Monday, August 30, 2010

A weekend in Sydney ?...$.The feeling of escaping life for a weekend? Priceless.

This past weekend I took a much needed trip to Sydney. I really needed to get away for a bit. My friend Erika came with me. We were supposed to leave on Thursday afternoon. But our flight was canceled after it was delayed- Good job Tiger Airways. So instead of walking away with refunds and frowns on our faces, we decided to reschedule the flight for Friday. We arrived in Sydney early Friday afternoon- The excitement hit as soon as we saw sun (Melbourne is really cloudy during the winter). Erika's friend Elise picked us up from the airport. I must say it was amazing driving to her apartment, over the Sydney Harbor Bridge, and catching a great view of the Opera House. Experiencing two of the world's great landmarks in one shot. We had lunch at a nice gourmet sandwich place and then dropped our stuff at Elise's place and set out to experience Sydney. The bus ride to the heart of city is a modest 25 minutes. The first thing we did was buy ferry tickets to Manly beach- and while waiting to depart took about 25 pictures of the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge both. Manly Beach is a 30 minute ride on the ferry. It is an adorable beach town in Sydney; heaps of shops and restaurants by the board walk. By the time we got there and had our fix of window shopping, things were closing. But that didn't stop us from finding a nice place to sit on the sand and just relax and listen to the water. A 30 minute return trip on the ferry brought us back to the harbor where we met up with two of Erika's friends for dinner. They were going off about a place they heard about that is by the water, the Opera House in view, and that serves croc and roo. Their friends forgot to mention that the restaurant is quite pricey. We decided to eat there anyway. For such a pricey meal the portions were a bit disappointing but it was DELICIOUS. The croc had a texture similar to chicken breast. The roo was my favorite. I even made Erika taste it- she's a vegetarian. So tender, so much flavor. MMMMMMM. We walked over to 'Pancakes on the Rocks' for dessert. But apparently someone told every tourist in Sydney they should eat there because the line was literally around the building. After a long unsuccessful walk with the guys trying to find dessert, we (they) gave up and took the bus back to Uni. Me and Erika decided we still had enough time to get dessert. Found the only place that was open and that was not a chain cafe. It was a small really busy cafe with amazing deserts- bad service though (there is no tipping in Aus). Erika and I had some coffee and shared a slice of cheesecake and chocolate cake. When back at Elise's place it was clear a full day of excitement got the best of us. Within a few minutes, it was lights out. The next morning Erika and I set out for Bondi Beach. (pronounced BOND- EYE) We were told countless times that we should go there. Two buses - an hour trip total, took us to white sand and blue water. It is winter here but not so cold that a walk or lay on the sand is odd. The wind made it a bit chilly but the sun on our backs was nice. Not warm enough for a bikini but warm enough to enjoy. We walked along the coast which allowed the best views of the beach. And I mean breath taking views- especially when reaching the highest point on the beach. The walk leads to another beach- forgot what its called. On our way back to the bus we decided to walk through the residential beach town. We stopped by a candy shop and picked up some Turkish delights for Elise. We also stopped by a shopping area where Erika lucked out and found a super hot dress for a discounted price- rare in Australia. As we made our way back to the city the sun was going down and it was cold !! Waiting for the bus was well....... COLD. We had to make our way back and freshen up for dinner with Elise and her boyfriend Patrick. Elise drove about 15 minutes over the bridge to a harbor area which gave a picturesque view of the city. This harbor area is different from the one we had dinner at the night prior. There we met Patrick who had just came off work. We were excited to have chosen seats out doors at the restaurant because it gave a perfect view of the fireworks. Seemed we picked the perfect night to eat on the harbor. Of course we discussed politics and exchanged the oddities of our countries over our seafood dinners- always fun. A nice walk, a gelato desert, and some laughs later, we find ours elves once again exhausted back at Elise's- but that good kind of exhausted. We would have stayed up later but we had to wake up at 630 the next morning to make it to a 700 bus to the city where we would be picked up for a tour of the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains are ... well Mountains or rather platues in Sydney. BEAUTIFUL. Just think gorgeous sights of forests as far as the eye can see. Waterfalls that make you want to just .... I don't know .....undress ......and jump or something- that might be a bit much but you get the point. Most of these tours are lead by some formal tour guide driving a bus, wearing a croc dundee hat speaking in a recorded monotone kind of voice. Apparently they were short on tour guides. Sounds like a loss on our part but turned out to be a win. 'Rocket Rad' is what I will refer to our guide as; a blunt, easy going man, slightly over weight man with very messy hair and wardrobe. A natural comedian. The bus was filled with about 16 people from all over. All with a different story as to why they were in Sydney - "just traveling", "always wanted to go", "work", "needed to run away". On most of these set ups the tourists stick to themselves, take pictures 'oooh and ahhh' and keep it moving. This one was a bit different- and I think credit should be given to Rocket Rad. His humor loosened us up and it was not long before we all chatted up and exchanged stories and great laughs. Rad took us to all the best sights and told us as much as he knew about the mountains. The Blue mountains are mostly dry areas with no economic use- which is why they are still standing, the Europeans found no good use for them. I can't tell enough how amazing these views were. Some of the most gorgeous sights I have ever seen. (Only the pics can do justice) We also saw the "three sisters"- A major tourist attraction in the mountains. The three sisters are three huge rocks that peak out of the side of the cliffs. There are a number of what Rad referred to as bullshit stories to tell about the Three Sisters. These stories are supposed to tell what the Blue Mountain Aboriginals told. All involve a magic doctor who turns his three daughters into huge rocks to protect them but then dies so does not get the chance to turn them back. Rad considered them bullshit because there are no more Aboriginals from the Blue mountains around to tell these stories themselves. And there is no way these stories could have been passed from the Aboriginals who did not speak english to the Europeans who were more interested in exploiting the natives than hearing their stories- and apparently there is no such thing as magic doctors in Aboriginal culture. So his theory is they are just stories made up by tourist companies. The intense workout/ hike through the rain forest- lasted us a good 6- 8 hours. Rad added an extra stop on our trip- which is most definitely not on the usual itinerary. He stopped by a liquor store- everyone hopped out and got six packs and bottles of cheap wine and some snacks. And he drove to a hidden location- a cliff overlooking the mountains. It was a gorgeous location. We all sat on the cliff, which made me a bit nervous. People drinking beer... by a cliff ??? Nothing went wrong, thank goodness. But it was great. It was great listening to everyone's traveling stories. The one Irish man told about how he was roofied in Queens. His accent alone was fun. A few beers later we were on our way back to the city. It was a little over an hour ride back with a stop at a gas station and at the Olympic Stadium- the Olympics was held in Aus in 2000; in case you didn't know.... I didn't. By the time we made it to the city, Erika and I had been up for over 12 hours. I was exhausted. And excited to get back to the apartment- I needed a shower and Elise was making dinner. She's a great host. We had planned to go out to see her work- she works for Sky News, but an 8 hour hike in the Blue Mountains and the slight case of food coma from dinner changed our minds. We stayed in and watched "Muriel's Wedding"- an Australian 90's comedy. Of which I found pretty entertaining. And now we make our way back. As I sit at the airport, it is a bitter sweet feeling going back to Melbourne. I assume this feeling comes with traveling and may be something I will feel a lot in the next few months. Going back to Melbourne means going back to "life" and is a reminder that there is no real escape to all that "life" brings. Going away for holiday, whether it is for a weekend or a week makes things freeze for a bit. (Maybe its just me) No worries during that time- no homework, no class, no chores, no family, no budgeting, no drama. Just great sightseeing and great food, and a euphoric feeling. I'm so glad I did this.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Bipolar Weather Jujubee God

