Sunday 30 June 2013

Roller Derby: BSK vs SAS

I have been intrigued by roller derby since watching Whip It! and also a Cold Case episode which featured a victim who was a participant. A mutual friend had commented that he was attending the first bout of the season, however, for that event I was at work and couldn't make it. This time, I bought my ticket and left work early for the bout.

It has been bucketing rain in the past week and whilst it is nice to an extent, it is also a little annoying having to deal with puddles and splashes from cars/buses.






Overall it was a lot of fun. Intense but fun to watch it in action. The only thing that I was surprised about when the BSK did their victory lap was that all the girls were a lot older than I imagined.

And a follow up to my previous post. I know what I want and what I want is to let it go. To let them go. Tonight was a good night in a sense because it showed me that there is a life after. It was also so frustrating to hear that the mutual friend was treated poorly by the devil incarnate; it just reinforced my negative feelings against that individual. But the night was also awkward. Why? Well, we went to dinner and it felt weird as though it was date (which it wasn't). I am also never eating at Dixon Street again. By the time we got back to the city, it was already 10pm and I honestly wanted to go home. But he was hungry and we stopped off at Dixon Street for Chinese food (I honestly would have been content with Maccas). Not entirely pleased that I had to pay $19 (!!) for a tiny portion of Singapore noodles. Yeesh.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Manly Cemetary & Balmoral Beach


For the past 3 months (basically the university semester) I have been sedementary and glued onto a chair at home, on the bus or at university. Hence I decided to go on a walk. A long walk. A 11km walk. Though to be fair, there will never be a walk that will be longer than the one in Rome which turned into a 20km walk. Whoops. (I got lost. Majorly).

When I was overseas, the way that I planned my day was by attractions and to get from A to B usually involved walking down roads that seemed vaguely in the right direction. I couldn't really do that with this walk since I do live in the area and although I have never walked those roads before, I am aware of the major roads. Nonetheless, I wanted to visit two places: Manly cemetary and Balmoral beach.




Until New Orleans, I had never visited a cemetary. My mother was very superstitious and I can't recall the exact reason, but it was so extreme that it was 'wrong' to even look at them from across the street. That being said, cemetaries are freaky. The idea of walking near coffins is a little unsettling. I always hope that the coffins are buried within the parameters of the markers and I make sure to stay on the paths at all time. Not the eeriest cemetary I have visisted (Lafeyette would take the cake) but I do think it is odd that a public school was built across from it.



1110 - Bats

I saw bats. Bats freak me out. Is it because they hang upside down and that is unnatural? Or maybe it's the screeches? I am not entirely sure. All I know is that I saw bats on one tree and then I proceeded to scan the area and saw another 4 trees filled with bats and it creeped me out; there must have been at least 100 altogther.







I also stumbled across a flock of rainbow lorikeets. I was so close to this one, but then it slowly started to edge away from me in a very adorable manner.





Balmoral beach is not my nearest beach and the first time I visited was around this time last year. I had visited the beach  at night after a date. In hindsight it was a perfect first date (cosy Italian restaurant and ending the night with a walk down the beach and star gazing) but with a terrible person. Ah well.

This burger looked good. Until I took a bite. The biggest waste of $10. The chicken was 2mm thick and not only that, it was inedible. I feel that the chicken was either a) left on the counter and dried out or b) it was in the fridge for too long/ stored inappropriately and dried out because the chicken was stringy, leathery and un-chewable. Oh, sure there was maybe 1% of the entire piece of chicken that was edible. Very unhappy.

Also, on my hike up one of the steepest streets I have encountered, some hooligans (I am estimating 18 year olds) threw something at me. Well, I believe with the intention of hitting me but they missed. Not entirely sure what it was, a water balloon or something that had liquid. Calling me a f*cker is not lovely but I do believe in karma. Or as Veronica Mars put it, "I'm gonna run him over with my "karma."" But not really.

My legs are now extremely tired.
Friday 21 June 2013

Chicago Day 2

25th August 2012



Apart from the fact that it isn't centred, I love this shot. Though the OCD in me is frustrated that the swans weren't evenly spaced out.

I had plans on waking up early to watch the sunrise from Lake Michigan. However my plans of sleeping went out the window and stayed up all night; the first all-nighter in my entire existence. Though, it was truly beautiful watching the sun rise from Lake Michigan, the sky changing from pinks to violets and to orange and yellow.


Finger prints galore!


I also found the Bean/ Cloud Gate which was mainly the only thing that I had wanted to see in Chicago. It was amazing and so much larger than I imagined. As it was 6am in the morning, there was no one around and I took many photos of the bean,  reflecting the skyline of Chicago. In hindsight, it was rare to be able to take a photo without any tourists milling around.

