Sydney through the eyes and hearts of locals
Apr 29, 2012
|The most privileged part of living in Australia has been all of the amazing people I’ve met and the experiences I’ve created with them. However, these past two months have definitely been exceptional. A group of friends in particular that we met randomly have gone above and beyond anything I could ask for as a tourist in a new city.
One night I was at a back alley pub hang out with Fiona, Ashleigh and her boyfriend Bryan. We were waiting for a table and two guys offered for us to join their table, before we knew it we were conversing with their group of friends. Ashleigh and her boyfriend went home and the guys offered to show us around the city. They took us to Hyde park to experience a night at the Sydney festival. We ended up at a quirky new mexican hub eating popcorn. We hit it off as a group of friends and invited them to our jungle party. Not too long after we met up with them on Australia day, in the rocks. Matt’s dad is renovating a beautiful old home just a short walk away and we spent the evening all hanging out on the rooftop view with an amazing view of the harbor bridge in the background.
This group of guys is very unique, I don’t know that I’m met such a diverse group of guys that are so different yet so close. They all grew up in Manly beach, just a ferry ride away from Bondi. One day I was I had ferried to Manly beach with my friend Anthony’s New York guests visiting him in Sydney. Matt contacted me and said he’d love to show me around Manly. Regardless of the crappy weather that particular day, I stayed and we cruised around Manly. We sat at he harbor wharf and ended up at a brewery/acoustic bar. There was the most amazing cover band playing Bon Iver, whom I’m obsessed with. Matt and I really hit it off and seem to really have a lot in common. We ended up spending quite a bit of time together.
I already mentioned that Matt invited my friends and I to the blue mountains, and that was exceptional in itself. Obviously Matt has traveled and been in our shoes because he went beyond out of his way to show us Sydney and genuinely wanted to share the place he calls home with us. One morning he picked Chelle, Fiona and I and drove us up all through the Northern beaches. The beaches along the North were unlike the ones I’ve seen along the Eastern coast. They’re more remote, the sand is somewhat orange and they give off real chilled out vibes, where all the real surfers go. We stopped to swim at a few beaches, the waves were amazing and so much fun. There was also a local tv show called “Home and Away” on set when we were at Palm beach. Our last stop of the day was in Avalon, kind of felt like the Lake of the Woods of Australia. Matt’s family has the most beautiful home there, one like out of a cottage magazine. The front deck has a pink and white striped hammock and the back deck looks out onto the ocean with beautiful and rocks and caves surrounding it. The inside of the house has high ceilings, big windows and a huge collection of beautiful, colorful art. There was a swinging hanging chair in the middle of the living room, my favorite part. We went into town and picked up calamari, greek salad and coronas. We spent the afternoon exploring and hiking across the rocks to reach our destination into some really cool waves. It was so much fun and the view was super cool when we got there. I’ll post some pictures if I’m able to, the picture uploading on this blog site is brutal. We decided straight away that we wanted to spend the night there as it was too perfect to leave. We spent the evening at the ocean and hanging out out talking over a dinner of bangers and mash that Matt made us, likely to do with his English background. We stayed up late and only slept for a couple hours as we all woke up to make the hour drive back to Bondi so I could start at the cafe at 7am. Totally worth it.
I spent enough time with Matt’s friends and family to understand why he’s such a good person. His mom is the most lovely lady, and fulfilled me missing my mom for the time being. She reminded me a lot of mom, which was really nice. The second I met her she was so friendly and welcoming. I spent numerous birthdays and nights out with Matt’s friends and they were very friendly and considerate. They treated me like they’d known me forever. Matt’s friend Nick got me strumming on his guitar in the blue mountains and offered to give me one of his old guitars. We picked it up on our drive up the Northern beaches. It was so thoughtful of him especially because he probably thinks there’s no way I’m going to be able to learn from youtube. I’m obsessed with learning but so far have just been practicing the chords from you tube videos. I need to put new strings on the guitar because they’re beginner strings and it sounds kinda choppy... or maybe it’s just my lack of skills. I’d love to take the guitar traveling with me because I know I’ll have tons of extra time to practice, we’ll see what happens.