I need to discuss the weather. Yes the weather. The mother nature/ weather Jujubee God or whatever/ whoever is in charge of the weather in Melbourne is suffering from Bipolar Disorder. Yesterday I left my apartment over dressed. The sun was shining, it was warm out, a lovely day. One of those days that gets you all excited for summer. I went home after my lecture. Two hours later I stepped out to have some coffee at a lovely location two blocks from home- I thought to myself- let me wear something nice- the weather is nice so why not. Nice indeed- cute boots, skirt, nice top and a matching scarf. But when I go out of course- it is now cloudy- Not so fun. After coffee- extremely windy. And when it is windy here, the wind can literally push you enough for you to be forced to walk at uncontrollable fast pace. And of course, once I am in my room, the sun decides to peak its head out and say hello. But hides when I leave for my second lecture. Oh and it gets worse. As I am sitting in class I hear..... RAIN. It was raining ... roos and koalas (yea I know I'm corny). I thought the weather can't make up its mind, it'll be over once I have to walk back home. But no. My friend and I are making our way home after class, walking in the rain- looking pathetic with no umbrella. And then it starts coming down HARD. Enough for us to run and scream. And it hurt... yes it hurt BC IT WAS HAIL. Mother nature was clearly having a spazz attack because she was throwing ice cubes at us !!!!!! The rain continued after the hail. But did not stop until after we ran to the village splashing in kiddy pool sized puddles. And this is typical of Melbourne weather. You would think watching the news would help. But NO... I especially hate it when I see sun and decide to step out for a run. And as I am leaving the Village, pumped for a sunny run the sun decides to creep behind the clouds.
Don't worry this confused weather doesn't bother me too much. I have gotten use to it by now. But this vent was necessary- I mean REALLY ?? HAIL ??

Hopefully its nice this weekend .... IN SYDNEY !!!!! Leaving tomorrow afternoon.