The streets were quiet as I headed back to the hostel for the complimentary breakfast. After breakfast, I headed out and just wandered. I headed down the Magnificent Mile until I was so tired and stopped at Maccas for a large coffee and a breakfast burrito. Officially the most disgusting thing I have ever tried. I headed back down to the park and tried to nap for an hour before meeting my Chicago Greeter.




I am not entirely sure how I discovered the program but I am very glad that I did. The idea is that a local Chicago-an would hold a free tour for a few individuals/ small group. I was lucky and I was the only person in the group so it turned into a private tour. The woman was very lovely and she took me around the highlights; Millennium Park, Art Institute of Chicago, into Macy's to sign me up for a free discount as I was a visitor and I also got to try Frango Mints for free. There were many more places that she also showed me (and I never got around to jotting it down and I have completely forgotten now. D'oh). Oh, she also showed me the place the Barack Obama and Michelle Obama used to work at (Sidley Austin). It was also the first time that someone (Macy employee) asked me this question: what is your heritage? Which is actually a brilliant way of asking someone their background without sounding like an utter idiot (should probably educate the Belgium/ Indian on this). I didn't take any photos because I was worried I would slow her down and I would look like a total retard. It was mainly because I was the only person so she was always looking at me and I didn't want to great a hassle. At the end of our 5 hour tour, she brought me down to Greek town (which was very interesting) and there we parted.

In addition to teaching me about Chicago, she also taught me a trick for conversions from F to C. Subtract 30 and divide by 2 (not exact and does not work for numbers lower than 32 {below freezing}).
Chicago Hot Dog

I didn't try the deep dish pizza because the idea was a little nauseating. However, I couldn't leave the city without trying at least one of their famous food items: Chicago Style Hot Dog.

My Overall Thoughts
I loved Chicago downtown and 1.5 days was definitely not enough time. Chicago was so vibrant and diverse and I wanted to visit outside of downtown and the Loop. This page explains it all; there is just so much to see.

Would I re-visit?
Yes! Without a doubt.
Thursday 20 June 2013

Chicago Downtown & Navy Pier

24th August 2012
Lake Michigan

The next city that I was visiting was Chicago, Illinois. I had originally been tossing up between visiting San Francisco or Chicago. I didn't manage to travel to San Francisco on the trip (which I do regret though I already knew that once I flew away from the west coast, I wouldn't be returning) however I also loved Chicago. In hindsight, I should have spent less time in LA and squeezed in a day for San Francisco. Oh well peanut butter.

It was a 4 hour flight to Chicago (ORD) from LAX. It was my greatest achievement in managing to bring my 9kg hiking backpack and my 10kg day pack as carry on luggage and I managed to not pay for any baggage fees. Amazing.

I stayed at Hostelling International Chicago as it was the most conveniently located hostel in Chicago, right in downtown. It was nice and very clean. Though the downside was since it was in The Loop, my dorm was right next to L tracks and the trains were running almost all day (it stopped in the early hours of the morning). Due to the flight and the time zone, by the time I managed to leave my hostel, the sun was already starting to set.

First impression: I loved the archicture of Chicago.





I headed down to Navy Pier, walking alongside Lake Michigan. The thing that I noticed was that it seemed to be couples galore, and, being the solo traveller that I was, I stuck out like a sore thumb. I had a gentleman yell out, "are you by yourself?" which I responded with "yes I am". Not entirely sure what else I could have said.

Navy Pier

Though it was very awkward when I was listening to a band at a table, by myself. Nonetheless, it was a good experience; the band was pretty good. It was amusing when they selected two individuals to do the actions to 'head-shoulders-knees-and-toes' on the other individual (which is quite awkard when it gets to the knees aspect).

It was a very short day in Chicago. I had organised a Chicago Greeter tour for the following day and walked back to my hostel, with plans to have an early night. Oh the irony.

To be continued
Friday 14 June 2013

LA Downtown

22nd August 2012
The third day was spent in downtown LA. I didn't have much of a plan but to wander around, using Downtown LA Walks as an inspiration. The only place that I wanted to visit was the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Walt Disney Concert Hall


The Walt Disney Concert Hall was stunning and I loved the design.

Eventually, I wandered down to Exposition Park. I should have done more research as it wasn't the sort of park that I was interested in. Rather, it was a park that housed a variety of museums and science centres. I wanted to save some money and also explore the area so I decided to walk from downtown (1st street) all the way down to 39th street. Whoops. I didn't actually realise it was that far away and unlike the blocks in NYC, each block was fairly substantial and it took me nearly 1.5 hours. Though on the upside, I walked past a lot of elementary and high schools, as well as University of Southern California. It was interesting seeing all the freshman move in, their cars packed with luggage and their entire life, parents hovering and resident advisers directing frazzled families. I also stopped by Staples Stadium (unintentionally).

