Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 2 - Dahling Hahbah/Manly

Day 2 - Dahling Hahbah/Manly

My sleep cycle is all screwy as I am still transitioning from LA time to Sydney time (+19 hours). I had a busy day of sightseeing planned today with my Mum, and we had lots of fun together.

I woke up a couple of times in the wee hours of the morning. Since it's almost summer here, day breaks before 6am. Although I seldom wake up before 7am, I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed by 6:40am. I messed around on the computer here, figuring I'd catch one of you on chat since you're 5 hours later into the day than me. Since my destiny is to turn into a fat fuck eating Auntie Carol's delicious but not-too-healthy cuisine while here in Australia, the only way to get my metabolism going was through exercise. There isn't exactly a gaggle of gyms here in Gladesville, so I took matters into my own hands-er-feet by going for a jog. Unfortunately, the topography here is much different than what I'm used to when I jog back home. After running uphill for a half block, I was immediately exhausted. I ended up jogging lazily for about 15 minutes before I decided to head back to the house for fear of getting lost. The streets here aren't on a NSEW grid, so one either needs to pay attention to where he is going, or one needs to get his hands on a GPS navigation device.

When I got back to the house, I showered and ate eggs and white toast sans Vegemite (I try that stuff every two years, figuring it's my birthright to enjoy it – however, I hate Vegemite more each time I eat it, and wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless you're a fan of bitter yeast extract…yum). My second cousins Cooper and Ethan were getting ready for school – they were chowing down on Vegemite toast, and I think I saw Auntie Carol packing some more in their lunch. Although I find it a disgusting condiment, I don't believe Vegemite can be linked to autism.

After the boys went off to school, Mum and I left for the Ferrie station, located five minutes away in Huntley Point. The ferrie was about to arrive, and we had to park almost a kilometer away. I was able to jog to the dock in time, but my poor Mum was struggling to keep up. Um, let's just say she was wearing the wrong bra for the occasion, but she made it to the ferrie in time.

The first ferrie of the day took us to Darling Harbor (everyone here calls it "Dahling Hahbah"), so I started calling it that as well. This waterfront part of town is situated amidst a bunch of tourist attractions and pricey outdoor restaurants. We walked up to a lighthouse, climbed a set of narrow stairs, took some cool panoramic pictures of the skyline, and chatted with Andrew, the lighthouse attendant. Although I thought he was friendly and knowledgeable about the surroundings, it became apparent that he fancied my Mum. Although she was flattered, he's a tad old for her.

The next Ferry took us to Circular Quay (pronounced "key" – Aussies talk funny, but you knew that already!), where I purchased sunglasses for what seemed to be a reasonable $14.95 AUS (approx $10 US). Circular Quay is located near the famous Opera House, and as we passed it, all the tourists broke out their cameras and began clicking away. There was a palpable camaraderie amongst us, as complete strangers instantly began trading cameras with one another before the Opera House disappeared from the background.

The weather was erratic. I found myself taking my sweater off and putting it back on repeatedly. The sunshine was warm, but when it became shrouded in cloud cover, the harbor winds kicked up, causing my nipples to reappear through my shirt! Two attractive female Swiss backpackers sat next to us on the Circular Quay ferrie, and after we took their picture with their camera, Mum used her camera and randomly took a picture of us together…I didn't even get their names!

The next ferrie ride from Circular Quay lasted about 30 minutes, but we arrived at a charming town on the coast called Manly. Mum and I hopped off the boat, and walked down a gauntlet of tourist traps and overpriced eateries. She suggested we go to this pub near the beach inside the Steyne Hotel she had been to before. It was about 2:30pm, and when we entered the restaurant, my eyes perked up as Monday Night Football was on the TV in the pub. They had a lunch special of $10 steak (served with a fabulous mushroom sauce), chips (Aussie for French Fries) and salad. I shit you not, this was no $10 steak ($6.50 US) – it was divine. I was befuddled how such a great deal could exist in such a picturesque tourist trap. Mum wanted beer, so she told me to order her a "Middy". My dumb Yankee ass thought this was a type of Australian beer, so when I ordered two Middies, the bartender stared at me blankly and said, "Of what?" I looked at the various taps, and instantly realized I merely ordered a size, not a brand. He then suggested Hahn's, which was a fine choice for both of us. Now I was stuffed, but Mum had a hankering for a $.30 McDonalds soft serve cone for dessert. After the dessert, we were taking some pictures on the beach when the tide snuck up on us and soaked my sneakers! Aussies have an old saying: "Never turn your back on the ocean" – now I understand why!

Mum wanted to duck into a discount store to buy a toy or two for Cooper and Ethan, so we walked inside. Of course, I found the exact same pair of sunglasses that I bought in Circular Quay…for $5! As a parsimonious Jew, I begrudged myself for paying triple what I could have paid had I waited a bit longer. However, the glare from the sun made it all the more necessary that I purchase eyewear post-haste, so I got over the ill-advised purchase fairly quickly.

When we left Manly, the sun had all but disappeared, and it started to get chilly. My sweater was on, and we stayed inside the ferrie on the way back. When we returned to Circular Quay, we checked out the train/subway system, and took full advantage of the $16 all-access day passes we had bought. When we got off the train, it was shortly after 5pm, and the station became packed with commuters, so we returned to the ferrie, which took us back to our car at Huntley Point. We drove back to Gladesville, Auntie Carol made us lasagna for dinner, and I watched the rest of the Monday Night Football game which I had recorded on their DVR.

Tomorrow, we are scheduled to catch an early morning flight to Cairns, Queensland. I may not be able to write such excessively long excerpts over the next couple of days since I'll be staying in a hotel, so feel free to breathe a sigh of relief! Today was a great day with Mum, and because we had such fun together, I'll treasure today forever.

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