Goodbye Sydney: Week 220

Bandaged foot

I knew it was the end when my foot dropped out from in front of me and I tumbled into the intersection. Not the end of my life, but the end of an era. I have this strange tendency to hurt my feet right before I leave somewhere. If I were more superstitious and less klutzy, I would probably consider it a sign that I shouldn’t leave.

My move to South Korea occurred after tripping over a cinder block at work. On the journey from Korea to New Zealand I angrily ran away from a taxi driver that was trying to add fees onto the metered rate. In my haste, I was thrown off balance by the weight of my backpack and skinned my knee and foot. Barret insisted on scrubbing the black gravel out of my wound and dousing the whole thing with hydrogen peroxide.

New Zealand was left with a flurry of blisters and Vanuatu was too. The only difference being the blisters from Vanuatu became infected and made my veins feel like glass tubes under my skin.

And so, during my last night in Sydney, I stepped right into a missing chunk of the sidewalk curb. My ankle twisted and the top of my foot scraped down the rough side of the concrete. I caught myself as I fell into the intersection and stumbled across the road just in time to catch the same train my friend was on.

By the time my friend and exited at St James Station, blood had begun pooling inside my shoe. I hobbled over to the station master’s office and took a seat while the first aid responder was called. It took about ten minutes to determine the best method for cleaning the wound. Then, while the benefits of Bandaids vs bandages were discussed, I began laughing because the situation was so ridiculous.

“It’s funny because I’m on my way to my goodbye dinner,” I explained to the employee who had won the most recent debate and was wrapping my foot with an entire bandage roll.

He smiled without knowing the recurrent connection between the two events and then asked, “Where are you going?”

“I’m moving to Colombia to teach English.”

“Oh.” He replied. “Hey, next time your back I’ll be better at this first aid thing.”

“No worries,” I smiled. “I hope someday to be back in Sydney and when I hurt my foot, I’ll know which station to go to.”

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The Finders Keepers Markets: Week 217

Finders Keepers Market Autumn/Winter 2015: Sydney, Australia

The Finders Keepers is a super hip craft fair that takes places twice a year inside the Australian Technology Park in Sydney. It is pretty much Etsy in flesh and bones and it draws quite a large crowd. The hall was originally a locomotive workshop, so it definitely lends a shabby chic atmosphere to the markets.

Barret and I paid a small donation to enter the event center and we were immediately swept away by the crowd. There was everything from clothing to candles in the shape of doll heads that, when burned, exposed a waxy pink brain.

The Finders Keepers Market- You Me & Bones Candles: Sydney, Australia

My guilty pleasure at craft fairs is quality ceramics and the best products I found were at a small booth called Skimming Stones. The artist who designed the collection of six plates worked in collaboration with a Japanese ceramic company named Kihara.

Skimming Stones plates at The Finders Keepers markets: Sydney, Australia

The result was an interesting fusion of Australiana with the traditional blue and white colors of Arita pottery. Barret and I couldn’t resist a plate with the kookaburra. They are very cheeky birds that sound like monkeys and one once stole the food right out of Barret’s mouth.

The Finders Keepers Markets - Fluffe Cotton Candy: Sydney, Australia

The queues for the food trucks were very long, so I made the sensible decision to buy a piña colada flavored cotton candy with a pink umbrella. Later on, while Barret was distracted, I made another sensible decision to buy a ceramic necklace in the shape of a giant piece of macaroni.

Flower vendor at The Finders Keepers market: Sydney, Australia

There was so much to see that it took us just under two hours to visit only half of the booths. I was also trying to photograph all of the cute stuff I saw, but it wasn’t easy with the crowds.

Bowtie vendor at The Finders Keepers market: Sydney, Australia

Towards the exit, and a few stalls down from a Polaroid booth, Barret and I found screen printed tea towels. At this point we were running low on cash, but we scraped up enough for two. One had Sydney scenes and the other had sketches of terrace homes. I had a sinking suspicion that our luggage was going to be overweight, but it was definitely worth it.

