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#reverb10: Moment

3 Dec

Ali Edwards

Ali Edwards

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

I was in Australia and had just finished walking through the Royal Botanic Gardens. Following the path to the left, I realized I had stumbled upon the best view in the city. My camera had run out of batteries and my global phone didn’t have a camera, so I had to do my best to imprint the scenery in my memory. I sat on a rock with the waves of the Pacific Ocean splashing at my feet and looked at the view of the Harbor Bridge and Sydney Opera House. The sun was shining, warming my face as the cool breeze of the ocean tickled my neck. There were some high school age kids nearby by posing for pictures and a couple with their cute little girl watching her play. Once in a while a jogger would go by and I envied them as they probably got to see this amazing view daily. The ocean became bluer the farther out I looked and I was tempted to just dive in a go for a swim to taste the salt of the sea. Later, I told my husband that day was the best day I had on the trip. Now I realize it may have been the best day of the year. I was truly at peace.

Moving On

16 Aug

I didn’t really finish the Australia re-caps, but I’m over it. In the two days that were left, I ate a whole lotta fish, including some cheap, but delicious sushi, and bought a travel pillow for the airplane ride home. I probably slept a total of one hour on that 14 hour plane ride home, but oh well. I watched a bunch of movies!

Sooooo… I saw this post today in my reader and decided to write my own “things I don’t want people to know” post.

Deep breath. Here we go…

1. I used to hate tomatoes. In the last few years, I have convinced myself to like them. I now realize I only hated them because my mom did. My dad used to say that to me when I was little and I denied it, but now I know it was probably true.

2. If nobody ever came over to my house, I would never clean it. I only clean for people coming over, not for myself (or my husband).

3. I am probably the laziest person I know. I would rather lay in bed all day than do just about anything. The only time I feel like I really want to go DO something is when I am allowed to be lazy (like on Sundays) and I feel a need to rebel.

4. Yes, I want a baby and all the love that brings, but another reason I want to get pregnant is so I can have an excuse to be fat.

5. I am seriously cheap, but I can’t save money if my life depended on it. I wouldn’t spend more than $20 on a single item (think shirt, purse, housewares), but I will easily spend $100 at Target on a bunch of random crap.

6. I have OCD tendencies. I might have piles of  laundry all over the floor, but if someone moves a vase or picture frame, I have to move it back.

7. I failed at the wedding coordinating business. I don’t love it and I’m not that good at it.

8. I am completely addicted to my crackberry. I check facebook and twitter at least every half hour. I check my google reader at least 10 times a day.

9. My mom still pays for my cellphone. If she ever stops, I don’t know if I will be able to afford the crackberry and then I’ll have to deal with that addiction.

10. I don’t shower everyday. I usually shower every other day, but sometimes every three days. I rarely smell bad, though. I swear.

So there you have it! I’m already embarrassed…

Down Under: Day 12, Part 2

7 Aug

After Featherdale, it was time to head up to the beautiful blue mountains.

This was the first lookout we stopped by. The rock formation in the foreground was like nothing I’ve ever seen.

Then, we drove by this wild emu. He’s just hanging out (the fence isn’t keeping him in, it is keeping us out).

Wild kangaroos!! Don’t see them? Click on the picture and it will open bigger. See them now? Cool, right? That’s just on the side of the road!

At another lookout we saw this pretty waterfall, though it is hard to be impressed by this after spending much of my childhood at Yosemite.

Beautiful blue mountains! The blue haze is a result of the eucalyptus oil from the trees reflecting the light from the sky.

They call this formation the Three Sisters.

Another waterfall… small, but pretty.

Cockatoos are everywhere!

A couple other passengers and I chose to walk down the 700+ stairs to the bottom of the forrest instead of taking the thingamajig that can take you down there. My legs were very shaky!

Enchanted forrest.

Do faeries live here?

Treetops! Feels like a rain forrest!

