Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Gardens were Botanical and the Planet was Blue

One of the best things about going to the Botanical Gardens is that Croissant D'Or is on the way and their almond croissants are some of the tastiest things on this earth.  I describe it as walking to a grassy paradise whilst munching on a pastry paradise (even though the pastry paradise is pretty pricey at 5 dollars (i.e. 3 pounds). The walk is great.  Walking along Macleay Street makes me feel like I'm in New York because of all the Art Deco architecture and Spanish Mission style apartments.  The streets are wide and the sun bursts through the overhanging trees.  I make my way down to Woolloomooloo Bay and walk along the wharf which was actually the largest wooden structure in the world in 1911. FACT! If you like a man in uniform then this is the place to come.  There are big naval ships parked up here and the crew are all milling around in their pristine white suits.  I'm pretty sure I saw Blackbeard amongst them. Eventually the wharf leads you to some old steps, along Mrs Maquaries Bushland Walk, past an outdoor swimming pool and an exceptional amount of joggers and finally into the beauty of the Botanical Gardens.

View from Botanical Gardens
As I walk through the entrance gate an old-looking Japanese man asks me if I will take his picture.  He stands in front of a very characterless patch of lawn and I snap him.  I head forward into the gardens and as I'm enjoying the beauty and calming nature of it all I feel a tap on my shoulder.  The same Japanese man is there and asks me to take another picture of him, this time in front of a bulbous and boring looking tree.  I do my duty and hurry off to try to put some space between us.  The gardens are enormous and have absolutely stunning views looking out to Farm Cove and Sydney Harbour.  Just as I'm about to settle down under the shade of a very old looking tree I feel another tap on the shoulder. "Another picture please?" I sigh heavily and tell him that this is the last time. Afterwards he scuttles off looking a little hurt and dejected, until he finds another tourist to help him increase the amount of photos of himself in front of all kinds of different but equally boring foliage. His poor wife.

My second weekend in Sydney is another sunny one and we head to Surrey Hills Festival in the morning for some breakfast.  It's a smallish festival with loads of food stalls and a stage pumping out loud Hip Hop to some enthusiastic teenagers who already look tipsy at 11.00am in the morning.  We watch in amazement as some very muscly girls pole dance and I look down at my pancakes and feel a little guilty. But this is not the main event of the day, this is just the starter.  We make our way to the Sydney Opera House to watch The Blue Planet live in Concert (shouts of "OMG!" were continuously heard throughout the day's proceedings).  This was my first time in the Opera House and it's size is staggering. The orchestra starts playing as we find our seats and local celebrity, The Bondi Vet, comes out to introduce each piece. He's not quite David Attenborough but is quite amusing (and slightly more pleasing to the eye).  The experience is incredible and it's amazing to think that it has been touring since 2006.  The only way to finish off a day like that is to head to karaoke and sing your heart out until 2am, which is what we did!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Take Me to My Beach

Bondi Beach
After all those noodles a girl needs a day on the beach, and what better beach to laze on than Bondi?  The weather is getting warmer and although everyone refers to it as 'Spring' here, the temperatures are those of a British summer. God only knows how hot it will be when Summer actually hits; I'll probably have to go into hiding.  My first Saturday in Oz sees me rise early to a grueling abs workout followed by a step class. The instructor has more energy than a can of dog's piss and sings along to the tracks whilst busting out the moves we need to follow. It's amazing how many people are in attendance at 8.00am, and not a hangover in sight. After a glorious shower and applying double layers of sun cream, I head back towards Oxford St en route to the beach.  I find myself momentarily distracted by a cool outdoor market in Paddington selling all sorts of fried, tasty morsels and handmade jewelry. I'm enticed to a stall which is selling real honeycomb in a jar and offering out free samples (sadly this would leave my hands sticky for the best part of the day).  I leave the market and catch the bus to Bondi along with 100 other sweaty people. "Blimmin' tourists," I grumble as I struggle to find a seat. 
Fork it

As Bondi comes into view I'm slightly stunned by how blue the sea is and how golden the sand is.  The beach is stunning. Groups of sun-kissed bods are sprawled around BBQs or playing games of sandy bowls.  I take a walk along the shoreline and watch the surfers; the waves are small today and so they aren't getting much action.  I dip my toes in the cold water and suddenly think "SHARKS". My gaze is taken out to sea but I can't spot any protruding fins.  All this fish thought is making me hungry so I head to a fancy looking restaurant on the beach front and order sashimi and avocado salad.  Note to self: next time someone offers you chopsticks to eat a salad with say no and ask for a fork instead.  I finish the meal with an incredibly tasty coffee, at last! I'm a winner today.

If you can't beat them...
Appetite sated I walk to the next beach which is amusingly called Tamarama.  This is actually pronounced Ta-ma-ra-ma although Jen has taken to calling me Tamara-ma.  The walk along the cliff's edge is windy and refreshing and Tamarama, although smaller than Bondi, is just as beautiful.  There are lots of interesting looking objects on the beach which, as I get closer, turn out to be 'Sculptures by the Sea' which is a regular installation on this beach.  I pass some tough looking sumo wrestlers (see picture) and head towards a sculpture in the middle of a beach.  This sculpture consists of a collection of long rectangular mirrors that have been bunched together to make a cube shape.  It seems to be the most popular sculpture on the beach, mainly because you can take a picture of yourself in the reflection; so of course I follow suit and quickly take an awkward snap of myself.
After a bit more walking and sun-bathing (in the shade) my old friend jet lag kicks in again and so I bus home and dream of sumo wrestlers eating Toblerone with chopsticks. To read more about the cool beach sculptures go here.
My money's on the fat one