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Australia Diary – May 9 – July 13 – Ninth Week – Sydney.
Saturday, July 8
Again at the Adelaide airport for my last time. I do love it.
As I may have mentioned, I love being met at airports. This goes way back to the 60’s when we lived in Florida and Thailand. We spent a lot of time at airports as it was during the war and Dad was in Vietnam for a year. Annie and I would be standing at the gate (remember when you could actually met people at the gate?) and would cry as we watched people saw hello and good-bye to each other. We didn’t even have to know them, but we would cry along.
I was at my gate #24 waiting for my plane to unload and there was a mom and dad with Welcome Home balloons waiting for someone. Suddenly she became very agitated and ran to the front to greet her adult son and his wife. They were so cute and so happy to see each other that I began to cry. As I had finally gotten myself under control, the dad of the group asked if I would take their photos. Of course and I also took one for myself with their permission. Mom was Glenda, Dad was Adam, Son was Phil and daughter-in-law was Katrina. Very cute.
PHOTO of group
Immediately following that as we were beginning to board, there was a family of a mom and dad, older sister and younger son. Daughter and son were boarding the plane and when it was time to say good-bye, the son lost it when he said good-bye to mum. I was off again. It turns out that the daughter and son were flying to Sydney, him to visit the grand parents and her to take her examination for the Air Force. Very crowded plane, my first really full plane for at least 3 months.
I bought tickets for the round trip shuttle at the airport and we made at least 6 stops before mine. The driver was new to the job and kept calling base for instructions that really irritated a family riding in the van that began to loudly discuss their displeasure. As he was trying to find my street, he kept running into road closures. They were doing a commercial shoot at the intersection of my street, so I told him that I would walk. It wasn’t that hard, only three blocks and luckily, all down hill.
My hotel, the Grand Hotel, was not what I had expected. It was a the typical Australian Hotel that I have seen in every town and city I have visited, with rooms above a bar that can also serve as a bottle store in some locations. This one had three levels of meeting rooms, a freight elevator with very heavy double doors. They did offer continental breakfast and some meal service, but mainly bar food. I told them I might only be there one night, as I was concerned about the noise. I ended up on the 5th floor in the back and there was no noise from the bar at night. The room also was not made up when I arrived at 4pm, which was surprising and the light by the bed did not work. I told myself, it only needed to be for one night and I went out for a walk and to get my bearings. I found that I was an easy 4-block walk to the Sydney harbor and the Opera House. The weather was great, the walk was easy, and the hotel and the room looked okay by the time I went back.
I found an art house movie theatre that was playing a movie that I had hoped to see in Adelaide,
Tristam Shandy. It is one of my most favorite formats for a movie, a movie about making a movie. Very arty and cute and full of period costumes and British actors.
Sunday, July 9
I told the hotel I would only stay one more night, as I was confident that I could find different lodgings during the day. I had a long list of thing I wanted to see in Sydney, so with my map and list, off I went.
The one thing that I think is brilliant about Sydney, which I did not find in other cities, is that all the City Convenience Stores have internet connections. There was one right across the street from my hotel. This was fortunate, as I still needed to connect twice a day to determine where I would spend my volunteer time in the next few weeks.
I walked to the YHA’s and found that they were both booked solid, and even if they had an opening, would have been the same price of my room at the hotel. I had cancelled my hotel, thinking foolishly that I would find lodging at the YHA, so I needed to go back and get my room back again. I had not checked my vibes this morning. Hmmmmm?
On the way back to the hotel, I went to the Barracks Museum that had been a men’s prison and finally an immigration holding area of women in the early years of New South Wales, NSW. I went into the Cathedral that was nice, but you could tell it was very new with not much atmosphere.
Sydney can look like so many other cities when you aren’t next to the major landmarks, but it quickly tells you that you are not in Kansas as you see a pied ibis foraging in the plants at the park. I kept trying to get a good photo, but just as I would push the shutter, he would move or hide.
Next, I went to the Museum of Australia, a Natural History Museum. I love free museums; you don’t feel guilty when you leave after only 30 minutes.
The hotel had no problem giving me my room back and I celebrated by buying a hard cider from the bar and taking it to my room.
I was determined to find wireless network and I had spied a Starbucks near the quay and with my computer in hand, off I went. My visits to the Starbucks now have the tradition, a decaf flat white with skim milk and gluten free date and orange cookie and blogging. I also connected with Bette and had a free internet phone conversation with her on Skype. If you have not heard of this, look into it. It is a free service, even international calls. All you need is a headset with a mic, internet connection on your computer, and another person on Skype near their computer to hear your ring.