There was no way we were hiking back up those (extremely steep) 700+ steps, so we took the steepest train in the world back to the top.

I have no pictures after this because I was so terrified and made one of the travelers hold me. I’m completely serious. This older woman linked arms with me and we went backwards up this very steep incline. We weren’t strapped in and were being lifted with a counterweight that we saw creaking back and forth a few minutes earlier. It was terrifying.

The tour guide dropped us off at the ferry which took us back into the city.

The view was gorgeous at night with all the lights, but we were moving too fast for me to take a decent picture. This was the best I could do.

After the ferry ride, I took the subway by myself (at night!!) and went straight to bed. I was tired!

Up next: Our last few days down under!

Down Under: Day 12, Part 1

6 Aug

This was the day I had been waiting for: koala and kangaroo day!!

Since my husband wanted to spend his weekend relaxing instead of a tour bus, I decided to go on a tour of the blue mountains by myself. The main reason I wanted to go on this tour was because I wanted to go to a wildlife park where I could feed and interact with the animals. I’ve been to zoos and they’re not for me, even though everyone told us how beautiful the Taronga Zoo in Sydney was (I guess the giraffe enclosure looks over onto the harbour, where the bridge and opera house are).

I met my tour guide in the lobby of our hotel at 7am. It was pretty cold out and it would be even colder where we were going, so I bundled up and hopping in the very small (and nice) bus. This wasn’t one of those huge tours with 50 people on it and a tour guide over a loudspeaker. The bus sat maybe 15, but I think we only had like 9 people on our tour. I got to sit up front since I was alone and got a really awesome view.

Our first stop was Featherdale Wildlife Park, about 45 minutes outside of the city.

The first animal we saw when we walked in was the wombat. It was just like a puppy and loved to be scratched on it’s rock hard backside.

These wallabies were hopping around everywhere!

This dinosaur-looking bird was totally freaking me out, but I held it anyway.

Here I am cuddling a koala! They were so chill, they just hung out on these branches and ate eucalyptus leaves while people pet and posed with them.

Ok, for some reason I was looking super horrible that day, so I had to cut myself out of this picture. The koala, however, was making this adorable face while sticking his tongue out.

See? I told you I looked hell-ish.

This Emu got hold of one of the cones of food.

I really wanted to get a kangaroo hopping and I did! Please excuse my obnoxious voice (don’t you hate listening to your own voice on video?).

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=13688323&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=1&color=&fullscreen=1&autoplay=0&loop=0
Kangaroo! from Amy Carter on Vimeo.

They were so cute!

I saw many more animals at Featherdale…

like penguins,

this beautiful turkey,
a very vibrant rooster,
an albino peacock (stunning),
albino kangaroos (dirty),
some type of lizard (maybe Gila monster?),
very cute and cuddly dingos,
and a crocodile! Crikey!
While some of my husband’s coworkers said that Featherdale was “ghetto,” I completely disagree. It was well-maintained and the animals had plenty of room to roam. I would have preferred to see them in the wild, but this was good enough (and I DID get to see some wild ‘roos and emus – coming up next!).

Down Under: Days 10 and 11

27 Jul

The only neighborhood I had heard and read about that I had not yet visited in Sydney was Paddignton. It wasn’t exactly walking-distance from our hotel, but at this point I was sick of trying to figure out the bus (train didn’t go there), so I decided I would put on some comfy shoes and make the trek over to this area.

To get there, first I had to walk through the other part of Sydney that reminds me of San Francisco: the gay district. Literally every other business is a sex shop and all the cafes have very suggestive names like Spicy Affair (Indian) and Thai Me Up (duh). It was cool to see that side of town and definitely made me feel like I was back in CA.

