And today's phrase (actually kinda following on from yesterday really) is "Quick like bunnies"... usually in reference to crossing the road before the lights have turned green.
The problem with busted air-conditioning is that I have to sleep with the windows open... open being a relative term here that means "not open enough". The downside to that is when the trucks start arriving at 3am and 4am and 5am to pick up empty bottles, rubbish, deliver things or any of the myriad of other things they seem to need to do in the laneway at the back of the hotel where my windows happen to face.
Even so, I managed to keep rolling over and going back to sleep until about 6:15 when I grabbed my iPhone and dicked around with that for a while before getting up and getting ready after pottering around the room for a bit.
But he promised to call people while we went out for breakfast... so we left him to it and went down the street to Starbucks. I know, but it was Ma's idea, and really their coffee isn't that bad. Or at least it's not that bad here in Australia where people know how to make a cup of coffee in the first place.
After coffee and baked goods we came back here to see how Captain Gormless was getting on and to get our hats before heading off on our day's adventures.
He hadn't progressed very far... but I told him that if they needed to let people into my room to check it out/fix it, I had no problem with that. I'd already hidden my netbook and my camera was with me, so about all they could steal was a bit of change and my clothes...
But I figured I was safe enough, even though I didn't have the greatest of confidence that Captain Gormless would get it done.
So off we headed to Darling Harbour.
We wandered along York Street as far as The Grace... which is just a GORGEOUS building and then wander down King Street and across the overpass to Darling Harbour.
Because we'd come at it from a completely different angle, everything kind of felt a little strange, and it took me a minute to get my bearings.
I was very excited to see the giant LEGO mural outside the Aquarium though... even if it was next to impossible to photograph properly. Fortunately the LEGO Neptune/Poseidon was much easier to shoot.
But one place we can go again and again and again and again is The Chinese Garden of Friendship.
However, on the way there, disaster struck. Ma needed to visit the Little Girls Room, so I sat on a wall and waited for her. When she came out, I went to jump down and suddenly I was stuck! I didn't realise it but there was one of those big treated pine type flat headed screws sticking up slightly... and it had gotten itself caught on the bottom of the back pocket of my jeans... tore a hole right in the butt of my jeans!
My favourite jeans... the only pair that actually have some stretch in them... the only pair where the zipper doesn't fall down every two seconds... and most importantly, the only pair I brought with me.
Fortunately, thanks to the aid of a very dodgy sewing kit Ma picked up from a $2 shop in Chinatown later, they appear to be all fixed now...
Specifically in this park they have this whole water system set up... you pump the water at one end, it trickles down a set of aqueducts, then hits this whole series of dams and directional gates where water can be redirected or stopped completely. That all leads down to one of those Da Vinci water screws and a wheel that pumps water out through its centre.
Suffice to say that it's a ton of fun, and if you either have kids, know someone who has kids or are just interested in engineering and happen to be in Sydney, go and have a look.
Big props to the City of Sydney or whoever put it together... and more specifically, GIANT props to whoever designed it. I doff my trilby at you Sir/Madam.
But there's only so long you can play in a children's playground (without a child of your own) when you're 37 before it starts to look dodgy...
So we carried on to The Chinese Garden of Friendship...
We always say that we could wander around there for hours and hours... and while that is probably a bit of an exaggeration, we always try to see every little bit of the garden, and I'm often caught up in one spot or another trying to get a perfect photo of something.
Unfortunately, that was also the period of time where everybody back at home decided they needed me. And by "everybody" I mean H-San and the woman from my agency.
I missed a call from the agency, then got a message from her asking her to call back about some problem with my time sheet... and after I worked out why I could call the number she gave me (different state, different area code), I left a message with the receptionist with what I thought was the problem.
Turns out I'd put that I'd worked from 8am to 4am on my timesheet for Wednesday instead of 4pm, so she just needed to confirm that I actually meant 4pm.
Then I realised that I'd also missed a text message from H-San that he was having some problem or other with something I set up for somebody before I left. Fortunately, I only saw that message when he actually messaged me to tell me that he'd sorted whatever it was out.
He then replied with a cryptic message about something being "painful" on my return...and after doubting the validity of that he professed seriousness so I told him I didn't plan to care about that for another week.