Monday, August 16, 2010


I just got out of my Australian Indiginous Studies lecture. The guest lecturer was.... not exciting. One of those lectures where you can feel the boredom from the 350 people in the room all at once. How dissapointing because the topic- Environmental Philosophy is actually really interesting. BUT ... right when my head drifted off for the nth time, a student bursts through the doors of the back of the lecture hall with ... love in his eyes lol (a great actor, this man)... and his eyes meet with another student on the opposite side of the room. One of them is holding what is supposed to be a carpet and they both burst into song at the top of their lungs - "A WHOLE NEW WORLD ..... ". Yes, Aladdin's, "A whole new world"... in the middle of the lecture. I was confused. I'm thinking ... "pretty sure this has nothing to do with A.I.S...but I LIKE IT. Once they were done, walking out the lecture hall holding hands with carpet in hand, everyone claps and I notice three students at the back of the room leave. And it hit me, they must have been judges- of course, it's PROSH WEEK. Prosh Week- something like Skidmore's Hunt only all clubs on campus participate and it lasts an entire week. I heard yesterday two males ended up naked in the middle of North Court... and were kicked yea... ouch. That apparently was one of the tasks hidden in an envelope .... marked EASY. This afternoon (2pm)there is a pub crawl- for this everyone participating in the "game" has to down 17 drinks by the end of the crawl. Last woman/man standing wins. Oh boy. But, there are heaps of events all week. Including Jelly wrestling, a boat race, and a scavenger hunt. Some of this stuff is a bit much.... (I.E Iron gut challenge) so I may have to sit out but... I will be equipped with a camera.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


I've been in Australia for a whole month !! And I have noticed that Australians over all are very different from Americans. Australians are much more laid back (Which may explain them having better sense of humors; very witty). This is especially seen in Australian students. They're described as "closet studiers" who somehow make time for hard partying .....every night. Whenever I mention studying to a local student they look at me puzzled. "Why study, you need to have fun!!" The ironic bit is that school work is still taken very seriously and the grading system is much more difficult than it is in the states. Which explains why an 80 here translates to an A + in the States. Some how the Australian students manage to get their fun in and do well in school. Australians also are not as competitive as Americans. For instance, In the states you could not go a day with out a fellow classmate wanting to know what you got on an exam or paper just so they can compare. That doesn't happen here. Its odd to ask another student what grade they got- its a bit personal.
Side note: Like every one else, Australians don't think much of Americans. They think that American students all go to huge Universities with nothing but Greek life, football and cheerleaders. And every Australian I have met thus far wants to visit New York City.

Oh and just incase you happen to run into an Australian. Here is a short lesson on Aussi lingo

She'll be right- Everything is going to be okay
Good on ya- Good Job (Sarcastic)
No worries- No problem, often used after thank you
Dag- to be dressed poorly
Perve- to sexually admire visually
Spew- vomit
Galah- idiot
Durry- cigarette
Kiwi- New Zealander
Bad Luck- Shit happens
Have a piss- Have a drink
Down the Hatch- dRINK UP
Pig's arse- Highly unlikely
Snag- Sausage
Barbie- BBQ
Sunnies- Sunglasss
Wuss- to act like baby
Yobbo- Rude male
Bogan- Trailer trash
Ginger- Redhead
Crook- to be unwell or in a bad mood
Fair go- to be fair
Hoon- A person who drives fast
Tute- Tutorial

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Coffee, Toast, and Politics

My alarm rings, its 830 in the morning. By then I have been up for about half an hour- Early morning pondering- the usual. I get up and begin the best part of my morning, BREAKFAST. Breakfast, coffee, and the news sums up my morning routine. Since I have been here, the topics I have heard most about concern Mel Gibson being a racist woman beater and, the election. The next federal election will be held at the end of this month. I have developed a particular interest in the election so here is a little about who is running...
Julia Gillard (Australian Labor Party) is Australia's current Prime Minister and first female Prime Minister. I find her fiery red hair amusing all on its own, though her personality seems to fall short of it. She is an unmarried woman, with a partner (it is not unusual for Australians to have a life partner but never marry) and no children. But that is the least of what makes her interesting.....drum roll ...... She's an an atheist, yes an atheist. At least that is what I got from her "No I don't [believe in God]...I'm not a religious person" statement. So far ...I like. If it were the U.S all religious groups would have been burning her picture in mass bon fires before she got a chance to finish that sentence. But oddly, she is against gay marriage... which I don't understand. If religion is not the motivation for her opposition to same sex marriage then I am curious, what is? I tried doing some research, to find out if she has spoken any further on this topic but haven't found anything yet. Moving on ..... Gillard talks a lot about moving forward... literally. The morning news station counted how many times she has said "moving forward" in a number of speeches and the count reached somewhere in the twenties each. Her priority in this election is to "move forward" in health, calling for an increase in doctors and nurses if elected and placing an emphasis on mental health research.
Large ears and a funny looking smile, Tony Abbott (Liberal Party of Australia) has the perfect face for political cartoons ha ! of which typically involve him being something of a bigot, sexist- one of those "Im not sexist, I have three daughters/ Im not racist, I have black friends" types. He also is not the best public speaker, one of the reasons someone described him as "Australia's George Bush". I noticed his approval ratings have been increasing in the past few days- which actually came to my surprise- I mean this is the man who said "a woman's greatest gift is her virginity". It seemed as if Gillard was promised the vote of most women, but according to morning news (I only have one news station) his approval from women has been increasing. In the case of holding "traditional values"- Abbott takes all. A conservative Catholic- no surprise this funny looking man described reducing the number of abortions performed a year as a "national priority".

Clearly I need to do more research beyond what Sunrise Morning News is telling me =)

[sniff:sniff] I think my dinner is burning so ....

Until next time.