Once I got to Paddington, I realized that this area was probably too rich for my blood. The street is filled with fancy boutiques that I wouldn’t dare enter. How do I know if the merch is too expensive for me? If there is space between the clothes on the racks, I probably can’t afford it. That’s how all these stores were. They were very nicely styled with cool window displays, but I could tell by the sparse look of each place that these were fancy-pants boutiques. Not for me. There were some cool places where I found some reasonably priced things, though.

No, I didn’t take this picture (how embarrassing if I was like, hey, can I take your picture? I’m not a tourist… or a stalker… I swear!), it is from Ariel Books’ facebook page. Now, this place wasn’t cheap, but it was cute and quirky and the shelves were stocked. I found an awesome children’s book by an Australian author and bought it for… a kid myself.

The cover is sparkly and it has my favorite animal from our trip to Sydney: flying foxes! I am going to save this book for… well, you know.

Another shop I loved was called Bison.

They have the most beautiful pottery in all of the most amazing colors. I wanted to get a piece for my mother-in-law because she loves pottery, but I picked up the tiniest vase and it was $35. Seriously, it was as tall as my pointer finger and not much wider. Instead, I bought her some cute (and reasonably priced) tea towels.

I had an amazing vegetarian sandwich and a latte (it started to rain) at a little cafe and headed back to the hotel. The next day? I went back to the same neighborhood to pick up a birthday present for a friend and more tea towels for my mom and myself. I was running out of places to go and liked that I could walk there.

At this point in the trip, I was ready to go home, but I still had to see my koalas and kangaroos! Stay tuned!!

Down Under: Days 8 and 9

26 Jul

Yay, the weekend! I was so happy that my husband was off for a couple of days so we could enjoy Sydney together. I really wanted to see some animals (I still hadn’t seen a koala or kangaroo), but left the weekend itinerary up to my husband as these were his last two days off in Australia.

On Saturday, we to the Manly Ferry to Manly Beach.

The best part of going to Manly beach is taking the Manly Ferry and getting a piece of this view.

From this side of the bridge, you can get the bridge, opera house, and city skyline all in one shot. Well, you can if you’re a professional photographer with a wide-angle lens. We’re don’t have those tools, so we did the best we could.

The little town at Manly is quite touristy, though I did have the best meal of the trip at Manly Grill (I think?). It was a salad with grilled chicken and goat cheese and roasted pumpkin. The pumpkin was ah.ma.zing.

Even though it was winter, the weather was amazing. It probably got to about 70 at its warmest. The surfers were enjoying the waves and we were enjoying the scenery.

While it was warm on the beach, it was chilly on the ferry, hence the huge coat I’m carrying.

This is my husband’s attempt at an artsy shot (can you see the reflection in my glasses? our shadows and the beach?).

On the way back, we enjoyed the beautiful sunset behind the harbour bridge…

and saw these crazy people climbing it.

See those ant-looking things on top? Crazy people who paid over $200 to climb to the top of this huge bridge and freeze and it shakes and sways.

Sunday, my husband wanted to check out the most popular beach in Sydney, Bondi (pronounced Bond-eye). No need to take a ferry, we drive about 10 minutes to get here.

While the beach was smaller, I liked it better than Manly. The town was far less tourist-y and reminded me a lot of Santa Monica.

The walls behind the beach are all painted with beautiful murals. This one says, “Keep Australia Colorful.”

There was a little skating competition going on that day as well. We watched the youngest age group for a bit and were in awe of their abilities.

We had sandwiches for lunch up on a grassy hill over-looking the beach and enjoyed the amazing weather.

After lunch, we sat on the sand and admired the scenery. This hotel pool is filled with sea water that splashes up into it every few minutes.

Plenty of surfers at Bondi, many of which wear speedos. This guy was showing his Aussie pride. Be grateful we don’t have a picture of him from the front…

After Bondi, my husband got to see the bats!

Up next: I want to go home, then I finally get to see my koalas and kangaroos! Stay Tuned!

Down Under: Day 7

26 Jul

Surry Hills turned out to be my favorite neightborhood in Sydney. I’d read about it in travel books and, without asking the concierge, decided to walk there to check it out.