I mean, seriously, who the hell does that? It's my holiday dammit... just lie to me until I get back to work... or at least until the Friday before I return.
But whatever it is can just fuck off until a week from now. Don't care, don't want to know.
So I went back to enjoying the peace and serenity of the Chinese Gardens. Stupid work related bollocks.
After that we called it quits and headed on our merry way...
We kind of did things a little bit bass-ackwards next... we wandered back to the Harbourside Shopping Centre, which I think I mentioned last year is the biggest waste of time, space and effort ever.
Mostly we were looking for somewhere to buy a sewing kit... but they don't have any actual useful shops, so we had no luck. I had intended to try the O2 Oxygen Bar, just for shits and giggles... but unlike the information I read which seemed to suggest that the price was about $1 a minute, the prices started at about $15, and it was maybe a little too steep for something that was just for fun. I'm also sure that if they offered $5 for 5 minutes, they may have a lot more takers. Or alternatively, if they were actually in a good shopping centre.
After the general disappointment of Harbourside, we went back past the Chinese Gardens and on to Market City. And thankfully, they had the scary, overstuffed $2 shop.
Other than that we just kind of wandered about. I looked in the Converse store briefly, but nothing was grabbing my interest, so we ended up grabbing some slightly disappointing things from part of the food court, just to tide us over, before wandering back along Sussex Street.
Nothing really interesting happens on Sussex Street... so eventually we detoured up to York Street, got distracted by a Lincraft somewhere along the way (I thought it was on York, but it shows up on Google Maps as George Street) for more pants repairing supplies, picked up some fruit from one of the little "sell you things" booths that I think we should have... especially the ones selling fruit... I love those... $3.50 for a container of fresh mango, yes please!
Like I always say, sometimes you have to wander off the beaten track, and you never know where your eyes could take you if you look hard enough.
But this point it was probably around 3:30... and we'd been out of the hotel since about 8:30, give or take... so I figured, if anything was going to be done about my air-conditioning, it would have been done by now.
And Captain Gormless told me that they'd had someone out and that it was working better than it had been, but they needed to come back tomorrow to replace a part. Music to my ears... better is better than nothing, and I can survive another night.
But even before I'd opened my door, I knew there was something wrong... I could hear the air-conditioning through the door. And not in a good way.
Not only was the compressor just above the door making a horrible racket, the whole room was stuffy as hell.
So I marched downstairs to tell off Le Gormless...
Turns out it was so stuffy because somebody, whether it was him or whether it was the air-conditioning guys, had closed all of my windows. That combined with the non-working air-conditioning... not good.
Thankfully the less gormless guy on the desk is back tomorrow, so I'll be having a word with him before we leave...
Thankfully, even though it's still making a horrible noise, with all the windows open it's not so bad in here... it's still not cold though.
Although it appears that Qantas is flying again... so at least there's some good news there.
Now I have to go and get ready to go to the top of a very, very, very tall building...
This evening's entertainment was brought to you by the nice folk at Westfield Sydney and The Sydney Tower Eye.
Just after I finished writing up the day's adventures I checked what time the food court in Westfield Sydney closes... only to discover that it all closes up at 6:30... food court, shops, the whole deal.
So we moved with not inconsiderable haste up the road.
Turns out we didn't need to get quite so excited... sure they close the shops, and yeah, a lot of the places in the food court had stopped serving before we even got there, but there were still some places open... and nobody who was eating there seemed to be in any kind of rush about rushing their food down.
We were kind of limited with our choices... like I said, a lot of the places had already shut, but one of the ones that still seemed to be serving people was the pun-tastic ThaiRiffic Noodle Bar.
And it wasn't already cooked stuff lurking in a warmer, this stuff was all cooked fresh.
Ma and I both went with the stir fry option... mine was beef with egg noodles and peppercorn & basil leave sauce. Ma went with the same sauce but chicken and thin rice noodles.
I have to say that mine was beautiful. The sauce was really, really tasty, the noodles didn't feel heavy... yeah, the beef was perhaps a little chewy in the way that stir fry beef can sometimes be, but it was still tasty.
