Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sightings in Sydney

Sydney was my last stop in Australia. Sydney is a beautiful city. The architecture looks like a cross between Chinese vernacular and Queen Anne style. Lots of intimate, twisting roads traversing hills and parks, leaving a sense of discovery around every turn. When strolling around the harbour it reminds me of the San Francisco bay. It very much looks like the bay area in California with its green hills spotted with little houses and such. Besides being known for its famous panoramic view of the Opera House and Bridge, the harbour also has a notable place in Rock 'n Roll history. In 1957 Little Richard was on his first Australian tour and during his stadium performance in front of 40,000 fans he saw a ball of fire scorch across the night sky. Although it turned out to be the Soviet satellite, Sputnik 1, he took it as a sign from God that he should end his sinful life in rock music and become a devout man. He threw his $8,000 ring into the Sydney Harbour and flew back to the US to become an evangelist.

My first night in Sydney I ate at a r
estaurant right on the harbour with a view of the Opera House. I sat at the oyster bar next to an older couple and we soon struck up a conversation. They were from Adelaide and were here on their honeymoon. They asked why the US doesn't have government-sponsored health care to which I simply shrugged my shoulders, "Don't ask me I just live there." Although the food was delicious (the oysters from Australia are huge!!!) the service was terrible. When I ordered my VERY expensive meal the waiter asked me if I would like a side dish to go with it. I assumed that meant there would be none included in my entree so I asked for a side of mashed potatoes. When the waiter came back with my plate of fish and mashed potatoes I dug in. However a moment later the waiter came back with an enormous mountain of mashed potatoes on a plate. "What the hell is this???" I asked. "Your side of mashed potatoes", the waiter said. "Oh my God, why would I want a side of mashed potatoes with a meal that already comes with mashed potatoes???" I was just laughing, thinking what a riot this was, but the waiter was not amused and brought the manager over. I couldn't believe the staff was actually mad at me for this simple misunderstanding. I soon realized this was a common scam in Sydney for the waiter to offer a side dish with your already all-encompassing meal.

Look at all the different people that walk around Sydney!

The next day I headed to Bondi Beach. It was a recommended spot by a local I met on the flight from Melbourne. I rode the bus there which took forever. I had no idea where to get off and the bus just wound through the neighborhoods with no clear direction. I finally decided to get off and just walk. It was a great beach with small, lapping waves and topless bathing beauties. The water was freezing and I had already learned in Melbourne how potent the sun's rays were, so after a short while I found a shady spot and took a nap. A friend lived in Bondi and we met up for a margarita in a hole in the wall Mexican restaurant overlooking the ocean. I wondered what Mexican food tasted like in Australia, but I didn't try it. That very afternoon I ate a delicious Cajun chicken sandwich in a joint owned by a South American guy, so you never know.
On my last day in Sydney I walked the Botanical Gardens and stumbled upon a huge outdoor rave. So many people dressed in day-glo with the techno beats thumping to great raucous abandon. I can't believe there's still an audience for this stuff. I wondered what all the trees thought of the intense beats reverberating onto their trunks and leaves. As the sun began to set I found myself surrounded by the largest bats I'd ever seen in my life. The Australian Flying Foxes live in the gardens by the thousands and come out at night, screeching and bellowing as they open their 5 foot wingspan into the enveloping dusk. It was terrifying, mainly because they were shitting and pissing as they went.

The giant Flying Foxes of Australia. See the next post for my video footage.

Mystical tree in the Botanical Gardens

This funny-looking tree was falling over and was tied to another tree for support.
I ended my Australia trip at the Sydney Opera House. It was so magical at night, its brightly-lit concrete sails piercing the dark Harbour sky. There was a large, outdoor bar in front and I ordered a vodka tonic, to which the bartender served me a vodka soda. Oh well. Australia, you're not perfect, but I'm glad I got to know ya and I hope to see you again sometime!

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