Saturday, June 6, 2009
Ahhhhhh Australia, Part 2
I think one of my favourite cities in the world might be Sydney. Coming from Abu Dhabi, where the Gulf is often obscured by five-star hotels, and to eat a nice meal or go to a pub you can only go to those hotels, I am sure I would be attracted to any centre that offered such a thriving street life. It was fabulous have breakfast outside in the autumn chill, looking onto a small market and then wandering over to buy some jewellery, watching people mill up and down beg for change and dress strangely and drink beer, right out in the open. I felt strangely at home there.
I also loved The Rocks, the nifty section under the bridge, and all the skateboarders and relentlessly healthy people working out in a pretty deserted Bondi Beach. Again we met the nicest people everywhere we went. We found Sydney to be very short on three things though: hand towels in bathrooms, garbage cans and pay phones. We stayed in King's Cross, which some people said would be dodgy but I found awesome. I learned that when a bartender at a restaurant called Spice I Am says "you'll be alright" to our question of whether the Asian food would be too spicy, it might be best not to blindly believe him so as to avoid torching one's esophogeal tract before a night out. Also, frangelico and fresh lime is a surprisingly delicious drink.
Back on the Gold Coast, we headed up to Mt Warning and started to climb it but realised we didn't have enough time before darkness descended. I stopped a couple of times, and I tried my best to soak up the feeling of being in a lush, rich rainforest, because I knew it would be awhile before I could have the sensation again.
I can't believe how dressed up the young Aussie girls get to go out – either in Coolangatta or Sydney. I am talking prom-dress, fashion-magazine getups, with the shortest skirts and highest heels you can imagine. Who has the time, or inclination? It was fun to watch them tottering around though. Aussies like to say "sweet as" when they like something, and now so do I. Oh, it it was back on the Gold Coast where I proceeded to frighten my friend with an inability to grasp driving on the opposite side of the road. She claimed I was hitting branches and veering too close to the outside edge; I maintain she was exaggerating. The clincher came the morning after a raucous night out in Byron Bay, when I pulled the wrong way into a handicapped spot and was promptly reminded of it by the nicest woman walking with a cane. Trying to back out of that spot with a pounding headache was one of the most challenging parts of the trip.
We wrapped up with that amazing night in Byron Bay, where I saw live music that did not involve a Filipino cover band - no offense, Safari and Blue Bay – and ended up at a two-story nightclub called Cocomangas, one that took my picture when I entered the bar. Apparently hooliganism is a big problem down under, mostly because of the drink, and they take the pics in case I cause trouble and try to come back. "Glassing" is also apparently another issue, with attacks from broken glasses prompting a discussion about a move to plastic, but thankfully I didn't experience any of that. Just a lot of local hospitality and warmth from most everyone.
One of the best parts of the trip was a pretty awesome barefoot walk on Byron Beach the next day, where I learned about this strange thing crabs do with the sand, and wished I didn't have to leave quite so soon.
Posted by Ann Marie McQueen at 9:18 AM