Yesterday was D's first day of work for the folks who make Campaign Monitor, leaving me free to spend the whole day however I'd like. Yesterday I took a stroll down to the waterfront and took some more 'artistic,' less-'touristy'-type photos -- or, more accurately, attempted to. It's just too nice here to be focusing on the minutae that usually makes up my style.
I'm hoping to upload a few more pics this afternoon, but my hopes for better wifi at our beach-front hotel did not come to fruition. Turns out, it's $5 for fifteen minutes here, compared with $5 an hour at the Sydney hotel. Lucky for us, another kind soul has an open access point within range of our super-wifi equipment, meaning I can still be somewhat connected. (Arg. Hang on; I'm drying off on the balcony after my morning shower and fear that I'm beginning to burn. I best put some clothes on. OK.) When we inevitably move here some day, we're going to have open wifi with a little paypal tip jar or something. It's way too hot here in the direct sun, so I'm going to head down to the water to write down there. See you in 5.
Boy, I'm sure glad I opted to bring my OLPC; the battery life and daylight-readable screen are both fantastic. I can't imagine trying to sit on a bench and write with a normal laptop, so I'm really glad I got one of these while I had the chance. If it weren't for having to constantly stop and tell people all about this cute little machine that they can't possibly buy anyway, it'd be a machine perfectly suited to freelance writers. Maybe I should become one.
I've now got the ocean breeze at my back, surrounded by the cries of hungry birds -- irate that no one is giving them anything to eat -- and the sound of a gurgling fountain that looks entirely too much like the head of a giant stone penis, dribbling out fluid from exactly where you'd expect if you were familiar at all with penises. (Penii?) Appropriately enough, the sculpture is entited 'The Seed.' I'll snap some pics of it for your reference.
Speaking of birds: the gulls here seem to be of a different sort than I'm accustomed to seeing in the states; they're leaner, more muscular and slightly smaller. Yesterday I took pics of one in particular who had staked out an area as being his, violently ruffling his feathers and screaming when any other gull dared enter his space. This was aggravated when some kind soul (me) donated a found Nutella sandwich to them. This bossy gull spent the whole time chasing all the other gulls away from his sandwich that he failed to notice as two smaller black birds devoured the whole thing. He defended the sandwich for at least ten minutes, throughout which time he didn't even have one bite. I suspect he might be an American tourist.
Oh yeah: if you'd like to see the area in which I'm currently sitting, I shot a silly little video with the OLPC's webcam yesterday morning whilst air-drying on my balcony. It'll be the sort of greenish, blocky area towards the left side of the blocky screen. Note the .au in that url; it got there automatically :)
It took a few meals, but I've decided that my American taste buds are not particularly pleased with the flavor of pork in Australia; I can't really describe the difference, but I suspect it may be due in part to the lack of copious amounts of seasonings and preservatives (and hormones) that American meat producers include in everything. I've tried bacon, link sausage, and now a Sausage McMuffin with Egg from McDonalds, and it just doesn't quite sit right with me. I had an interesting turkish pastry-thing yesterday with 'mince' in it, which I suspect to be a ground pork product because of the same odd flavor which I found initially curious and eventually off-putting. I believe this to be the first occurance of something that I've found that I think is 'better' in America. Oh, 'tomato sauce' was the first. It's not quite ketchup, in that it's sweeter and doesn't seem to contain any vinegar, and it does not do to chips what ketchup does to fries in the states. Adding insult to injury, Heinz actually sells 'tomato sauce' here rather than ketchup.
There are countless things that are better here, though. The soft drinks in particular are fantastic, probably in large part to the inclusion of sugar rather than corn syrup. Delish. There are a variety of different soft drinks that I'm really going to miss when we have to leave, most notably being Coca-Cola's 'Lift,' and to a lesser extent, the 'Solo' range of beverages. I've searched in vain for Marcus's's New Zealand favorite 'J&L,' but both 'Lift' and 'Solo' taste remarkably similar to how he described it. As dissimilar as they'd like to appear, I guess Aussies and Kiwis share a fondness for lemon drink that I wish Americans would develop as well.
