Saturday, September 11, 2010

Opera House, Vegemite Scrolls, and French Greeting Faux Pas...

I haven’t decided yet if I am somehow going to have a daily blog entry or what, but I definitely have to make one for today. I decided since I snoozed away most of the evening last night in a jet-lagged stupor (seriously, I’ve never felt like that before. I had leaned over for a second sitting Indian style on my bed and closed my eyes and basically slept for 2 hours. I woke up, kind of mad that I hadn’t planned everything, then fought sleep for about an hour more while I decided how I would spend the rest of my week. I finally gave up and passed out around 10:30pm.) I woke up this morning around 8 am, both of my roommates still asleep. I grabbed my stuff I had gotten together the night before, crept out of the room, took a shower and dressed, and was out of the hostel by around 8:30. I had decided I would get a good breakfast, since I technically didn’t eat dinner last night (wasn’t the plan, see the above info on the jeg-lag stupor), so I walked around looking. I finally found this little cafe called “bona fide,” it wasn’t too expensive, so I went in to get some food and coffee. Remembering that book I red before I left which warned me almost no restaurants were sit-down and be waited on restaurants, I tried to order at the counter. “Are you eating in?” the girl asked. “Yes,” I said in a probably confused tone. “You can have a seat, I'll bring you a menu.” Thanks alot, Rusty. There was only one other couple in the cafe, but this was no indication of it’s food quality. Feast your eyes on this meal: Eggs, toast and bacon. And the toast is no ordinary American slice of wheat or white toasted. It’s a nice artisan bread with butter. And that ain’t your ordinary skinny bacon. That is a nice, thick bacon, practically ham. And a grilled tomato! Also, I ordered a short black, forgetting what this means. I probably wanted a tall black, or even a tall white, but a short black is a tiny cup of very strong, almost thick coffee. You almost have to chew it. Dan would love it.

After my magnificent breakfast, I continued on my journey toward the harbor. The walk wasn’t bad, a mile or two, and the weather was gorgeous. I was diligently following my google maps directions when the harbor caught my eye to my left. It wasn’t the correct way, but the Opera House is on the harbor, so I would make it there eventually, right? I went down some stairs and spent my time walking along the harbor, taking in the sights of the bridge and noting all the nice restaurants. I turned a corner, and the Opera House popped out right at me! There it was, like saying “I’m here, where have you been?” I immediately started angling along with all the other tourists to get the best shots of the building. It’s crazy that these two iconic structures- the bridge and the opera house- are so close together. You knock out two of your Sydney and Australia “must-sees” in one clean sweep. What almost ruined the whole experience- they were playing a Fleetwood Mac song on the loud speakers outside. Are you kidding, Fleetwood Mac? I like Fleetwood Mac as much as the next person (which is marginally), but it wasn’t completing the moment. Finally, they started song good, old-fashioned, in another language so I had no idea what they were saying, opera. Exactly what was needed. After avoiding the musical Fleetwood disaster, walking clean around the structure, and taking a picture of every angle that seemed “artistic,” I decided to go inside. Since I hadn’t scheduled a tour ahead of time, I knew I wouldn’t be able to take one (no t that I didn’t try last night- and the website tells me today I am registered to buy tickets now if I want. Thanks Sydney Opera House). I thought about maybe getting tickets to a show, but I wanted it to be opera, it’s the only thing that seemed appropriate. The only opera option was Sunday afternoon, tickets starting at $69. And guess what- all the $69 dollar tickets are gone. I instead browse the gift shop, find a shot glass that was begging to join my collection, then discover my favorite part of the opera house- the bathroom! It was so great, dimly lit, with rows of roomy stalls with doors that had a wave shape. And not one, not two, but three rows of toilet paper to chose from! And look that this amazing sink! I was afraid to turn on the faucet, after all, there is no sink bowl, where will the water go? But magic, it all falls nicely to the back of the sink. (Am I so super lame to even begin to claim my favorite thing about the opera house was it’s bathroom? I don’t care, it was super cool.)

After my invigorating bathroom experience, I went on to explore the rest of the area around the Opera House. There were these two floating platforms were along the side of the opera house. They are kind of cool, and appear to exist only for fishing and throw-unsuspecting-tourists-into-the-water purposes. Each wave that came by rocked it, so you almost had to have surfing stills to stay aboard. After deciding I would stop tempting fate, I left that area and spotted the Botanical Gardens somewhere I didn’t know they would be-right beside the opera house. So we are now knocking out three Sydney must-sees? What am I going to do the rest of the week? (If my hostel had it’s way, I would be drunk the whole time. I’m not complaining- yet- but this is definitely a party hostel. Every organized event involves drinking. And I saw some families with kids checking in today. They must not have read the website carefully.) Anyway, figuring I will find something else to do on my botanical garden day, I ventured in. It was gorgeous, and definitely calling me to have an old school quanding day here in the Sydney harbor, like I did at UNC. Lots of people and families with babies walking around, laying in the grass, enjoying the amazing weather. And the birds walked around, you almost tripped on them. Here is a kid that was chasing around one of these birds. After thoroughly enjoying my botanical garden walk (I will be back before I leave Sydney), I walked back through the harbor and found a shop that I was interested in. I bought some gifts, not to be mentioned yet here as the recipients may be reading, and keep walking back down the harbor. I was getting ready to go back up the stairs, but spotting a nice bar, decided I needed to drink a beer at Sydney harbor. I bought my beer and sat outside, continuing to enjoy the amazing day (note the almost empty glass in my self-pic).

