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10 good reasons to never leave New York

I really love big cities. Yes, they are crowded and dirty and noisy, and hipsterism seems to run rampant, but they are also exciting and inspiring and New York has to be the best example of all of this.  Five days really wasn’t even close to enough, but I tore myself away from New York because my flight was non-refundable and my job refuses to pay me when I stop working.  It was a great holidays and here are the top 10 reasons why I could have stayed forever.

1. Central park.  We wandered around Central park on one of those perfectly crisp fall afternoons when everyone is out because they know it’ll be one of the last good days, the light is perfect, and the people watching is the best.  Putting a giant park smack in the middle of a huge city was a very good idea. 2. Bagels, pastrami and other New York delicacies.  We waited 45 minutes one morning (OK, at noon) for what we’d read was one of New York’s most epic bagels.  And after I scraped off a full tub’s worth of cream cheese schmear (not an exaggeration), I didn’t feel like it was time wasted.  I’m attempting bagel making this week as a direct result.  Bagels can be so much better than they usually are.  Pastrami on rye from the iconic Katz’s was enormous and delicious, and the street pizza, while certainly lacking the perfectly chewy crust of my pizza snob dreams, was just perfect in a different way (you know, the way only street food can taste when you’re a few beers in and you’re in a city you love on a holiday.)

There is no time that I am happier than when I am eating a giant pastrami sandwich on holiday.

3. Jazz hands on Broadway.  We got half price TKTS tickets like every other tourist in New York and saw Rock of Ages in a packed theater on a Monday night.  Rock of Ages was a ridiculous 80s romp, and the jazz hands were ironic, but I don’t get tired of musicals, and I like having theater options on any night of the week.

4. The city doesn’t sleep.  I am a grown up 30 year old and don’t want to go to clubs and stay out all night, but I still love the option of doing whatever I want to at any hour I choose. Following the theater show we were hungry for a late dinner ,and at 11:30 went to a neighbourhood gastropub called Spitzers Corner.  The pub was still full and they were happy to serve us surprisingly great food; this kind of thing just doesn’t happen elsewhere, and it felt so very civilized.

5. The statue of Liberty and other major icons.  Due to the lingering damage from Hurricane Sandy, the Statue of Liberty was closed during our visit and the closest we got was on the Staten Island ferry.  But it was still pretty impressive.  Likewise, the Empire state building, the Guggenheim, the Met, and the many many other iconic sites that make New York so amazing.

From the Staten Island Ferry

Lady Liberty herself

The Guggenheim, which we didn’t visit, but I like the building.

6. Massive skyscrapers and the views that result.  I really enjoy climbing up stuff to get a good view.  It’s just a weird thing about me, like how I enjoy crosswords and hate people who say ‘bisketti,’  In any case, I’ve never seen anything like the massive sky scrapers in New York, and I didn’t even have to climb any stairs to get to the top 67th floor of Rockefeller Center. I reached the top on a sunny fall day, and the views I enjoyed only confirmed what I already knew: climbing stuff for a view is awesome.

7. Too cool for school neighbourhoods. We stayed in the lower east side of Manhattan in a rented apartment (Check out Air bnb, it’s always cheaper and nicer than a hotel) in what turned out to be Lady Gaga’s old apartment building.  This is not a lie, occassionally tourists came to pay homage to her roots- cool stuff like this never happens to me in Vancouver.  It was one of those neighourhoods where I know I’m not really cool enough to belong, but in a big city like New York no one cares about me in a good way,  and somehow I feel like I fit in anyways.  Everything looks sketchy on the outside, but behind every beaten up door is a wicked boutique, a great pub or a pumpkin waffle to start my day. Williamsburg, Chelsea, the village…..I explored and discovered like a happy kid in a candy store.

