adventures in australia: chapter two, part one

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if you’re just tuning in, i’ll give you a quick recap of chapter one: i flew 15 hours and watched four movies in a giant airbus to sydney. my luggage made the trip as well, as did some unwelcomed nerves. but by the time M had retrieved me from the airport, i was ready for the adventure to begin (read more here).

so that brings us to day one. my arrival to the famous bondi beach. M’s backyard essentially. which is just ridiculous. i mean i know i live in san diego so i’m one to talk but the last time i checked, it takes a lot more than just crossing the road to get to the beach. anyway, fighting the urge to collapse in a pile and nap my way into monday morning, i rallied, we got caffeinated, and we set out to explore his city. which mostly just consisted of me standing mouth agape at these gorgeous coastal views. i mean.

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yeah, it may have been my lack of brain function after traveling through so many time zones but i stayed pretty quiet over the course of our initial coastal walk to bronte beach. i think i was just trying to soak it all in. kind of how my skin was trying to soak in the sun before i had had an opportunity to apply sunscreen. lobster back, party of me. the rest of the afternoon was spent on the sand, book in hand, under a thick layer of hawaiian tropics spf 30 #roughlife. later that evening M and i explored north bondi beach, attempted to take photos with the self-timer (see this post), failed, laughed, and then i told him that my stomach needed feeding and he obliged. we went to north bondi fish and that was when i realized that australian food is so much more than vegemite and shrimp cooked on barbies. it’s fresh and light and full of flavor. we ordered a few different dishes to split between us. we actually did this nearly at every meal. if you’ve ever eaten with me, you know i’m not one to share. it may or may not be the only child part of me. but then i realized that if you share a few different dishes, you can actually order more food. and for someone who is basically a bottomless pit, this was music to my ears.

M was pretty stellar with the whole adhering to my high maintenance food allergies thing and i compromised by loosening up my adherence to my no-gluten, no-lactose, no-red meat laws. yes that means i ate cheese and gelato and even stole the occasional bite of lamb or steak off of M’s plate. and you know what? everything was delicious and i’m typing this right now so it apparently didn’t kill me. there’s a life lesson hidden amongst all of this talk of food, isn’t there? basically it’s about balance. sure i know that gluten kind of makes my insides turn and i honestly don’t really care for the taste of any meat that doesn’t come from a chicken or a fish, but sometimes you just have to throw your dietary restrictions out the window and order up a cup of gelato from messina because life is short and there are a number of things you will regret in life but a ridiculously good scoop of dairy goodness shouldn’t be one of them.

(steps off soap box)

from monday through friday, i was left navigating sydney solo. M had to work during the day which gave me the chance to wreak havoc on the people of bondi explore the city on my own. for someone who isn’t too adventurous-slash-could probably get lost in a paper bag (just kidding, i’m not that bad), five days of daytime freedom presented a challenge for yours truly. but M was always careful to equip me with snapshots of google maps (wifi was limited to the apartment and various places around town) and detailed directions for whatever activities i had determined to fill my day. truth be told, i was a little anxious to be left wandering the streets of sydney with little more than a map and a vague understanding of public transportation to my name. but if navigating alone taught me anything it’s that there’s always a bus to take you back to point A and if you get lost, australians are pretty friendly and if you ask nicely and maybe look a little desperate while doing it, they are more than happy to help you find your way. as long as i didn’t lock myself out of M’s apartment (which never happened, woot woot), there was nothing to stress about. in all honesty, the biggest thing i should have been concerned about was making sure i had showered in a nice thick coating of spf 30.

it is important to first note that prior to leaving for australia i had researched nearby fitness studios. because, yes, i’m the masochist that enjoys working out on her holiday. truthfully, i tried to find the equivalent of a studio barre studio so that i could avoid undoing all of the core strength i’ve managed to build over the past few years. you’d be surprised how quickly you can lose your ability to hold a releve, let me tell you. anyway, in a serendipitous turn of events, i managed to discover a pilates/barre studio within walking distance of M’s apartment. i purchased their week-long unlimited class package, signed up for four classes online, and told them i would see them mid-january.

so on monday morning, after seeing M off, i headed to the studio for my first mat pilates class. i loved it. and i think i fared fairly well seeing as the instructor, carolina, kept winking at me in the mirror. or maybe she just felt sorry for me. either way, it was endearing. when i finished up with class, i ventured over to porch & parlour, a sidewalk cafe that became my most favorite thing about bondi. i ate here a total of five times over the course of my stay. yes, it was that good. their soy flat whites are amazing. oh what’s a soy flat white, you say? basically the best coffee drink ever. according to wikipedia (a very reliable internet resource), a flat white is “a flat white is a coffee beverage prepared by pouring microfoam (steamed milk with small, fine bubbles and a glossy or velvety consistency) over a single or double shot of espresso” (source). so a soy flat white is simply made with soy milk instead of cow’s milk. now y’all know my mad devotion to starbucks, right? i mean, i’m a gold card member and everything. but the green mermaid has NOTHING on australian coffee. i repeat, australian coffee tastes so good once it hits your lips. and if that’s not evidence enough for you, let me tell you this: i brought an entire box of stevia with me to australia (what? it fit in my carry-on). do you want to know how many packets i used over the course of the entire two weeks? two. TWO. and they were actually in a yogurt muesli concoction i made while we were on kangaroo island. unlike the bitter flavors of many american versions, australian coffee is so smooth that it doesn’t need the sweetness of the stevia plant to mask its sharp taste. i know, M was impressed with my restraint, too.

