Tag Archives: sydney

Circumnavigating Part 6: So this is Hawaii.

Comfort zone: noun. The range of temperature between 28 and 30 degrees Celsius, at which the naked body neither sweats nor shivers.

Or, a situation or position in which a person feels secure, comfortable, or in control.

I once paddled out at San Clemente pier with Alex Haro, even though the swell was coming in and it was already bigger than what I would have braved on my own. On most days, SC pier is an easy break. A reasonable paddle, a little hollow, not too rough, clean. When there’s swell, though, the sets can be slightly intimidating. The lips can be heavy and, somehow, unavoidable. On this afternoon, Alex succeeded (for once) in talking me into waves above my head. Literally and figuratively. At first, the waves were breaking at about the pier’s halfway mark. The pier is 1,296 feet long (17th longest in California). The longer we sat there, the further out the break moved. Within an hour, big sets were cracking at the end of the pier, and the smaller, unbroken ones left my stomach at their peaks as they rolled past. I hadn’t caught a single wave and I didn’t want to. I called it a night and met Alex on the beach an hour later. That session will remain the greatest distance I’ll be from my surf comfort zone. Until I surf Hanalei Bay with Michael.

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Circumnavigating Part 4: Sydney Revisited, Canberra, and Melbourne

I’m at Pancakes on the Rocks. Again. Mildly hungover and/or sleep-deprived. I order the most embarrassingly big breakfast. It literally arrives on two plates. There are chocolate pancakes involved. The shame is heightened by the fact that I am sitting by myself. That, and, the way the waiter looks at me–like some kind of curiosity; a bottomless pit at which to marvel. A half hour later, I’m slumped on a bench near Campbell’s Cove, unsure whether the massive brekky will help or hinder my recovery and hoping for some noticeable vitamin D absorption; the sun is brilliant. The harbour bridge is just behind me and the opera house is right across the water. It’s just so pleasant in Sydney. It’s just so clean, so temperate, so… not Cairns.

Over the next few days, I spend an inconsiderate amount of time with friends, avoiding hostels by sleeping on a vintage love seat in Adam Mada’s living room somewhere near the beach in Sydney. I share the room with his magical fish and Emily’s mom, Eileen, who sleeps on the floor. Kindly, no one makes me feel like the spectacular mooch that I am.

Adam, a magician by profession, is Emily’s brother-in-law and he has allowed me and, pretty much, their entire family to invade his home. One morning, Adam plans to take us on an alternate coastal walk–the route is known only to him, so the whole crew sets out, blindly, on foot from Bondi. We walk through a ritzy neighborhood, past many bays full of sailboats and pontoon planes, up hills. Up more hills. We stop to swim and it’s lost on no one that Sydney Harbour is more notoriously populated by sharks than the ocean. Thankfully, this swimming area has a net around it, but Eileen wonders, “What if a baby shark swam through the net and grew up?” It’s so hot that we swim despite the remote possibility of a shark outsmarting a safety net.

We continue walking: even more hills. After a while, we are begging for coffee and a place to rest our weary feet. Adam promises tea on a cliff overlooking the ocean, so on we trek. Several hours later, we are sunburnt and mutinous.

“Where’s that cliff-side café, Adam?”

“What are you talking about?”

“You said if we kept walking, we’d be rewarded with coffee and a fantastic view!”

“Oh. Yeah. I don’t know, I just figured we’d find something like that.”

THERE IS NO CLIFFSIDE CAFÉ!

We are rapidly losing faith, but still, we follow Adam. When we turn up at Bondi Sewage Treatment Works, which, admittedly, does have a great view but, you know, also processes shit and is probably a little toxic, we abandon our fearless leader and find comfort in body surfing, followed by beer. Later, looking at a map, I still can’t figure out exactly where we walked. But I do know that it was almost entirely uphill and it took about 6 hours. Possibly longer.

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Circumnavigating Part 3: Byron Bay to Cairns

“The itinerary” for this trip has been a little on the dodgy side. When it exists, it does so only in weekly increments and only once I have made a reservation for something. Typically, it materializes as vague notations in my planner.