I next went to Sydney Museum, only because I spotted it on the way to the harbor. Admission was only $10, so I checked it out. There were a few interesting exhibits on the Aborigines and some good information on the development of Sydney. I also had planned to hang out in Hyde Park some too, but I saved that for tomorrow. I went to Wollworth’s, which was essentially a 3 story Walmart (only three story because it needed the stories to fit vertically, not any bigger than Walmart) and got a few things so I wouldn’t die of scurvy or have to eat breakfast out every morning (it would add up, if I kept going to places as nice as Bona Fide). I also stopped on in a small shop almost to my hostel because I saw bananas as I was walking by. SIDE STORY: I had a leg cramp last night, and had to get out of bed to stand on it. I must have woke up my Russian roommate, because she sat up. I told her I was having a leg cramp. “Do you ever get leg cramps?” I said, maybe trying to be friendly, but also trying to make sure there wasn’t a language barrier to what I was saying and her think I was weird or trying to attack her or something. “Yes, sometimes, but not... only when I am doing something... like walking.” She got up and went to the restroom, after what I considered was kind of a snotty remark about my leg cramp or my wimpiness or both, while I continued to nurse my freaking out leg muscle. I finally got it under control and went back to bed. She came back in shortly and said “That was interesting.” In my head, I say ‘B, if you’re going to make some other remark about my leg cramp, prepare to be served an American can of whoop ass,’ but I actually say “What was?” She says “Someone was in the bathroom showers with a guy. He tried to get out of there, but saw I was in there. Hostel sex.” I say, “Ha, that’s crazy,” as college memories of these kinds of situations flood back. Anyway, back to present- Along with my leg-cramp-soothing bananas, I spot this crazy Australia creation: its like a cinnamon roll, but it’s made with cheese and vegemite and called a scroll (don’t you love it?). I decide immediately I have to try this and added it to my pile on the counter. I will probably have it tomorrow morning and report back as to whether it is in fact edible.

I went to dinner at the Scary Canary (for real this time). I had been offered to go on the Oz Party Bus to 5 bars with 5 drinks free for $30, but being by myself, this will inevitably be awkward, end badly, or both. Plus, I do not think I am over this jet-lag thing yet. Did you know as I am typing now in Australia around 5pm, it is actually 3:36am in North Carolina? I belkeve it, I could do some 3:30 am sleeping right now. I will probably sleep in a little later tomorrow (since I basically accomplished Sydney in one day today), hang out in Hyde Park, then I have bought a ticket to a dinner and cruise on the harbor that starts tomorrow at 3pm. Anyway, dinner at the Canary tonight was pretty good. They like to add weird stuff to hamburgers though, and completely leave off cheese! I had a couple of beers and was watching the rugby game on TV. It's official, rubgy is both awesome and hot. I must have looked pathetic sitting alone, because a French girl named Susan came over to talk to me. It was nice of her, even though I wasn't the only one sitting alone having dinner. It is just not me to approach total strangers and have dinner with them, not if I don't want it to be a completely awkward experience. And that may never be me. But it was a nice thing to do. I found out she was 19, living here for 7 months, staying in the hostel while looking for an apartment, and the two guys she was with were French also. I met one of them, and committed a huge French faux pas (probably). The guy leaned in, so I was assuming he couldn't hear me because we were in a loud bar. I began telling him my name and he jumped back quickly. Susan said, "we do this in France," then did the double kiss on each cheek thing. "Oh," I said, and did it, saying "muah" to ensure he knew I was doing this correctly. It was pretty hilarious to me. It sounds like a riot outside. It's either the Oz Party Bus or the rugby crowd celebrating, maybe both. I want to be there and I don't at the same time.

Oh, two more things (sorry, this entry is really long)- I spotted a guy in my hostel wearing a UNC hat. I remembered Jory’s warnings to try not to hang out with Americans, but dying to know where he was from (I mean, what are the odds? I’m on the other side of the world- has word of our awesomeness made it this far?), I got his attention and asked if her was a UNC fan. “Yes, I love all college basketball actually, but UNC is my favorite.” There was no real accent, so I asked if he was from the states. “Canada, actually.” Yep, it’s me, the lone American. I told him I went to school there. He asked about the basketball, and the ticket system. His name was Graham. I just thought it was random. The other thing- I have noticed, like I said yesterday, Australians listen to American music. But everywhere I hear music playing, I have already heard these two songs at least 3 times, meaning they must be favorites for some reason- Katy Perry’s California Gurls and Train’s Hey Soul Sister. Don’t ask me why, I’m not too fond of either, but everyone is very into these in particular. Maybe they will grow on me too. G’day.

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