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 - http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/70/1695828/restaurant/Sydney/Kurtosh-Surry-Hills
- 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
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.