mothers and daughters
I have just left my mother and headed up by myself again to Airlie Beach, the jumping off point for the Whitsunday Islands, apparently the jewel in the Australian crown. Spending a week with my mammy was fun; we saw and spent lots in Sydney, and then headed up to Byron for a few days of r&r. Sydney was much nicer than it was to me last time, maybe because this time I didn't have giardia. We stayed in the rather swanky Rocks, although our hotel was far from that indeed. It was more on the pokey, dark side of things. Russell Hotel, no thanks. Having said that, it didn't dampen our spirit, and the first thing that we did was hit the shops. We're girls, that's what we do. And besides, I had a whole backpack of clothes to replace. Looking through my belongings, I am unsurprised to see that almost everything that I came away with has been thrown out and replaced by cheap Thai gear, and expensive Sydney/Melbourne purchases. So yes, a Sportsgirl trip later, lots of Love Kylie underwear, some fun in Borders, and a whole new backpack, we felt we had given our credit cards a good workout.
The next day was focused on two, intertwined premises - food and Bondi. Food was covered with a breakfast at Bill's, in Darlinghurst, which was amazingly wonderfully fabulous. I had these amazing ricotta hot cakes with banana and honey butter (this was about a week ago, and I can still remember), and mum had corn fritters, or something like. After that, a quick hop on the train and bus, and we were at Bondi, where we watched the surfers (I lusted after the waves), and went for a long, rambling walk over the cliffs, through some random woodland, a cemetary, and eventually ending us up in some small town a couple of miles down the shore. It certainly worked up an appetite for an incredible meal in a beautiful setting at Bondi Icebergs. Icebergs is set up off Bondi beach, so you can watch the waves break, even in the dark, from the almost entirely glass building. The menu was fabulous, my pear and rose bellini a dream, and naturally my mother felt an urge to make conversation with the table of drunken 30-somethings beside us. I thought I was over being embarrased by my mother, but clearly not. We caught the late night bus home feeling a teensy bit drunk and slightly overfull from the chocolate cannoli that was had for dessert.
A trip up to Byron was always going to be fun, and it managed to provide one of the most memorable 20seconds of my life - surfing with dolphins. I was out at Cosy Corner, where the waves were anything but cosy, instead packing a fair punch, when suddenly 5 dark-dolphin shapes were spotted flitting through the waves, having the time of their lives. They surfaced a couple of times amongs the surfers, and then swam off to have their own fun. I had always heard that dolphins enjoy a surf, but it was absolutely incredible to see it for myself. The surfing in general was amazing - it was so good to remember how to do it, and feel my body get better at it, more attuned, more natural. Of course, dreams of surfboards are far-off, since the hassle of carrying one around would be a nightmare, but I did check prices. A heart-stopping $549 for a minimal. No thanks.
That is something that I have noticed. Australia is expensive. And it's not just me who thinks so. My mum was here five years ago, and believes that everything is much more expensive than it was before. Shame.
Before I met Mum, I spent a few days in Melbourne. I have to say that it is one of my favourite cities now: chic, fun, and a great public transport system. I had a blast wandering Brunswick St, checking out St Kilda's, and bar hopping down tiny, grotty, dark alleys to find amazingly cool, chic bars like Murmur at the bottom of them. A lot of fun. Also, the Great Ocean Road truly does rival Highway 1 in the US for picturesque roads, mainly because of the incredible 12 (11? One fell down) Apostles, which was the site of my first helicopter ride. I think I might be an addict.
So now the Whitsundays. Its warm here, which makes a change from the rest of Oz so far, and the town seems tuned into parties. Fun times. I'm going to go hunting for a kayak trip tomorrow, and be even more active, and go for my second run in Australia, since the first, in Byron, went so well, and now I have a high-tech watch to make sure that I am working hard. Awesome.