Rocking The Rocks

The Rocks is one of the historic places in Sydney. One of the sites where the first settlers lived. One of areas I haven’t been to and was dying to see after I read its history.

One fine day, I ventured on my own to the city for a walk through the cobbled and touristy steps of this side of Sydney near Circular Quay. Alighting from the train station, I was so excited to find my way to Gloucester Street. Amidst the sea of people lining up at the wharf, I was so giddy walking towards the Museum of Contemporary Art and beyond.

The MCA

The MCA

Nurses Walk was the first area I stumbled upon and I got lost with the nooks and crannies of what I refer to as a walk through time. It was getting lost in a good sense because I could go around and around the area looking at old structures (turn of the century houses and pubs), climbing stairs and getting into an archeological find without thinking that my companion might not be enjoying this DIY walking tour.

Nurses Walk houses small cafes and stores. It pays homage to the nurses that served the country and the world during the war. A small bench and a commemorative plate describe the area.

Nurses Walk

Nurses Walk

As I was finding my way towards Susannah Place, I took a peek of what looked like an excavation at Cumberland. At the ground floor of YHA hotel is the Big Dig, a discovery of authentic remnants of late 18 century houses of local laborers with some of household tools on display. It was good know that they preserved the site and built the hotel on top of it. Think of an old bahay na bato with open space at the ground floor. I can’t describe how excited I was upon seeing the place. I felt like I discovered it by myself. Maybe because I used to dream of becoming an archeologist when I was in grade school.

The Big Dig

The Big Dig and its study center

A few more walks and climbs, I finally saw what I was searching for – row of houses that witnessed the development of the city for centuries. Susannah Place is just one of those actual houses preserved to tell the stories of the working class years ago. It is some sort of a living museum since some of which are still resided by locals until now. The museum was closed that hour but it didn’t stop me from walking up and down the small street.

Susannah Place

Susannah Place

After I satiated myself of the old world, I turned by attention to the open spaces and engineering grandeur. I walked through the Argyle Cut which was an under ground tunnel turned parking lot made possible by carving the large stone that used to face the harbour. I marvelled at the sight in Dawes Point Park where riders and tourists abound for some picturesque views. I contemplated of having lunch out in the sun while people  watching.

I managed to find myself at the foot of the Harbour Bridge. That’s what you get if you don’t tell manong cleaner that you’re a bit lost.

Since it was summer, people were having lunch out in the sun – at the First Fleet Park where a big anchor monument awaits, at the Rocks Market or any open spaces where one can sit and have a quiet lunch with the pigeons.

The Rocks Market

The Rocks Market (without the stalls that day)

I ended having calamari and chips at a nearby air-conditioned food court after hours of walking and changing from flats to fit-flops. I must say, having a historical tour all by myself is not so bad. I will definitely do this again.

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My combo lunch

 

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Getting There

(source: http://www.therocks.com/getting-here.aspx)

On foot: The Rocks is an easy, 15-minute downhill stroll from Town Hall station, 10-minutes from Wynyard station and a two-minute walk from Circular Quay. The main entry point to The Rocks is via George Street. If you’re walking from Darling Harbour, you can take Hickson Road via Walsh Bay, or Kent and Argyle streets through Millers Point.

By train : Take the train to Circular Quay, head in the direction of Sydney Harbour Bridge, and you’re only a stroll away. If you’re coming from Wynyard station, walk north down George Street towards the harbour and you’ll be here in 10 minutes.

By Ferry : Take a ride to Circular Quay and it is s short walk from there.

Cooking Abroad

I don’t consider myself a good cook. I do dabble in experiments in the kitchen but my repertoire is limited to : long cut adobo, paella, Italian style spaghetti and torta patata. Baking, on the other hand, is a different thing.

Back in Australia, our dinners were different from what I am used to in Manila. For one, rice was not a regular except if we have Chinese. And I am talking about food, not the nationality. Cooking, traveling or not, definitely saves a lot of money.

Below are some of the food Boo and I whipped up (except for the prune bread which I baked very early in the morning in my first week there).

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I must say that preparing and cooking your own food bring a different satisfaction. Yes, there are more plates to wash but getting first hand lessons from someone is a happy bonding time. Much better than a fine dining date.

And washing the dishes is never a chore when someone got your back. I am lucky to have Boo who is very comfortable in the kitchen and  Dotty who ate all the excess food.

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Sunday Morning In A Suburb

Day three in NSW and it has been cooler than expected. I am still recovering from the pizza I devoured last nite thus a simple coffee and crackers will do for now.