After dinner we chatted a bit until it was just before 7pm and then wandered over to The Sydney Tower Eye. The only reason we had to wait was because I'd found out that if you booked online to go up after 7pm, then the tickets were half-price. So, bargain right there!
Before they send you up, they put you through this "4D Cinema Experience"... which is as cheesy as hell... but actually really, really cool. It feels dumb saying that, but I had the biggest smile on my face the whole time.
They cover the first three dimensions of the cinema experience by giving you 3D glasses (for the 3D movie, obviously)... but while that's going on there's rumbles from under the platform your standing on, and wind during the windy bits, I think there might even have been very fine mist during a wet bit and bubbles for an underwater bit. Like I said... it's incredibly cheesy... but still fun.
Then they let you go up to the tower.
If I remember correctly, the elevators to get you up to the top of the 360 degree viewing building were regular building elevators... these ones, for reasons I don't completely understand (maybe the width of the actual tower) are small, triangular elevators. Very, very weird,.
We got up there just as the sun was setting... and you know what... it's probably another one of those great tourist attractions that's actually ruined by the tourists. And not to be particularly racist, but the Asian tourists were the worst... or it could just have been that there were more of them than anybody else. But they were noisy and just sitting in the windows, not looking at the views, taking up space, and generally in the way.
Of course, as soon as the sun was making its last hurrah before slipping below the horizon, that side of the tower was heaving with people.
And there are all manner of lights and displays and things shining on the inside of the windows that stop you getting decent photos.
But having said all of that... it was pretty damn spectacular.
We stayed up there for quite a while, and thankfully by that point all of the noisier tourists had gone on their way.
And it's saying something when your ears pop as you come back down in the very, very fast elevator.
We can certainly pack a day though... that was very definitely 12 non-stop hours (well, apart from when we came back here and rested).
Today has been all about Bondi.
Well, Bondi and somewhat unhelpful people.
First off though, I think I remarked once before, either when we were here in Sydney or else on one of the trips to Melbourne, just how many accents you hear here in shops and cafes and just generally on the street that you don't hear back in Adelaide. Just today, for example, I've been served by an American girl, an English girl, an English guy plus a German guy and possibly a German girl (both in the same place... and they could actually have been Belgian for all I know), and I've heard people speaking in French and Spanish besides. Not to mention the Jewish wedding and the two Jewish guys buying electronic goods.
I woke up at around the same time as I would usually thanks to my slightly unhelpful body clock... it doesn't appear to understand the concept of "holiday"... although it might if I hadn't had to leave the hotel room windows open all night in the vain attempt to induce some cooler air into my room, which then meant I was woken up by some random truck in the laneway outside.
The dude on the front desk tomorrow is going to get such a talking to.
I pootled around on my iPhone for a while this morning, catching up on tweets, blogs and emails, then got myself organised and went down to Ma's room at about 8ish.
You know when you are aware that the last time you did something you didn't especially enjoy it, but you decide that maybe it has gotten better over time, so you try it again, only to realise you were right the first time.
I did that twice today... once with some of the strawberries that we bought from the Farmers Market (I tried some last night and they just tasted like acetone to me, which isn't pleasant... but I thought they might have improved overnight... not so much). The second time was when we went down to La Renaissance Patisserie at The Rocks this morning for breakfast. I knew that I didn't enjoy their ham and cheese filled croissant thing last year, but I had to get it again this year... still didn't enjoy it.
Fortunately their coffee and Danishes are delicious.
We also sat down by the water and watched the seemingly hundreds and hundreds of people troupe down Argyle Street and onto Circular Quay West as part of the Seven Bridges Walk. And that's a hell of a walk... and there really were a LOT of people doing it. More power to them!
Granted I've possibly walked an equal distance over the last four days anyway... perhaps even further.
Once the information centre was open we went in to ask about bus tickets and buses to Bondi and all of that good stuff (although the fact that the information centre doesn't actually sell bus tickets does seem a little bit bass-ackwards to me). I know it was first thing on a Sunday and we were pretty much their first customers, but the woman who served us seriously needed a fucking coffee or something... and for the most part she was pretty unhelpful.
