Archive for the ‘Glebe Point Rd’ Category

Taking The Long Way Around

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Last week my Australian classes ended, and they did so rather abruptly. Perhaps I had not been paying attention to the schedule or I just could not conceive of the idea that I would have two weeks of no class before exams started up, but it caught me completely off guard. Silly me, I thought we would spend at least a week discussing what would be on the final and reviewing in preparation for it. Nope. We weren’t even told when and where our finals would be, that we had to find for ourselves online. Yes, silly me to assume that I would get any of this information.

So my last day of class was May 26th, the Thursday before Justin and I left for Canberra, and on the 30th Justin went home and suddenly I was left with this giant void in my heart and my schedule. The day Justin left was particularly bad as I knew I would not be seeing him again until September at the earliest and I was a gooey mess of emotional gunk the whole day. I am my mothers daughter after all. The day he left I did two loads of laundry, caught up on some work I needed to do and packed away all my summer clothes and reorganized the remaining ones. In short, I tried to stay busy, but once all the housework had been done I was left with a void that I soon identified as a loss of purpose.

While I have really enjoyed being in Australia and I am quite pleased with my decision to study abroad, with my classes ending and my boyfriend (this is a fairly recent development and I still find myself feeling weird using that word) leaving, I found myself wanting to get on that international flight with him and forgo my last month of Australian adventures.  It is not that I had suddenly lost my taste for Sydney, but rather that I felt like I had gotten everything out of this experience that I was going to get, and I was ready to return home.

The general consensus among my  fellow Glebians has been that everyone is pretty much ready to get home. I have heard many people say that they have done everything there is to do in Sydney and they are beginning to feel restless and bored. I cringe when I hear people say this because while I have lived 20 minutes outside of Washington DC my whole life, when my friend Katie moved into the city to go to art school there I discovered all sorts of things through her that I had never found on my own. There is no way we could have exhausted every interesting thing to do in Sydney, there are always rocks left unturned.

With this in mind I tried to focus on setting new goals for the remainder of my time here. I talked to Yaella and came up with a short list of things I wanted to see and do over the next few weeks. While this was progress I was still feeling kinda down. Come Friday afternoon I had nothing to do, so I decided I would walk up to the library and check out some movies to watch over the weekend. On the way back to my apartment I  was bopping along to some music and decided to venture down the other end of Glebe Point Rd, past the street I normally turn down, just for fun. I also wanted to check out the hostel that my mom and I will be staying at when she arrives on July 3rd, which is located down there as well.

I found the hostel quite easily as it wasn’t that much further down Glebe Point Rd than I was used to traveling, but the weather was nice so I decided to venture even further. Eventually the road ends at Backwattle Bay Park, a beautiful green area and dog park that overlooks the bay and the ANZAC bridge. It was a beautifully clear night when I got there, and I was astounded to find that I had lived so close to this park all semester and had no idea it was there.

The next day I needed to go back to the hostel to make the reservation and ask some questions, so I grabbed my camera and walked back down to the park after finalizing the reservation.  Once there I was greeted with a gloriously sunny day and a park that was bustling with activity. Moms and dads with babies and toddlers, people jogging with ipods and dogs, old men chatting on benches, couples lounging and picnicking.

Seeing this tucked away part of town that I had no idea existed so busy with life and activity excited me and made me realize all that I had been missing about Australia. Yes I had gotten to know the famous landmarks, monuments, and major tourist attractions, but here was a whole community of people who live their lives here and I had never noticed them before now. I had entered into a casual acquaintanceship with this city, but I had really explored the depths of its treasures. All week I had been glum about feeling like I had no purpose in being here anymore. Walking around Backwattle that day I kept thinking about perspective.

It’s amazing the kind of peace this can bring. Wether its a figurative act where you back off of a problem or mental hang up to examine its relevance in a larger context or in a literal sense where you climb over the face of a mountain to see the valley below and the ocean beyond. It’s peaceful.

