P.S. I’m moving to Sydney. Good night all!!!!
With the following:
- Bondi Beach
- Approximately 37 surfers
Today I went to the famous Bondi Beach. As I was walking down the hill (there’s always a hill involved here), a bunch of dudes with wet suits passed me with surfboards. I haven’t seen so many 6 packs since that time I went to a beer distributor (see what I did there?). Even better than that, though, is the view of this beach. I can understand why it’s world famous.
An interesting feature is the rocks that jut out of the cliff as you walk along the trail.
Since I’m great with technology, please also enjoy these pictures of me accidentally taking pictures of me.
I started the hour long walk from Bondi to Bronte then realized the trail was packed. Also, since the beach is gorgeous regardless, and Bondi has exceptional people watching (please see above), I turned around and went to Icebergs. Sitting on the patio watching the waves was maybe the highlight of my trip.
After a solid 2 hours of total bliss and relaxation, I headed back into the city to walk around The Rocks then head to Darling Harbour for dinner (I’d heard that the view of the city from there was fab-fab-fabulous). They weren’t wrong.
Since I’m fascinated by all things beet and crocodile, I had to try this crocodile sandwich on a beetroot (I talk like a local now….call me Paul Hogan) bun. Yes, a bun with beets in it! Somewhere Dwight Schrute just went into cardiac arrest.
I was annoyed when this boat pulled up, because it blocked the sunset. How rude.
Fortunately I got to watch the sun set on the ferry back.
But what in the hell is this thing????
When it gets dark at 5, you have a very comfy hotel room, and Kings of Queens is on, you’re okay being a loser and going home at 6:30 PM.
P.S. I’m sorry I’m so far behind in posting!!
I hope you recognize that quote from Dumb and Dumber (that Lloyd Christmas!).
Well, I almost missed my flight to Vancouver, and not because I overslept. The traffic to get to O’Hare was absolutely felonious, so I checked into my flight (couldn’t do it online) at 6:41PM. (The cut-off was 6:44PM.). Then I made it through security in 3 minutes. That, my friends, is a sheer miracle.
The layover in Vancouver was just short enough. And the 15 hour flight to Sydney reinforces my belief that a long flight is better than one to Europe. According to my FitBit, I slept 7 1/2 hours of glorious, deep sleep. Fortunately I should say, because I got to the hotel five hours before check-in time, and my room wasn’t ready. So I dropped my bags off and headed for Sydney Harbour.
I started in the Royal Botanical Gardens. This is like Central Park except much prettier and more sculpted (literally, there are a lot of sculptures). It was such a pretty spot in the middle of the expansive Sydney skyline crowded with ultra-modern skyscrapers.
My favorite sculpture is the last one, because it’s like a Redcoat and an ancient Greek made a love child. It really makes no sense at all. Also, I’ve said it many times – if it’s a sign, it means it’s happened:
From the Gardens, it’s an easy walk to the Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.
That’s the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, which I’m considering climbing. (I’m not sold on it yet.) This is taken from the steps of the Opera House. So many people were running past on their lunch hour, and I’m sure every one of them hated dodging all the tourists like me (there were a LOT of us).
I wanted to take the ferry to Darling Harbour, but I’d just missed one (side note: I learned this from a Hemsworth lookalike with an Australian accent. I have found probably a dozen men like this in one day who I would support being the father of my children.) Annnnyway, I had just missed that ferry, so I got on the other one just to ride around the harbor. I definitely felt like one of the homeless guys who spends the night on the Red Line just ridin’ the rails. I was right though – it provided much better views!
I don’t know if I prefer the message of SAFETY FIRST or the terrifyingly creepy face that served I don’t know what purpose at that amusement park.
Also, I got several shots in front of the Opera House, but my favorite is out on the water because I clearly couldn’t figure out how to aim the selfie stick.
After walking through Circular Quay and The Rocks, I saw a dumpling bar. We can all agree now that my sabbatical has morphed into a world dumpling tour, so I was there faster than stink on a monkey (credit: Kramer). Unfortunately they were out of the barbecue duck and jade prawn ones, so I had scallop and vegetable:
Since it’s “winter,” it was dark by 5:30, and that combined with the time difference, meant that I fell asleep (on my big, luxurious hotel bed) at 6:15. But I woke up just in time to get some Indian takeaway for dinner.
My last thing is that there are sushi stands everywhere. Including this one in an Underground station (I’ll get into how awesome they are later).
Off to find Liane Moriarty!
…is scary. Especially when it’s pouring rain and after dark. Yep, there I was, the American girl walking around Cartagena in the dark. But we’ll talk about that later (how is that for a cliff hanger?)
It’s easy to just get lost (well, literally) walking around the walled part of the city, which is the old colonial portion, not to mention the prettiest part.
So I just started walking. How can that go wrong? (HA! I’m 36 years old and still ask stupid questions.) I walked over to the wall and climbed that sucker. Here I am feeling like a baller (do the kids still say that?) because I’m climbing stuff, but really, it’s about one story high.
There are all sorts of old school windows cut out of the wall. So clearly everyone needs a picture in one.
The best way of determining when to eat in Colombia in the summer is when you’re too hot to breathe outside anymore. Eat lots of seafood when you’re right on the Caribbean (just not from the open air market).
I stopped at a coffee shop afterward for a Café Americano frio (iced coffee is way too difficult to find in such a hot climate) and regretted eating already, as there was a blueberry balsamic grilled cheese on the menu. Whomever brought that into the world, you have done a great service to humanity. Thank you for your service, sir. Also, side note, if you’re ever in Colombia, definitely stop at a Juan Valdez Café, if for no other reason than you’re in Colombia.