In the middle of the week, in the middle of February, I am considering a modified itinerary. The current version puts me in Byron Bay next week. I’ve already booked a place to stay, already reserved a bus seat. But the thing is, I met this guy.

But the other thing is, I want to spend a week in everyone’s favorite Aussie beach town before I have to be on the Goldie for the Quik Pro. Logic prevails and some uncivilized hour finds me stretching my legs in a gas station parking lot, after deciding that an oversized candy bar will make a fine substitute for actual food.

Twelve and a half hours is a very long time to spend on a bus–even when fortified by Milo bars. At least they showed a film on that bus. Do you know what it was? The First Wives’ Club.

Paddy, the genial proprietor of Byron Haven, has given me what I believe is an okay rate for a week in a studio in Byron: $650. He has also offered to fetch me and my many belongings (still no baggage charge!) from the bus along with his morning paper.

It’s still early and the room isn’t ready yet, so I walk into town and end up finding this great café. The waitress happens to be from Seattle. She’s living in a tent at one of the hostels. I feel like a yuppie, so I don’t tell her where I’m staying. She suggests I try BBQ sauce on my bacon, egg, and cheese. I must look skeptical because she says, “No, really, it’s delicious. Their BBQ sauce is different than ours and besides, it’s a very Australian thing to eat–you have to try it.” I’m surprised to discover that it’s scrumptious. She also tells me that I can pick up “wireless internet” (“Wifi” is met almost unanimously with “Ehh?”) at the Beach Hotel across the street. Thank you, Michelle!

When I get back to my pricey digs, I feel like even more of a snob and even less sorry for it. The studio is gigantic: Two king-sized beds, kitchen, flat screen… no roommates. Paddy asks if I need help with anything else. “Will you take a nap?” Half an inquiry, half a suggestion.

It is 80 degrees and sunny, and the waves are small but clean.

“Can you please tell me how to get to the beach?”

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Circumnavigating Part 2: Sydney and The Subs

You know how sometimes on those red-eye, trans-Atlantic flights, 7 hours doesn’t quite cut it? By the time you’ve had your lasagna, watched Nicholas Cage’s latest, and, finally, lulled your brain into a state somewhat resembling sleep, you’ve got to put your seat in an upright position and prepare for landing. Sleep be damned. This is not an issue on the flight from London to Sydney.

Also not an issue: The condensation of time. I leave London Friday night and arrive in Sydney Sunday morning. Just go with it. “We’re not spending much time in Saturday,” Nick says casually. Nick is the amiable British guy to my right. He and his girlfriend, Kate, will be splitting five weeks between New Zealand and Australia. They ask me how I liked London and when I hesitantly say something along the lines of, “It was cool…” they inform (as if it is a fact) me that people in England get friendlier as you climb in latitude. Interesting.

In our stout Saturday, we experience Suvarnabhumi International Airport (and what is visible of Bangkok through the windows) as hot, hazy, and lush. The sun sinks into evening as we begin the second leg of our flight, after just an hour and a half on solid ground. Qantas serves dinner, but I’m still full from breakfast. Somewhere between Thailand and Australia, in the middle of the night, I look out one of the few open windows and observe a stupendous display of lightning: It’s bouncing off the clouds and it’s orange.

Stepping into Australia is like napping on that incredible couch you used to have in that apartment you used to have: Slightly disorienting but oh-so cozy. It’s just after 7 a.m. in Sydney and I am greeted by a chatty man in passport control and a smiling customs officer. And sunshine.

After arriving too early to access my first ever hostel room, I stumble upon Darling Harbour, by which locals seem unimpressed. I think it is beautiful. I can’t believe how many fish and likely poisonous jellyfish are visible right next to the dock. By 4:28 in the afternoon, I am completely exhausted and completely enamored with Sydney.

The hostel, on the other hand, is not doing much to win my favor. The girl at the front desk gave me the wrong change for my key deposit and when I told her, she had to check the surveillance camera to see whether my claim was accurate. They don’t allow alcohol in the building. I feel like I’m back in freshman year at Rutgers. Except there are five other vagabonds in my room, I need a swipe card to use the bathroom, and I’m pretty sure the bedroom door doesn’t really lock.