Monday, July 10
Now that I had decided to stay, it was time to try the shower down the hall. No dramas until I tried to exit the room. The door was locked, but no matter what I did, the door would not open. Finally, after I had dropped everything that I had gathered in my arms, I finally managed to get the door open.
The first thing that I needed to handle was an extension of my Visa. I had done an electronic Visa that cost $20 and was good for 3 months. As I would end up being in OZ for about two weeks past three months, I needed an extension. I found the office and filled out the forms and was told it would be $200. I was a little shocked, especially as the first one was only $20. Well, I needed it, so I went upstairs to have my application reviewed. No dramas and $205 later, I have a VISA in my passport. (HINT FOR NEXT TIME – Even if you don’t think you will need one, if you think you might possibly be somewhere longer than 1 month, go for the longer visa!)
I walked and found I am doing at least 40 blocks a day in Sydney. No worries and the streets are full of people, so I don’t feel a need to be home before dark.
I came across a wonderful meat pie shop called Jester’s. I had my first of their pies, Thai Chicken that was fantastic.
I went back to the arts cinema because they had a documentary about the Ballet Russe. I know, I am in a foreign city and watching movies. Sometimes, you just need something that you know. The movie was fabulous and showed clips and photos of the former Russian ballet stars, some of who are still teaching today at 90. Very well done. The funniest coincidence was one of the men from the 7 Brides movie (he played Dan) had been a Ballet Russe Dancer.
I made an appointment to meet Kaye tomorrow. Kaye was the lady that I met on the street in Mackay, my first full day in Australia and with whom I had felt an immediate connection. She had said I should look her up when I was in Sydney.
I also had an appointment to meet Kate for drinks on Wednesday night. Kate was my diving buddy from the Great Barrier Reef and she works just minutes from my hotel.
I am still waiting to hear from ItoI on what placements might be open until I leave Australia.
Tuesday, July 11
I was feeling a little out of sorts from not knowing what I would be doing in OZ for volunteer work and picked a vibes card. You’re the Boss card, it said. It is up to me to ask the questions and check the vibes. No one can do it for me, nor should they. I emailed I to I and told them I was leaning towards Melbourne, but would be open to either and I left for the train.
I walked to the train to see Kaye. I had been the day before the look over the station and get the lay of the land. It is huge station with several levels of tracks. They have wonderful ticket machines that you can order your own ticket, which I did. It had all the information that I needed except what track to go to. I went into one area, but was directed to another set of tracks.
I had bought some cut up fruit and ate it on the platform, but I could not find a trashcan. I asked the conductor and he said that due to the terrorists, no trash cans in the stations. I took it with me and found one when I alighted from the train.
The ride was only 1.5 hours to the Northern side of Sydney across the bridge, I spotted Kaye right away and she was shocked that I did not have a suitcase with me. She had told me her schedule and it sounded like she was so busy, that I had assumed only a day trip. With limited time before her evening meeting, off we went in her car.
Kaye is delightful, a new grandmother, former pony club leader and riding school owner and avid creative memories scrap booker. She is also a Neways Distributor, which was a company that I was unfamiliar with. It is out of Utah and promotes, skin, teeth, beauty, supplements and cleaners that are free of anything that could cause cancer. I must research this a little more, because I like the concept.
During our day together, she drove me all over her little hamlet and we visited many beaches and overlooks. We spotted migrating whales and had lunch next to a pod of playful bottlenose dolphins, the best viewing I have had in Australia. We also went to her former house and riding facility and there were lessons going on. There were adorable little girls in jodhpurs on very fuzzy white ponies. Thelwel if I ever saw them.
We stopped by her friend’s house that is in love with everything Santa Fe. There house could have been airlifted from New Mexico it is so perfect. They had it built from pictures and have never even been to the US.
Kaye and I stopped at the local health food store and I found henna so my roots can be covered again. We then went to pick up several of her friends to go to a presentation this evening from a Cardiologists discussion on the benefits of the Neways products. I had a quick drink with them before I caught the training back to Sydney.
It was a lovely evening and I felt very blessed to have time with Kaye. I hope I get to see her again at the end of the trip.
I was pooped and turned off the light by 9:30 pm. YAAAH!
Wednesday, July 12
Let go – Vibes card – should be a daily pull for me recently
Slept late and took the circulating bus all over Sydney. This is an excellent way to get your bearings and to find out about places you want to go back to visit. After my first circuit, I got off at the stop for the Art Museum of NSW – Can you believe it – they don’t have any NORMAN LINDSAY ON THE WALLS! Who is Norman Lindsay? More later.
