Archive for the ‘Sydney’ Category

Lapointes Reunited

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Mom and I were up early on Thursday morning to check out of our hostel and check into The Menzies in downtown Sydney where we would be spending the next two nights and meeting the other half of the family assuming they had survived the flight. This was a big assumption. While I was excited for my mom to come to Australia early, dividing our family in this way meant that we were leaving the two least capable members of it behind to get through two flights and a layover by themselves. Mom’s anxiety about their arrival began almost immediately after we woke up that morning. Their flight was supposed to get in around six am but we had checked their flight status the night before and learned that it had been delayed two hours.

We arrived at the Menzies, checked into our rooms and then found a place to stage our stake out in the lobby. I was quite relaxed, I mean even if something had gone wrong it would be no fault of ours. Mom had given each of them a stapled, color copied, and laminated copy of everyones passports, credit cards, travel documents and visas, trip itinerary, and details on the location of our hotel in Sydney. All they had to do was get off the plane, find their bags and then locate the bus driver who was scheduled to pick them up and would be looking for them. Even if something did go wrong, neither of them had an international cell phone so there would be no way for them to reach out to us for assistance. So basically all there was to do was wait. Or at least thats all I thought there was to do. Mom found all sorts of other things to do, like try to predict what had gone wrong, mentally work through the worst case scenario, call the bus company thinking they would know something about wether or not they had arrived, pester me about checking the Qantas website to search for updated flight information, inform the concierge desk to look for them even though we already were. Mom was jumpy and anxious like anyone married to my father has reason to be.

We sat waiting in the lobby for a little over two hours and I watched moms breath quicken everytime a bus or taxi stopped outside the hotel. Around 11:25 we had this exchange.

Mom: I’m so anxious! Why aren’t they here yet, are you sure the flight information said they were only two hours delayed?

Me: YES. For the last time YES. I don’t know why you are so worried, relax, there is nothing you can do.

Mom: I should go get my blackberry so they can call us, do you have your phone? Where is your phone? you should go get it.

Me: What exactly are they going to call us from?

Mom:….well….I don’t know …can you just go get it please?

Me: No, they aren’t going to call us, and even if they do, what can we do?

Mom: If they don’t get here by 11:30 I’m going to–

Me: You’re going to what? Implode?

Thankfully around 11:35 they did arrive. They looked worn and weary but for the most part they appeared to be intact.  After a few minutes of hugs and hellos we all headed upstairs to our respective rooms so that dad and Julie could put their stuff down, shower and change. As it turned out, their flight had been delayed because there had been some sort of problem with the fuel pump, and so they had sat on the runway at LAX for two hours waiting for that to be resolved, thus turning their 14.5 hour flight into a 16.5 hour flight. Needless to say they were quite thrilled to no longer be on a plane or in an airport.

For our first day in Sydney Mom had booked us a hop on hop off Captain Cook cruise, which runs all day and goes to various attractions in and around Sydney Harbor. So after Julie and Dad had recovered a bit, we went to Pancakes on the Rocks for lunch and then got on the boat and headed towards Taronga Zoo, the premiere zoo of Sydney. Taronga is home to over 2,600 animals and is located north of sydney harbor on 52 acres of land by the water.  Taronga is an aboriginal word meaning “beautiful view” and this is perfectly fitting as the zoo has some of the best views in the city, but I feel like this is probably wasted on its animal inhabitants. It would be the US equivalent of putting a very fancy zoo somewhere in the hills of LA overlooking the city. Beautiful, yes, but it means that admissions is crazy expensive to pay for the massive real estate bills.  Taronga is one of only two zoos in the world that breed platypus, thus a platypus occupies their official logo.

It was a chilly and blustery day, and so most of the animals were hiding or sleeping. Dad became very frustrated by this and kept saying “This is a zoo with no animals! Great! We should go to the botanical gardens because at least we know the plants would be there!”

Entrance to the Zoo

Giraffe and Zebra exhibit and the Sydney Skyline

We wandered around the zoo from 2pm until it closed around 5pm and then took the boat back to our hotel. Julie and Dad were exhausted and while it was good that they managed to stay up the whole first day, they were ready to get to bed. So we headed back to the hotel for an early dinner in the hotel bar and then up to our rooms for an even earlier bedtime.