The architecture in the neighborhoods of Sydney is adorable. The city reminds me a lot of San Francisco, with its narrow and colorful houses.

This is a terrible picture, but I was trying to capture the wraught iron railings that are everywhere in Sydney. They look almost like lace, very delicate and detailed.

This park in the middle of Surry Hills was lined with the back of a row of houses like the ones above. If I was to move to Sydney, this is where I’d want to live.
In Surry Hills, I shopped at the vintage stores and had a snack at a cute cafe. We actually came back to this neighborhood for dinner that night and discovered a delicious (and cheap) sushi restaurant that I went back to for lunch the following week.
One thing about walking in Sydney (as I walked EVERYWHERE): the cars drive on the left side of the road, so when you’re walking, you have to be careful to look the correct way as to not get hit.

Conveniently, they have nice little signs like this one painted on the street. Now that I’m back home, I find myself looking right constantly when I walk around my neighborhood. Hopefully this new habit won’t prove to be dangerous…

Up next: a two beach weekend! Stay tuned!

Down Under: Day Six

22 Jul

I’m going to combine my first bat day with the second. I went to see the bats again with my husband and his coworkers a few days later, but you don’t need repeat posting, so we’ll make this an all out BATastic post.

I knew the bats were at the Royal Botanic Gardens, but only because I read it somewhere. People here don’t talk about the bats. They don’t think it is a big deal. DUDE. These things are BIG and a DEAL.

When I first entered the gardens I saw what you would expect to find in a place like that. There were fountains with birds.

There were cool trees with roots growing from the top.

There was an art installation of painted beehives (no bees).

There was a tropical center in a pyramid.

There was a turtle swimming in a pond.

I even saw some cool fungi growing on trees,

and pretty spider webs. Then, I turned a corner, looked up into the trees, and…

What is that big thing hanging there?

BATS!! They were everywhere.

They have orange furry heads.

They make creepy gremlin noises and mess with each other while napping.

Here’s the deal with the bats. They roost (sleep upside down) in the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney. The trees they like to hang out on (ha. ha.) get damaged and eventually die. The Botanic Gardens wants to relocate the bats so they don’t kill off all their precious trees. They were planning to do this relocation this year, but they discovered that some of the females are underweight (they look plump to me – for some size reference, they are about as big as my head when all wrapped up). If they move them while they’re underweight, it will put too much stress on them and they could die. These bats – actually grey-headed flying foxes – are protected by the government, so they can’t move them until the females get back to normal weight. I think they should let them stay and just plant more trees, but hey, what do I know…

My husband took this video when he came to see the bats. It is amazing.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=13541861&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1
BATS! from Amy Carter on Vimeo.

That’s some crazy Halloween sh!t.

Once I got over the fact that every time I looked up, I saw hundreds of bats hanging from the trees, I managed to see a bit more of the gardens.

Hmmm… what are those white birds hanging out on the lawn over there?

Oh, just a bunch of cockatoos. They hang out like pigeons around here. Really beautiful pigeons.

After the gardens, we headed to the Domain, a park across the street. The gardens close at 5pm, but the bats fly out around 5:15pm. A lady I befriended who worked at the tropical center said we should go to the Domain when the gardens closed to get a good view of the bats flying out for the night.

First, we saw one of these.

I’m pretty sure this spider kills people.

Then, we waited… and waited… and…

BATS!

My husband’s coworker was hoping that the sky would “turn black,” but they don’t happen to fly out all at the same exact time. There’s no bat alarm clock that goes off at 5:15 to wake them all off and send them all into the skies at once. It was a very cool thing to see, though. Some of them even landed in the trees at the Domain and crawled around looking for bugs and things to eat. They are super creepy when they crawl around with their winged hands.

That night for dinner, we had Yum Cha, Australian for Dim Sum. SO much food. I couldn’t even touch the last course.