The last week that Matt was living in Sydney was his and his best friend Jake’s birthdays. Matt had a big party at his place and they planned a trip to the south of Sydney, Jervis Bay Australia. I’ve heard amazing things and heard it has the whitest sand in the world. Matt half organized the trip because we both had been wanting to go, that was very thoughtful. Anyways, I was super sick.. coughing up a storm and also lost my voice... but jumped at the chance to head down the coast with the guys. They came to Bondi to pick me up and I road tripped with Matt and his five best friends to Jervis Bay. We stayed at a little motel, small and intimate. Jake and I decided to go for a walk down to the beach while everyone was getting settled in our hotel room. We walked barefoot thinking it wasn’t too far, but then we ended up getting lost from being caught up in conversation. We were soaking by the time we got back. We went for dinner at little restaurant over looking Jervis Bay with a beautiful view. The guys gave Jake a cake ( krispy creme donuts ) when we got back to the room. I sipped on orange juice desperately trying to heal my throat, followed by a glass of wine. We chilled out and danced in the room and went for a walk down to the beach. It was a nice and relaxing night, besides me calling my family relentlessly and them not answering. On the other side of the world it was my cousin Brandice’s wedding social that I desperately wanted to be at. Thanks for sending me those pictures of the social Brook, I love when you do that! Our last day we packed into the van and stopped at as many places as we could. The second day cleared up and was the perfect temperature for exploring. Jervis bay is known for having heaps of kangaroos everywhere, although unfortunately we didn’t see any. We swam, explored and goofed around on the beaches... it was great.
Matt and his friends undoubtedly made my time in Sydney unforgettable, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. Although I’d like to think I’d have had the same opportunities had I not met them, I know that’s probably just hopeful. I am one lucky duck and know I’ll be lifelong friends with these guys.
Matt is very much is the same place as me and decided long ago that he was going to take this year and move abroad, to Iceland. He spent a week there during his last Europe trip and fell in love with the place. Him and one his best friends, Pat are going to dive head on to try living out there. Anyways, I consider it admirable and courageous considering I did the exact thing and couldn’t be happier with my decision. Therefor I’m excited for their experience and fulfillment yet to come. I’m hoping to meet up with them at some point but will just have to see what happens.
Another set of friends have been over the top lovely and considerate of showing us a good time in Bondi. A guy I met through two Winnipeg friend named Michael and his friends. Michael has hung out with numerous people my age from Winnipeg that have lived out here. He’s also good friends with Jamie Nosworthy. He’s taken us out in the city a couple of time and I hang out with him every once and a while, fantastic guy. Him and I went to the nicest sushi restaurant in Sydney called Toko, it reminded me of Wasabi. The head chef at the Mamasan used to be the head head at Toko so I had to go check it out, plus I’d heard so many good things about it. I love that Michael has been to Winnipeg, and in the winter for that matter... he talks about icefishing and going to every single Earls in one night. Sounds pretty accurate to me.