Yagoona is a quiet neighborhood filled with Asians and Lebanese. I only saw a few of “my neighbors”…mostly in the mornings when I sit in the frontyard. People going to work. People walking. Or cruising along Willet and Saltash streets.

I have been to the local grocery store (that’s Aldi with a very cool Christmas ad being shown every commercial break), a local bank, a farmer’s market (to buy coffee beans) and a park. Yes, I am living the suburb life at the moment. Far from the madding crowd, which is really good. News on TV shows that a lot are being rounded by police in Sydney due to violence resulting from alcohol. Hah, I imagine what is it like in Westend Hostel area where I spent my weekend last year.

Hope to get to the city (that is Sydney) soon. And the other places. My list at the moment include the following, which Boo promised to take me in the next few days (or else I will take the next train to Sydney CBD):

        1. Cronulla Beach

          Cronulla Beach. Source:  http://www.sydney.com/destinations/sydney/sydney-south/cronulla

        2. 2012 NYE Fireworks in Sydney Harbour. Source: http://www.sydneynewyearseve.com/fireworks/archive-gallery/

          2012 NYE Fireworks in Sydney Harbour. Source: http://www.sydneynewyearseve.com

        3. Hugging a Bear at Featherdale Wildlife Park. Source : http://www.blacktownaustralia.com.au/directory_details.asp?ID=1658

          Hugging a Bear at Featherdale Wildlife Park. Source : http://www.blacktownaustralia.com.au

As of now, I will be enjoying Boo’s neighborhood. I hope hindi bawal tumambay sa balconahe.

What’s Eating Down Under?

I am a sucker for food. As much as possible, I will try to have a taste a place has to offer. Then, a visit to land down under was presented to me.

Fast forward to palate journey in Oz. The food was beyond the Aussie fare and I just can’t forget the sight, smell, texture and taste of these delish food:

10. Fish and chips. At last, I got to taste white fish bathe in beer batter with chips (or fries, as we American-ized call ’em) and a piece of lemon.

Fish and chips in Canberra
(photo credit: Tin Villarino)

9. Grilled burger. Yes, not the fried ones I am used to. Juiciest and largest pattie I’ve digged my teeth into.

8. German sausage with sauerkraut. Who would have thought I am having this meal straight from a German market in the middle of Brisbane City Center? Did I mention how I love mustard?

Half of the sausage

7. Meat Pies. I tasted my first meat pie in Brissy. Then in Sydney … and I can’t get enough of it especially the ubiquitous Face Pies with creamy mushroom and ham stuffed in the crust. Now, I have to make do with London pies from Eat&Go.

6. Hungry Jack. Yes, it is fastfood. Yes, it looks like Burger King. Yes, it is Burger King. (Search why it is called Hungry Jack downunder). Why HJ is unforgettable? It serves cappuccino in their bbreakfast meal without additional cost.

5. Malaysian Curry. I can’t get enough of the large plate filled with dahl, curries and roti while waiting for the rain to stop in downtown Sydney.

4. Indian vegetarian dish. Another curry made into the list. I just can’t help it…between anything else and an Indian dish, there is no doubt I pick the latter for the fireworks of spice it creates in my mouth.

3. Sweet and Sour pork. Very Pinoy. After 3 days of not eating rice, my colleagues were in dire need of the ultimate carb. After searching high and low, we found a nondescript food stall (reminiscent of a carinderia) inside a train station in Brisbane. It was the next best thing to truly Pinoy food.

2. Nuts and nuts. I had them for dinner in Sydney. I traveled with a pack going to Bondi. Ultimate pantawid gutom. I am going nuts with all the different nuts available – macadamia, walnut, peanuts, pecan…eerrr, coconut? (yes, they do have the dried diced coconut meat mixed with the various nuts :D)

1. Falafel. And my love for Alibaba just can’t be denied. I love the falafel in pita wrap. I had it fried with hot sauce. Thoughts of falafel as I write now make my mouth water.  Chick peas (or was it gigantes?) mashed, mixed with spices, formed into balls and fried are so yummy, I had them 2 nites in a row back in Canberra. That is how I love the texture and taste and everything else about the real Mediterrenean delight.

Inside Alibaba in City Centre, Canberra

Bondi Love

Bondi Beach is just one of the beaches that I wanted to visit in Sydney. My limited time (and budget) in Sydney, though, left me with only one option : the famous beach of all.

