terça-feira, 27 de abril de 2010

Central Coast Day 2 and 3

s expected and predicted by accuweather, Sunday woke up cloudy and rainy. What are people suppose to do in a rainy day when camping? well... I guess absolutely nothing, and that is the magic of it. We stayed at home (LOL) the whole morning, lasing out (expressão inventada para - Na Ronha). We made brunch at 11am and decided to go for a ride as soon as the sun came up.
After realising no waves were going to be surfed, we headed to The Entrance in order to discover more Australian villages. We found a crowded village that seemed to be built with the purpose of entertaining kids. Slides, Merry-go-rounds, interactive lakes, ice-creams,... the odd thing about this was the fact that the kids were all Chinese and Indians.
Not expected as we are a few kilometres away from major cities. We stayed there for a while, ate the worst hamburger ever and came back to toukley, to our deserted beach.
When arriving to the beach we made a huge and important decision, we were going to spend the next few hours fishing!!!

We have all the gear, offered by Becas and Rita before they left, and it was about time to give it a go! The sky was clear, the fishing rods were ready to be rigged and we where ecstatic! Pedro did the first part and I tried to copy, why I don't know, I just felt I couldn't do better than him. When everything was ready... (things never got really ready as we noticed we didn't have bait... but who cares) we cast the line together... mmmmmmmmmmm.... mine didn't go far, and Pedro's line just looked like a ball of yarn!
second try and SPLASH!!! No, our line wasn't on the water, we were drowning under an unexpected heavy rain!! we ran like crazy to the car, and NO fish was caught this time. However, it is an experience to be repeated!
Hot shower, hot dish, warm clothes and we were ready for another good night sleep...

The truth is we never slept so much as we have been sleeping in this camping trip. The night falls early, and everything's so quiet and peaceful that deep sleep in inevitable.
Monday it is the official ANZAC Day - Australia and New Zeland Army Corps. The real day is the 25th April, but as it was Sunday, they extend the festivities till Monday. In 1915 Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula in order to open the Dardanelles to the allied navies. The ultimate objective was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul in Turkey). Over 8,000 Australian soldiers had been killed and the campaign was a faillure, but the “ANZAC legend” became an important part of the identity of both nations, shaping the ways they viewed both their past and their future.
There are a lot of commemorations and no-one's allowed to work till 1.30pm. As such, after a long breakfast out in the sun, we started coming down towards Sydney. We did the whole coast from toukley to Avoca, having lunch at Terrigal. All beautiful villages over the sea, with lots of tall and blond Australians, where we definably would have a summer house if we could!

At 4pm we were at home, preparing ourselves for another week of work, and for me... preparing for the next one and a half month of study, with no breaks!

segunda-feira, 26 de abril de 2010

Central Coast Day 1

This weekend we had a holiday on Monday, which made it perfect for a getaway to some other unknown part of Australia, so on friday night, we headed north to Toukley, near The Entrance.
Saturday Morning we woke up to a warm yet semi-cloudy day. We headed north some 10km to the mid-point of Birdie Beach. This stretch of sand goes on for more than 4km and is partially backed by a natural park, which makes most of it mostly deserted. It has a small island (Birdie Island) in the middle where we’ve heard people go for diving and fishing. In the back-drop dozens of cargo-ships wait for the high-tide to get into Newcastle Port.

We were looking around to see if we could surf, but failed to get inspired by the 30cm waves. Instead, we walked up the beach for 40min until we decided to stop to get some sun and relax a bit. We ended up taking a nap, waiting for the day to warm to take a dip in the crystal-clear waters, but the wind picking up and the occasional cloud made it difficult. After an hour of waiting and a quick dive, we went back to the van to further explore the region. We ended up going a few more kilometres north to a place called Catherine Hill Bay, a place marked as historical. The first pointer that it is historical is a few hand-painted signs saying “Catho is dying”, and quite a few abandoned houses on the main street. We thought the cemetery was especially funny as someone had obviously planned it for a booming town, which would most certainly grow in coming years. Instead the cemetery was almost empty with just a grouping of headstones and life-sized statues lost in the middle of rows of emptiness. I was later told the it used to be an old mining town, where the ore was shipped away directly from a pontoon, but this had since stopped. Another interesting (and historical?) byte is that apparently Mel Gibson shot his first movie in this town.

