First things first – there’s a ramen place nearby and it’s so good we went TWICE this week. Shout out to RaRa for making us deliriously happy.
And also, YES, we do actually eat at home. I’ve gotten quite a few questions about this, and I actually still cook A LOT. It’s just not as aesthetic or cool or picture worthy. For example, Saturday night I tried really hard to make my mom’s fried fish recipe. It was great, though not as great as hers. Tyler loves the common fish here - barramundi – so much so he has seriously mentioned getting a tattoo of it. It’s just a normal flaky white fish. Sometimes I don’t understand that kid.
Last night we made quesadillas, which were not the best/not the worst. They don’t seem to have anything resembling Mexican cheese here. We used “tasty” cheese, which seems to be a white cheddar? Maybe? It just wasn’t the same. I miss that sweet fiesta blend from back home.
So we do cook - it’s just not that amazing. We’ve been trying to avoid buying unnecessary ingredients, and generally working pretty low budget. We’re living that fixed income lifestyle!
Speaking of limited money, Saturday we went to see the David Goldblatt retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Though the main museum collection is free, this exhibition requires a ticket. Tyler and I seriously contemplated not going, or just me going and him doing something else (seriously, we’re becoming SO FRUGAL), but we eventually decided to just go for it and both get a ticket and THANK GOD WE DID. It was a beautiful exhibition, and while Goldblatt is most well known for his black + white work documenting apartheid, I was amazed by his work made between South Africa and Western Australia of asbestos mining. It was completely in my wheelhouse and area of interest, the prints were huge and beautiful and maybe I need to try printing on rag? I left invigorated and ready to make some work! Tyler and I turned to each other as we left and commented on how thankful we were to have decided to just bite the bullet and both go.
Sunday 24 Feb – we very nearly did not leave the house today. It was cloudy and intermittently raining. We’ve had pretty miserable weather here for the last three days or so, and after weeks of sunshine and clear blue skies it’s put us both in the most foul of moods. Being in Sydney when it rains somehow feels even worse than back home – I feel this incredible sense of guilt if we don’t go out, like when you’re on vacation and can’t go to the beach or see the sights. It’s still hard for me to remember that this place is HOME, and that it’s okay to take a day to stay indoors and read, do research, or god forbid, watch television.
By the time we rolled out of bed and got ourselves together it was nearly noon. I then started playing the mental strategic planning game, attempting to figure out if any of the ideas I had were actually doable in the weather AND knowing we had already lost half our day. I know this is quite a common issue, but being as controlling and neurotic as I am, I can’t stand going anywhere of interest without enough time to actually do everything I want in that place. I don’t ever want an adventure to be cut short. Even if I know we can go back in the near future! This is why I generally overplan any trip we take. I really need to learn how to relax…but 27 years and counting, I’m still this way.
So I cut the Blue Mountains day trip off the list, and started brainstorming a different hike we might take that’s slightly closer. I remembered seeing another coast walk when looking into our Coogee trek, and did what was probably my shortest research yet (I’d say under 5 minutes). Grumpy and getting close to going to bed at 1pm, I dragged Tyler off the couch, and we headed out into the gloomy streets to find our bus to Spit.
It started raining as we walked to the bus station, and the bus we planned to take never showed up. When the next bus did, it stopped at a stall down the road instead of the one we were standing at, so we ran full speed to get on…just to have it also stop at where we had been prior. I felt motion sick on the way (which hardly ever happens to me) and bit down all my nails out of nervousness as we crossed what felt like the longest bridge I’ve ever been on. I was not in the best of moods when we finally hopped off the bus, and was even more concerned when I saw the entrance to the walk was…under a bridge? I half expected a troll to come out and ask us to pay some fee. Or at the very least, a strung out vagrant looking for bus fare. Isn’t this a place my parents warned me NOT to go to?
The bridge underpass was a brief section leading to the actual trail. Within minutes we had started onto the coast walk, and as soon as we got onto the path the sun came out and our spirits lifted. The Spit to Manly route was much more of a “hike” than the Coogee to Bondi walk, and most of it was uphill and on stairs (either added wooden or cut into the rock). It was hard to stay grumpy when we were back doing one of our favorite activities, and finally into some nice weather. We saw a bearded dragon (we think?) and a variety of native flora. I appreciated that this trail had quite a few signs pointing out what plants we might see along the way, though it had far fewer signs directing us where to go on the trail itself.
There were beautiful lookouts, especially once we entered into Sydney Harbor National Park. There’s also a section along the path where you can see Aboriginal engravings in the rock. I was especially drawn to a path jutting off into a strange forest of black trees. The afternoon light was beautiful, and it was strange to be in a totally new environment above the tree line, but still beside the ocean. We passed through Fairlight Beach, which we learned is home to a small group of Little Penguins. I think we may have missed their breeding season, but I’m hoping to maybe catch them in the evening before we head back to the states.
The entire last leg of our walk I went on and on about how excited I was to get into the water for a swim. So naturally, as we rounded the bend into Manly cove it began to rain again. We walked along the Corso towards the beach anyways, and though it remained cloudy, the shower ended. It was definitely one of the colder swims I’ve had since arriving to Australia – I’d guess at 5pm the water was warmer than the air. I jumped into the rolling waves among the surfers, the tide stronger than ever. A frigid wave crashed over me, and I could have just as easily been at Nauset beach. And for the briefest of seconds, this New England girl felt back home.