but back to porch.

did you look at the link yet? go click on it, it’s fine, i’ll wait…… RIGHT?! i needed you to see photos of the interior so you can truly appreciate just how adorable this cafe is. i had the same thing every time i went -the toasted museli. it was served with macerated berries on top and i would have licked the bowl clean if that was an acceptable practice in public.

porch muesli

following my delicious breakfast, i recreated the coastal walk M and i had trudged the day before. this time i went a little further, past a hauntingly beautiful cemetery and all the way to coogee.

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it was hot that day, like ew, my back is completely wet from sweating hot. so i came back and showered, threw on a dress and attempted to board the public bus that would drop me off at circular quay (pronounced “key”), the heart of city, where M’s office is located. of course when you decide to do your hair all nice and blow dry it with a round brush to make you feel like a pretty pretty princess, that’s the time that the weather decides to play a cruel joke on you and start raining. so after i met up with M, we dodged the raindrops, and headed to bulletin place for a pre-dinner drink. it’s no secret that i’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol. i think fleas have a higher tolerance for booze than i do. but going into the trip, i knew that i wanted to let my hair down a little and have a cocktail or three if the situation so presented itself. lucky for me, M is well-versed in both my lack of alcohol tolerance as well as my affinity for all things that taste like fruity candy, so i usually left the ordering up to him. aside from one sour concoction in adelaide (which more of my fault than his), he had a perfect record for drink-ordering for yours truly. at this particular establishment, they serve up five featured cocktails for the evening. he ordered something for me with raspberries in it. it was delicious. also, please appreciate the hair. this is the last photographical evidence i have of it looking good that evening:

cheers

after drinks we went to fat rupert’s where i discovered something called “polenta chips.” essentially they are lincoln logs made from polenta. fun fact, australians call fries “chips,” like the british, hence that whole “fish & chips” concept. anyway, the food was amazing (you’re going to get tired of me saying that, but sorryi’mnotsorry, the food in australia IS in fact amazing. i’m not even being hyperbolic, though i have been known to be that, too).

tuesday. tuesday was a fun day. mostly for the fact that i treated myself to a four-hour nap in the middle of the day. i think the jetlag finally caught up with me but that’s the beauty of being on vacation, when sleep calls, you don’t have to put it on hold, you can take the call right then and there. but pre-narcolepsy, i ventured out of my porch-breakfast-bubble and walked to gertrude & alice for breakie. the awesome thing about this place is that it’s a bookstore first and a cafe second. which essentially just means i got to eat my bircher muesli and soy flat white amongst the weathered pages of hemingway, twain, and steinbeck. pretty darn cool if you ask me.

gertrude & alice

the rest of the day was spent mostly just vegging out before heading back to M’s office to meet up with him for another evening of exploring sydney. this particular evening, however, we were joined by our fellow wave and my fellow DG sorority sister, B. we determined that it had been nearly a decade since we had seen each other, but as is the case with most pepperdine/DG reunions, it was as if no time had passed. after all, we’re sisters for life, duh. anyway, we went for ciders at opera bar at the base of the opera house which for the summer months had been given a backyard theme (complete with a clothesline and hanging laundry). it was here that i got my first real glimpse of the iconic sydney landmark. y’all, it’s even more striking in person. directly across the water from the opera house is the famous harbour bridge. you can climb it if you’re willing to shell out $250 and/or if you’re willing to risk your life. just kidding, apparently it’s completely “safe” but you know what i’m really into? exploring sydney from solid ground. i guess i’m just weird like that.

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M & I at harbor bridge

after we had finished our beers and concluded our mini photo shoot, we headed over to sydney festival, a month-long celebration featuring music, installations, theatre, and dance. think a less red-necky county fair. except for “sacrilege,” the bounce house in the shape of stonehendge we found upon entering the venue. now that i think of it, that may have actually made the festival more red-necky than a county fair, but who cares, it was a BOUNCE HOUSE IN THE SHAPE OF STONEHENGE! B and i were all over it.

jump!