I tried to remember why I had studied abroad in the first place. It was not really to study, because I was doing that just fine in Virginia, and it wasn’t to spend time with a boy, although that had been a nice unintended side effect, it had been to explore. To explore this new continent and to explore myself. To figure out who I was away from everything that I defined as being a part of me. Away from my family, friends, school, state, country and continent. This process of redefining remains ongoing, so I was not without purpose, I was just without motivation.

Some combination of being near the ocean, the glowing sunny weather, all the dogs playing, and the children laughing totally cured me of my glum disposition. I walked all the way around the bay to get back to my apartment, stopping whenever a dog came up to me to pet it. I hung out for a few hours until the sun set. I watched the sailboats come into port and some rowers head out for an evenings row. I sat with my feet dangling over the water and the setting sun casting warmth on my face and I felt content. I plan to push myself to explore more and try and fill up my remaining days with adventures worthy of writing about. I don’t want to ever feel like I am taking this experience for granted, because spending 21 hours on a plane to get somewhere means you better have the time of your life.

I hated myself for wishing my time away for even a second. I am in Australia! A place few people in North America or even the world will ever see, and I got to live here for five months. It is the furthest away I could ever travel without commissioning a rocket and going to the moon. After coming here no flight will ever be able to intimidate me, and no distance away from home will ever scare me. I kinda feel like I got relive my freshman year of college, a year where I was upset and went home every weekend. I got to replace it with a semester where I removed myself from everything I knew and met all sorts of new people who I now consider close friends and opened my mind to exploring and pushing past my comfort limit.  If nothing else, I am proud of myself for having grown so much since my freshman year. I don’t think I would even recognize that girl anymore, the one who got in her own way and lost a year to moping and complaining about a school she never really gave a chance.

Well I never seem to do it like anybody else, maybe someday I'm gonna settle down, but if you ever want to find me I can still be found taking the long way around.

In taking stock of what I have gained so far I can already be appreciative of  the opportunities I have been given, the cities I have seen, and the cultures I have experienced. I will return home with a new world perspective, memories of the laughter I have shared, new friends who became family, a boy who was willing to chase me across the globe, and waiting for me will be the family who supported me and got me to this point. So all in all, not too shabby.

A City Without a Soul

Monday, June 6th, 2011
Our last morning in Canberra consisted of waking up, packing, and walking to the bus stop. While the city had been eerily quiet and empty the whole time we were there, it was especially spooky early on a Sunday morning. It felt like we were walking through one of those sci fi movies where there has been some massive apocalypse and we were the sole survivors.
It would be incorrect for me to express any sort of passion for Canberra, even if it were a passionate hatred. There is really just nothing in the city to be passionate about. It is a city that is devoid of life, character, and energy. In short, it has no soul. It is boring and yet extremely important at the same time. It is a perfectly-planned capital in the middle of nowhere. Its museums are highly interesting and of national significance and yet the whole place is boring, even ugly in places.  The city is so large and characterless that I spent much of my time there feeling as if I was on some kind of long layover in an extremely spacious international airport.

Julia Guillard, current prime minister of Australia, who Lindsay thankfully had no motivation to assassinate