I’ve really enjoyed my time working at Mamasan in Bondi. When I initially got the job I thought it’d put a damper on my social life seeing as though I’d be working during the evenings there. At first that’s how I felt, but I have a lot of fun with the people I work with and it’s a nice escape sometimes. Luckily I became a senior server pretty fast because of some changes in the restaurant and they generally give me the shifts I want. I’ve only had to make a couple elaborate lies to get out of working in extreme cases.The owner is a an itty bitty Taiwanese lady and her husband Adam, is a the most interesting Australian man. At first I could barely understand a word that Gemma said to me. The number of ridiculous miscommunications we’ve had because of the language barrier is outrageous. Usually I misunderstand her and do something totally wrong and it ends with her rolling on the floor laughing, actually. Adam is the most wordly and traveled guy I’ve ever met. Adam has lived and traveled all over the world. Gemma and Adam come from very different backgrounds, I’ve enjoyed our lengthly late night chats more then they’d know. They treat me like their daughter and friend and have taught me so much about life and shared so many life experiences with me. Gemma and Adam are going through very complicated situations with their kids at the moment. You’d never know it because they really try to keep their home and restaurant life separate. It just shows what great, positive people they are when they could basically give up on everything. For some reason they really confide in me and I always know exactly what they’re going through. The amount of times I’ve sat at the bar at the end of my shift divying up tips and then I end up staying for hours talking to Gemma and Adam... is countless. Before I know it, I’m walking home at three in the morning. Not only do they talk to me about problems but have kept me entertained for hours telling me their life stories. I swear that anything I ever talk about in front of Adam is followed by a story that he can relate to of him traveling the globe in a van or working in publishing in New York. Adam’s dad is a really reputable lawyer and I love listening to all the cases he talks about and am astounded by the details he remembers. They always tell me how much they appreciate me and how nice it is to connect to a spirit like myself, little do they know what they’ve taught me. Gemma is really big at talking about feelings and dealing with situations as they arise. If I ever have a lot on my mind or am not myself one day, they’ll sit me down and make sure I’m okay. It’s really endearing, because they were right and it makes me realize how considerate of me they are. One night Richelle came in to meet the staff and apply for a potential job. Adam offered to make us his famous espresso martinis and before we knew it we were cackling and story telling until the wee hours. I think I’ve mentioned that this restaurant is the number one date restaurant in Bondi, the amount of men that men that bring different women in rotation is astounding. I cringe when they give me the wink, then laugh at their morals. Mostly the restaurant is low key and trendy and has a great general crowd comes in, as well as lots of regulars.The restaurant has so much character, I’m always discovering new trinkets. There are two large rooms in the restaurant. The restaurant has fantastic food and a awesome selection of wines and the most stellar sakes. Mamasan is dim lit and there are candles that cover the restaurant, don’t think it’s a surprise how much I love the atmosphere. The music is trendy, and plays a lot of classic romantic songs. Generally I work three nights a week. Mondays are usually really quiet. My friend Maddie (who is Australian) and I gossip, fold napkins and Max lets us sample the different wines. Her and I have only been working together for a couple months now but are like the same person from different countries. She’s Adam’s niece. We hang out outside of work and walk home in the dark together. She always makes an effort to show me her favorite places in Sydney by planning little escapades on our days off. She’s really genuine and down to earth and it’s been easy to connect with all of our inside jokes at work. The weekends at work are crazy busy, like no time to pee busy. Gemma tends to get disorganized and worked up but all the tension ends at 10:30 when we all sit down to have dinner together before we clean and close the restaurant. I’ve become good friends with Max, who works behind the bar and I think he’s supposed to have a manager role of some sort. I think I have also mentioned before that I have the most massive crush on him and his fiance who spent the past year traveling the world together, which ended it by him proposing in the African desert. I love hearing his stories, most of them anyways. He always says that a year of traveling is like dating someone for 10 plus years, I couldn’t agree more. He’s introduced me to great music and different perspectives that I can really appreciate. Every night I spend with him at work I can’t get over how much he reminds me of you, dad. Max is also a carpenter and is so passionate about it, it’s obvious when he explains to every customer about the details of the 150 year old wooden door, cut in half and made into our bar top imported from China. He’s made all kinds of neat seats at the restaurant. His latest project consisted of taking sapporo kegs and sanding black tops on them to make individual seats, really neat idea. Kai, another server