Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Happy Travels Kristen, Jen and Rachel!!!

Arn't good friends just the best? Last night the stars aligned and two of my bestest bestest friends since high school who are travelling in Egypt, just happened to be in an internet cafe when I was on Skype here in Australia! What are the odds of that happening? Not high, especially since I'm generally not on Skype unless it's a pre-planned appointment, and it was about 1 am...Anyhow, I was so thrilled to get the chance to chat that I didn't even feel tired. One of the things I love about really great, old friends is that no matter how long it's been since the last time you saw each other or even emailed, when you do talk it's like everything is exactly the same and you don't skip a beat. It was so nice to see them (on video) and hear their voices; although I still miss them terribly I think it was just enough to hold me over until we're together in person: December, when I'll get to see Kristen in Toronto, and next February when Jen and her sister Rachel, also a great gal and a good friend, will be making their way down under as part of their 'round-the-world tour.' I'm so looking forward to showing them around Sydney. I'm already devising an itinerary:
-Bondi Beach for some celebrity spotting and budgie smugglers!
-Glebe for brunch in a funky cafe
-Newtown for some Asian food and people watching
-The Rocks Saturday Market
-The City for the Opera House tour (I've heard it's well worth it)
-Coogee to Bondi Coastal walk (Did it once and I'm dying to go again!)
-Oxford Street for a little of the nightlife that I hear so much about but never get to go...
-Walking across the Sydney Harbour Bridge (cause I've always wanted to...)
-Any other suggestions??

Until then, Good Luck Girls and Happy Travels!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Top Ten Reasons Nov 25th can't come fast enough:

Ok so no offense to Australia but, in the words of lovely Dorothy- there's no place like home!

I'm booked to fly to San Francisco on November 25th (25th November if you're Australian) for a week and then home after that and I am starting to get to the point where I'm making X's on my calender... I haven't even started studying for exams (which are in 2 weeks- eep!) but already my mind is already daydreaming about getting home to my loved ones back in Canada :)

It's been a while since I've made a top 10 list, so here it goes...

Top Ten Reasons I am Looking Forward to Flying Home:

10. My Stepmother's homemade culinary delights: Bread, marmalade, cookies, steam pudding, trifle, Yorkshire pudding, did I mention trifle? mmm trifle...
9. The weather matches the season (although winter isn't my first choice) I won't constantly be confused by the awkward clash of weather, season and holiday- Easter in the fall??? I don't think so.
8. Snowboarding!!!
7. Starbucks. I know I'm gonna get flak for this one 'cause the "funky" "independent" cafes serving "real" coffee is something Sydneysiders pride themselves on to no end, however as a non-coffee connoisseur I think Starbucks tastes great and for my four bucks I get a beverage that's not only hot (as opposed to the luke-warm temperature everyone serves here, ostensibly because that's how coffee is "supposed" to be served) but a cup is larger than the size of a thimble and lasts more than 3 sips.
6. Driving. No more vomit commit bus for me!!! Up until 2 weeks ago that was just a nickname for the late bus. Horrifically, it actually came true when, one morning on my way to work, just after I'd gotten on, someone puked ALL OVER the floor of the bus. I was sitting in the back where everyone had pushed to to get as far away from the smell (which was at the front) as possible. Still the stench was excruciating and I had to stay on for about 15 minutes of it cause had I gotten off I would have been late for work. It was so bad the driver put the bus out of service so that people wouldn't get on but he continued the route for passengers already on the bus. That was the longest 15 minutes of my life!
5. Canadian beer!!
4. Partying with all my friends- you know who you are!!!
3. Seeing the parentals.
2. Reuniting with my Bailey- I miss her soooo much! I miss her new mom and pop too and they've been so amazing with her for which I am eternally grateful!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Guess who made another appearance this weekend?! Nick flew down from Darwin for his second whirlwind trip and I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. We had a very full weekend planned and certainly made the most of every last moment :) First, I picked him up at the airport and whisked him off to Glebe for breakfast at one of my favourite cafes- Clipper! The shabby chic decor (think vintage bikes on the wall and mismatched dinnerware) and long communal bench tables match the homemade tone of the menu- lots of yummy porridge with fruit compotes and free range egg options. We decided to enjoy the beautiful weather and dined outside, basking in each other's in-person company in the warm sun (hey five weeks is a long time to have to deal with temperamental skype connections and buzzy phone lines!)