Then we tried the information dude in the little office at Circular Quay... now he has the little pictograms for bus and train and ferry and probably a couple of other things on his door, so you would think he should know something about them. But no... he was singularly unhelpful, hardly even looked up while he was talking to us and just referred us to the Bus Transit booth thing in front of McDonalds. He couldn't even tell me what section Bondi was in, bus-wise.
Well, fuck you very much Mr Unhelpful, so very sorry to have interrupted your game of solitaire!
But between my iPhone, the brochure Ma picked up in the information centre and some common sense, I was able to get a couple of MyBus3 TravelTen tickets... which have actually served us well so far.
And even though it's a Sunday, we haven't had to wait for a bus for more than two or three minutes at a time, which is pretty good.
The 333 bus may be the quickest and most direct route to Bondi, but once you get past a certain point, it's not really much of a scenic tour. And I'm not sure that anyone would even go to Bondi were it not for the beach.
But I get slightly ahead of myself.
We got off the bus somewhere along the middle of Campbell Parade and wandered down to the Bondi Beach Public School for the Bondi Markets.
And I just checked the temperature on my iPhone, and once again Sydney's humidity is sitting on 99%... urgh... we're so coming in Winter next year.
There were a few decent things at the market, but oddly no food of any kind whatsoever... and a lot of clothes. But I did really like the paintings from the guy at Cheeky Bucket... there may have to be a postal purchase at some stage.
We also got sucked in at the Scentlogs stall... they had all these, essentially logs of scent... wax sticks scented with various things. And of course they were having a special just for the market, buy four, get one free... so we did.
That was really about it for the markets though... like I said, a LOT of clothes.
Aquabumps gallery... I think former blogger Tom originally turned me on to Eugene Tan's Aquabumps photography, and I had to see the gallery for myself.
Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous... the work is gorgeous, the gallery is gorgeous, Eugene is gorgeous.
And although I REALLY have no hanging space left, I just fell in love with one of the images, Pink Silk... but they didn't have a copy of it in store, so I've ordered it, and they're going to send it out to me at the end of next week.
Then we wandered down to the water so that I could sexually harass surfers and/or half naked men with my 300mm telephoto lens, thusly (and throughout this post)...
Then it was time for lunch at Moo Gourmet Burgers where my eyes were perhaps bigger than my belly... which is an accomplishment in itself. Or perhaps I really didn't expect my burger to look like THIS when it arrived...
But between the gigantic Big Moo Burger (Ma had the much more reasonably sized Classic Beef Burger), the very tasty basket of onion rings and the banana smoothie, I was a very, very full little bunny when we were done eating. I think somewhere that serves salad is the way to go for dinner tonight.
We decided to walk off the food a little, so we headed up Hall Street, which according to one of the brochures Ma had, was supposed to be a "shopping strip". Errr... no. It wasn't Glenelg level shopping, it wasn't even Brighton level shopping... so, no.
But it helped to make the food go down a bit before we got on the bus.
Once we were on, Ma decided that she wanted to stop at Bondi Junction... but it turns out that it was only so that I could go to Target for shorts and a better hat than the one I have.
And I swear that whoever owns the Westfield properties in Sydney is SO not the person who owns Westfield Marion. Both Westfield Sydney and Westfield Bondi Junction feel so much higher class than anything we have... it's all high profile stores, shiny reflective things and big comfortable cow covered seats.
Fortunately though they do have a Target, right up at the top where it won't offend the more high profile shopper... and I got a pair of shorts identical to a pair of my gym shorts and a hat that actually fits my big fat head!
Normally all store that sells hats has is size 57. Why even put a size on it if you're only going to stock the one size... but the very first hat I picked up in Target was a size 59... HUZZAH! It fitted and everything.
I also got Ma a Hallmark Keepsake Ornament snowman, because a) she likes snowmen, and b) the only reason she wanted to stop at Bondi Junction was because of me. Bless her.
On the way out we stopped at Boost Juice and Ma got some berry juice thing, but I was feeling adventurous, so I decided to invent my own juice. Lemon, watermelon and pineapple... I call it Summer Tang. Very tasty!
Then we jumped back on the bus AGAIN and headed back to the hotel.
So I left Ma on the bus and wandered back along the road to The Bookshop.