Bondi Beach is a kilometer stretch of fine white sand reminiscent of Repulse Bay in Hongkong. It is located in the Eastern Suburbs under the Waverly Council. It is famous for surfing and the show Bondi Rescue in NatGeo with those nice looking lifeguards. When I think about it, Bondi is actually divided into parts : the sea, sand, jogging area, sloping grass area, parking, the road and the pavilions/establishments/commercial area. The zoning makes it less congested and less chaotic…even at night.

A Welcoming Sight

It was the tail-end of summer when I was in Sydney. One morning, I decided to go to Bondi by myself after asking for directions from manang of the local kebab store in Campbell Street. With my trusty flipflops and ginormous bag that looks like a beach bag, I took the train to Bondi Junction.

my train ticket

One thing about train stations outside Pinas, it got more than 5 platforms as opposed to our LRTs and MRT that only have 2 (going North or South). I was told to take Platform 2 but to be really sure, I had to internalize the train route posted in the Town Hall station. I think, I spent a couple of minutes studying the route. I almost got lost until I realized that my platform is on the lowest level (parang underground!) which is not quite full of people compared to the other platforms. Hmm, I think people take the bus going to Bondi.

I paid the AUD3.40 fare and off I sat alone in an almost empty coach. Four stops and ta-raann— welcome to Bondi Junction. Next stop : bus to the beach.

Almost There

For a summer morning, there are few people taking the bus to the beach. Shucks….my clue could have been camera toting people in board shorts but nada. I am the most touristy looking with my large bag and a Bondi tshirt!

As we drove down Bondi Road, I was thinking that this is way too quiet for a beach residential area. Of course, there are shops and stores and restaurants but all were closed at 7 A.M. When the bus approached the road overlooking the beach, I can’t contain my excitement that I actually get to see the beach. I was in Australia since Sunday but Saturday was the only time I finally set eyes on the a body of saltwater with real sand. Yay!

The beach looks like a cove with one end having a swimming pool like structure while the other end is full of large boulders. In between, is pure sand and waves for the frolickers, sunbathers and surfers alike. I started watching the morning joggers strutting their beefed up bods but the temptation to feel the water was way too high. In the end, I folded by jogging pants, took off my flipflops and walk along the beach until it started drizzling. I had to look for shelter since I got my precious camera in my bag.

A patch of beach paradise

I did a few stops in some of the stores (read: rip curl and billabong) for some nice looking beach clothes but I ended up buying in an Asian store (that’s what they called it) a pair of shorts and a cute dress. A pair of shorts that I wore that night in Bondi. Mind you, Bondi shoppping is not limited to beach wear since it got Westfield in Bondi Junction for some serious (an even chi-chi wear) clothes and accessories buying spree.

I took the train back to the city after walking more than 10000 steps along Bondi Road.

At 8 P.M. I was cruising the highway from the city to Edgecliff towards Bondi Road back to the beach with a can of beer in hand. So, this is night life in Bondi. The Pavilions were full of people partying and drinking their hearts out. Groups of friends hanging out in the jogging area while some were contented lying on their backs in the grass area looking at the sky and the stars. Holy cow, parking is so difficult!

A night in Bondi

The noise of the party seem to fade away as you look at the lights surrounding the beach.  Me thinks, I can live here. I felt the sand between my toes while threading the beach talking about anything and everything under the stars. It sounded like it came from a page of a Nicholas Sparks novel (except no one dies) until we started “arguing” if the large round thing rising in the horizon is the moon or the sun. Sa totoo lang, I never thought it was romantic that time until pauwi na kami that nag may-we-stroll along the shore drama namin. Talking about sharks in Bondi is not the most romantic topic at all but I can live with that. There were some you-should-be-in-a-relationship topic thrown in between sharks and jogging at nite talks.

We chased some birds on the field and walked some more. I will never get tired of walking in Sydney if this would always be the case. As we drove back to Pitt Street, I know that it would take some time before I will get to experience this again. I did savor every moment in Bondi.

To quote my fave Aussie band who happened to sing the Bondi Rescue themesong, In the Summertime :

Take me back to the sweet times
The hot nights
Everything is gonna be alright
In the summertime
Baby, in the summertime
And even if I have to wait til next year
I don’t care
All I know is that I’ll meet you there
In the summertime
Baby, in the summertime
That is where I’ll be

P.S.

Happy Heart’s Day!

I actually asked him why he took me there when he knew that I was in Bondi earlier. He just said, “because you love the beach.”