Vendor business cards at The Finders Keepers markets: Sydney, Australia

About: The Finders Keepers

About: You, Me & Bones candles

About: Skimming Stones plates

About: Fluffe cotton candy

The Neighborhood Pub Crawl: Week 216

The Rose Hotel in Chippendale: Sydney, Australia

I have often contemplated the curious color palette of The Rose Hotel on my way to work. In the nicest way possible, I would say the names of the paint chips were Victorian Christmas and baby vomit.

Although I was very familiar with the exterior of the hotel, I hadn’t been inside until the ‘fight of the century’ between Mayweather and Pacquiao. The main bar with the trompe l’oeil ceilings was full, so Barret and I found a wood bench in the spacious courtyard and ordered a round of Bloody Marys with lunch. With the exception of one loud group, the audience was cheering for Pacquiao and when he lost the hotel quickly emptied.

A laundry line outside a house in Darlington: Sydney, Australia

Barret and I followed the exodus of people back out onto the street, but the afternoon weather was so nice that we decided to take a different route home. From Chippendale we walked through a quiet residential street in Darlington before ending up in Redfern.

A faded and peeling wall in Redfern: Sydney, Australia

It wasn’t so long ago that Redfern was a rough neighborhood, but the last decade has brought about significant gentrification. Strolling down Regent Street, Barret and I popped into an antique shop and against better judgment we left with two small spoons made from cow bones. Thin black decorative lines were carved into the polished surface.

Front door of The Bearded Tit in Redfern: Sydney, Australia

A few doors down from the antique shop was an establishment called The Bearded Tit. It’s an LGBT-friendly bar named after a puffy white bird that breeds in the reedy swamps of Europe and Asia. The backyard housed a ‘caravan of love’ and the gender-less bathrooms had a large moose hanging near the sinks.

A coaster at The Bearded Tit: Sydney, Australia

The best part about The Bearded Tit was its support for art. Local and international artists can apply to have their work displayed in a number of unique ways- from a wall to a curiosity cabinet. A ‘taxidermy tableaux’ surrounded a TV that was perfect for video art and resident artists could receive free bar food and 50% off drinks.

A small bakery on the Regent Street in Redfern: Sydney, Australia

After a round of champagne, Barret and I continued our circuitous journey home. Small family-owned restaurants, bakeries, and video rental relics lined the rest of Regent Street.

A terrace house in Erskineville: Sydney, Australia

It was dinnertime when we reached Erskineville, but neither of us wanted to cook so we walked through our neighborhood and towards the southern end of Newtown.

The Union Hotel in Newtown: Sydney, Australia

The Union Hotel had a lively cover band in the front and a large self-contained restaurant in the back. We ordered food and sat down near a father and his young daughter whom were both reading books. While there are more charming hotels further up King Street, Barret and I were both drawn to the classic brick Aussie hotel circa 1946.

The reason that I like Sydney’s inner west neighborhoods so much is that they are a perfect combination of historic buildings, livability, and community culture. It’s definitely not a cheap place to live, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a better area for a stroll and a neighborhood pub crawl.

How to get to The Rose Hotel: 52-54 Cleveland Street, Chippendale NSW 2008

How to get to The Bearded Tit: 183 Regent Street, Redfern NSW 2016

How to get to the Union Hotel: 576 King Street, Newtown NSW 2042

Rozelle Markets: Week 215

Vintage picnic photo from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

I’m not the kind of person that glances over a rack of clothes and makes a quick decision. I’m the person that will go through the rack, one piece at a time, and rub each item’s material between my fingers. This is especially true for thrift stores.

Kitchenware demands to be picked up, flipped upside down, and inspected. Books require at least the first three pages to be read. Knickknacks need to be walked past, circled back around, and then contemplated for another minute. I can’t help myself; this is just the way I like to shop.