I pretty much did a repeat of last year's excursion, only with different titles... two calendars, Pura Vida Corbin Fisher and Bel Ami Paradise Found by Howard Roffman plus a copy of I Love You Phillip Morris, only because it was on sale.
Then I wandered back to the bus stop and jumped on the next 333 bus that came along... and resisted the urge to jump the surfer still in half of his wetsuit (the bottom half unfortunately) carrying his slight sandy surfboard on the bus.
So all up, a very good use of our MyBus tickets and we saw something different. Plus it also means we can just concentrate on the sculptures on Thursday.
In the end we didn't really have dinner... well, we did, but it was pretty much just dessert.
We left the hotel at around 6:30 or so... later than usual, but I got back to the hotel later than Ma this afternoon, and I really wanted the sun to have started to set before we went back out again.
And after the GIANORMOUS burger at lunch, I really didn't feel like much dinner at all... I just wanted something light and fresh.
So, seemingly for the millionth time since we got here, we headed over to The Rocks and went to the Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café. Which doesn't really sound like the right place if you want something light and fresh, I know, but it turned out to be pretty much spot on.
I do like well put together hospitality staff... and when a guy wraps his apron strings just around his hips so that it makes the roundness and perkiness of his butt all the more apparent... works for me.
But as much as I would have like to strip him naked and just lick chocolate off him for dessert, what we actually ended up having were a couple of milkshakes and a dipping plate filled with fruit and a little bowl of some kind of chocolate sauce. Was quite nice really.
Then we meandered back here...
And I'm about to watch teevee for the first time in our whole trip! It'll probably only be one of two things I watch during the whole trip... but I may watch either a movie or something on my netbook at some stage.
Normally, that would actually have been pretty much our whole holiday... we usually only spend about four or five days away... but this time we have the whole week ahead of us. Which is probably just as well since nobody quite seems to know what the fuck is going on with Qantas yet.
My body clock woke me at 5:30 this morning and I figured there really wasn't any point in trying to go back to sleep, so I got up and hammered away at finishing yesterday's post for about two hours. I really do need to find a way to be more concise...
Let's see how that works out for me.
At about 7:30 Ma messaged me saying she was ready when I was, so I finished up my writing and got ready before trundling down to her room with my shoes and socks in hand and once we decided on a plan we were out the door by about 8:15 or so.
We decided to walk down by the Harbour and head around to Café Fredo for breakfast since it was so nice last time, and Saturday felt like a good time to have a big-ass breakfast.
But getting back to my breakfast and my latte. Thank god for coffee. Really! I think that really was what my body had been missing for the last couple of days... it's twice weekly shot of caffeine. There was also an added bonus at Fredo, some very attractive members of the Fire Department Hazmat team... you gotta love a man with reflective tape on his pants!
After the giant mountain of food (although I'm reasonably convinced we walked most of it off during the day) we headed up to The Rocks Market... and even though I was guessing about where we needed to go.
And The Rocks Markets made me both miss and not miss the Bowerbird Bazaar back in Adelaide this weekend.
Weirdly, I didn't even recognise the exceptional stall for what it was when we looked at one side of it, it was only when we circled around that we discovered something amazing.
The stall, AHW Studio, sold jewellery made from unrepairable watches... some of them looked and felt very Steampunkian, in fact one of the ones that originally caught my eye had a working propeller attached to the front of it. But I really don't need any more jewellery... I don't really wear a lot of the stuff I already have.
But Ma liked them and had decided she was going to get one from another part of the stall, so I wandered back to the propeller design, half thinking that I might buy it. The young guy who makes them started talking to me, and before I know it we were talking about design and he was showing me pictures of the most amazing watch on his iPhone.
There really isn't anything sexier than meeting somebody who is so incredibly passionate about a topic that something that originally just a little project transforms them into someone passionate about knowledge and detail on that subject.
In the end I think we stood with him for about 20 minutes or so... and he was just telling us about all the watches and I ended up looking at the watches with new eyes... not quite through his eyes, but I wanted one that spoke to me.
And of course, the little voice that I listen to for that kind of thing has very expensive tastes.
We both walked away from that conversation a little stunned I think... impressed but still stunned. And pretty much everything else in the markets after that seemed like cheap mass produced crap. I'm sure it wasn't but it wasn't on the same level.