A couple more pretty pictures:
And now for the getting lost part. As daylight was starting to fall, I stopped into a (beautiful) Catholic church that was having mass. All the doors and windows were open, so it was very welcoming.
Shortly after I came out, I stopped for dinner, and the sun went down fast. No worries, I thought, because this is a safe part of the city. I kept looking for the Clock Tower to figure out how to get back (that blogger was a filthy liar) but couldn’t find it. So I just kept walking. Right into a big ol’ torrential downpour. What is the best way to handle this? Hailing a cab. The problem with this is that the US Embassy HIGHLY DISCOURAGES U.S. citizens from hailing cabs on the street. Apparently sometimes they’re murdered, which isn’t what I wanted at that particular moment. Fortunately I found a hotel (the woman had to come unlock the door…at 9PM…which didn’t seem like a good sign). This saintly woman called me a cab and explained where I was going. So I got back to the hotel safely, though dripping wet and with a somewhat broken spirit.
I definitely slayed Colombia.
Or E. coli. Perhaps even Ebola if that can be contracted from food.
I signed up for a Colombian cooking class where we were to start off at an open market, try tropical fruits, and pick out the ingredients to make our lunch. Doesn’t that sound cool?? Well, that’s what I thought too. We started with breakfast.
We also had some juices/smoothies (they called them juices; I called them smoothies) made from tree tomatoes (look like small mangoes) and something else of which I forgot the name. I do know it looked like a potato though (no, not jicama). It tasted like shit, for the record. But the tree tomatoes were deeee-licious!! Also, this should have been my first clue that germs weren’t revered – we all shared these juices/smoothies. Nothing introduces you to people like sipping their backwash.
Anyway, at this point we started touring the market to taste the fruits. [Note: never wear flip flops to a South American market – just take my word for it.] I didn’t take pictures of most of the carnage (literally) because according to our guides, camera phones get swiped like credit cards (heyyyyooooo), and also because most of the time my face looked like this:
But here are two clean pictures that were interesting! Dried beans and dried herbs/other crap that help holistically heal all the ailments that you will surely sustain in the rest of the market.
Now it’s time to start tasting the fruits. The first thing I saw was a guy using his fingers to scoop raspberries in some sort of liquid into bags. We are talking invasive scooping. Then I saw him lick his finger. I was glad we didn’t try those berries. We did, however, try some stuff that required a knife pulled out of the guide’s purse. Yes, there were flies, and no, there was not washing. I also don’t like people touching my food before I eat it, so I was having a real germophobe nightmare (seeing someone dig through jelly-fied tamarind without washing their hands and try to feed it to me turns my stomach). Then there was the booth where we tried 3 different mangoes where there was a man sitting on the table with his bare feet touching the produce. Regardless, I survived (SO GRATEFUL FOR NOT GETTING SICK).
Now we pick out fish.
At this point I was actively looking for a way out of eating this meal. I’m sure most people would be fine, but I didn’t want to take the chance. When you’re used to a very high level of food and water standard for cleanliness, your system has a hard time adjusting. I’d rather just go to KFC (yep, I saw them there…why the world love for KFC??) and be not sick. I decided to heave ho when we hit this place where they were washing fish juice off the tables with dirty bowls of water (again, forgo the flip flops):
Finally we left this place (the sweat dripping down my back was grateful!) to head to the guides’ house to cook up all this spoiled goodness. The entire ride I was poring over how to get out of this. Long story short, my out came when one of the guides asked me for help essentially shucking coconuts. I told him this would not end well, except it ended in the best possible way for me – I sliced my hand!! YESSSSSS, done! Another telling sign of “don’t eat here” was that no one seemed to be concerned that I was bleeding near the food (I removed my hand immediately – I’ve seen enough Top Chef and Chopped to know how to properly handle blood in the kitchen). One of the guides rushed to get me bandages, but he unfortunately touched them with fingers covered in fish juice, having just taken it out of the bag (his wife and one of the students tasted the water in which the raw fish was soaking. I am not joking). Now is time to tap out, because “blood makes me squeamish.” (For the record, it doesn’t, but all the other stuff did fo’ sure.)
The guide drove me back to the hotel (he and his wife were really very lovely and welcoming people – I felt badly that I failed them), from where I went in search of Colombian Neosporin.
While I was waiting for the pharmacist to pull it off the shelf, I also got in touch with the 13-year-old me:
Once back at my hotel, I tried a whole different type of dumpling! I have now learned that I don’t think I’ll ever meet a dumpling I don’t like.
And winding down the day, as those suckers in the class were sick with food poisoning, I was reading a magazine on the roofdeck next to the pool.
I don’t regret this experience, because it was certainly authentic (also, I’ve been to other markets outside of the US and Europe, so this isn’t me being a sheltered dickbag). This is just something that wasn’t for someone who has had food poisoning 3 times and very much wishes to avoid it again. It was really interesting to see the market, but I just couldn’t eat there.
Here’s a big thank you to my three heterosexual life partners for being so fabulous and celebrating my 36 in a big way. (Also for going with the flow when I wanted to sit on this weird reverse motorcycle owned by a guy in a Pirates jersey who did NOT love us. Just not having these shenanigans.)
Also, let’s be honest – these ladies are the ones who wanted to stage an elaborate photo shoot on this vehicle. (Heather, please send me yours, because you were better than a Whitesnake video.)
Below, please find Martha in all her glory.
Cheers to Jill for being a lady and just laughing at us. 🙅
Thanks, Motorcyle-ish Person for all the fun.
Fingers crossed for the Pens, because they don’t win when I’m out of the country. (Evgeni Malkin, I’m here!!)
And I’ll see you tomorrow in Colombia!