In conversations with experienced people before our trip, the one thing everyone recommended was Arnott's 'Tim Tam' biscuits, so I popped 'round the corner shop and purchased several varieties. Those are some bloody wonderful biscuits, but I have to say my heart lies more in all the other varieties of biscuits that Arnott's sells. The 'Spiced Fruit Roll' is particularly wonderful, though difficult to describe. Imagine a 'Fig Newton,' but with a slightly pretzel-like (in consistency) toasted shell around it that your teeth crunch through before getting into the softer 'mantle,' and that the filling is not fig, but instead currants, raisins, orange zest and the same types of spices you'd find in mince (not the pork kind) pies in the U.S. and U.K. I suspect that we are going to need to acquire some more luggage with which we'll bring a several year supply back with us.
Speaking of raisins, here they are apparently frequently called 'sultanas' or 'saltanas' or something rather similar to that, requiring a creative renaming of a familiar product. Kellogg's 'Raisin Bran' becomes Kellogg's 'Sultana Bran.' Other more inexplicable renamings include Kellogg's 'Rice Bubbles' rather than the familiar (to this American) Kellogg's 'Rice Krispies.' I'm not entirely sure what 'krispies' denote here, but I suspect it might be the turds that cling to the ass-end off a sheep. For brekkie this morning I had a cereal that LOOKED for all the world like the krispies on the ass-end of a sheep, but tasted really wonderful, especially as the milk soaked in.
Oh: remember how I was initially weirded out by spinach at brekkie? Well, since then I've eaten a number of traditional Aussie brekkies featuring things such as gigantic sauteed mushrooms and roasted tomatoes (toe maaah toe), and 'hand sliced' thick white toast, which, apparently, is the greatest thing here since sliced bread; many cafes proudly advertise that their toast is hand sliced. It is all delightful, especially the roasted tomato and mushrooms. Also, these Aussies sure know how to poach an egg; that's enough right there to keep me here. Aside from the copious amounts of pork in most traditional brekkies, I'm in love with Aussie fare. I'll fit right in.
Since being here, I've developed what can only be described as 'a bit of a coffee addition'. I've fallen in love with what they call a 'flat white,' which is a small shot of espresso and a big cup of steamed milk. I usually add a dollop of honey to that and I'm good to just sit and drink it. Just talking about it now is making me want to go grab one. Alright, hang on a tick, I'm going.
Ok, back. So one other thing I really like about things here, is that cafes usually have different pricing for 'eat-in' vs 'take-away,' and there is no tipping anywhere. They actually pay the staff a good wage, charging the customer accordingly if they're going to have to be minded and/or cleaned-up-after. That's exactly the way I think it should be. Mr. Pink would be really happy here, had things worked out differently for him. Also, portions are smaller, and there are no refills on soft drinks. D doesn't care much for the latter, but as one who rarely drinks more than one serving, I'm tired of paying for everyone else's refills. Better for me is better all 'round right?
Prices here in Cronulla (a perfectly cromulent name for a town) are a bit more manageable than those in downtown Sydney. I just paid $3.50 for a large takeaway flat white, which is what I'd imagine Starbucks in the states would charge. Meals out are still pretty spendy due to being right on the sea in tourist territory, but my knocking about during the day isn't racking up quiet the cost that it would have were I doing it in Sydney. It's a lot cooler here as well, and the crowds less crowdy. I'd gladly be exiled here by the British constabulary.
With that, I'll bid you fare well for now. Next time: spiders.
The author lives in Vancouver, Washington, USA with his girlfriend and a menagerie of cats, rats, fish, birds, guinea pigs and robots.
Among other inanities, he strives to use investigative techniques to work young starlet breasts into every aspect of rational discourse -- focusing on the discourse, thus making it not perverted. Also, has recently begun a career as "Internet hairstylist."
He can be contacted via email and Jabber IM at 'firstname.lastname@example.org'. He likes to be contacted.
(All press inquiries, however, ought be directed towards the author's agent, Alistair Hoel, via email to email@example.com.)