The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Bonding With My Bondi Family

Days 447-454, February 17-24, 2012

After a couple days with Steve at  the extremely posh hotel, I was kicked to the curb. Well, not really. Steve’s boyfriend Matthew was coming to Sydney and they wanted a little privacy. And since I’m not really a voyeur, nor are they exhibitionists, I left to find a new place to stay.

Luckily Australia seems to be the one area of the world where I have no limit to the number of people I know who are willing to offer a place for me to see. This time was no different. Back in December of 2010, I had met the lovely Carnegie family in Cuzco, Peru. I had stayed in contact with them throughout my trip and when it became known that I would be in Sydney, they hooked me up with their friend Paula whom they had met years ago in India.

Lorikeets on Paula’s deckIMG_1366

Paula, and her daughter India, live in the suburb of Tamarama, right by Bondi. Getting there from downtown Sydney was a breeze with a single train ride and bus ride. As no one was going to be home until later that afternoon, I put my bags down in her front porch and went for a walk down to Bondi Beach.

Coastal walk from Tamarama to BondiIMG_1352

First view of Bondi BeachIMG_1351

By the time I had got back to Paula’s house, she was there along with her daughter. Paula is a Home Economics teacher at a high school and it definitely showed in her cooking skills. She was also a very well traveled lady who had amassed a massive amount of wall decorations and artwork from all over the world. I knew immediately that I was going to enjoy spending time with them.

Almost immediately I was brought in as an honorary family member, joining them that very night at Paula’s ex-husbands home for Paula’s birthday dinner. An amazing salad, crab, and a vegan cheesecake rounded up the night. But that wasn’t the end of the celebrations.

Oh no.

The next day, Paula grabbed some snorkelling equipment and we took off for Clovelly Bay for a little afternoon excursion. All along the coast in Sydney are numerous beaches, bays, and inlets. This particular one has cement siding and a large breakwater, creating the perfect place for people to snorkel as there are few waves. It was quite interesting to see the numerous fish that call this small bay home. And I was able to re-establish my snorkelling skills after being away from them for almost a month.  

Clovelly BayClovelly (3)

The night, she invited me to join her and her friends over at the North Bondi RSL Club for dinner and dancing to continue her birthday shenanigans.

The RSL clubs, or Returned and Services League of Australia clubs, are much like the Legion Halls or Veteran's Halls in Canada, set up as a gathering place for war veterans and any one else that wants a membership. The membership dues from the general public, as well as guest entry fees go to the club to help with taking care of the service members. I found it quite interesting to witness just how busy the hall actually was. The food was good and the music entertaining.

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The most interesting part of the night (besides hanging out with a bunch of great ladies all in their late 30s, early 40s) though was at sunset when everyone stopped, stood, faced west, and held a moment of silence. Every night at sunset this happens. It was eerie but awesome at the same time.

The next few days were quite relaxing as I slept in, filled my afternoons in with walks along the coast (stay tuned for a post on that), and my evenings filled with helping the Home Ec. teacher and her daughter make some amazing meals (veal cutlets, pork loin, so many salads. Food heaven is where I was).

A couple of the days I took the bus back to downtown Sydney to wander around and work on a few geocaches that required a fair amount of walking: Bligh’s Other Mutiny which highlights areas in Sydney of historical significance related to Captain Bligh’s (former captain of the Bounty) and his ousting by a military coup in Sydney; and Tank Stream which showcases the path of the original manmade stream that brought fresh water to the first colonists. It was an interesting mix of history and modern hobby, and it certainly helped pass the time.

Hyde Park Barracks31538974

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Above all the geocaching I was doing and history I was learning, I also got to sneak in one last evening hanging out with Steve as his surrogate date at a BBQ with him and some of his Sydney work friends (Matt was with local family that night). It was a great night filled with lots of meat, video games, and beer (Victoria Bitters for me!). Though I must say I did feel a little underdressed. Me, in my hiking shoes, jeans, and t-shirt. Everyone else in their business dress shirts, dress pants, and ties.

But then I just had to remind myself that I was traveling. They were working. I think I win.

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