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photo credit: M.

i was a little restricted given my attire (skirts don’t make for the best jumping uniform), but i think i did my best to make lemonade out of the situation. in other news, jumping up and down on an inflatable bounce house is a surefire way to feel your age (wait, i’m not 10 anymore?). is it bad that i was pretty sore after that? don’t answer that. after our bout of acrobatics, B parted ways with us and M and i went in search of some delicious thai. it didn’t take long before we were at longrain, a super modern/chic thai restaurant with long family style tables and an authentic menu. there was no time for pad thai when there were delicious green curry, banana leaf wrapped baramundi, and green papaya salad to be consumed. snifflely from the spices (another glass of water sir, please and thank you) but delightfully satisfied by our scrumptious meal, we left longrain in search of some after-dinner libations. one of the cool things about sydney is their abundance of bars. err, that sounds kind of like this city is one big drunkfest. what i mean to say is that there are a ton of really neat spots hidden in alleyways and behind street corners where people can commune to enjoy an artfully crafted cocktail. and we visited two of them. our first stop was to shady pines, a saloon-style bar decorated with animal heads on the walls and peanut shells on the ground. here was one of our drinking companions:

shady pines

it was here that we met up with one of M’s favorite bar tenders who had recently moved back to sydney after a short stint in melbourne. his name was dan and he was super nice. but then again, everyone M introduced me to was pretty awesome. awesome people tend to attract other awesome people i suppose (did you catch that compliment, M?). dan made me this amazing apple juice concoction. it was frothy and tasted like a green apple jolly rancher. dangerous. but mostly just delicious. i felt healthy and drunk all at the same time. just kidding, i wasn’t drunk, i could have totally recreated this scene from bridesmaids:

following shady pines, we popped into hello sailor, which you may have guessed from its name is a nautical-themed establishment. there, the owner, luke, greeted us, or rather M, with a big jolly “ohhhhhh looook who it is!” i think one of the coolest things about tagging along with M for the week in sydney was being able to experience his city through his eyes. going to his regular haunts, getting to see where he has spent many an evening, laughing, drinking, and being merry. i liken it to when i take people to honey’s for the first time and caesar greets me with a big smile. it’s easy for my breakfast partner to see that honey’s is basically my cheers and everyone knows my name (or at least my order). anyway, we spent some time bellied up to the bar, luke and M exchanged stories from the past 12 months and i just took it all in, one sip of whatever i was drinking that night (is it bad that i can’t remember?) at a time.

which brings us to hump day. which is kind of appropriate because that’s the day i went to the zoo. sadly there were no camels at the zoo so my whole attempt at being clever is basically moot. anywho, i started my day at the pilates studio, taking australia’s equivalent to the barre workout. even for a seasoned (and humble) veteran like myself, the hour-long workout was tough! i think the humidity had something to do with it (at least that’s what i’m claiming) because i sweat more than normal in that particular class. ew. on the way home from the studio, i popped into porch to get my beloved toasted muesli bowl and a soy flat white to go because CAN’T STOP WON’T STOP. after my muesli coma wore off, i showered and studied the directions M had given me on how to get to the taronga zoo. take the bus to circular quay, locate the proper ferry station, purchase ticket to board said ferry as well as a ticket to the zoo, wait for the ferry, board and ride ferry to the other side of the harbor, get on the sky safari and, bam elephants. seemed simple enough. i even got to have my own sky safari bucket which allowed me to take this cute selfie sans judgement (except for the people who are judging me right now upon seeing said selfie):

sky safari selfie

sky safari

unfortunately for me, i’m a relatively quick zoo visitor. giraffes, check, gorillas, check, whale exhibit, no thank you, elephants, check, annnnnd i’m done. even in my sky-high espadrilles, i managed to cruise through the exhibits in about an hour. that’s what i call speed zooing. how cute is this giraffe?

giraffe

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with a few hours to kill before M got off work, i headed back to the square near his office where, in honor of the australian open coverage, they had constructed a giant screen to project the matches live. i sat my little booty down in one of those chairs and watched nadal battle dimitrov to advance to the semi finals. i got so into the match, i was almost late to meet M! after we were reunited, we ventured to baxter inn for a drink before heading over to the location for our evening’s activities: a movie at the harbor. here’s a shot M captured inside the baxter inn. pretty sweet, right?

photo credit: M.

photo credit: M.

during the summer, sydney sets up a giant movie screen overlooking the water where they show a featured film after the sun has gone down. this is what it looks like. it is the opposite of hideous:

movie night at the harbor

me at movie night

the film for the evening was the best offer. it starred geoffrey rush and jim sturgess. while rush gave, per usual, an outstanding performance, the movie overall was pretty strange and left us confused and dissatisfied. in the middle of the movie it actually started raining. fairly hard, in fact. lucky for us, we had chosen seats directly beneath a giant tree which ended up acting as the perfect barrier for the raindrops. the rest of the movie patrons didn’t fare as well and when you looked out over the audience, it was a sea of white ponchos. ha. following the movie, we warmed ourselves from the inside out with a night cap at M’s favorite bar. a speak-easy-esque place called eau de vie. it had a refinement and air of fanciness that made me feel as though i had just been transported to the streets of paris. it was pretty amazing and the perfect way to end yet another lovely night in sydney.

to be continued…

1 Comment
  • Mom
    February 7, 2014

    This is so fun to read your Travel Blog! What is on the table at Bulletin Place? A shot? Love your writing it is like we are traveling with you.

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