With sleep-deprived eyeballs, I decide to watch Drive Thru Australia because 6:37 p.m. is clearly too early to go to bed. I don’t make it much past nine, and am wide awake at four the next morning.

The Tim Tam Chiller’s one flaw is that it doesn’t actually have any coffee in it. However, by adding a shot of espresso, it is rendered the perfect way to keep cool in summertime Sydney. Another great way to keep cool is to roam the streets and let copious amounts of wasted energy wash over you: Every shop seems to blast the A/C whilst maintaining a literal open door policy. Not that I’m complaining–I think this is the hottest week that Sydney will see all summer, and at one point, I hover in the doorway of an under-construction bar and chug a half litre of water.

In miles and miles of walking, I note that people in Sydney are damn good-looking. And they look like surfers: sun-tinted. It’s funny, though, because I don’t think the majority of them are. I’m sure there’s some kind of statistic that reveals that while 98% of Sydney residents have, at some point in time, found themselves on surfboards, only 40% of them actually surf regularly. Surf mags are also surprisingly hard to come by. And they cost $9–$14 if you get the “Air Freight” [CURRENT] issue.

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anarmandaleg (WAX)

My first session here was at Bondi. When I got off the bus, I ducked into some news agent, figuring, Hey, we’re at Bondi; every shop must sell wax. I was correct.

However, I did not anticipate that when the guy rang me up, he would ask me for $4.95 (AUD, of course). I said, “Pardon me, good sir?”

He said, “Yes, you beautiful, young lady, I said $4.95.”

I scoffed.

He said, “How much you usually pay?”

“Like a dollar fifty,” I responded (scandalized).

Now he looked scandalized. “Well… uhh… give me $3.95.”

I said merci and chalked it up to a small store, a captive audience, and some good, old-fashioned gouging.

That is, until the next time I happened to check the price on wax, and it was still somewhere around five bills. I accosted my US-born, fellow surfer of a landlord and he laughed and simply said, “Yeah, everything here is expensive.”

Fair enough. At least I can say I haggled my first Aussie bar of wax. And won a 20% discount.

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Masculine Ferry and Foam Boards

In wandering around Sydney and its glorious suburbs, I have been advised many a time to take the Manly ferry from Circular Quay. To MANLY. Seriously, everyone I’ve met has told me to do it. So today, I finally did. I did not bring my board because, quite frankly, I didn’t feel like lugging it on the bus and the ferry and for a walk of indeterminate length. When I got there, I learned that you could rent a foam board for $15/hour, which would be roughly equivalent to the cost of eggs on toast. Worth it! I love to Wavestorm! Who doesn’t? It’s like all the best things about surfing, except being able to turn your board and duckdive. Today, on my pink BZ, I was reminded how much those things occasionally matter–especially when there’s some freaky rip-roaring current and the sea is suddenly composed entirely of whitewater. And not to be a whiner, but just about every time I find myself on a longboard (or carrying one) I say, “Ugh. This is why I’m a shortboarder.” Not because longboarding’s not fun; just because I’m lazy. The boards themselves weigh about as many stones as I do, and paddling out is a bitch. Anyway, I have also decided that while BZ may be the Escalade to Wavestorm’s Suburban, Wavestorms are lighter, more maneuverable, and generally, better. In my opinion.

Stay tuned for the wallet debacle that is WAX in the land Down Under…

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Bronte Photos

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Diplomas and Splints and Snow

You: Up to speed. In brief:

12.10.10

After showing my outta-town friends what the Jersey Shore is really like, I tumbled down some stairs and broke my finger.

I maintain that the culprit was the extreme lack of light by which that staircase may have been seen.

12.17.10

NYU threw us a graduation fete. The best way to say, “Congratulations on completing your master’s program!” is really to dole out oodles of free wine, and that they did. My mom got drunk and wrote “Viagra” on a white board–we have no idea why:

 

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