Interestingly enough, Lindsay went to Canberra the weekend after we did, and also did a self guided tour around the Parliament House. At some point during her time there she got turned around and accidentally walked into the reception area for Julia Gillard’s office. (Julia Gillard is the current prime minister of Australia) Lindsay didn’t know where she was, but could sense that she was somewhere she was not supposed to be. Guillard’s secretary looked up from her desk, noticed Lindsay and asked if she was lost. Lindsay said she was, and the secretary mistaking her for an office intern assured her not to worry and that it happens to everyone. A nearby security guard, witnessing this interaction noticed that Lindsay did not have a security badge on and asked her if she was lost. She said that she was and he said that she must have gotten turned around because she was one door away from the Prime Minister’s office. Good thing Lindsay is not an international terrorist or else Australia could would be in search of a new Prime Minister about now. I am trying to imagine how this would have gone in the US. “O excuse me Mr. Obama, I just got lost and now I have eight snipers breathing down my neck with M-16s, could you please call them off? I just got a little turned around” Yeah, right. Poor Australia, they are so insignificant in international relations that they can’t even attract any decent international terrorists.
Justin snoozed most of the 3.5 hours back to Sydney while I gazed lazily out the window at the rural landscape slipping by. Less than 20 minutes into our journey we ran into a heavy fog that decreased visibility significantly so it really felt like we were coming into or out of some sort of odd twilight zone. Percy Deane, who was the Secretary of the Prime Minister’s Department in 1928, once said, “The best view of Canberra is from the back of a departing train.” While Justin and I departed Canberra by bus, not train, we still felt quite inclined to agree.

It was a dull and dreary day in Sydney, and after getting back to my apt we spent much of the day lounging around. It was Justin’s last night and he had packing and laundry to do in preparation for his long trans-pacific flight home. The previous night Angela, Justin and I had gotten into a big discussion about Mexican food and the sad lack of it in Australia and it had made all of us crave it. While we had made some late night guacamole at Angela’s and chowed down before going to bed, Justin wanted to check out one of Glebe’s premiere mexican restaurants, Baja Cantina for his last meal in the southern hemisphere.

Baja Cantina, one of two superb Mexican restaurants on Glebe Point Rd

Being that it was his last night in Australia we agreed to go all out. I ordered a mojito and Justin got a margarita and then a few shots of tequila. For dinner Justin got fajitas and I got a taco grande, and as is typical with Mexican restaurants both our meals came with way too much food for us to finish in one sitting. We lingered over dinner, and then after we were finished, dawdled in leaving since it had begun pouring rain, but once the rain let up we decided to make a run for it.  We had almost made it back to my apartment before the rain started up again, but we ended up sprinting up the last 500 or so yards in the pouring rain.

So tasty

The rest of the evening was spent packing and trying not to focus on the fact that the next day thousands of miles of distance and an ocean would be put between us.

Sydney By Night

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

In the two weeks that Justin was here he did a fairly thorough combing through of all the city’s main attractions. I think he probably went to every site of historical significance that was accessible by foot and bus. Most days I would go to class in the mornings and he would venture out into the city and then once I was done with class I would meet him somewhere and we would do something in the afternoon and end up back at the apt around 5. We covered a lot of ground this way, but having such full days leaves you very tried and not too keen on doing much in the evenings. Yes we would cook dinner and chat with my roommates and friends on the hall, but we didn’t do much in the way of nightlife. Towards the end of his stay I mentioned this and suggested that on the Thursday night before we left for Canberra we explore Sydney after hours. Thursday night is ideal for going out since places don’t tend to be as crowded as they are on Fridays and Saturdays and most bars do not charge cover on Thursdays.

My original plan was for the two of us to bus downtown to check out The Three Monkeys and Scruffy Murphy’s, two bar/clubs with live music that are right across the street from one another. However, as we were getting ready to go out Yaella showed up and invited us to check out a jazz bar that she had been too once before in Surry Hills with Lindsay. Knowing how much Justin likes Jazz I suggested that we abandon our original plan and go with Yaella and Lindsay instead.

