Archive for the ‘Sydney Harbour Bridge’ Category

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.


Apt 18 ladies!

Baw. Cute

Harbor skyline

Under the Opera House

Getting up close and personal with the opera house


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!

The Ferry to Manly

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

The weather here has begun to cool down as the southern hemisphere summer I have been so enjoying slowly fades into my first fall season where the trees wont change colors or lose their leaves. I have been watching the temperatures go from 90′s to 80′s and recently dip as low as the 70′s. While this makes my 30 minute shlep to school far less sweaty, it also means that the window of time for going to the beach will soon close for the season. The beginning of this week was cooler but jam packed. I had two big assignments due on monday and was on campus from 9am till 8pm on Tuesday. So when Wednesday rolled around I found myself already exhausted and looking at the weather forecast to find that it was going to be a beautifully sunny 85 degree day.

I have heard it said that:

“There is no fun in having nothing to do. The fun is having lots to do and not doing it.”

Well on this particular Wednesday I decided to embrace this philosophy with open arms. The two lectures I had on Wednesday were for classes I had spent all weekend doing homework for, and turned assignments in for on Monday, so I sent Lyndsay a facebook message that said

“OK so tomorrow is supposed to be BEAUTIFUL. Like 80 degrees and sunny and amazing. What say you to skipping class and hitting the beach for one last day of surf and sunshine before the fall really sets in?”.

Her reply: “sooooo down! where do we sign up?!”

So it was on facebook so shall it be done

Before going to bed on Tuesday night we made plans to head out to Manly beach the next day, which is located  a half hour ferry ride from the city directly adjacent to the Sydney Harbour National Park. We agreed we would get up around 9 so we could make the most out of the day. I have not exactly been reliable about getting up for social things since I have been here (surprised? anyone?) and of course today was no exception. My alarm went off around 9, and when I woke up there was a text from Lyndsay saying that she wanted to sleep in till about 10 and we could leave then. I was more than happy to oblige this request, so I fell back down into my pillow, but forgot to reset my alarm. So I jolt awake around 10:15 to three missed phone calls from Lyndsay. I call her back and she says that she has already left and is already on her way. I freak out, but she insists that she will not wait and I will have to just meet up with her. (I had flaked on her a few times prior due to oversleeping so I can hardly blame her for this)Seth and Andy were supposed to come with us as well, and she said they hadn’t left yet and that I should just leave with them.  I get dressed, get breakfast and go down to the boys room. Seth answers the door and says that they aren’t leaving until after 1 when Andy gets out of class. If I’m skipping class I’ll be damned if I’m not getting the whole day out of it. I decide to try and find Manly on my own.

I set out with no idea where I was going, I just started walking towards the bus station. Lyndsay had told me what station I needed to end up at, Circular Quay, and that I needed to get the ferry from there, but that was all I knew. Luckily the bus station information booth was well staffed and the lady there told me where to catch the bus and what number bus I needed. Since it was still early in the morning the busses were coming fairly often and I didn’t even have to wait five minutes for one to arrive. Once on the bus, it was less than a 30 minute ride to the ferry station, and getting off the bus I asked the driver where the ferry ticket office was and he pointed me in the right direction. The ferrys leave Sydney on the half hour, but they stop boarding five minutes before they head out. I arrived at the ticket office at 11:22, got my ticket and got on the ferry in the nick of time. As luck would have it, even though Lyndsay had a 30 min head start on me, she had missed the 11:00 ferry by mere minutes, and had been waiting in the warf for the 11:30 one, so when I got on the boat I called her to tell her that I was sorry for not waking up and that I was now on the ferry and she told me she was too! We found each other and after I apologized profusely and she forgave me we laughed it off and ended up really enjoying the ferry ride out to Manly.

Touristy picture on the ferry

Cute touristy picture


Once the ferry let us off at Manly we found the info center and got directions to the beach, which turned out to be only a five minute walk away to the other side of the peninsula, to the ocean side. Once there we set up shop with towels, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Lyndsay even brought out some homework to do while we were there.

From where the ferries drop off on the sound side to the ocean side was less than a five minute walk. it was awesome

SHe is a far better student than I. I refuse to let something like schoolwork taint my beach day.

Still starkly pale.



winning combination

So lovely

After a few hours and at least two liberal applications of sunscreen, the boys showed up and joined us on the beach. We hung out there for a while, but soon clouds began to move in from behind us. The lifeguards informed us that a torrential downpour was headed for the beach in a matter of minutes so we packed up our stuff and headed for drier and higher ground. We found a bar on the beach and sat down for a beer while the summer storm rolled in and the rain poured down. Thankfully the storm was short and passed in only a few minutes. With and hour and a half left before we needed to get back on the ferry to Sydney we decided to do the 40 minute cliff walk around the northern edge of the peninsula that provides beautiful cliff views of the ocean.

