Tag Archives: Sydney

Cliff-Hanger Resolution: Gout by any other name…

26 Aug

Remember that awesome bushwalk I did with friends in Manly? Well… I woke up the next day barely able to walk. My hamstrings felt like guitar strings, wound more tightly (by about four inches) while I slept. I could barely straighten my legs.

It struck me as odd, since I routinely walk longer distances than what I’d done the day before. But I had been somewhat sedentary since arriving in Australia, I reasoned, so maybe my body was simply revolting.

In any case, I decided to take it easy and stay in bed reading for six hours (from 3am to 9am – hello, jet lag!) before finally rallying to take a long bath and head to Bondi Beach.

Bondi Beach is arguably the most famous beach in the world, so I felt obligated to see it while I was here. My sore legs must have influenced my outlook, because when I fell off the bus and got my first glimpse of the waves, my thought was, “Seriously? This is it?”

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Once I no longer wanted to vomit…

23 Aug

I had a great time in Manly. Josh (an American colleague who just relocated to our Sydney office two months ago) and his fiancée, Malia, live in Manly, so they graciously offered to meet up for lunch when I arrived.

Manly is a peninsula with one side facing the harbor and the other side facing the Pacific Ocean. The ferry brings you in on the harbor side, but it’s a very short walk across a pedestrian area to get to the ocean. When I first landed, we walked a bit along the harbor side before shuffling along The Corso (pedestrian area) to the ocean.

Even though it was winter, and despite a “no swimming” sign stuck in the middle of the sand, the waves were large, the water dotted with dozens of surfers. Apparently it is – as Outback Steakhouse and Fosters commercials would lead you to believe – the national pastime. I love well-founded clichés.

We grabbed lunch (fish and chips, which – if you believe the guidebooks – is probably actually shark and chips) at a café next to Shelly Beach, and then got on the topic of the North Head and the Quarantine Station, both of which were just up the hill from where we were sitting.

The Quarantine Station appealed to my fascination with the morbid since it was where they quarantined people with the bubonic plague or the flu after WWI. Apparently they do a mean ghost tour up there in the evening, but  – still scarred from my ferry crossing – I had decided to hop the boat back to Sydney before sunset so that if we did end up dog-paddling around in the bay, the helicopters would be able to spot me. Alas, that ruled out the ghost tour.

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It’s called Manly because sissies won’t take the ferry.

22 Aug

Everyone told me I had to take the ferry to Manly while I’m here. What they didn’t tell me was that I might need to wear a diaper.

Manly is one of the beaches north of Sydney, right where the Harbor opens out to the Pacific Ocean. You get there by taking a 30-minute ferry ride from Circular Quay right in Sydney Harbor.

My guidebook told me to take my camera, so I did, plunking myself on a bench out on the deck so I could snap some photos. Opera House? Check. Harbour Bridge? Check. I was snapping along happily, right up until the point where we passed where the Harbor opens into the Ocean.

The waves started to get bigger, the boat started to rock, and suddenly the deck was getting pummeled by waves. Naturally, I grabbed my little camera and slid inside the cabin so I could stay dry behind a window.

I’m so glad I did, because the action was only just beginning. The waves got bigger and it was as stomach-lurching as riding a roller coaster while we were heading into the waves. People on board were actually squealing as if they were on a roller coaster, looking at each other with large eyes that seemed to say, “Can you believe this?”

The younger version of me (that also enjoyed turbulence on airplanes) would’ve loved this. The current version of me had images of sharks chewing my legs off when we capsized.

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Flying fox, my ass. You know that’s a bat.

21 Aug

After getting rejected from the City2Surf fun run, I ventured down to the Royal Botanical Gardens. The Botanical Gardens are beautiful — it’s a huge chunk of land that slopes down to the harbor and is incredibly well manicured, with a flagstone path guiding you along fountains and statues.

The garden is surrounded by a fence and the gate is opened at 6am on weekends, so you know someone must be around. But when I tentatively set foot inside the gate at 7:30 last Sunday morning, I definitely stood there for a moment, debating the wisdom of walking solo  into a park that seemed desserted.

I was still standing there imaging serial killers lurking at every turn, when I started seeing a few people on the paths in the distance. Activity was starting to pick up, so I proceeded.

(After the fact, I checked out Wikipedia for information on Australian serial killers. Australia has a pretty sizable list compared to other countries, which shouldn’t have come as a shock considering Australia was originally founded as a penal colony. The wording of one line item in particular disturbed me: John and Sarah Makin – who killed 12 children in their work as “baby farmers.” Seriously? Baby Farmers?)

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Somehow almost entering a 16k and the economy are related.

15 Aug

City 2 Surf 16k "Fun Run." Fun, my ass.

It was raining when I hopped a cab at the Sydney airport. I asked the driver if it was supposed to last the full day. “Don’t know!” he replied cheerfully. “Just started, but it looks like it doesn’t plan to give up, does it?”

Fortunately, in the 45 minutes it took me to reach the city, check into my hotel, and grab a cup of coffee, the rain subsided. The sky remained  grey and threatening, but I didn’t need an umbrella. So at 7am, I set out to get my bearings.

New York may have the reputation as the city that never sleeps, but I quickly came to believe that Sydney is the city that doesn’t sleep in, because the streets were overrun by people at 7am on a Sunday. They were all dressed in running gear and moving in one  direction, so I slipped into the crowd, determined to see where the action was.

Some people were in costume, so I found myself walking in a group of human bananas, with diaper-wearing grown-ups ahead of us and a lone man painted completely gold to our rear.

Of course I started interviewing people, and I learned that I just happened to arrive during the annual City-2-Surf event — a fun run/walk from downtown Sydney to Bondi Beach. It’s one of the largest events of its type globally each year, with 85,000 participants.

This was when I realized that Aussies really are tougher, because not only do they willfully hunt crocodiles with their bare hands, but their “fun run” includes many hills and is 16 kilometers. I’m pretty sure that in the US, anything more than a 5k ceases to be described as “fun.”

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