A Travellerspoint blog

Australia

Deep Breath...

sunny 20 °C

Well, we are in Sydney at the moment, but not for much longer.

After coming back from Melbourne we stayed with Karen and Mark for a few more days, then checked into a hotel for a couple nights over our anniversary weekend. We had a meal at Quay - great food and the most stunning wraparound view of the harbour, the bridge and the Opera House. Plus possibly the first martinis since we left home! The night after we went to the Opera House, hoping to get some returns for Aida but unfortunately it didn't work out, so we went to see a production called Poppea. Which was such a dog's dinner i'm not going to waste my time or yours talking about it.

The next day we went over to the Blue Mountains with Karen and Mark, had a bit of a walk around the Three Sisters, saw the waterfalls, had a lovely meal on a cafe on the side of the valley, then stuffed ourselves with hot chocolate (and chocolates) until we felt really unwell. Finally it was time to say goodbye - very traumatic for us, leaving our home away from home.

We have spent a few nights staying with Anoop, a friend from Angi's course at college. We've also met (twice) Dhananjay & Sumitra, more cousins which we didn't even realise we had! We had a great couple of dinners, the second at their house in Beverly Hills (no, not that one) where we met Rahul & Siddarth, their sons.

Finally we've been doing more sorting out, getting stuff we need, getting ready to move on, acquiring visas, posting stuff home, etc etc. We are leaving for Bali tonight! I'm almost incontinent with excitement. It is relatively unsettling to be leaving the calm, friendly environs of metropolitan Australia for 9 months in bonkers Asia but we're looking forward to it and as ready as we can be.

Goals:
Dive
Eat as much different stuff as possible
Dive
Post smaller blog entries more often
Dive

Next post: Sanur, Bali!

Posted by pendleton 20:03 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

Victorian Wanderings

semi-overcast 15 °C

From Sydney we got the sleeper train overnight to Melbourne. Sleeper train essentials: a) book b) water c) eye patch d) ear plugs e) heavy duty sleeping pills! Nothing like being knocked out for 8 hours of your choice. It's even possible to ignore the fact that your carriage is swarming with an army of kids.

On arrival Melbourne treated us to a slight drizzle of rain, miserable skies and a bit of a breeze. Now this really was like home, we felt quite homesick! Melbourne seemed a lot more arty than Sydney, there are lots of galleries, edgy architecture, cultural things and shops crammed full of stuff you don't need but can't help wanting. And kids doing parkour classes in some of the public spaces, which was quite cool. Excitingly, we met up with Hannah (who wedding-goers may know as Bridesmaid Orange), for a few days of touring and culture. Well that was the plan but it ended up more like drinking, eating and a bit of touring. We spent a couple of nights in Melbourne, hanging out in trendy bars where the kids wore short skirts, clumpy shoes and bows in their hair (and that was just the men), drinking cocktails called Dictatorship of the Proletariat (really), and also seeing the worst band IN THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE. They were called the Night Terrors, and if you ever get the opportunity to miss seeing them we would recommend that you grasp it with both hands.

After a few days of the city slicking we hired a car for the day and drove down to Philip Island. PI is a little rural enclave a short drive and a bridge away from Melbourne. It's a bit like the Isle of Wight, but with better animals and slightly fewer old people. We saw some koalas (very cute - TEDDY! - but like strippers you're not allowed to touch them, only they can touch you), wallabies (super cute - happy to hang on to our hands and eat the food we bought), kangaroos (similar but larger, slightly intimidatingly so in fact), tasmanian devils (we were very excited to see them but they were a little underwhelming, and we felt sorry for the poor buggers as they were literally shaking with fear!), and finally the PI Penguin Parade. This is a nightly penguin ritual where the birds which have been hanging out at sea eating for a couple weeks come home for some R&R. They bob around in the surf for a little while, slowly coming to the shore. When they are washed ashore they will hang around in the surf line, being buffeted by the waves all the time, until their group reaches the critical size that they are happy to make a break for it when they dash across the beach to their little homes in the grassland. It's very cute, their indecision as they wait for their mates is hilarious, especially as they are pint-sized little things, 30cm at most. We also visited a chocolate factory, which was very exciting as it had been tricked out like Willy Wonka's, all complex machines and things for little hands to fiddle with.