at Mamasan has a boyfriend who is a carpenter. He just recently sawed right through his whole hand and lost two fingers from the accident. What an awful thing to happen, you’d think... but I hung out with her and her boyfriend the other night and they made non stop jokes about high fiving with three fingers. Kai is 40 years old and from Japan, but looks like she’s 25. She was engaged 10 years ago and wanted to take a year away for herself... came here on a holiday visa, met her boyfriend here in Australia during that time... and never went back. She has a great energy and is so insightful. She’s taken me under her wing since I met her. She has this aura about her that made me trust her so much from the first time I met her. I tend to confide in her for any unbiased opinions of anything I need advice about... sometimes you just need to have that person. Keita the chef is an interesting Japanese surfer. Him and I have a love/ hate relationship. When I get to the restaurant I make sure to greet everyone in the kitchen, it’s a respect thing. Keita loves it when I praise his cooking, which is always warranted. But, if you know my dad (kelly and family) then you’ll know how I find it. When my dad cooks a nice meal and we’re sitting around enjoying it, he’ll repeatedly ask us how good something is...when we’ve already complimented numerous times. Keita reminds me of my family smirking across the dinner table to eachother, and I laugh to myself. One night at work Keita asked me if I wanted dinner, I hesitated and POLITELY said no thank you, I wasn’t hungry. He was so offended that he talked to Gemma about it. I couldn’t believe it. Gemma laughed at him which made him even more mad... I went to the kitchen and explained to him that it was nothing personal and that I’d had dinner before I came to work. He’s very short fused and unfortunately my first reaction to laugh is not his favorite. Keita can be pretty serious but has a totally other fun loving side to him as well. Since I’ve started asking lots of questions about japanese culture he’s really warmed up to me. The kitchen staff are two little japanese girls Aoi and Yuka. They’re here in Australia learning English, so I thought it’d be nice for them to teach me Japanese. Now everyday I work we have a word of the day, which ends up being a notepad of numerous words and little drawings and exclamation marks. I actually study them and wait for times when I can use the appropriate words. Now I understand why it sounds like Japanese people are talking a mile a minute... some of the words are so long! One night I asked them how to say “I miss you” in Japanese, they told me “Kitanai” but it turns out they thought I said “what a mess”. Anyways we sorted that out and I found out I miss you is “samishishii”. At the end of the night Yuka was mopping and slipped and fell... so I called out “Kitanai” and let me tell you.... I was just the biggest hit and felt great about it.
So, like Mamasan has been an incredible place to work. A calming atmosphere and a great group of people. It’s been a pleasure getting to know regulars and
The Paris cafe is just interesting. The staff are coming and going. Rachel, Ashleigh are the best things that came out of me working at the cafe. I am one of the senior servers, which is funny considering I’ve only worked there for 4 months. The manager is my friend Scotty so I can generally work when I want. I always open at 7am and work 6 hours per shift. The first couple hours of my shift are spent drinking coffee, reading the paper and occasionally working. The cafe is definitely one of the most popular cafes in Bondi. All the cool kids go there. The food and coffee is fantastic, the vibe is laid back... maybe a little too laid back at times. The weekends are totally hectic, there are people waiting outside on wait lists all day. I love that I can basically get away with anything there. I could drink as many coffees and frappes as I desired but then I’d have chubby shaking fingers, as if my natural tremor isn’t bad enough. Did I ever mention that my first day at the cafe I was a little flustered... and a group of guys asked me to take their photo? Well I was mortified when they asked me I was nervous... hard to explain well no, not really but I’ve had way beyond my limit of coffee and the twitch was then out of my reach. I get to eat for free, the music is good, and I get cash in hand at the end of my shift... nice and cruisey. Scotty is like my brother, we basically just bully each other around all day. When I leave work I either drop food or coffee off for Fiona at her work or bring stuff home for Richelle, I really reap the benefits. The staff at Paris party together often and when I first started working there I hung out with them a lot outside of work. I’ve certainly met a lot of people my age from working at Paris. Ever since I got serious about planning my next travels I’ve met all kinds of people that find out where I’m from/ where I’m going and have jotted down all kinds of information for me by the time they leave the cafe. Actually today I was serving a group of guys and so strange but they asked if I was from Winnipeg, how ridiculous. Anyways that brewed conversation, and one of the guy’s sister’s just got back from Nepal and India from three months of traveling. He says she’s home and her travels are all she talks about. I’m really hoping to meet her for coffee before I leave for my travels. This is just one of the small connections I’ve made... I love it.
AISHITELRUWA & SAMISHII!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!