We wandered back towards town via bits of The Rocks Ma didn't see last time, then headed into the city to do pretty much what we do on any number of Saturdays, wander in and out of shops and occasionally buy things.
First stop was Books Kinokuniya for some more of the Perspex display cases, then we headed further up Pitt Street in search of the one comic book shop in Sydney that shows up on Google Maps. Turned out to be a great store, even though they didn't have any of the blind box stuff I thought they might.
We started to head back to Pitt Street Mall, but I realised we were within spitting distance of Hyde Park so we wandered over to check out the AIDS Trust Sydney Food and Wine Fair. It turned out to be one of those "buy tokens then use them to buy food" deals, so we only walked through it, we didn't actually stop.
But it’s the first time in a long while I've been anywhere with quite that many homosexualists.
We wandered past the outside of David Jones to check on whether the Christmas windows were up, but the windows were all covered with advertising... which I think means they're probably working on them. It just seems weird that last year when we were here at pretty much the exact same time, Christmas seemed to have bloomed everywhere... this year not so much.
Anyway, we ended up back at Pitt Street Mall after that, did a quick stop in JB for headphones for Ma, then wandered upstairs in Westfield Sydney to grab a drink at the food court.
We settled on Top Juice for some fruit salad and a drink... and damn it was a good idea. Their fruit salad is the single best one I've ever eaten (and I'm including my own in that list)... and the drink was Pear and something and Mint... also delish!
I think I said it last time, but I do love the whole feel of that food court... it feels classy and intimate, even when it's crammed full of people. I'd kinda prefer it at 9am without many people in it like last time though.
We also stopped off at the very full and very funky Happy Lab where they have all manner of candies in all manner of scientific container. I ended up with a test tube full of Mint Sorbet Happy Beans, a little container of Anis Mimi Meetoo's (which kinda look like smaller Smarties or M&Ms). Too cute... even if they end up tasting horrible.
Then there was a somewhat pointless excursion through both David Jones and Myer to see if they had anything different in the silver/pewter money box ouvre that I could get for the new Baby Sugarmonkey. I did find one, but I'm pretty sure they have the exact same one back in Adelaide, so I'll just wait and get it there.
After that we ended up doing a weird underground detour from one of the shops (Myer maybe) all the way back through to QVB, did a bit of a look around there (I saw a gorgeous toy soldier tea pot in one of the stores, but it would be too hard to bring back on the plane) then called it a day (we had been out of the hotel for about eight hours at that point) and came back to the hotel.
I threw myself into the shower with great gusto as soon as I walked back into my room in an effort to cool off... which worked for about the same length of time that I was actually in the shower before trying to be as brief as I know how while writing up the events of the day.
Now we just need to work out where the hell to go and eat. I'm kind of in the mood for something Asian with a lot of vegetables... oh wait... we did Asian last night already... I have no idea.
And you know what, I still kinda have no idea about dinner.
While I was waiting for Ma to finish getting organised, I was catching up on Twitter and discovered that about an hour beforehand Qantas had grounded every single one of its planes until further notice. At the moment that doesn't mean a whole hell of a lot to us... after all, this whole thing could blow over by Tuesday, but it’s definitely something I'm going to be keeping an eye on between now and Friday. It does seem that this particular holiday has been a little bit cursed though. Or maybe it's just holidays this year in general...
But getting back to the arduous quest for food...
We had absolutely no idea what the hell we wanted for dinner, so we wandered all the way up to the Rocks, then down to look at the restaurants along the water, but it all felt very overpriced and a little bit too too much, so we wandered back around to the Opera House side and went to Searock Fish (also somewhere we went to last year).
Their burger was actually quite nice... although I probably should have got them to swap out the chips for salad... the only thing I can really taste now is the chips.
After dinner we wandered back here, split off to our own rooms briefly before regrouping in Ma's room to try and come up with some plans for the next few days... or at least plan out the absolutes, see what else we wanted to do and where things fit.
We managed some of it okay... although I'm still not sure where the hell we're going for breakfast tomorrow...
And, on the up side, I've managed to talk about a very full day in about 1000 less words than yesterday.