Neighbourhood exploring in Brooklyn

8. Michelin starred restaurants.  I spent almost 100% of the time we weren’t out on the town furiously reading the Michelin guide for New York, staring at menus and determining if we could splurge on a nice dinner out.  I was overwhelmed with options (always a good thing) and managed to find Saul, a starred bistro in Brooklyn with a Prix Fixe menu that was relatively reasonable.  We enjoyed a delicious meal on a Tuesday night and I feel like I could explore New York restaurants for the rest of my life without reaching an end to the happiness this brings me.

9. Architecture like mad.  I can’t pretend to know very much about the history, purpose or design features of most architecture, but I do know that I love gorgeous buildings and that New York is full of them.  From the Lincoln Center to the crazy gorgeous interior of the Grand Central Station, I like these buildings a lot.

Central Station

10. The shopping I could have done and will do when I go back without the husband.  The husband has approximately 5 minutes of shopping toleration in him before he gets all cranky and the experience is ruined for me, but I as I quickly wandered through Saks, and explored boutiques in Williamsburg I got the tiny taste I needed.  I can’t wait to come back and go on a spending spree.

I’m back from holiday, and for the first time in a long time- no travelling plans are on the horizon.  My lack of travel plans will hopefully be balanced by the joys that come from Christmas, egg nog, festive feasts and sparkly new dresses.

Rachel

Riding the bus like a hero

There were two full months during which Vancouver had literally no rain at all.  None.  During this time I moved to Vancouver and started taking the sky train and bus to work.  All my colleagues thought I was crazy to leave my car at home and spend 15 extra minutes commuting every morning, but I felt great about it.  I was helping the environment, saving money, people watching like mad, and reading intellectual books like Swann’s Way during my commute (OK, also Fifty Shades of Grey, which I read cover to poorly written cover and don’t judge me).  I literally left my new apartment skipping with the happiness that comes from walking on a sunny day in a beautiful city in the morning.  I figured my colleagues didn’t know what they were missing.

And I felt extremely smug about all of my environmental bus-taking decisions until the first day it rained properly in Vancouver and I had to wait 20 soaking wet minutes for the bus and then stand in the crowded, wet-dog smelling transit system with my drippy umbrella beside all the other commuters who somehow seemed weirder and more menacing in my damp, irritated haze.  I took the bus in the pouring rain for literally one more day, declared myself to be an environmentalist hero of the people, and then promptly decided not to renew my transit pass.

Although I’m no longer a transit taking hero, I still train/bus to work more the half the time and I feel pretty qualified to comment on the oddities on public transportation in Vancouver.  Here they are:

  1. We line up for the bus. How perfectly Canadian that instead of clumping and pushing ahead to get the best (only) seats on the bus, we all politely line up at the bus stop in the order in which we arrived.  Sometimes this means I race walk my fellow commuters to the bus stop to get a better position, but I still think it’s a pretty polite idea.
  2. We say thank you to the bus driver.  While equally polite and Canadian, I really can’t get behind this one.  No one says thank you to me when I leave work, (mostly because the thanks come in the form of a paycheque), ergo I don’t feel obligated to do it for my driver.  Plus half the time I’m pretty sure the driver is trying to kill us all, which….I’m really just not that thankful for.
  3. We BLATANTLY DISREGARD the ‘walk on the left, stand on the right’ escalator rule.  There is nothing that makes me so irrationally rage-y as getting blocked in my rightful left hand escalator walking lane by people who stand on the left.  Vancouver: we need to get it together on this one or I’m going to really fly off the handle soon.
  4. Our Canada Line skytrain system is amazing.  It is clean and spacious and brightly lit and on time 100% of the time.  Everyone I know who takes it feels the same way I do- this is how transit it meant to be and we do not take it for granted.
  5. We do not need bus shelters because we are hardcore rain lovers. Nope, this is a lie.  Vancouver is the rainiest place on earth and  we languish in the rain not because we love it, but because bus shelters are a rarity.  I feel like somebody missed the boat in this planning decision.
  6. We get free newspapers at the skytrain in the morning.  I love old fashioned news papers and I have an old lady’s affinity for crosswords.  I now do two newspaper crosswords everyday, and I can feel the intellectual stimulation making me smarter by the minute.