After a couple of failed attempts of getting a cappuccino to fight away my persisting sleepiness, we ended up getting to the beach to watch half a dozen kids having fun in the small surf. Half-crazed with surf-crave we suited up and made for the waves; about three paddles from shore. Small as it was, we ended up having quite some fun just the two of us on a break of our own, catching wave after wave, trying anything to take the most of the time we had there. We stayed on for more than an hour until the break had enough of us and decided to shut down.

We headed back to Toukley to our camping, but not without first checking out the lighthouse at Norah Heads. We ended up having grilled rump-steak and boiled corn-cobs (plus a bottle of Moet Chandon, offered by the Portuguese girls) for dinner at 6h30pm, eating like if we were in India: just plates, no cutlery! We then watched a movie as the rain started coming down, realizing that we had actually had a great day!

segunda-feira, 19 de abril de 2010

Surf trip to North Durras

This weekend we did as planned and set off for North Durras. This time we took planning to the next step and had everything ready on the day before the trip, and at 5pm on Friday, we set off on our trip... after stopping at Woolworths, just to get some food we had forgotten. But then, we were ready, and just road was between us and North Durras, except... filling the van at the gas station. Ok, it was 6.30pm before we were finally under way, but the intention was there.
After that, it was just another 4h until we arrived at our destination, 280km away. Yes, this is no glitch, we DO travel for 4h for a weekend getaway. That's what you do in a country as large as Australia, where petrol costs 0.88€ a litre, and the tolls cost 3AUD.

Halfway through the trip, we did a pit-stop at Macdonalds for a quick dinner. We were surprised to find half of the surf trip entourage in the same Macdonalds, also for a quick pit-stop dinner. They told us another car with the party had just passed and was heading down. The Australian Cannonball was on, and we sped down in the campervan at a stunning 90km/h, and were the 3rd of 4 to arrive. Yay Vozzie! Of course, while the other parties fumbled with flashlights and tent parts in the dark, we quickly set up our bed and made ready for a good night's sleep.Next morning, after a quick breakfast, we headed down to a beach with at most 20 other people in a 4km stretch. With the waves to ourselves, we set ou to a monster 2.5h surf session. The waves weren't the best thing we'd ever seen, but how good is such a long session with just your mates in the water. To top it all off, we were surprised by a pod of dolphins surfing the waves just a dozen meters away!The rest of the day was made of eating, having walks on the huge beach, taking in the views and the crystal clear waters, and talking with our friends. Before sundown, we set out to have a quick bath so we could set the fire and prepare our barbecue. On the way through the summer houses between the beach and the camping site, we came to behold an unbelievable site: tens of kangaroos grazing on the grass, perfectly comfortable with the closeness of humans. The group had kangaroos of every size, from babies still in the pouch to large 2m males. In our camping site dozens more lay about between the cabins feeding and hopping around. It came to us that this is probably why kangaroos pay no more attention to these animals than we (europeans) do to stray cats. Okay, I concede that beyond Skippy, there are not many pet kangaroos, but the point remains.For the barbecue, 15 of us (2 Portuguese, 4 Swiss, 4 Australians, 3 French, 1 Polish and 1 from Reunion Islands) including two baby twins and a couple dozen possums took our turns cooking everything from hot potatos, boiled corn cobs, kanga bangas (Kangaroo sausages), hamburgers and a seriously delicious rump steak. While our meal progressed, we wondered at the amazing starry sky above us, wine and beer kept on flowing, conversation floated through all imaginable topics, and hours later, at 9h30pm, we were ready for bed! But not until someone remembered to break out the marshmallows to cook in the fire. By 11pm, we were in bed, exhausted, but very happy.Next morning, we woke up early to set out to the beach for our last day in this wondrous place. The day was equally sunny and warm, and before going for a surf, we stayed on the beach with Ahn-Dao and her baby twins playing around and getting to know them. Although the waves were not as good as the day before, we stayed out for 45min just 3 of us by ourselves, before the rest of the crew joined us. We ended up with another long walk, followed by a long nap on a part of the beach that was protected from the wind that had picked up. We all hung around, eating, talking, and playing with the children until it was getting late. At 4, we all decided to pack our things and head back to Sydney for another week of work and study. Slightly against her will, I had Mariana drive until sundown (50min), ensuring she remembers how to drive!
More will come next week, with the long weekend.