The next day we were all up fairly early and after breakfast at a small cafe near our hotel we set out towards Paddy’s Market, or as dad came to call it- Trinket Heaven. My father is very persistent in his search for “trinkets.” For a man who doesn’t like to spend money he has an odd tendency to snatch up the most inane and useless objects he can find. I steered Mom and Dad and Julie through the maze of market stalls at Paddy’s and watched in horror as they purchased the most awful touristy items that could be found. A stuffed kangaroo, an Australia t-shirt, key chains, boomerangs and all sorts of other tacky and useless items. Not wanting to waste the whole day there, or any more money on kitschy trinkets I made every attempt to push them towards an exit. Once I was finally able to pull them out of the market we headed towards Central Station where Mom and Julie would catch the train to go to Featherdale Wildlife Park to pet marsupials for the day. Since I had already been twice and dad had no interest in going, we went instead to the University of Sydney to explore the campus and then walked through Darling Harbor and then along the water to the Sydney Harbor Bridge where we walked halfway across the the pylon museum.

Julie at featherdale with a koala who is awake- very rare.

Mom, Julie, and a marsupial

Feeding time

View of the Opera House from the Sydney Harbor Bridge

Sydney from the Bridge

Dad and I had a pleasant day catching up, and the weather was beautiful so walking along the water was breezy and picturesque. Around 6 we headed back to our hotel to meet up with mom and Julie. Since this was our last night in Sydney and Julie was of legal drinking age in Australia mom demanded that we go sit somewhere on the water and have a Lapointe family cocktail hour. When mom and I had taken the Opera House tour a few days before we had received a 20% off voucher for the Opera House Bar, so we headed there. The opera bar was a popular happy hour spot and it was crowded, but we each got a drink and took in the nighttime views of the bridge and the opera house before setting out in search of dinner. It was in this moment that dad officially dubbed our vacation the “Lapointes Get Hammered Tour.”

For dinner we headed back over to Darling Harbor to the Black Bird Cafe so that dad could get a kangaroo filet. Julie, who had pet a kangaroo earlier that day was mildly horrified that the same animal could be eaten with a side of vegetables, but dad wanted to try it. I think Australia must be the only country that eats their coat of arms.

A tasty coat of arms

Dad ended up not really enjoying his kangaroo filet because he enjoys his meat fairly well cooked and because kangaroo is such a lean meat it has to be served very rare. After dinner we walked back to our hotel and packed our suitcases to get ready for our 10 am flight to Cairns on the Great Barrier Reef.

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

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

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.

A Final Farewell

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

For Kaela and her mothers last day in Sydney they wanted to do the beach cliff walk that starts at Bondi Beach. We woke up around 10 am and took the bus from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach. Unfortunately the weather was not cooperating with our beach walking plans, because just as we got off the bus the wind picked up and rain started to fall. We walked across the street to the beach anyway, but after less than 30 seconds we decided that this could wait. Earlier I had suggested that if we were going to be in Bondi we needed to check out this amazing little gelato cafe that Yaella had once taken me to that had the best pastries and cakes. We had initially planned on doing that after the beach walk, but the rain drove us inside the cafe early.

Even though Kaela and her mom are both on weight watchers I insisted that they have at least one sweet thing being that this was their last day in Sydney and the sweets at this cafe were too incredible to pass up. I ordered an apple apricot fruit slice and Kaela and her mom split a chocolate almond pastry roll with a dollop of ice cream, which is quite decadent by weight watchers standards. We chatted and enjoyed our sweet indulgences as we waited for the storm to pass. By the time we were done eating the clouds had parted and the sun had appeared, so we headed back out towards the beach.

Even though it was still a bit cloudy out, the rain had stopped and the sun was peaking out every so often, so we began our walk. One of the first big sites on the path is the Bondi Icebergs Winter Swimming Club. This club started in 1929 by a group of dedicated local lifesavers who wanted to maintain physical fitness and swimming skills during the winter months, ( and had clearly never heard of the indoor pool). They formed the club and ever since have occupied a prime location on the edge of Bondi Beach where they have two outdoor lap pools, one being olympic sized, and a large club house that has a bar, poker machines, and several large meeting spaces. While it is certainly impressive that people would voluntarily swim outside in 50-60 degree weather, to call it the ‘iceberg’ club is a bit of a stretch I think. It rarely gets colder than 48 or so degrees in Sydney. Now if this outdoor swim club was in say, Boston, MA, then yes, by all means call yourself the iceberg club, or better yet, the hypothermia at risk club.