So I failed in my attempt to be a rainy day bus taking hero, but I think I’ve got the hang of it now and I will encourage any transit haters to give it a go.  There really is no better place to people watch, and I swear it’s not as bad as you think it will be.

Rachel

 

Pig face salad and other restaurant adventures

I wasn’t joking about my commitment to sampling as many of Vancouver’s culinary delights as possible.  In fact, to ensure we’re strategic in our dining adventures, the husband made a shared google doc with a list of places at which to dine.  We are attacking this list with the intensity of people who may never eat again.  Truly- the world could end tomorrow (I’m pretty sure 2012 is the year of Mayan destruction, yes?) so why not live life in a state of constant attention to the fact that whatever I’m eating could be my last meal on earth.  Ergo- recently I ate a Pig Face salad and loved it. Read on for my rants and thoughts on some of my recent Vancouver dining adventures.

Wildebeest
Home of the Pig Face Salad itself.  Wildebeest opened to much fanfare a few weeks ago, and I was delighted to try it out to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday.  The chef, David Gunawan, formerly of West, was quoted often in the media about nature dictating the menu, sourcing locally and yada yada yada- doesn’t it seem like all chefs say this now?   Repetitive or not, I like the sentiment and in keeping with this perspective, the menu changes regularily and almost every thing we ate was a treat.  I must especially recommend the amazingly tender grilled beef tongue, truffled pork poutine, and the crispy pork skin (truly the lightest, crispest best snack of all).   Despite its scary name, the pig face salad arrived innocuously without a face (disappointing only to me) and was a tasty combination of pork cheek terrine and microgreens.

Unfortunately for me, – Wildebeest is too hip for its own good.  Or at least for my own personal comfort.  Dishes are meant to be shared (I feel like all restaurants are now trying to tell me I need to share), but are small enough that we all ate politely less of each item than we really wanted for fear of appearing greedy.  The tables are long and shared, the music was trendy and I’m pretty sure every man working there had a non-Movember related ironic moustache.   This makes me feel old and tired and can we please turn the music down so I can eat my own meal without sharing in peace?  Also- the deserts were bad.  I want to be adventurous, but celery root does not go with sorbet, and while I was excited at the idea of a Foie Gras ice cream, it just ended up tasting like weird salty meaty ice cream.

Pizza Farina
I haven’t made pizza in Vancouver yet, mostly because the semolina flour essential to pizza making does not seem to be available in conveniently located downtown grocery stores (irritating because there are literally 8 varieties of gluten free flour in my local Nesters.  Sometime I worry that the fact that people voluntarily eat gluten free without medical cause is a sign of the end times).  In any case, this lack of pizza making has led me to seek out the perfect pie, and Pizza Farina just might be that place.  A casual place where they serve pizza until the dough runs out, we went here on a rainy Friday, and I had one of the best crust experiences of my life.  To eat here, you order at the counter and then wait for your pizza while sipping cheap wine and waiting for space at one of the shared tables to become available   We arrived just before 7, hoping to beat the dinner rush, but it turns out in Vancouver the dinner rush is at 7 and when we left at 8:30 it was clearing out.  Tip from me to you- Arrive at 8:30 and sit right away.  I seriously think the perfect chew of this crust beats Nicli Antica and the rustic atmosphere seems more in keeping with food you eat with your hands.  I feel like I’m ruining this for myself by sharing, but this is good pizza, not expensive and you should probably go. Vij’s
I don’t need to say much about Vij’s- everyone already knows that this is the de facto best Indian food in Vancouver.  My previous experiences with posh Indian food left me sated, but wondering if a giant bowl of butter chicken from Tandoori Kona (home of the amazing prison tray lunch special) would have been just as good.  Not so at Vij’s.  The husband celebrated his entry into grown up 30-year-old-hood here, and we left feeling like preposterously happy, fat old people.  If this is life in my 30’s, it’s going to be rad.  My advice- skip the appetizers, which were good but not mind blowing, and gorge on the lamb popsicles, beef short rib curry, and pork.  I think the lamb popsicle curry might be the best sauce of my life.  No reservations, very expensive for Indian, and so very very worth it.