Once we'd had this wildlife bonanza we needed a bit of sustenance. By sheer chance the hotel we are staying at had an excellent little bistro around the corner, where we polish off three and a half courses and a bottle each of white, red and dessert wine. Raa! We drove back to Melbourne slowly the next morning, suitably chastened and sufficiently late that we didn't manage to go to the Giant Earthworm exhibition.

We had another couple of days of living it up in Melbourne with Hans (including going to an AFL match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground - an amazing education in institutionalised off-ball violence) and then, very sadly, it's time to say goodbye. We had a great time seeing Hans, it was like a little slice of home from home. After we left Hans we visited Angi's uncle and aunt Chandumama and Meeramami, along with their hyperactive puppy Sonny, who put us up and took care of us handsomely. Hopefully it'll be less than 27 years until we see them the next time...

n.b. still having photo woes... if i'm not on a mac which doesn't like this site it's a PC which refuses to read the memory cards. Sorry. I still have photos from Bolivia which need to go up!

Posted by pendleton 22:07 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Feeling Manly

sunny 22 °C

After a long sojourn in the wildernesses of the world, we have finally made it back to civilization. We are in Sydney; to be precise, in a charming beach suburb half an hour ferry north of the town centre called Manly (the ferry ride takes in views of the skyscrapers downtown, the harbour bridge and the opera house! Think the Gosport ferry with better scenery and less feeling of impending doom). Manly, where the grass is green, the sky is blue, and the men are... Manly, of course! The people of Manly are rightly proud of their locale, and in the manner of smaller town centres many of the shops are named after the district, so we have seen a Manly Grill, a Manly Croquet Club, and most amusingly of all a Manly Beauty Salon.

We are staying with the stupendously lovely Karen and Mark. We only met them for 4 days doing the salt flats tour in Bolivia and they have thrown open their beautiful flat to us; we've been here a week already! And we don't want to leave to be honest. Deep in the depths of winter here, it's a chilly 22 degrees CENTIGRADE in the sun; the sky is blue; we've hardly seen a drop of rain all during our stay here. Everyone seems to go surfing on their lunchbreak (or after work in the summer) and the kids go to school in their board shorts! The outdoor culture is so prevalent here as there are so many facilities available year-round; running, swimming, surfing, even diving is possible nearby (which we er... haven't dared due to 14 deg water). We had a lovely kayak around the placid Middle Harbour one Sunday morning, ogling the $20mm houses perched on the cliff edges. Predictably, Angi and I in the same kayak managed to go about half as fast as Karen on her own. The coastline is so splintered and fractal that there is an abundance of interesting coastal walks; we spent half a day walking and only saw a small portion of the locale. And everyone is just so bloody nice and cheerful. It's the polar opposite of moaning London.

And to top it off, the food here is great! Successive waves of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, and many other -ese immigration have left a huge Asian immigrant population, which translates to excellent food. Every time we've tried a hole-in-the-wall place for a little Korean barbeque or some Szechuan hotpot the meal has been what in London we would have rated worthy of a destination restaurant. Even the pubs, fish and chip shops, and random cafes along the way seem to take a degree of care with their food that is several notches above the average in England; we are very impressed. The microbeers are also fantastic, producing a wide variety of beer types. Even some IPAs and English style beers. Walking around Manly is a real trial as we just get tugged hither and thither by all the waves of nice smells.

We've also been able to do all the organisational things that we've put off for so long. Visas, post, repairs, health stuff... it's refreshing to be in a first world country where you can actually get stuff done. Civilization is a functioning internet connection, bookshops and q-tips, I have come to decide!

p.s. we're having some problems with photos again, normal service to be resumed as soon as possible

Posted by pendleton 22:06 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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