Archive for the ‘Circular Quay’ Category

Mom Arrives!

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Mom’s flight was supposed to land in Sydney at 6:30 am on July 3rd, but as nothing can ever be simple in my family this of course did not happen. As she was nearing the 15th hour of her trans-Pacific flight the captain came over the intercom to tell the passengers that the Sydney airport was shrouded in fog, and therefore they could not land there. Instead they would be making a slight detour trip to Brisbane (453 miles north of Sydney) to sit on the airplane on the runway there until they could be cleared for a landing in Sydney. By the time Mom actually made it to Sydney it was close to 11 o’clock which means that she had been traveling for over almost 30 consecutive hours. Luckily she had arranged to get a shuttle from the airport to our hostel and I didn’t need to meet her anywhere, otherwise I would have been waiting for quite a while. Not having slept  hardly at all on the flight she arrived at the hostel and we had our hugs and hellos before she demanded to know where the shower was located.

After a shower and a quick change she was feeling more human (and certainly smelling better) and I thought she would want to take a nap to sleep off some of the jet lag as almost everyone else who come to visit has wanted this. Not my mother. She was not going to let the flight beat her, so we set out in search of lunch and then got to walking. She wanted a picture in front of something quintessentially Australian to put up on the internet so that she could prove to friends and family that she had survived the flight and had arrived safely. So of course after lunch I steered us towards the opera house.

She has arrived!

Me, Mom, and the most photographed building in the Southern Hemisphere

We walked from Glebe to Darling Harbor and then along the water to Sydney Harbor. We stopped in Darling Harbor for an hour or two to take in some street performers and soak up the sunshine and the lovely 70 degree winter weather. We even enjoyed our first official alcoholic beverages together as we sat at a table on the water chatting. We must have walked a good three miles over the course of the day, but mom kept on trucking. We walked around the craft markets at the Rocks and popped into a few opal jewelry stores to have a look. By 5 pm the jet lag had finally caught up to her and we found our way back to Glebe and enjoyed a light dinner at an outdoor Spanish wine and tappas bar before heading back to the hostel. We were in bed by 7pm, which in the world of me is utterly absurd. I was tired though for not having slept but a few hours the night before due to restlessness. We were both sleeping quite soundly until about 2:30 am when mom’s blackberry started ringing. We both started grumbling and through our grunts had this conversation:

Mom: Valerie…Valerie! What is that?! Turn it off!

Me: Mom, I think thats you’re blackberry, its ringing

Mom: Who in the world could be calling me?! Someone better have died.

I stumbled across the room to pick up her blackberry, and by the time I found it we had missed the call. On the call log it said that Home had called and Mom started assuming the worst. We thought it was Dad that had called us so we decided to call back. To our surprise it was not Dad, but Julie who answered the phone. That conversation went something like this:

Julie: Hello?

Me: Julie! Did you just call us?

Julie: Yeah, why?

Me: It’s 2:30 in the morning here!

Julie: ….o…I forgot about the time thing

Me: You just FORGOT that its a whole different day on the other side of the world?!

Julie: Yes. Look, can I just talk to mom?

I handed the phone off to my mom. As it turned out nobody had died, Julie just had some menial question that did not merit us being woken up at such an ungodly hour. After we hung up with her neither of us could get back to sleep and we ended up talking until the wee hours of the morning when we finally fell asleep for a few hours. We woke up the next day with a list of Sydney Sights to see. First we walked up Glebe Point Rd and had a light breakfast at a local cafe and then continued up the street so I could take Mom around USyd.

Mom at the University of Sydney!

Not only did I attend Hogwarts this semester, but I was a Gryffindor Lion too!

So excited to be at USyd!

After walking around and showing her where I had interned and where all my classes had been we sat in Fisher Library for a few hours so we could skype with Julie and Dad and listen to them panic about their impending solo travel mission. We walked Julie through what to pack and how to navigate the airport, even though mom had left a large packet of information behind for her and dad that contained all their travel documents, vouchers, important phone numbers and directions to everywhere they needed to be, all neatly numbered, collated, and color coordinated of course. Despite all this, we were both painfully aware that we had left the more inept half of the Lapointe family behind, so we were willing to field their panicked questions for a while. After leaving USyd, we hopped on a bus down to Circular Quay to check into an opera house tour, which wasn’t available that day due to rehearsals taking place, but we were still able to walk around the inside of the lobby and the outside of it. After leaving the opera house we made our way through the botanic gardens before grabbing a small salad to tide us over till dinner.