Bao Bei
Just last weekendI tried out this Chinese Brasserie, and was thoroughly impressed with the unique concept.  Chinese/Taiwanese fusion in a funky (slightly hipstery) atmosphere with nary a fluorescent light or paw waving kitty in sight.  Again, we came early at 6 and were suprirsed to see the restaurant packed, so with no reservations available, I advise you to go at 8:30 for a civilised Saturday night dinner sans line up.  The dishes are meant for sharing, and are served in a way that makes this work.  Kick-Ass Fried rice was indeed, totally kick ass, the pork belly steamed bun was epic and the king pea shoots made eating vegetables cool.  But the stand out?  A Chinese donut for dessert.  The donuts arrived crispy and warm, wrapped in butchers paper and tied with a twee bow.  Served with caramel sauce for dipping and almond milk for sipping, the whole thing was totally unique and utterly delicious.  This place is cool and I will definitely be back.

And you know what?  I’ve still got more restaurants to talk about.  I’m nothing if not committed to eating, but sometimes blog posts get too long, and I should probably leave it for now.   And I’ll take a wee break from Vancouver restaurant exploring to sample some of New York’s finest this long week.  Excited doesn’t cover it.

Rachel

How to hike the Squamish Chief

I grew up in a very outdoors-y family and every summer we went camping the hard core way: in tents, in campsites with no showers and occasionally no flush toilets.  Because there is nothing to do in places like this, most days we went hiking.  This wasn’t my top choice activity (my parents actually had to leave wrapped candies on the trail so I wouldn’t quit hiking) and when I became a grown up and was allowed to make my own decisions, I quit camping and hiking entirely.   However, a little time away from BC’s natural beauty was just the thing to make me appreciate my out-doorsy upbringing, and make me reconsider my no-hiking stance.

With just a few sunny late summer weekends left, I decided to take advantage of my new proximity to BC’s mountains and go for a hike up the Squamish Chief. I’ve done this before as a child and I recalled the view being stunning, and the hike being relatively easy.  Both of these things are still true- it only takes a little over an hour to get to the first peak and the view is stunning in a way that is almost other-wordly.

The downside to this hike was that every single other person in Vancouver was also doing it.  This busy hike is a very interesting cross-section of life in Vancouver and I learned a lot about the right and wrong way to hike the Chief. In case you are considering doing this in the future- please read these instruction first:

1. If you are a women, WEAR LULULEMON!  I cannot stress this enough.  I didn’t see anyone attempting a non-Lulu hike, so I can only imagine what would happen, but I’m sure it’s dangerous and I do not advise it.
Optional but reccomended: Dress in lululemon layers so that you can remove a layer and take sexy  just-climbed-the-Chief-Instagram pictures when you reach the peak.  Fun!

2. Your voice doesn’t carry as far outdoors, so make sure you speak extra loud while hiking so all your fellow hikers can hear what you’re saying.  You know how interesting your weekend is, but your fellow hikers won’t unless you speak up!

3. Remember to treat the entire hike like a race.  With this in mind, under no circumstances should you let a faster hiker ahead of you (this is a race after all!).  How can you win if you let people go ahead?

4. If at all possible, bring a rambunctious, poorly behaved dog with you.  This makes the hike much more interesting for everyone.

5. In order to maximize the fitness benefits of the hike, try to take it in sprints, running past as many people as you can until you can run no more and then stopping in the middle of the trail to rest.  People will be inspired by your sprinting, and you will get a great workout.  Everybody wins.

6. Breath loudly and grunt as often as possible.  This ensures everyone knows that you’re giving it your all.  Important.