That evening, after a roast lamb made by yours truly, we went to Star City Casino's Astral Bar. Located up on the 17th floor, we were treated to stunning panoramic city views, incredible cocktails (my ginger pear number was delicious!) and an amazing band too! My friend Tom, whom I met through one of the first girls I met here in Sydney (he's her boyfriend) is a jazz pianist and his band was playing at the Astral Bar the evening we were in Sydney. It was a perfect choice for our night out on the town. As it was a Thursday we were one of the only parties there, but the bar didn't feel empty; how could it with the vast lights of the city below sparkling through the floor-to-ceiling windows? The waiters were wonderful and it felt like the band was playing just for us. We even started an impromptu dance floor where Nick twirled me around in my new pink dress... with the surrounding lights of the city and the old fashioned glamour of the bar I felt like I'd stepped into a 1940s movie!
After a perfect evening out in Sydney (Nick didn't even bat an eyelash when, due to my directional challenges, I took us along the...ahem... scenic route to get back to the main road) we packed up and took the train down the coast to Nick's house.
Nick's family very generously offered to host Thanksgiving dinner, their first one ever! I was very grateful to be able to have Thanksgiving dinner with such lovely people and thankful not to have to miss out on my favourite dinner of the year. The turkey Nick's sister ordered from the local butcher was beautiful and it was lots of fun getting right in there and cooking together. Nick's mom is a great cook- everything tasted delicious! For dessert we made a traditional Steam Pudding which was utterly divine, especially with the warm custard poured over top. mmm... drool.
After such a lovely (and filling!) dinner we were looking forward to the evening's events. Nick made plans for us to see a concert at the Brass Monkey in Cronulla. We arrived early (can you tell this guy's a good influence on me or what!?) and so had time for a lovely walk along the beach and some lollies from the local store.

The Brass Monkey had a great atmosphere; warm, intimate and friendly, and we topped it all off by scoring really good seats! There were three different acts and they were all really good but the final one, an indie folk band called Dead Letter Chorus from Newtown in Sydney (aka my neighbourhood) was amazing! Nick bought me the CD so that I can listen to their songs when I'm studying for exams and trying to remember what it feels like to have fun.

On our final day together, we took a lovely long walk down to the beach near Nick's house. Imagine growing up five minutes from here.... No wonder it's so hard to say goodbye! Well all good things come to an end and so our weekend was over. Even though it will be three and a half months until our next in-person hello, I'm very happy and grateful that Nick was able to visit for the weekend and I hope he enjoys and makes the most of his last couple of months in Darwin before moving back to Sydney (yay!) next year.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Ahoy Matey!

All Aboard?
Have I mentioned lately how great it is to live in this amazing city? At the drop of a hat one can go from staring glumly at her not-quite-yellow, not-quite-green walls to bam! On a boat in the middle of the ocean in a varsity sailing regatta! I was one such lucky person this week as a last minute drop out helped me change my mind about not entering this year's regatta with the university sailing team. What can I say? The team needed me, the forecast looked ok and my assignment wasn't that interesting, so I said yes! Yes to one day of unbelievably perfect sunshine and 14 knot breezes and yes to one day of less than perfect weather but a fun time nonetheless. Not knowing what to expect I left my camera at home on Day 1 of the race so all the pictures are from rainy and overcast day 2, but I think the clouds give a nautical mood to the photos anyway.
I was really impressed with the Yacht Club- The Royal Prince Alfred. It was nautical and cozy yet new and spacious and didn't have that musty, damp feel common to some clubs.
The outdoor picnic and patio area was a really pleasant place to sit and have a hot latte after my 2 and a quarter hour public transport ride to Newport at 6:30 in the morning aka before the rain started! (But it's not as though I would go around hinting that I'd like a car... I mean maybe if Christmas were around the corner or something I would but.... hey wait a minute.... lol. If only people here drove on the right side of the road!!)

Where was I? Oh yes, the regatta. Skippers Afloat was our home away from home for 2 days as we waiting in the middle of the ocean bay for our turn to race. My partner and I completed 9 races on day one, and 1 on day two before it was called off due to high wind conditions.
Other (larger) boats certainly enjoyed the big wind. There were some amazing catamarans zipping about around our little pacer dinghies.
At first we had four fleets out, but ended up with two by the end due to broken bits n' pieces.
Our fleet out on the water.
Our fearless 'Skippers Afloat" skipper steered us through the storm using the trusty steer through the window technique! I say, a couple of windshield wipers would go a long way on this boat!
As you can imagine, the 60 hungry sailors devoured our catered lunch each day with fervor I usually reserve for Thanksgiving dinner. Fortunately I clawed my way to the table before the ham was gone 'cause I think I would have starved rather than be forced to eat some of this stuff: Vegemite. No offence to the Aussies who love it (and they all do- must be genetic) but it smells like stale beer which I have to brace myself just to pour down the drain, never mind putting it in my mouth!
Lots of nice boats to admire, but it makes me miss sailing at home with my Daddy.
I'm supervising the hauling up of the anchor. Hey someone's gotta do it!
And after all that I got to make the 2+ hour journey home again. At least there was some pretty scenery to look at on the way out to the bus stop.