I heard that some of my friends in New York were battling -10 degrees and snow today, their eyes tearing up from the cold winds outside. On the other hand, last Friday as I was melting away in this city burning up with record high temperatures (hottest day on record with 45.8 degrees Celsius), I laughed to myself. My Ayurvedic doctors from India told me that my body is naturally cold and dry (my dosha being Vata-Pitta), and that I should live in warmer climates. I may not be following everything my doctors prescribed for me but keeping myself warm is one thing I definitely have been doing.
It wasn’t really intentional and I certainly didn’t plan this two years ago when I set off to travel, but I’ve been following the sun and chasing summers around the globe. I spent my first winter (2010/11) in sunny South India, last winter (2011/12) I was living in heat and humidity filled Buenos Aires, and this winter (2012/13) I find myself here in Sydney. When I walked out of my apartment Friday for a coffee date with Charlotte, my landlord, I was struck by a brutal gust of stifling heat that stopped me dead in my tracks. It was only half past ten in the morning but I had a flashback to those sizzling summer days in New York where you just knew that you were going to look and feel a hot mess in a few minutes. That didn’t stop me from sitting outside and having a lovely chat and a great cup of “flat white” at Room 10 with Charlotte (a separate post on Australian coffee lingo and cafe culture to come later).
Charlotte thought strongly that I should head to the beach to cool myself down but I had plans to meet LL in Surry Hills that evening so I decided to hang out nearby. I really should have stayed out of the sun and kept myself in the apartment, but I went out for lunch at Spice I Am and walked over to Surry Hills.
I needed to take frequent breaks in whatever establishment that offered a cool treat or air conditioning. There was a scoop of panna cotta gelato with fig jam and amaretti at Gelato Messia, a cute little bookshop on Crown Street, Thomas Dux grocery store, a few opp shops (Aussie for thrift/second hand shops), and numerous other stores in Surry Hills that provided much needed relief.
When it began to rain I was fortunately a block away from Parma, an Italian restaurant/bar at the corner of Crown & Campbell where I could enjoy a cold glass of Peroni and chat a bit with their friendly Italian waiters (they offered me some really delicious green olives to nibble on, too).
I spent the rest of the evening catching up with LL, a Sydneysider whom I met in yoga class last year in Buenos Aires. We had some great Italian wines (I loved my Pinot Nero) and delicious food at 121BC before moving onto MoVida for dessert and a night cap.
It turned cold and windy while we were at 121BC, and I was a bit baffled by the unpredictable weather changes in Australia…
It was cloudy and cooler on Saturday. I chilled out, walked to CBD (Aussies shorten everything- CBD stands for Central Business District) to take a last look at the Boxing Day sales/summer clearance at the outdoor & camping stores on Kent Street. My two purchases of the day were a lightweight day pack that folds itself into a little pouch and what seems like an essential item every Australian woman must carry around, Lucas’ Papaw Ointment (papaw = papaya in Aussie; for the record, I’m not a fan of the word “ointment”). I’ve got Vegemite in my fridge and now a tube of Papaw ointment in my purse; I’m living more like an Aussie everyday.
Sunday Fun Day! I took my first train ride over to the Inner West town of Ashfield to spend the day with T. The train stations were clean, signage was very clear, trains were on time and also clean, and except for the fares being expensive* it was very easy to manage (* when compared to $0.45 USD one-way Subte fare in Buenos Aires, $2.25 USD single ride on New York City subway regardless of distance Vs. $4.50 USD one-way train ticket in Sydney for 10-20km traveled).
These trains reminded me of the newer New Jersey Transit trains.
T met me at the train station and drove us to do a 7km bay walk circling Iron Cove. After that she gave me a quick tour around some of the other towns- Five Dock, Haberfield, Leichhardt, and Ashfield.
We popped into a Chinese bbq place for a bite to eat, did some produce shopping, and ended up at the Ashfield Catholic Club where we laughed the afternoon away with $4 beers. As you can see from the photo below, I pulled out and studied all the Australian coins that I’m still not used to; why are the $2 coins so tiny when the $0.50 coins are so humongous? T, who is headed to San Francisco next week asked about the American coins; why are they called pennies, nickels, and dimes? Do you even use those $0.01 pieces?
The club members were playing slot machines (I think they’re called “pokies” here), drinking cold beers, and getting ready to feast on some hamburgers and “sausage sizzle” (another Aussie term I learned; the lady working the outdoor grill explained it to me thusly as she pointed to the barbie, “you see the sausage? you hear them sizzle?). The other big attraction was the weekly raffle where the winner gets to take home a meat tray and/or a grocery basket. I was so delighted and intrigued that I had to take some photos, much to the amusement of those locals in the club… This was so much better than doing some typical tourist stuff in the city. Take that, Frommer’s guide to Sydney!
My Sunday with T in Ashfield was just way too much fun. Oh, and I was fortunate to have some homegrown organic passion fruit from her two-year old passion fruit vine. How amazing is that!?
Australian Slang of the Week: Goodin’ meaning “good thing” One might say, that delicious passion fruit from T’s? That’s a goodin’
Room 10: My neighborhood coffee place & cafe. Excellent coffee, shaky service. 10 Llankelly Place, Potts Point
Spice I Am: Popular Thai restaurant with multiple locations in Sydney- Darlinghurst, Surry Hills. Chic decor, good food.
Parma: Ice cold Peroni on tap served by friendly Italians. “happy hour” everyday, $4 beers. At the corner of Crown and Campbell, Surry Hills
121BC: Tiny little Italian wine bar that serves delicious bites at reasonable prices. Very cool and a great find/reco from LL. 4/50 Holt Street (entrance on Gladstone), Surry Hills
MoVida: Sydney outpost of Melbourne restaurant serving Spanish tapas. VERY popular but “vale la pena.” 50 Holt Street, Surry Hills