The first time Yaella had gone to this club she had walked there with Jill and her cousin, and this time we were going to take the bus so we figured out which stop we needed and caught the bus on Glebe Point Rd. Once we got on we asked the driver to please tell us when we had approached the stop we were looking for and he grumpily agreed to do so. We rode the bus for about 20 minutes into downtown, and at some point Yaella looked up and said “This isn’t anywhere near Surry Hills”

When we asked the bus driver about this, he told us that his route didn’t really go near Surry Hills and what we needed to do is get off and walk about 30 minutes west. So much for going to the jazz club. Being that we were already downtown we decided to see what there was to do down there. Yaella suggested The Ivy, which is an upscale cocktail bar frequented by young professionals after work. We went in and it took us all of 45 seconds to determine that this was not our scene. Next stop was a dance club that had very cheap beverages, but when we walked onto the dance floor we were literally the only people there who were not working there. We did a fairly quick u-turn out of there. Since we were working our way up towards The Three Monkeys I suggested we go through with my original plan and head there, Yaella and Lindsay agreed.

Upon walking into the Three Monkeys Justin was delighted to find a very chill bar atmosphere. Yaella and Lindsay and I had dragged him to a nightclub the first weekend he was here for Lindsay’s birthday and since he dances like a stereotypical white boy he never feels comfortable in places like that. Fearful that he was being dragged into a similar establishment he was relieved to find an actual bar with people hanging out at tables and not grinding to laser lights and club music.

Spiffed up for a night on the town

Feeling very mature in my black dress with adult beverage in hand. My first strawberry daiquiri. mmmm

I steered everyone upstairs to the third floor since I was the only one who had been there before. As we climbed the stairs a thumping club beat became louder and louder. I could feel Justin growing dreadful of what awaited us on the top floor. We emerged to a dance floor with a live band that was on break, and so club music was playing and Justin was visibly grumpy about this. I told him that the reason I thought he would like it is because there was a live band, but he wasn’t having it, he didn’t like clubs and he thought I had dragged him to one under false pretenses.

Lindsay and Yaella wanted to dance, so Justin and I went back downstairs to get drinks and once we got back up the band was playing. About ten minutes into their set Justin was tapping his toes and singing along and I was sporting the “I told you so” smirk across my face. Yaella got asked to dance by a guy who was drooling over her. Literally. This guy actually had a dribble of drool down his chin, and we all kept waiting for him to wipe it, but he didn’t. Yaella was very hesitant at first but somehow was coerced into dancing with him, but keept a good few inches of distance between her and the drool face. Lindsay, Justin and I were observing this and cracking up, but Yaella ending up getting a free drink out of it. The band at the Three Monkeys did an interesting selection of songs and some clever remixes but generally speaking the band wasn’t all that talented so around midnight I suggested we headed over to Scruffy Murphy’s for a bit. Yaella was happy for any excuse to get away from the drool monster so she excused herself to go to the bathroom and then we dipped out of the Three Monkeys and ran across the street to Scruffy Murphy’s.

The atmosphere there is similar to The Three Monkeys, but a bit more like a traditional bar. Although there was a live band there and they were a lot more musically talented than the first one had been. Also they had far better haircuts. Lindsay, Yaella and I went to town, dancing our little butts off and just generally having a great time. I even got Justin out onto the dance floor and he was singing along to the music and twirling me around like a pro. At one point when I was up dancing with the girls and Justin was sitting down some older guy came up to Justin and said

“Hey mate, is that your bird?” (bird is an australian colloquial term for girl, and he was pointing at me)

and Justin said

“Yeah”

and he said

“Good on ya mate!”

We all had a good chuckle about this later.

Ladies: composed, Yaella sporting the infamous leather pants

Ladies rocking out, and is that a hint of cleavage I spy? Perhaps? One can dream!

Am I really that tall? I wasn't even wearing heels.

My two favorite people to walk around Sydney with

We had only planned on staying out till around midnight, but we were having such a great time that we didn’t end up making it back to Glebe till around 2 am. Justin kept saying,”we will leave when they play a bad song” and they just never did. Finally the band took a break though, and we decided it was time to make our exit. We walked back to Glebe and promptly crawled into bed since Justin and I had a 7am bus to catch to Canberra the next morning. Even though we knew we wouldn’t get much sleep and would be exhausted the following day, it was a great night out and we had no regrets.

Cuuuuuute