Up next, my very favorite part of the city, Surry Hills! Stay tuned!!!

Down Under: Day Five

22 Jul

This was the first day I started feeling lonely. It was raining when I woke up, so I decided it would be a good day to go to a museum. I asked the concierge (again) and he recommended the Museum of Contemporary Arts.

The art was… well… contemporary. Not my favorite museum, but interesting to see. No photos allowed, so all I got was the front with this neuron sculpture.

After the museum, I went over to the Rocks to have some lunch.

Then, I sat on a bench and enjoyed the sunshine that finally decided to come out!

I took a walk following the joggers that were out on their lunch break to the other side of the bridge. The wind was quite strong over there and I couldn’t get any decent photos, but it was nice to see everything from a different perspective.

We had an amazing dinner that night with my husband’s colleagues and this tiny little restaurant next to the hotel. It was out of this world delicious, but WOW expensive ($1 for each dinner roll – that should give you a hint). Luckily, we didn’t have to pay or we wouldn’t have eaten there. Thank you thank you thank you Ms. Co-worker who paid! I would still be washing dishes if it wasn’t for you.

Stay tuned for BAT day!!! Up next!

Down Under: Day Four

22 Jul

It took me over a year to find the right brown riding boots. Since I got them last winter, I have been wanting black ones. I love riding boots.

With my black coat and cross-body bag purchased, I had a one track mind to get my hands on some black riding boots. I asked the concierge (this became a daily routine: brush teeth, get dressed, ask concierge…) where the best shopping was in Sydney and he sent me (on the bus!) to the Westfield Bondi Junction.

This is four of the five levels of this mall. This mall goes over a major street and takes up the space of 3 or 4 of our LA malls. It was huge. I got lost a few times and walked in many circles. Did I find boots, yes! Did I find any cute ones under $200? Heck no. Sydney is expensive, yo!

While I didn’t buy anything (not one. single. thing.) I did enjoy looking at the shops, especially the home stores. You see, Australians like things in categories. On our first day wandering the city, my husband and I noticed 5 different outdoorsy type stores on one block. If you ask for a good restaurant recommendation, you are directed to a whole row of restaurants. In the states, we mix things up. In Australia, they like categories. All of the children’s stores were in one corner of the mall. All of the home stores were in one wing. Here are some of my favorites.

Kartell

The store was filled with ghost chairs. I’ve seen these clear plastic chairs on the design blogs I follow, but these were separated by color and mounted all over the walls. It was a really beautiful presentation of something as simple as chairs.

kikki.K

This Swedish store is all about organization. Again, categorized by color, the boxes and bins and papers and binders are beautiful and functional. I almost bought something for my mom here, but decided I should get her something Australian while I’m in Australia, not something Swedish.

T2 tea

This tea shop had hundreds of tea tins stacked to the ceiling. They had beautiful pots and cups and samples out to taste. Everything smelled wonderful and I had to stop myself from leaving with armfuls of loose leaf tea (they definitely wouldn’t let me through customs with all that).

Papaya

This store was fresh and clean and natural. They had furniture, decor pieces, stuffed animals, and even jewelry. I really wanted to buy a tree necklace I saw, but at $70, I simply couldn’t justify it. How lovely would those candlesticks look on a dining room table or mantelpiece? I’ll take 20.

After meandering around the mall, eating lunch, and figuring out how the heck to get back to the hotel (the bus confused me), I rested and got ready for our evening at the Opera.

From the Opera House, you get an amazing view of the Harbour Bridge.

The play was wonderful. Funny and endearing, Sigrid had my eyes glued to the stage whenever she was on it.

Many people see the Opera House on their visits to Sydney, but few actually get to go inside and see a show. We were so lucky to get that opportunity.

All dressed up for our night at the Opera!
Up next: the days start to blur and I start getting lonely. Stay Tuned!