Bondi Icebergs Swim Club

Cliff walkway

I'm the little mermaid, obviously.

The last remaining apt 18 ladies

The water is such a marvelous shade of blue here

The walk took us from Bondi Beach to Tamarama beach where we caught a bus back to Bondi Junction. Once there we went up to the apartment gathered up their luggage and went back downstairs to catch a cab so they could make it to the car rental place and begin their drive up the coast. Once we had flagged down a cab we had quick hugs and goodbyes and off they went. And then there was one. Now I’m really all by myself.

Southern ladies in the southern hemisphere

I will be living in my swanky 18th floor serviced apartment until July 2nd when I will move to a hostel in Glebe to await the arrival of my mother who will join me for a few days before the rest of my family arrives. Now that I am completely on my own in the land of Oz I am finding that it shimmers a little less. While I do love this country and I have been so grateful to have had this experience, it just isn’t the same without my study abroad family, who are now all back in the states. The days I have left before my actual family arrives will be quiet and quite possibly lonely. What can I say? I miss my Glebe family. Australia is hardly the same without them.

These are my people

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!

A Winter’s Surf

Saturday, June 11th, 2011

On Monday, since neither of us had classes, Yaella and I set out to make good on my goal to explore more of Sydney. Yaella had a discount card for a surf board rental place in Bondi Beach and wanted to get in one last surf before heading back to the states. I had never been to Bondi before, and even though I had no intention of surfing I agreed to sit on the beach with a book and snap pictures of her while she caught waves. It was a sunny winter day with the high temperature being about 65 degrees, but this is perfectly acceptable surf weather in Australia. The hardcore surfies known no appropriate surf season.

So Yaella and I made our way to Bondi via train and then a bus, rented a board and wetsuit and headed out onto the beach. It felt odd to be walking on the beach fully clothed, but I kicked off my shoes, spread out my towel and plopped down to watch Yaella. She paddled out into the 63 degree water, dove under and started chasing after waves. Meanwhile I was sitting on the beach, dry, wearing a sweatshirt and a jacket and shivering when the wind blew at me. Yaella is clearly stronger than I. While she was out in the water I was observing the odd winter beach behavior of the Bondi residents. Some people were on the beach bundled up like me either reading or listening to music, but there was also a daring group of individuals who were in only bathing suits and were playing in the surf. 63 degree water is not water I would want to go into without a wetsuit. Yaella even had a heating pack in her wetsuit and while she did adapt to the water temperature there was no denying that it was quite chilly. I also observed a woman in a very skimpy bikini jogging down the beach listening to her ipod, and jogging right past the people who were all bundled up in fleece jackets. Beaches in the winter are odd places.

Yaella trying to catch some waves

Still trying

Yaella had rented the board and wetsuit for three hours but after an hour of getting thrashed by the waves she had begun to get frustrated. Surf conditions were somewhat odd on this particular day given that the waves were breaking about 80 feet out from the shore, and then were breaking right on the shore, but in between was a giant dead zone where they just fizzled out. There were a bunch of other surfers out and nobody seemed to be able to take any waves in past the dead zone. As she was rounding out her first hour the sun which had been shining quite brightly moved behind a big clump of clouds and the temperature dropped a few degrees. This combined with the shoddy surf conditions led us to decide that our time might be better spent sipping something warm in a cafe. Yaella and I walked her board back to the rental shop where the owner was nice enough to give her a voucher for 2 hours of board and wetsuit rental since she hadn’t used all of her three hours.

wipeout!