View. So worth it.

“Hey, why are people taking sexy pictures on top of this mountain?”

Despite my ranting and bad attitude, I actually totally enjoyed hiking the Chief and I’d definitely attempt to go again when it’s a little less busy.  I think I’m going to like living in a city with mountains nearby and I have a feeling my childhood hiking skills will come in handy again soon.

Rachel

Long Weekending in San Fran

Holidays: welcome back into my life.  I missed you.  Please never leave again.

Almost immediately after sorting out some major life stuff like finding a job and a place to live, I once again became obsessed with holiday booking.  It turns out that after purchasing and furnishing a new condo, extravagent holidays are more difficult to procure, and so I was extremely pleased to discover that just across the border in Bellingham I could fly to a variety of American cities for an extrodinairily low price.  Huzzah!

San Francisco is one of those cities, and after 5 months of holiday-free time, I was pretty much beside myself with excitement to spend an extra long labour day weekend there.  SF comes highly recommended by almost everyone who has visited, which thanks to the aformentioned cheap flights, seems like almost everyone I know.

So what does a food-obsessed holiday-er do in SF?  Walk through the gritty, interesting neighbourhoods, wander through Alcatraz, climb towers for views, ride a bike over the Golden Gate bridge into Sausalito and then balance all that exercise out with as much beer and food as possible.  Before wandering through the predictably tourist-y piers, we explored San Fran’s great food hall in the Ferry building. After 2 incredible sandwiches (one of which changed my mind about egg sandwiches- turns out they can be delicious) at Il Cane Rosso and some very posh Vietnamese at The Slanted Door, I wished we had more time to expore- there is so much delicious food worth eating here.

The Mexican food in SF is legendary, and I was entirely overwhelmed by taco options.  I think I would need 8 full years of burrito and taco eating to really determine which taqueria was best.  Walk through the Mission district and there is literally a Taqueria on every corner, but some thorough research produced a strong contender for Taqueria hall of fame, and we headed to La Taqueria to sample the real deal.  No pictures because it’s the kind of place where people would have been mean to me for taking food photos, but I thoroughly enjoyed my tacos here.

Life changing sandwiches at Il Cane Rosso

Sea Lions on the pier

Alcatraz looking gorgeous from a boat

The slightly disappointing Coit tower.  Fake smile.

Chinatown exploring

Washington square park

Fog shrouds the Golden Gate Bridge

Sunshiney on the other side- the bridge is really behind us.

I was pretty excited about bike riding

Further SF Note:  It is cold.  Really really surprisingly cold.  September is the warmest time of year, but the gusting winds and fog (or Voldemort’s icy breath as I began calling it) made me shivery until we crossed the bridge and arrived in Sausalito where it was literally 10 degrees warmer.  Weather is weird.

I don’t live in Europe any more and 5 weeks of annual holidays are a thing of the past, which means I need to wait 2 more months to explore somewhere new.  While I gear up for full new-city exploring excitement levels I will attempt to visit every restaurant in my new neighbourhood in Vancouver.  Only slight exaggeration.

Rachel

I live in Vancouver now

I lied about changing my attitude and I have remained a giant cranky-pants for the past few months.  In an effort to avoid polluting the internet with my bad attitude, I refrained from blogging during the time of my extreme grump-i-tude.

But, 3 weeks ago I moved to Vancouver, which means I no longer endure the commute from hell, I get to read on the train, and I can walk to a dizzying array of restaurants. I am emerging from self-imposed hiding and feeling pretty pleased with my new situation.

This is where I live now:

Office Space

I’m going to rant about Vancouver a lot in the future because everyone here is wearing Lululemon and Toms ALL THE TIME and I don’t understand it, but I need to save that for a post when I’m being less glowy and positive, because I’ve been too grumpy for too long and it feels good to just be happy.

I’m going to eat sushi and climb a mountain this weekend because I live here and I can.  Ranting will resume shortly.

