Australia, Day Three: Sat 1/16
We went to bed at 9 PM on Friday night. Mark had prepped us for the different possibilities: we might fall right asleep but then wake up at midnight, in which case we should take two Tylenol PMs (he gave us a bottle when we went to bed). But if we woke up at 1 or 2 AM, then we should take just one. We both fell asleep immediately at 9 - - I woke up at 11 and fell right back asleep. Then I woke up again at 1. I thought I should get up and take a Tylenol PM. I thought about it for a while, and the next thing I knew, I was asleep. I woke up again at 3:45 and then got up at 4. I went downstairs with my laptop and wrote my blog. Richard got up at 5.
The highlight of the early morning: I was sitting there, writing on my laptop at around 4:45 AM, la dee da, and this bird outside started yakking its head off, REALLY loud. Annie and Mark and Sue had prepared us for this, it's quite tropical in their backyard and they get lots of impressive birds. They had even imitated the loudest of them, the one we were hearing, the kookaburra, but that didn't prepare me for the impact of the actual experience.
ME: Did you hear that bird going mental earlier?
RICHARD: Yeah, could you believe that?
ME: It was like something out of an RKO movie that takes place in the jungle.
RICHARD: Why do you say that?
ME: Because it's a second-tier movie studio.
RICHARD: You should just say it's like a Tarzan movie.
ME: I think it's nice to give a shout-out to RKO. You hear that bird going mental and then you see Gale Sondergaard slinking out from behind a tree. With a dagger.
RICHARD: Gale Sondergaard worked at Warner Brothers.
Here's a video of a kookaburra doing its thing:
Mark came down at 6:45 and was happy to hear that we had slept so long, and even happier to hear that we didn't need pills. He brought some tea and toast up to Sue - - this is their ritual, every morning of their marriage, they have breakfast in bed. They alternate who does the prep and delivery. How sweet is that? He came back down at around 7:30 and the three of us went for a half-hour walk around their neighborhood, down to the marina, down a VERY steep hill. Here are Richard and Mark on the walk and then arriving at the marina:
Mark told us a lot about Australian history, of which I know nothing. Fascinating. We walked back up the hill, which was some serious cardio.
We got back home and Sue made a luscious breakfast: scrambled eggs, ham, grilled tomatoes, and toast. Mark went out and got coffee and pastries to fill it out. Truly luscious! We talked about their upcoming trip to NYC: they arrive in February and will spend three months visiting their son Erin, his wife Susie, and their one-year old son Rafael. Of course we will get together with them, maybe a few times, while they're in town.
Paul and Annie and the boys picked us up and we drove down to the ferry terminal. We took the ferry one stop to Balmain, a charming little neighborhood. We walked around there for a while, hung out at a park while the boys played. We chatted and had a nice, relaxed time. Here are a few pix of me pushing Sebbie on a cool swing:
It got to be noonish and we walked down to a cute pub for lunch, the London Hotel. Fantastic lunch, our server, Debbie, was extraordinary. Our order was a bit high maintenance, and she came back two or three times to make sure she had understood us correctly. She made a few helpful suggestions, too. We loved her, she was a real pro, and very gracious. And the food was delicious! I had a salad made with quinoa, warm kale, cabbage slaw, sliced avocado, and halloumi, a marvelous salty white cheese. Parsnip fries on the side, mm mm good. Richard had the pasta special, tagliatelle with grilled shrimp, sausage, and spinach. Paul had a reuben, Annie had a steak and mashed potatoes, Anders had a burger, and Sebbie had an Indonesian dish that's a big hit in Australia, nasi goreng: fried rice with peas and other vegetables, Sebbie's also had grilled shrimp. I had a bite of what was left over and mentioned to Annie that it was saltier than I expected it to be. She said, "It's because Sebbie poured soy sauce all over it."
I would say we walked back to the ferry, but it was more relaxed than that - - let's say we sauntered back to the ferry. Paul and Annie and the boys got off at their stop and we stayed on for two more stops. We had a little time to waste before meeting Richard's friends Mark and Anne for dinner that night. First things first, we were right down the street from the opera house when we got off the ferry, so we had to have a photo op.
Our mission was to buy one pair of pants each, maybe also a long-sleeved shirt. We had packed for summer, and it was generally comfortable weather for shorts and short-sleeved shirts, but now and then it was cold and rainy and we wanted to be dressed a bit more warmly, and not wearing the same pants and shirt every day. Annie suggested Country Roads, a cute Gap-ish store. We found one, went in, and found Richard a pair of green trousers and a green and coral plaid shirt. I was close to buying a pale peach dress shirt, but the collar was exceptionally small (too small, it seemed to me, to be able to wear a tie) and the shade of pale peach was very early 80s. Plus, do I really need another dress shirt? Just because it's on sale and it's the thing I like best in the store does NOT mean I should buy it. I came close to buying a pair of stone-colored slacks - - the pair I have has the ghosts of a few stains. The pair I tried on fit great at the waist, hips, and tuches, but too narrow in the leg. It was basically just hovering over my leg, and that's not comfortable for me.
Next stop: H & M. I found a long-sleeved linen shirt with a print of brightly-colored squares, and a pair of purple dressy jeans. I took each in the size I would expect and the next smallest size, because you never know with these people. I got in the dressing room and the shirt looked really cheesy when I put it on. And the pants, you would not believe the pants. If the pants at Country Roads were a little snug, these practically required surgery to take them off. Richard pointed out that this is a store for 12-year olds, so why am I surprised.
We got to our destination, the Queen Victoria Building, a hulking public market built in 1897 for Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee and converted into a shopping mall in 1995. We knocked around, popped into various shops, people-watched, had a fun time. Eventually we sat down and each had an iced mocha.
Then Mark showed up. Richard met Mark and Anne in the hotel business about 30 years ago. They've lived in Sydney for about 25 years. I met them when they were in New York just after Richard and I got together, and then again on another trip a few years later. They're great. Mark and Richard and I hung around for a bit, then Mark decided that maybe Anne was having issues with her tour group (she's a tour guide) and we should go straight to the restaurant. They chose a cute Spanish place down the street, where they used to go years ago. We got a table and started a pitcher of sangria and Anne arrived (Mark was right, she was having issues with her group). We ordered a buttload of tapas: grilled mushrooms, Russian salad, fried pork, three or four other things I don't remember. Curiously enough, I DO remember the dish we wanted and they didn't have: chickpeas with chorizo. Doesn't that sound good? It was a fun dinner.
We walked down to the waterfront and ambled around.
We thought we'd take a bus to Mark and Sue's neighborhood, but we weren't sure how to get from the bus stop to their house, and it was dark, so we took a cab. And the cab driver was slightly dopey and couldn't find the house even with his GPS. Eventually Richard asked him to drive down their street slowly and we recognized their driveway. Please.
We stayed up until 9:30.