So lovely.

rocky coastline

cool rock sculpture

This thing stopped me dead in my tracks, it was SO BIG. Lots of Australians stopped to take pictures of it after I noticed it. Apparently there are huge fines for anyone who hurts them. We didn't believe it was real until it moved. It was so cool!

Evergreen the Australia...this was weird on so many levels

So pretty!

view as we were leaving on the ferry

We got back to the ferry station right in time to miss the ferry that had just left. We found a guy who was selling 8 dollar ferry tickets for the express ferry, which is smaller and faster and was leaving sooner than the next regular ferry, but we had purchased round trip tickets for the regular ferry. We debated for a good five minutes what to do about this, wether or not it would be advantageous to spend more money and loose the round trip ticket we had already purchased. Well, really Lyndsay and I debated it while Seth seemed unconcerned, and Andy’s only concern was wether or not he would have time to get McDonalds. The express ferry guy was observing all this and getting quite a good chuckle out of my panicked reasoning clashing with Andy’s intense longing for a McDonalds cheeseburger.

Lyndsay and I had tickets to see Spring Awakening at 8pm and we were trying to get back in time to shower and change before we had to go to the show, and the ferry was a 35 min ride, and then we had to either get a bus from the warf back to Glebe or walk. If all went according to plan we would be get back around 7:15, which would mean 15 minutes for a quick shower and change and then another 20 to walk up to the Seymour Center. Luckily we had already purchased our tickets, good life decision there.

We calculated we could still manage to get to our show on time even if we took the later one, so we opted just to wait. The next boat departed at 5:45 and we made sure we were on that one.

Seth and Lyndsay

Me and Andy

All the sailboats coming out to play in the Sydney Harbour

Postcard perfection. Except I actually took this picture.

The opera house from the angle it is least often viewed. Our orientation director told us that the Sydney opera house is one of the most photographed buildings in the world. I am not sure how one would determine such a thing, but I believe it.

Touristy posed picture.

In case you missed the previous 8 pictures, This is the Sydney Harbor Bridge!

I have watched Grey’s Anatomy for years now and listened to Derek (McDreamy) go on and on about how he loved ferry boats and I never understood what the big deal was. Its a big boat that doesn’t even go very fast, I just didn’t see the appeal. Well, NOW I GET IT. Most forms of transportation offer street views that you would see normally, and the destination is whats important, not really how you get there. But with a ferry boat, the journey is also a destination. Getting to ferry through Sydney Harbor Bay was gorgeous and so relaxing. Sitting on the ocean for the 35 minute trip out and back was just as fun as the actual events of the day. So now me and Derek Shepherd have something in common, a mutual love of Ferry Boats. Maybe while I am here I will also come to understand why elevators are so great, because Grey’s Anatomy writers certainly seem to be obsessed with them. Stay posted for progress on that, the elevator in my apt building is now working again for the first time since I have been here. Who knows what magic awaits me between floors one and two!

We got back to Sydney and the boys took the train back because they had already purchased tickets, but Lyndsay and I decided we would just walk in back to save some money. After a few wrong turns and guidance from friendly Australians we found Glebe just fine, and got back around 7:10, which gave us enough time to shower, change, and walk up to the Seymour Center without needing to sprint. When I was getting dressed for the play I noticed that I had a bit of a sunburn. When I woke up the next day I found that definitely had a sunburn. When a rough morning follows a long night of drinking many people will say things like ” I will never drink again!” this is how I feel the morning after a sunburn.

The use of the color green for this opening scene I took real issue with, as green is a color associated with illness and swampy things in terms of color theory, really this show should be done in blues whites and purples, but I won't get into the technical short comings of this production, because I could easily write another 1000 words on that

The show was well done. The actors were all played their parts with depth and conviction and sang extremely well. That being said, the sound mixing was way off, but it was a tricky situation since the Orchestra was seated above the stage, which makes mixing difficult because normally you have them sitting off stage or have an orchestra pitt to swallow some of the sound, thus making the sound easier to control with microphones. Also- the choreography was SO AWKWARD. This show should really be done with very minimalist choreography and more just staged movement and free form stuff. Like I said, I could write another 1,000 words EASILY on this, but I won’t as this post has already gotten to 2,000.

Yaella, Alana, Lyndsay, Me, Megan and Amanda. No body had seen it before but me, and everybody liked it!

I sat next to Lyndsay who got a bit peeved at me because I was singing every word. During intermission she said

“Valerie I paid to hear them sing not you!”

Everyone liked the show and I sang all the way home from it. A bunch of the girls even cried during the final scenes where things really get intense. It was like my mom was there in spirit to cringe at the sex scenes and cry during the sad parts. It was a great ending to a great day. I never get sick of Spring Awakening.