Vintage Avor Stone Ginger Beer bottle from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

Because I was due to leave Australia within the next few weeks, I decided one of the last things I had to do was visit the Rozelle Markets. It is the best place in Sydney to find antiques. The booths are full of old bottles, coins, plates, ashtrays, vases, lamps, toys, clothes, and bric-a-brac.1947 Australia Penny from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

My visit to the Rozelle Markets also coincided with ANZAC Day, which is a holiday that celebrates Australians and New Zealanders who have served and died in war and is especially associated with WWI. Because it is such a patriotic holiday, it seemed like a good day to pick up all things Australiana.

Vintage Australian stamps from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

Unfortunately for my friend Emma, who had accompanied me on this trip, she was unfamiliar with my method of shopping.

My morning began within the worn pages of a stamp album. While the grumpy vendor slowly plucked out my favorite stamps one at a time, Emma had already looked through half of the stalls.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Shortly afterwards, I picked up a book from a famous Australian author- The Narrow Road to the Deep North. It had been on my book list for a while. After that I poked around overpriced teacups and then dug through cheap silverware.Vinatge Towradgi Park Bowling Club pin from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

Two hours later, Emma found me browsing through bowling club pins. She’d already been around the market three times and had had a long conversation with her twin brother on the phone. “You’ve spent more time there today than when you lived in Rozelle,” he told her. Emma took this to mean that a lunch break was in order. We left the markets to find sushi and cider.

Vintage Halekulani Bowling Club pin from Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

After lunch I convinced Emma to go back to the markets for a little bit longer. “I just want a quick look through the rest of the booths that I’d missed.” As soon as Emma was out of sight, I found a big pile of vintage photos and went through them one at a time.

Vintage soldier photo from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

I wasn’t as sneaky as I thought I was though, Emma had seen me pick up the stack. Eventually I noticed Emma’s presence corralling me along. Aside from a quick stop at a bucket of vintage tea towels, I was artfully maneuvered towards the exit.

“You know, there’s usually more stalls than this,” Emma mused as we left the markets. I don’t believe I am wrong in thinking that was said with a sigh of relief.

Part of a vintage Lightning Ridge tea towel from the Rozelle Markets: Sydney, Australia

How to get to the Rozelle Markets: 663 Darling Street, Rozelle 2039

Sausage Sizzle: Week 211

A patriotic car outside the Newtown Public Polling Place: Sydney, Australia

One of the most cherished election activities in Australia is sadly unknown in the US. It has to do with fundraising, but it’s not the kind of money that bankrolls political candidates or sways public policy. In its purest form it involves a bunch of volunteers roasting sausages on their BBQs. However, different permutations involve cake stalls, bake stalls, raffles, boot sales, fetes, mini-fetes, and sausage sizzle-cake-raffle stalls.

“Are you here to vote?” One of the party workers asked as Barret and I approached the gate to the Newtown Public Polling Place.

“No,” I replied. “I’m here to sausage sizzle.”

Voters outside the Newtown Public Polling Place: Sydney, Australia

Sausage sizzles are a cherished form of fundraising by school associations and community groups. There’s even a website that tracks which polling places are offering which food and you can bet the sausage sizzles are reviewed in the post-election news coverage.

I picked Newtown Public because it was close to my house, but I only found out later on the Sydney Morning Herald that the Erskineville Public had vegetarian options and halloumi on their burgers! I kind of wish I had known this beforehand.

Cake Stall at Newtown Public: Sydney Australia

Anyways, Barret had a burger and I went to the cake stall for a glass of lemonade and a rice bubble treat. I talked to the volunteers for a bit until they were distracted by more voters coming out of the polling booth. Since we had completed our patriotic duty, we strolled off to enjoy the rest of the sunny afternoon. I really want this sausage sizzle thing to catch on back home.

About: Election Sausage Sizzles

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