I heard back from ItoI and Melbourne did not need volunteers currently, so I will go north to Cairns in a week and do 4 weeks at a wildlife hospital near Ravenshoe. As soon as the decision was made, I was much lighter and happier. I start on Friday, July 21. 4 more nights in Sydney and then, off to Cairns for 4 days.
I will go to YHA travel agent tomorrow and plan the rest of my time before Cairns. I will also check into my time in H Kong briefly before SAfrica. I will check with South African Consulate to see about a visa for over 90 days just in case
As I was waiting for Kate to meet me at my hotel, I noticed that the street cleaners check in with their mates on cell phones to determine which streets have been done and which still need to be done. Amazing!
I had dinner with Kate at the Opera Bar over looking the harbor. It was lovely to spend some time with her. She is at an exciting time of her life, taking on a new position with more responsibility and finishing up her degree. Then, she will be able to go anywhere. I will definitely keep in touch with her and see where she ends.
I love my life!
Thursday, July 13
The YHA Travel agency had answers to some of my questions, but it sound like I will be making most of my own reservations on-line for all future flights and hotel needs through December.
I was walking back to the Rocks district, where the early settlement of Sydney began, and stopped into the Queen Victoria Building that is supposed to be the most beautiful building in Sydney. I am not sure what it was originally, but now it is an upscale shopping center on 4 floors with a central opening looking down all the levels. It has lots of memorabilia about Victoria and paintings and the most amazing clock and calendar. On the hour, the trumpets sound, and to the music of Trumpet Voluntaire, the clock has scenes from British history appearing with moving figures in each tableaux. Some of the scenes include the signing of the Magna Carta, the beheading of King Charles, and Henry VIII with the 6. The calendar part of the clock is in a different location and resembles a large suspended egg that shows the month, date and day of the week. They just don’t make clocks like that any more.
I had an appointment to check in the Terri about the cats and they are doing well, waiting mostly patiently for me to come home and generally treating Brett and Betty pretty well. Good news!
On my way back to the Quay, I had Jester’s Pie #2 – Thai Chicken – I couldn’t help it, the other varieties just didn’t look that nice!
While I was in Adelaide in Tandanya, the native Australian art center, they had a costume exhibit from an aboriginal movie - 10 Canoes. If I remember correctly, this is the first movie that tells a totally aboriginal story and done in the native tongue with English narration and subtitles. I saw the movie at the art house cinema I had been to before. It was good, a little slow moving by Western standards, but very dear. At one point, there was a line of warriors walking in a straight line out into the bush. Suddenly, the one at the end shouts and they all spread out to take on an intruder. The last guy says that he no longer wants to walk in the back because somebody keeps farting. After much finger pointing and laughing, one guy confesses and then he gets to walk at the tail of the line.
I also treated myself to a night of theatre at the Sydney Opera House. It was a one-man original show called A Large Attendance in the Antechamber. The play was about the cousin of Charles Darwin who was also a scientist and the actor did most of the performance encased in a 3-sided, 5 foot square box on stage, which he hardly ever left during the show. During his narration, he conducted science experiments, projected images on to a cloth screen in the front of the box and made tea on stage. I was in the front row in the last seat on house right and saw it all. I have packed away my literature or I could tell you the names of the man. It was wonderful. The Opera House is also doing a new version of Pirates of Penzance, which I hope to fit in during my last night in Sydney.
Friday, July 14
Today I decided to walk closer to Kings Cross and visit the Sydney Jewish Museum. I came out of my hotel to find rain, so I went back for my big jacket. The walk wasn’t that far, but it was going into a somewhat seedier part of the city, which I felt was safe enough during the day. The Museum was pretty good and several displays were very interesting, especially one on the archeological excavations of a mass grave at Sernika. The evidence from this grave helped to bring two WWII criminals to trial. Another interesting thing I saw was the information on the names and number of Jewish people who were sent to Australia from England when it was a penal colony. One man, Ikey Solomon, was a thief whose family had already been sent to Australia. He was the man that Charles Dickens used as the model for Fagin in Oliver Twist. Ikey ended up a pauper and dying in Australia, abandoned by his family.
I made plans to take another train trip tomorrow out of the city to the Blue Mountains to visit the home and gallery of Norman Lindsay.
The rest of the day was errands such as booking my flights to Cairns, Jester’s pie #3 – Tandori Chicken, and my blogging at Starbucks ritual of decaf skinny flat white with gluten free cookie. Then home to the hotel to henna my hair and watch tv.
Doodle days are good!