segunda-feira, 12 de abril de 2010

Girls Visit and Duarte's wedding

Mal chegamos das férias tínhamos quatro mulheres em nossa casa... mais umas visitas! A Inês tratou de trazer as irmãs Sutcliffe e a Miana cá para casa e proporcionar-nos uns dos dias mais animados em terras australianas!
Tentei balançar o tempo entre estudos e companhia. Tomamos pequeno-almoço fora (unico), jantamos fora, e almoçamos fora. Até a companhia da Joana Quintas e namorado tivemos!Acho que fui bem sucedida com o balanço, pois hoje entreguei os essays que tinha, completos a tempo e horas. Se poderiam ter ficado muito melhor, só a nota o dirá!

No sábado lá fomos para a praia. Apresentamos Maroubra à mulherada e entramos todas dentro de água para surfar! (Não sem antes esbarrarmos com a Celine e o Tym, que nos convidaram logo para uma surf trip no próximo fim de semana, para North Durras). Voltando ao surf... que saudades! Já fez 1 ano desde que entrei pela ultima vez dentro de água com amigas, e não há nada mais divertido. Havia ondas, não estava muita gente, a água continua a uma temperatura boa para entrarmos só de fato-de-banho. Foi uma risada e claro... um histerismo!Depois de aquecermos ao sol tivemos de rumar a casa, porque tínhamos O Casamento ás 4 da tarde.

Chegamos ao casamento e os noivos estão a fazer os votos, a paisagem é de sonho: um pequeno jardim com vista sobre a baía, e os noivos! Somos os suficientes convidados para que não nos sintamos desajustados, talvez uns 30, e acabada a cerimonia corremos a dar os parabéns aos recém casados Ainslie e Duarte para mais à frente irmos falar aos conhecidos!
Eram 5 da tarde quando entramos na casa do dito jardim. Uma casa museu. A decoração interior fez-nos lembrar a casa dos nossos avós, mas para os australianos aquilo eram reliquias, e nós ali ficámos a contemplar com eles. A casa tinha uma escadaria no centro onde de 30 em 30 minutos íamos para ouvir discursos, disparates e dar gargalhadas. Os canapés são excelentes e a bebida não pára de vir e cerca de 99% das pessoas estão l"evemente embriagadas" (volto a repetir que estamos numa festa com menos de 50 pessoas).
São 10.30 da noite e já estamos íntimos de todos os convidados. São todos ultra divertidos e desinibidos, a orientação sexual não era de todo um entrave para entusiasmadas conversas visto cerca de 15 (em 30) serem Gay. Está tudo podre que nem um cacho (marido incluído), já todos nos comovemos, comemos, e saltamos para apanhar o ramo. Este ultimo foi o momento mais divertido da festa! Para além de serem tantos homens como mulheres a saltar, os homens refilavam ainda não terem sido pedidos pelos respectivos. Afirmavam que essa era a ÚNICA razão de ainda estarem "solteiros"!
Resumindo, a festa foi linda linda linda, e mais uma vez... parabéns aos noivos!!!!

No domingo eram mais os ressacados que os sóbrios e atrevo-me até a dizer que a Madrinha do noivo, ainda não tinha sequer chegado ao estado de ressaca quando acordou. Apanhei então boleia (do Pedro!) até à Faculdade, onde trabalhei até às 3, hora que me juntei a todos em Maroubra para um granda Ozzie Barbie! Ali ficamos até anoitecer, e realizar que tínhamos de voltar para casa, pois era o ultimo dia delas todas, e eu ainda tinha de acabar o trabalho...
Acabaram de sair agora e já estamos com saudades, que grupo tão bom de se ter por perto! Agora espera-me uma semana inteira de aulas, até chegarmos ao próximo fim de semana, onde nos espera uma nova surf trip!