Thursday, June 13, 2013

Still Sydney

13 June 2013

Wow, I can't believe it's been an entire week since I last posted!  Time flies, all that.  We're having fun just living in Sydney for now, and doing the normal city things - enjoying the lights of Vivid Sydney and experiencing the crowds; walking and exploring neighbourhoods; sampling various cuisines; chatting with people in cafés and coffee shops and pubs; even running into some of those people in other places.  We almost are starting to have friends in Sydney!

At the same time, we haven't really done anything in particular, like visit a museum or go siteseeing.  We're enjoying just absorbing Sydney as a place to be, a way of life.

We've moved to a new house, new neighborhood - as much as we enjoyed Alexandria and the artists' studio, the person whose room we rented via airbnb was returning, and we had to leave.  We're now in Surry Hills, a bit closer to the city center, in an old terrace house (what in England would be called an attached house, or in NYC might be a brownstone except that it's really cement or plaster) - the long narrow houses that are attached on both sides to other houses, have two or three storeys, and go back a long ways to a tiny back yard.  Our room is small but we have a king bed, which is wonderful!  The house - well, it's kind of a boarding house full of young men who are here on working visas.  Several Irish guys, a Brit or two, one young man from France - and the owner (whose room we're in) is off to holiday in Thailand.  Not the cleanest place, but hey, as my mom would say, you get what you pay for - and the price is cheap.  So we're making do.

The neighborhood, though, is great - part trendy, part ethnic, with small shops and little pubs and restaurants.  The neighborhood pub has great meals for $10 as long as you buy a drink - how can you go wrong with that?  (Soda or juice works as a drink.)  Plus they have new pokies, one of which is confusing but very friendly.  (As in, it pays out well.)  Someone we chatted with described Surry Hills as funky but a bit posh - I'd probably call it up-and-coming trendy.  Our taxi driver said the suits have moved in, so it won't be as funky and will be more expensive soon - but it currently is a transition neighbourhood, and we're enjoying it. 

So, the photos.  We've discovered a fabulous bakery just around the corner and up a few blocks.  Kürtosh - - it's more than a bakery, it's also a café with lovely blue and white tiles and fabulous tea and coffee to go with the pastries and cakes.  And the cakes - oh, the cakes!  As my friends and family know, I love to bake, and one of the things I bake is sour cream coffee cake.  (Known in my family as Vivian Yeagle's coffee cake, because my mother got the recipe from this neighbour, back in the 1960s.)  Richard grew up with the same exact recipe, except his mother doubled the recipe and often left out the walnuts and added chocolate chips.  Anyway, this is a fabulous cake - rich, moist, dense, with that ribbon of melted brown sugar and cinnamon and walnut gooey-ness in the middle - well, Kürtosh has TWO ribbons of gooey melty brown sugar/cinnamon in the middle of the cake, rather than putting the second layer on top!!!!!!  OMG, double gooey melty sugar - how can you go wrong with that??? 

PLUS - they have plates of tastes all across the counter - barrel cake, cinnamon pull-aparts, rugelach, blondies that are really half-brownie-half-blondie layers, the Vivian Yeagle cake - and you can taste each and every one!!!!!!!!!  And then, when you finally, FINALLY, decide which item you'd like, they cut and weigh each piece - so if you want a small piece of cake, that's what you ask for.  If you want the hungry man piece of cake that Richard always wants, well, you can get that too!

How can you go wrong with free samples and varied sizes of cake?

We've been in the neighbourhood two days.  We've been to Kürtosh twice.  I've told Richard we need to do this maybe once a day - not more.  (He laughed.)

And the people were nice about me taking photos of their gorgeous treats, which taste amazing!

Just a little sidebar:  today, we talked to a young woman from New Zealand who was reading Huxley's "Brave New World" in Spanish - the title being "Un Mundo Feliz" which we all agreed was quite a strange translation.  Although maybe the title in Spanish reflects the utopian aspect of the society portrayed.  Not sure.  Just odd.

Anyway, we've also been enjoying the availability of movies in the city (and the senior prices) - and there are the mainstream movies like "Place Beyond the Pines" (which we both enjoyed, although we both had criticisms of the filming and acting).  We also are enjoying more obscure movies like "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," set mostly in Pakistan, which portrayed a non-Western point of view of the world, and which we both felt had more of a message about the futility of violence than the movie critics we've read subsequently.

One rainy afternoon, Richard went to see "The Great Gatsby" which he enjoyed for a variety of reasons, although he reports that the movie fell short of the book, and that the story in many ways doesn't lend itself to film.  I saw "Happiness Never Comes Alone," a delightful romantic comedy, or comedic romance, set mostly in Paris (with bits in New York) - it really was a wonderful movie, exploring love and relationships between two adults (as opposed to young adults, as most movies tend to be).  Plus the male protagonist is a French Jewish guy, with a bubbe who makes blintzes for him and calls him "Pipsely" - so I could relate, despite the language and subtitles.  Anyway, if you see the movie playing near you, take your sweetie and go see it - really a funny and fun film.  (Another sidebar - the female lead is played by Sophie Marceau, who is NOT the daughter of famous mime Marcel Marceah; the male lead, Gad Elmaleh, IS the son of a mime!  But from Morocco, of all places.  Mimes in Morocco?)

In between rain, movies, pokies, and bakeries, we've managed to book a camper van from late June to mid August.  We'll head up along the coast to warmer weather and the Great Barrier Reef, and plan to snorkel, dive, enjoy the beaches and the sun.  And explore one more dream area of Australia.  So there should be some fun adventure up ahead, and we're both looking forward to that.  (It'll be the two-berth camper, nothing like our Mighty Whitey that we had in NZ.)  

We're also working on where to go in mid-August, when we need to leave Australia again.  Not sure if we want to return to Australia, or move on.  There's so much world to see.  So we're looking at all the Pacific islands, as long as we're in the general vicinity.  We'll figure something out before August.

Anyway, that's the update.  Nothing new and exciting.  Movies, urban life, and probably more pastry than we need.

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