Saturday, July 15
I was up early for my Blue Mountains Trip and it was raining in earnest so I bundled up and headed out. (This is the first time since I mailed it home that I wished I had my umbrella). I figured I would find a cheap umbrella along the way.
I knew that Norman lived at a house called Springwood, (also a train station) but the address in the guidebook said Falcounbridge, so that is where I got off the train. It had bombed rain the entire trip. I asked an elderly gentleman how best to get to the gallery. He said that the buses don’t go there, there were no taxis, he would drive me but he does not have a car, but he did point me in the right direction. It was a 4.5 km walk to the gallery. Luckily I had my big coat, it wasn’t too cold and it turned out to be down hill the entire way. I stopped at every open place along the way, but no umbrellas.
As I was approaching an area, all the street signs had names like Watkin Wombat and somebody O’Possum. I had an awful thought and wondered if the place would even be open. Luckily, when I arrived it was. I entered the gift shop, dripping wet and asked the ladies if they sold Norman Lindsay umbrellas? What a good idea, they thought. I asked if it would be possible to have a cab called when I wanted to leave, which they said they could, and they waved me off to the café for a cup of tea and a dry off before the tour.
Why did I want to see Norman Lindsay’s house? When Annie was at University in Canberra in the 70’s, she arrived in Bangkok with a book called, the Magic Pudding, or the adventures of Bunyip Bluegum. It became a staple in my house and it was written and illustrated by Mr. Lindsay in the 1920s. It was about a magical (steak and kidney pie) pudding owned by Mr. Bluegum. What was magical about it is that you could cut it and eat part of it, but it would repair itself and there would always be more. As you can imagine, it was the source of great envy and many mean people wanted to steal it, therefore the adventures.
As I went on my tour, I learned that Mr. Lindsay (1870’s – 1969) came from a very talented artistic family and he was a cartoon illustrator for the Herald (?), a liberal and counter culture newspaper until 1950. He also did many etchings, cartoons, several books (which were banned), garden sculpture and oils. He adored the female nude and his women were usually Rubenesque. There was a film called Sirens, a somewhat fictitious story from his life, and an animated movie done of the Magic Pudding with notables as Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill and Toni Collette.
In his painting studio, he left two pictures incomplete and only partially painted to show the coming generations how he did it. He was not classically trained and was ridiculed by the art critics of his time, but considering all that, I found his oils to be magnificent. He lived on the edge, called his house Olympus and the residents Olympians and most of his early works were of fantastical groupings of people in Greek or Roman attire. He was a rebel with a notorious reputation, which was mostly unfounded. True, there were wild parties at his place, but they were held by his second wife, Rose, while he hid in the painting studio and kept working. He was very contemptuous of the WOWSER”s of his time. WOWSER – We only want social evils remedied.
I had a great meal in the Lindsay café next to a replica of the magic pudding.
As I was waiting for my cab, I finally saw a Kookaburra. They, for once, are much larger than I would have expected. The cab back to the Springwood station was wonderful, and as I saw the length (much longer) and terrain (all up hill) for that leg of the trip, I was very glad that I got off at Falcounbridge.
Sunday, July 16
My last day in Sydney before I go to Cairns and I had lots of phone calls and intenetting to do. I am still a little flummoxed at times with the phone system in Australia. Even with a phone card, you usually have to put in a coin. Even though you have a card, in some cities you have to call a special number and in addition to the international access code for your country, you also have to dial additional numbers. I should have it down just before I leave the country!
As I was walking past a street mall, I had a flash of movement from the corner of my eye. As I looked closer, there was a crowd of people and the entire plaza was fenced off. Within the fence were probably 100 white rabbits. I stopped for a minute at this point and wondered if it was Chinese New Year and if it was the Year of the Rabbit. No, Chinese New Year is earlier in the year and I think we are in the Year of the Horse.
It turned out to be a film company doing an advertisement for something and they had a very slender oriental woman in a black dress running around behind the rabbits. As I stood a watched, the rabbits were doing rabbit things like leaving little rabbit nuggets, sniffing the air, trying to escape and one young male, trying to make more rabbits.
PHOTO – rabbits
I had seen a flyer for a free opera concert in the Queen Victoria building at noon and two, so I made sure that I was there in time. I ate my croissant and drank my coffee and watched. It was a soprano and tenor doing love duets including Le Boehm and the drinking song from Traviata. I enjoyed it so much, I window-shopped and caught the second show where I also managed to get a seat. Next to me sat, Olga, a Russian woman from London who was visiting Australia.
It was a lovely day.
Additional Australian Vocabulary
Cheesed off – furious
Whoop Whoop – Outback
Oz - Australia