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Published: October 27th 2006
At the Ice Bar
This is what $30 gets you in Sydney if you want to be cold. It was an experience, I guess! This picture was stolen from stupid "Minus 5" by us memorizing a 16 digit code and then secretly downloading it from their website. Take that! WHAHAHAHA!
There's another exciting Surfaris update to be had (I know you're all waiting with baited breath... haha yah right) but I thought I'd better give you an update on our current happenings in Sydney or else I'd start to forget about what we'd been up to.
Once we were dropped off at Central Station in Sydney by the Surfaris bus from Byron Bay, we took the train to Newtown (near our old hostel) and walked from their to Mom's room at Sancta Sophia College. I'm sure there was a better bus to take, but we were exhausted and couldn't bother to have a bus scavenger hunt at this point. We met up with Mom, the boys grabbed their stuff they'd stashed with her, and we all walked together to our new hostel: Alishan Guest House. It was realllly nice. Much more like a bed and breakfast style place than a hostel, but it costs the same per night as Billabong Gardens. We had a dorm room all to ourselves, complete with TV! (5 channels), and a really nice, clean, fully equipped kitchen. There's practically no one staying here, and everyone who is is 30+, so things are clean and quiet.
A view on the walk
Some of the beautiful views from our marathon walk. This was shortly after we set out from Coogee
Our only qualm is that the internet is super expensive (but there's a great internet cafe down the road, where I am right now) and so is the laundry, but we'll deal. In fact, we like it so much we just extended our stay this morning to 8 nights total.
The next day we decided just to take it easy because we were kind of drained from our previous adventures. We slept in then got up and walked the neighbourhood to see what was around. I just toasted some fruit bread and had Milo for breakfast, but the boys got the breakfast deal from Subway. It's SUCH a good deal. You get a 6" breakfast sub with egg and bacon and a cappacinno, all for only $3.96AUS! You can't even get drip coffee here; they only have espresso drinks. Fine with me! The day was just spent exploring a local mall, agonizing over which sent of laundry degergent to buy from K-Mart (yes, they still have K-mart here) doing laundry, and writing massive Surfaris blog updates. Apparantly we seemed kind of boring, because the guy that manages the hostel (who watches us allllll the time) made a comment to
We stumbled upon this MASSIVE ocean view cemetary. People who died in like 1915 could live to be 91. Who knew?
Derek that he was concerned we weren't doing
anything and offered his services for activity planning. Hahahaha. After that point we've barely been home, since!
That evening we got ahold of our friends Erich, Mark Stephenson, Jeff, and Erich's brother, Troy, who were staying downtown. We arranged to meet to go have a beer or something. Once we met up, Jeff suggested that we try to find an "ice bar" that he'd heard about. I've heard of ice bars, too, and I knew they were super expensive but we set out on a hunt, anyway. Erich asked at a Starbucks and they pointed us in the right direction to "Minus 5." Oh, I should tell you that Erich and Troy both have bronchitis and continually cough up a lung everywhere we go. Then I laugh at them, and people look at me like I'm a horrible person for laughing at such poor, sick little boys.
Minus 5 was at the edge of the harbour, right near the Opera House. Already I could tell we were out of our 'hood. Everyone walking past was dressed in nice suits or evening wear, while we were wearing jeans, t-shirts,
Mountain Mark (Stephenson)
Mark couldn't find the stairs so he had to scale a cliff and fit through this small hole. It was right in front of "Mark's Park," actually.
and teva sandles! We pushed on, regardless, and made our way up to the beckonging Minus 5 bar, where we discovered that it was going to cost us $30 each to enter the bar!!! Well, we were all feeling a bit adventurous and started throwing out phrases like "you only live once!" and before you knew it we were suiting up in provided parkas and snowgloves and shoveling over huge amounts of cash. They gave us a beeper to wear around our necks because you are only supposed to stay in the ice bar for 30 minutes due to "safety reasons." Psh. It was only -12, not bad at all. They just wanted us out of there. We were hearded it when a large group of Japanese tourists to the "aclimitization room," where we had to watch a safety video. What a joke. We were also informed at this point that we could NOT take pictures with our own cameras because he lenses would freeze, but they would be happy to take pictures where their own camera...for a price, of course.
The ice bar was basically a cave with walls made of ice (imported from Canada!) and filled with
We really ,really wanted to try a go on these waves, but by the time we got here it was getting pretty late, we were hungry, and so we just continued on to Bondi Beach.
ice sculptures of all types. There were a few seats covered with hides of some kind. I was really disappointed because we didn't even get to order our own cocktails, they just shoved a drink at us and we had to take it. At least it was served in a delicous cup completely made of New Zealand ice, which I ate after I'd finished my drink. I think the cup tasted better than the drink, frankly. After 30minutes my beepers started freaking out, beeping like mad to tell me to get out. It was driving me crazy, so Erich and I got out of there and went to the lobby to wait for the rest. And wait. And wait. And wait. Apparantly, the other guys hadn't been ready to leave so they hid their beepers in their parkas. Others had beepers that were broken and never went off at all. They stayed in there for ages, doing rude things to the ice sculptures, until finally the bar tender kicked them out. Duing their illict time in the ice bar, however, they managed to snap a few covert shots on their own camera. Sneeeeaky.