Bondi Beach, in addition to being the biggest and most popular beach in Sydney is also the jewish area of town, so over the course of the semester Yaella has spent her weekends there attending synagogue services and sharing shabbat meals with various jewish families.  Wanting to get out of the wind to dry off for a bit she suggested we pop into this small cafe she knew of that had amazing fruit pies and tarts for a hot drink and something sweet to eat. I got an apple apricot crumble and she got a cherry crumble and we split a pot of Earl Grey Tea. The deserts were absolutely delicious and we lingered over our tea, soaking up its warmth, glad to be indoors for a while. By the time we were ready to leave it was close to 3pm and Andy had texted us asking if we wanted to check out the Vivid Sydney Festival in Sydney Harbor that evening with him. We agreed, but this meant that going all the way back to Glebe would be a waste of time. Instead we filled up the next three hours popping in and out of various shops and bookstores in Bondi beach before catching the bus over to Sydney Harbor to meet up with Andy.

The bus ride from the Bondi Junction bus station to Circular Quay is about a thirty five minute ride and Yaella and I were chatting and listening to music watching the city zip past us when the bus stopped and this elderly woman got on. She had dingy brown and gray hair that was swept back in a bun and she was wearing a long skirt and unfortunate looking clunky black tennis shoes and a sweater. She sat down across from us and about ten minutes after boarding leaned over and asked

“Are you guys from a Pantene Pro-V commercial? You both just have the most beautiful hair, and the one of you has the dark curly hair and the other has the blonde straight hair, you should totally just work for Pantene.”

We both laughed this comment off, but once she had started talking to us she didn’t appear to want to stop. She spoke to us for the rest of our ride and told us about how she was a neurosurgeon who had studied at John Hopkins and had worked with Doctors without Borders. She talked about how she had traveled to dozens of countries, but also had studied at Juliard and worked as a professional singer for a while, and now she was a music promoter and went on and on about this band she was currently working with and how perfect the members of the band would be for us. Somewhere in the middle of all this she turned to Yaella and said “Are you Jewish? Because I am getting that Kosher vibe from you” Yaella of course told her than she was, and then she turned to me and said “But you’re not jewish are you?” Gee, I wonder what gave me away? Could it have been my bright blonde hair? Maybe my blue eyes? Could it be that I look like the poster child for the Aryan race? I guess I just don’t give off that “kosher vibe.”

This woman seemed quite evident on getting us some music from this band she was promoting, and she asked for Yaella’s phone number, which she gave her. WHen I asked her about this she said “I am leaving Australia in two weeks, she can call me all she wants.” Yaella and I couldn’t decide what to make of this encounter. Either this woman is truly incredible or she is the most fantastic and pathological of liars. We looked up the band she is promoting and they do exist, so the jury is still out on all the other claims she made.

Once we arrived at Circular Quay we found Andy and made our way to the inner rim of the harbor to see the festival sights.Vivid Sydney is an artistic festival of sorts that happens every year in the Harbor. The website for the festival describes it thusly:

“Sydney will once again be transformed into a spectacular canvas of light, music and ideas when Vivid Sydney takes over the city after dark from 27 May -13 June 2011.

Vivid Sydney will colour the city with creativity and inspiration, featuring breathtaking immersive light projections on the iconic Sydney Opera House sails, performances from local and international musicians as part of Vivid LIVE and a free outdoor exhibition of interactive light sculptures.

In 2011 the festival will also include a range of artistic collaborations, public talks and debates from leading creative thinkers from Australia and around the world, celebrating Sydney as the creative hub of the Asia Pacific”

Some of the sights are just for viewing, but many of them are interactive.

Cool moving 3D lighting effects on the Customs House in Circular Quay

Melting polar bear ice sculpture

Playing the light harp

Andy and I sitting on a chair of light

car sculpture

Making a lit sculpture friend, Yaella disapproves

Light up! Everyone is doing it!

Giant light up jellyfish and the illuminated opera house in the background

One of the many designs and colors we saw on the opera house

More colors

I got this image online, there were so many designs I couldn't capture them all

More Customs House colors

Cool interactive light show on the side of the art museum. You stand at the base of it and throw your hands up at it, and light projects onto the wall when you move. It resets every minute or so.

We walked around the Harbor for a little over an hour before Yaella and I began to drag and decided it was time to head back to Glebe. Even though the surfing hadn’t been all that great we had a great day out, and although we were tired, we were throughly pleased with our day.

Vivid Sydney!

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.