Rachel

Did I mention that I’m old now?

Because I am.  Old. Somehow, despite growing increasingly irresponsible every year, I have suddenly turned 30 and feel overwhelmed with the burden of real-life, no-excuses adulthood.  Are people in their 30s meant to accidently burst out in a round of applause when dessert arrives?  Or find public farting hilarious?  Or non-ironically enjoy Britney Spears’ entire music career?

I don’t know the answers, but I do know that all of these are true for me.

Fun times with fun people at my 30th birthday party.

I think the saving grace for my being an adult is that I am in the process of buying a house (read: condo) in Vancouver.    This is very grown up.  One cannot act immature while using terms like “building envelope modifications,”  or “rain-screening” or “25-year amortization.”  One must act grown up during this process or the people who gave one the mortgage will start doubting the wisdom of their decision.

I have been on the hunt for 3.5 weeks, and can’t help but compare London flat-hunting with Vancouver condo-shopping.  Although we were renting in London, the two experiences are surprisingly similar in that the process involves looking at lots of different places and feeling frustrated that none are perfect.  Here are a few key differences.

1. In Vancouver I work with a nice, honest hard-working real estate agent (who also happens to be a great friend) and in London I worked a variety of slimy, lazy estate agents.

2. Everything in Vancouver is approximately 7x better than everything in London, quality-wise.  It’s all also mostly the same, and generally without character or charm.

3. I’m a lot pickier here because condos are expensive and I really don’t want to get it wrong.

We’re being picky about what we buy and it turns out the husband and I have different tastes (his are bad and mine are good).  This makes it difficult but I think we’re getting close.  Which is important because as a grown up adult in my 30s (!) I am going to need a place to do boring old person things very soon.

Rachel

OK, I lied

I’m not quitting this blog.

I really was going to quit, and I even wrote that quitter blog post, but then a I had a really bad day and I wrote about it because nothing gives you perspective like reading back your own complain-y blog post.  And once I’d written it down, I realized that I had no where to put my rant so I was going to start a new blog, but I already pay for this one and at the time I didn’t have a job.  So that turned out not to be a decision at all and here I am.

Here’s the gist of my bad day(s): It is hard to live your dream life in your favourite city, go on your dream holiday and then move back to the suburbs with no job and mooch off of your family while you try to set up life again.  Also, while applying for jobs I had to take a personality test and I failed and that just hurt my feelings.  That’s pretty much it.

I could complain about this a lot; in fact, I already have- one of the best things about living here is that I have the kind of friends who will still hang out with me even though I am, to quote the husband, ‘Captain McCranky-pants.’ But it’s probably time to stop with the complaining.  And to kick off my much improved attitude, here are some other awesome things about living in Canada again.

1. The washing machines are enormous.  When I arrived home from vacation I arranged my clothes into 5 piles of laundry and then proceeded to fit everything into one load with room to spare.  And then I put it all in the dryer and my mind was blown by the awesomeness of this.

2. To get a mobile phone I just had to walk into the store and give them money.  No passport, no credit or criminal check and no hassle.  Love it.

3. When I go into a restaurant, the staff are friendly and generally attempt to make my meal pleasant.  Who knew this wasn’t normal elsewhere in the world?

4. Sushi.  I mean….it’s just so good.  And so cheap.

5. There are mountains in the distance all the time, and even though they are very often shrouded in rain clouds, I love this view so very very much.

So I’m going to blog again. Probably about the adventures I have eating my face off, settling into life in Vancouver and ranting in general.  I just turned 30, so it will probably be very cerebral and grown up, but I will try not to use too many big words.

Several people have said that it’s good that I enjoyed my adventure in Europe while I still could, hinting at an ominous time in the future when I will no longer be able to have fun. But I have decided to keep having fun awesome adventures for the rest of my life, whatever my situation, so I’m looking forward to writing and ranting about this in the future.

It’s good to be back.