Botanic Gardens

As the sun was setting and the temperature beginning to drop we hopped on the bus back towards Glebe where had dinner at my favorite Australian mexican restaurant, The Flying Fajita Sisters, and then turned in for another early night.

A beautiful day

Good Friday on the Rocks

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

As the weather has cooled down a bit the lower state of New South Wales has entered into a period of gloriously sunny and temperate weather. While this week me and my roommates had been very busy turning in assignments and trying to prepare for our upcoming spring (technically fall) break travels, today we all woke up to a beautiful day and nothing to do. Kaela and Jill proposed that we head down to this small park near Sydney Harbour, and invited me to come along, and of course I agreed.

After a slow meandering morning we caught a bus from Glebe Point Road around noon to head downtown. We arrived at Circular Quay-West, an area better known as The Rocks. This area was established shortly after the first colony in Australia was set up in 1788. The original buildings were made mostly of local sandstone, from which the area derives its name. Originally it was a rough and tumble area, the bad part of town. It was a slum type area that was frequented by sailors and prostitutes.

In the decades that followed through the 20th century plans were drawn up many times to have the area and its crumbling structures demolished. Large world events like the break out of the bubonic plauge, WWI and WWII stalled these plans every time they arose and doing anything about the area was put off until 1968 when the state government gave control of The Rocks to the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority with the intention of demolishing all the original buildings and re-developing them as high-density apartment buildings.

This plan was opposed by a group of local residents who didn’t want to see their rents raised and the history of the area destroyed. They requested a Green Ban from the Builders Labourers Federation to halt the demolition from happening, and in 1973 it was implemented. This ban remained in place until 1975 when instead of demolishing the area renovations began which transformed the area into the commercial and touristy precinct that it is today.

Self explanatory

Walking around it reminded me a lot of the inner harbor in Baltimore or downtown Alexandria, as it is a beautiful bustling downtown area with swanky stores and fancy restaurants. The three of us spent a good two or three hours just walking around, people watching, taking goofy touristy pictures of the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and of the Opera House. It was such a wonderfully pleasant day we lingered outside with no real goal or destination in mind. We saw street performers and lots of tourists and families. Australia takes its holidays very seriously apparently, because most stores were either closed today, or closing early for Good Friday, and most restaurants had signs out front saying that they would not be serving alcohol that evening.

Me and Jill and the most photographed building in the southern hemisphere

The "Mary Cait and Ashley" pose as Jill calls it

I'm in Australia! Every so often this dawns on me, because sometimes I forget.

*pokes*

Apt 18 ladies!

Baw. Cute

Harbor skyline

Under the Opera House

Getting up close and personal with the opera house

Roomies!

After a few hours of wandering around we started to get hungry, and Kaela had been saying for the past week how she was really craving pancakes, in particular pancakes from a restaurant called “Pancakes on The Rocks.” Jill and Kaela had been before but I had not, and they both insisted I was in for a treat. The menu read more like an ice cream shop than a pancake house. I swear there was nothing on there that wasn’t sprinkled with powder sugar, stuffed with creme, dipped in chocolate, or drizzled with syrup. Among pancake variations with names like devil’s delight, strawberry jam, jaffa orange, hot n troppo, macadamia madness, strawberry patch, bavarian apple, and banannarama I landed on the simplest variation I could find- blueberry heaven. And it was that. It was two of the thickest buttermilk pancakes I have ever had with blueberries in sauce served with cream and vanilla ice cream. Ihop this was not. These pancakes blew Ihop into the next universe.

Blueberry heaven. mmmmm

After we had eaten our fill we wandered back towards the bus station to catch the bus that would take us back to Glebe. Then Kaela, Courtney who joined us later, and I all settled in for an evening of packing and preparing for our trip to Thailand!