Once they got out, we looked
at our legit ice bar picture, taken by the Minus 5 staff. It was actually a great picture, but there was no way we were going to pay $20 for a few copies and an internet access code to download it ourselves. Well, we weren't going to pay, but that didn't mean we didn't still want it! So, a few of the scheming boys asked if they could "take the picture to look at it in the light" and then proceeded to each take a piece of the 16 digit access code to memorize. Next they ran outside to imput the code into Mark S's phone before they forgot it. In the rush to leave the place, Jeff made quite a scene. First he ran into the window, then on attempt 2 he ran into the mirror, until finally getting the door on try 3. Smooth, buddy. Their memory held, because the picture you see at the start of this entry was illegally downloaded from the Minus 5 site. Yes!!! Suddenly that $30 drink doesn't seem so bad. OK. Yes it does. But we're still glad we did it.
It turns out that the other boys had just been
on Surfaris the week before Derek and Mark and I were! We went back to their hostel and watched the DVD from their trip. It looked like they had a good time, but the three of us were definitely glad that our week had only had 13 students, not the 36 that had been on Erich's trip. Watching the DVD made us long for the waves, so we made plans to meet up the next morning and go surfing.
The next day we planned to go to Coogee Beach, which I had heard was a good place for beginner surfers. Mark knew the way, so after a train, bus, walk, and much enduring of Troy's loud, embaressing stories (he's only 18...) we were finally at Coogee Beach. A beautiful beach, that DDN'T POSSESS A SINGLE SURFABLE WAVE! Noooooo. Have no fear, Erich came up with a great plan B. There was a cliff top path which went from Coogee to Bondi, so we decided to check it out. WHAT a good idea. The walk was really nice, with incredible views. I've uploaded a few pictures of the trip. Shortly after setting out, we saw a sting ray in a
Duh dun. Duh dun. Duh dun duh dun duh dun. DAHHHHHHHHH!
pool where people we swimming. Awesome! It seemed pretty docile.
The weather was pretty warm, but there was a fierce, unrelenting wind to keep us cool. It blew my new pink Billabong hat off a couple times, and Iwas scared I was going to lose it. The first time it blew off we were in an area with a GIANT cemetary on the left and a huge cliff drop at the right, so either way I would have been screwed.
The closer we got to Bondi, the better the waves got for surfing. I guess we should have just gone to Bondi in the first place. There were some great looking, although slightly intimidating, waves at a small beach around the corner from Bondi (I can't remember what it was called though, darn) and we stood there watching them for a loooooong time. There were a few body surfers and a couple surfers to show us what we were missing. Oh, hahaha, I almost forgot. There was also this girl in a white bikini who kept putting her camera on the sand and then posing in front of it, doing things like running to the surf, or splashing
They have them in Australia, too, apparantly!
herself with water, or just sitting in a model-esque pose. Even though we were on a windy cliff high above, I apparantly was able to laugh hard enough for her to hear me. Whoops. Oh well, what do you expect when doing something like that? We felt sort of bad for her, so in the end we decided that her husband was serving in Afghanistan and that she was just trying to send him some momentos of home to keep him going. Yes. That's what she was doing.
Once at Bondi, the waves were great (though really, really busy) but it was getting late and things were really cooling off. We were too exhausted from our massive walk to really want to actually surf, so we just got some food (2 huge grilled sandwhiches for $7! We've gotten really good at finding the cheapest food around) and then took the bus home. Jeff had left us about 90min before because he had to get back to go to work. Poor Jeff did the walk with only one shoe, because the sole of one of his sandles came off. He wasn't too impressed. Ohhh well he'll get over it.
We watched this aquarium for soooo long. They had this trance-like meditation underwater music playing and we got sucked in for ages. We just sat on the steps and watched the methodic movement of these fish.
That evening we met the boys again and headed to the sketchy Kings Cross district to enter a fooseball tournament, which Erich had one the week before and Troy had come runner up in. A $100 bar tab was on the line. Kings Cross at night is sort of like Esquimalt meets Downtown Eastside meets Moulin Rouge. Charming. The streets are lined with strip clubs with greesey guys standing outside yelling things at you to try to get you to come in. I guess it works, because the night ended with Mark S. and Erich entering one...
Anyhow, at the Empire we all entered the tournament because it was free. Even I entered, even though I am most definitely the worst foose ball player that ever lived. Well, actually I must be the 2nd worst because I somehow won my first game and went on to round 2!!!!! Incredible. It was the slowest, most boring game of fooseball ever, though. Hahaha. In the end, Troy prevailed to win the tournament and a $100 bar tab was ours. Although Troy wasn't drinking, we wanted to buy us drinks. I thought he'd get us exotic cocktails. Nope. He bought 5 pitchers of beer that was on special for $7.50. Noooooooo! I was not impressed. I'm not exactly in to volume drinking (an understatment). Before long the guys had encouraged Troy to buy me some gin and tonics to shut me up, and they nicely worked their magic and I stopped caring about the rest of their drinking. It all turned out fine in the end, anyway. I was intensly hit on by a crazy drunk New Zealander who knocked over my beer and called me something like a "smokin' hot Canadian chick." Good one, buddy. You almost had me. Not.
The next day we met my mom and saw where her lab was and met some of the people she's working with. Then we went to the Sydney Aquarium, which was GREAT!!! Sooo good. I won't say much, but it was well worth the entry fee. I recommend it! Be sure to check out the videos above. Then we went to Mom's room and used internet forever, downloaded pictures, went to teh grocery store, and went to sleep. We were so tired after 2 days full of walking. We made plans to go to the Blue Mountains with the other guys the next day,though, so more walking was still to be done!
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