jill’s flight left on the 27th and Kaela and I were going to be here till the 2nd. Since we had been promised through the 2nd we were told we would be moved at noon on the 26th to Meriton Serviced Apartments in Bondi Junction for the remainder of our time. The Bondi Junction Apartments were a housing option on our program, and one that a majority of students chose. It was the most expensive option, being a high rise apartment building where you get a weekly cleaning service, you live atop the main bus/train terminal, you’re a short walk from Bondi Beach, and there is a gym and a pool in the building. That being said, it wasn’t a very practical option for anyone who attended the University of Sydney since it is a 50 minute bus ride from Bondi but only a 20 minute walk from Glebe. Plus it was $2,000 more than my apartment in Glebe was.

So after a long night of packing and cleaning we found ourselves sitting in our Glebe living room surrounded by our baggage waiting for a representative from Study Australia to come pick us up. One of our last cleaning chores was to take our bottle collection down to the recycling room. Being the classy college students that we are, every time we had finished a bottle of liquor or wine we had saved the bottle and put on top of the bureau in our living room.

Trophies of our conquered evenings. We also made it through five boxes of wine (in Australia they call it goon) but those didn't make it to the collection, plus we brought two bottles of wine and a bottle of gin with us to Bondi, you know, just in case.

At 12:30 we were still sitting around not having heard from anyone. We decided to make some phone calls, and we found out that our resident director was on a trip to Fiji and was out of reach, and even though he had told us that we would be moving out at noon on Sunday it didn’t seem like he had told anyone else. Of the three people we spoke with, two had no idea we were being moved and one thought we were being moved on Monday. Meanwhile, the landlord came around to do room inspections and bring in the cleaning people and we were still sitting there.

After a few phone calls and making use of Jill’s sassy attitude when necessary, we got things sorted out and they told us they would send someone to come get us around four. Between the four of us we had so much stuff it was comical. Each of us had two bags plus a backpack/purse, and then Kaela had a huge bag of dirty laundry and we had bagged up all our remaining food and loaded it into a borrowed grocery cart to wheel downstairs so we wouldn’t have to waste food or buy new groceries when we got to our new apartment for the week. It took the four of us at least five trips to get everything downstairs. The Maxi Taxi driver we had said it was the biggest load he had ever taken. We were packed tight in the taxi, with each one of having items that were sitting on our laps and squeezed in next to us. Once we got to the Bondi Apartments we had to take two separate elevators to reach our new residence. This was quite an ordeal since the elevators were not very patient in waiting for us to get all of our bags out and kept closing on us and beeping because we were taking so long. Additionally, people were waiting to use the elevators and we were causing such a fuss with all of our stuff that people looked almost afraid to get in the elevator with us. People must have thought we were moving in for  a month instead of a week. Around 6pm the remaining ladies of apartment 18 moved into apartment 4 on the 18th floor and spent a good ten minutes marveling at the extravagance of our new digs. We had two full bathrooms, complete with stand-up steam shower and jacuzzi style bathtub. We also had two televisions with a full cable package, three balconies, a full kitchen complete with appliances, and a washer/dryer. That is how you know you have arrived in the world of apartments, when you have your own washer/dryer.

Not wasting any time we busted out the wine and beer and then changed into bathing suits and went for a soak in the hottub downstairs. Feeling relaxed and rejuvenated we headed back upstairs to shower, change into pajamas, make dinner, and watch some television. After dinner Andy, one of the boys from Glebe arrived. He, like Jill was flying out on the 27th and needed a place to crash for one night, so we of course had offered up our couch. We all hung out chatting, laughing, and reminiscing until we gradually drifted off to bed.

The next morning Jill and Andy got up early to catch a cab to the airport and the rest of us got up to see them off. We walked them down to the curb, said our goodbyes, hugged everyone and sent them off. Kaela and her mom had plans to go to the Taronga zoo, and since I was going to go there with my family in a week I decided to spend the day on my own. So I fixed myself a bowl of cereal, grabbed my laptop and enjoyed a few quiet moments on the balcony overlooking the city.

Sunroom/eating area, where I will be spending most of my time this week.

View of Sydney from the 18th floor- harbor side

18th floor Sydney view- ocean side

So now the question remains- what to do with my last six free days in Sydney? I have no classes, no internship, and no schedule. Maybe I will walk to Bondi beach. Cook? Do a little shopping perhaps? I have Sydney at my disposal and 23 more days left in Australia. O the possibilities!