Rachel

Goodbye to Places I Left my Wallet

I’m back in the motherland for good this time.  Or at least for the foreseeable future.  During my 6 week holiday I visited 3 countries, took 11 plane rides, drove 3000 KM and read 10 books. If it seems like I’m showing off, I totally am- it was an awesome holiday and I probably won’t have one like it for a long time.

One of the reasons this holiday was so awesome. Ignore the fact that this looks like a weird awkward family photo.

But I think it’s time to say goodbye to Places I left my wallet.   I blogged to stay in touch while I was away, and to give anyone considering the move to London some been-there-done-that advice.  (To summarize, this advice mostly boiled down to: ‘Estate Agents are annoying, English bureaucracy is ridiculous, and London is rad enough that it’s worth it.’)  But those days are over and a blog about my days spent job-hunting at my computer just isn’t quite as enticing.

I’ve learned a lot in the past two years, especially about the intertubes and how to use them.  I learned enough about the intertubes to know that I mostly did it wrong on this blog, but I also learned enough about blogging to know it helps me become a better writer. And that I like it enough to try it again elsewhere.  What opinionated person doesn’t love having a personal, uncensored soapbox?  While this soapbox still exists, let me highlight some of my favourite posts and memories:

Lifting the veil on the life of the unemployed
Contemplating my head-suit for the Henly Royal Regatta
Sharing what Oktoberfest is like after a few liters of beer
Accidentally getting a mullet
Meeting the Queen (sort of)

Living in London was a lot of fun and so was writing this blog.   Thanks for making so many of my days just a little bit better with your comments; I hope your travels are exciting and your eating is delicious.

Much love from your wallet-losing friend,

Rachel

Sydney and how much I love it

The end of a holiday is always really sad for me.  The husband would say that I am a bit melo-dramatic about this, but he is wrong and probably doesn’t have any emotions.  To combat the end-of-vacation blues I usually save something I’m really looking forward to doing until the end of the trip, and in this case it was a visit to Sydney.

It was everything I hoped for: I loved Sydney so much I think I want to live there (Don’t worry Dad, this falls into the category of ‘someday’- no plans yet).  Sydney’s harbour is insanely beautiful, the food is awesome (if very expensive) and the gorgeous beaches are a short bus ride away.   For absolutely no good reason I assumed that Sydney is the same size as Vancouver, but it’s not even close: Sydney is a huge city with proportionately awesome people watching and culture.  It somehow also retains the natural beauty usually observed in smaller cities and the only downside is that Sydney is filled with Australians (If you are Australian I’m probably not talking about you….it’s the other Aussies that are loudly talking about their drunken fights and how great they are at everything).

We spent a couple days exploring the city and eating its insanely priced food (Good news, it was $10 beer night every night!)  and a couple days exploring the nearby city beaches.  Bondi beach is famous for it’s surf and it’s beautiful people, and indeed- it is full of really good-looking people surfing.   Manly beach is a little further away and a little more my style- laid back and full of food. On my last full day of holiday I ate a basket of seafood while looking into one of Manly’s pristine beach bays and wondering if my life had already peaked, because… How could it get better?

How happy am I to be in Sydney? VERY HAPPY.

How happy is Chris? Happy enough to do a weird dance in front of the harbour bridge.

To me, this is the nicest modern building in the world.

Boulevard and church.

Park

From the top of the harbour bridge.

Gorgeous South Head.

Busy beautiful Bondi beach. Alliteration!

Lunch at Manly

Life could be worse.

And now the holiday adventure is over and I’m back in Vancouver.  I’m not sure when I’ll have another six week holiday so I’m trying to appreciate the fun I had instead of moping that it’s over….though I am moping just a little.  I thought I might get a little antsy on a long holiday and start yearning for the routine of regular life but I didn’t: I now know that I could probably just holiday forever.  I’m extremely good at vacations.  Unfortunatley this skill doesn’t look so great on a resume, so I’ll focus on reversing my jobless status and remembering all the fun times.

Rachel