I had purchased a bag of trail mix from Trader Joes. I never knew that there was chocolate in trail mix bags and for every almond that was in the bag, there were at least 3 milk chocolate drops, 1 dark chocate drop and a white chocolate drop.

I treked back to downtown, walking 1.5hrs in the blazing sun. This was when I also realised that tap water in LA tastes horrendous. I had realised that it did taste different the previous two days. To describe it simply, it tastes like a slightly better version of pool water. Which is pretty horrendous. I also visited Grand Park in downtown and it was a beautiful day in the park. The fountain was also in the short by Wong Fu Productions!

Los Angeles - Grand Park


This was my last full day in LA and it was great to see the business side of the city apart from the beaches and Hollywood.

My Overall Thoughts
LA was interesting. Out of all the cities that I have visited, LA was not my favourite city. It was good in a sense, because my visit to the USA would not have been complete if I hadn't visited Hollywood and Santa Monica/ Venice Beach.

Would I re-visit?
Probably not at the top of my list.
Thursday 13 June 2013


Thursday Morning
The day is too lovely to be holed up inside. But alas I am.

In the last 3 days, I have watched an entire season of 'Close to Home'. I used to love this show when it was on the air in 2005-2007. Now in hindsight, it is ridiculous. I like to call it as a form of 'productive procrastination'. I am watching the trial and applying Australian/ NSW law and I keep on saying things to the effect of, "no they can't do that!" and apply the knowledge that I have gained from my litigation and civil procedures course.

But alas, today is the last day before my law exam tomorrow morning and I have studied a little bit in the sun.

In other news, I am trying to wean myself from Google Reader as it is closing at the end of this month. Trying to move to Feedly but I am just so used to the layout of Google Reader! Also, the new layout of Flickr is aggravating.
Wednesday 12 June 2013

Santa Monica

21st August 2012
On the second day, I had planned on visiting Santa Monica and Venice Beach. I am a serial planner and before I even arrived in the US I had already scoped out the location of the bus stop and the route to take. Though, my brilliant planning wasn't so brilliant. I left Podshare at 7am, or there about, and wandered to the bus stop. On the way, I stopped at Maccas because I wanted to grab a coffee. It was my first experience with the black drip coffee and I am not a big fan of black coffee; I only drink it when I need to stay awake and study. I arrived at the bus stop and waited. And waited some more. I should note that public transport is not caught by the average person as most people have cars, so it does attract a certain demographic of individuals. I saw 2 buses but they didn't stop (oddly enough) and after 1.5hrs of waiting, I finally asked a bus driver that stopped at the stop who informed me that it only stopped 2 blocks down. D'oh.

First impression. I liked how the bus had two bike racks at the front of the bus.

Eventually arrived at Santa Monica and I headed to the beach. I guess I am spoilt and every used to the beaches in Sydney. The beach was flat and incredible wide. It reminded me a little of the beaches at Surfer's paradise in Queensland where there are the skyscrapers and then flat beach before the water. In this case, it was a major road/highway, a 300+ parking lot and then at least 2km stretch of sand before the water. It was a very surreal moment to see the Santa Monica pier as it is fairly iconic. In my head, Savage Garden's Santa Monica song was replaying over and over again.

Santa Monica Beach



Santa Monica Pier




I eventually settled on a rock and people watched for quite a while. Watching people work out and impress other people with their muscles, their strengths and ability to do a thousand pushups whilst wearing cargo pants, a jacket under the blazing sun in 30 degree C temperature.

Something I noticed was that everyone seemed to be wearing more clothing than is required. Some people were hearing hoodies and sweatpants in hot weather which I thought was madness. A man approached me and I remember that I was thinking, "oh dear, how does this man even wear all that clothing and not be overheating?" as he was wearing long pants and a jacket. He striked up a conversation and eventually once he noticed my accent it went into the usual topics. He talked about the dangerous creatures in Australia and asked if I checked my boot before I wore them in case there were spiders or a snake inside. Funnily enough, when I did come back home to Sydney, before I wore my Converses I did check the inside and lo-behold daddy-long legs crawled out. Ew. I digress. He suggested a few places that I should visit apart from Santa Monica beach. Somehow it got to the point where he volunteered to drive me up the coast to San Francisco or we could explore Malibu. Funny. He handed me his business card and we parted.

A highlight of the day was when I was cooling down at a park near Venice Beach and a dog owner had two dogs, a German Shepherd mix and a chocolate brown labrador puppy. The german shepherd peed on a trip (male) and the puppy crawled under the larger dog just as the moment as he was peeing and ended up getting peed on. I laughed as did the owner and the german shepherd came over to me and I petted him. The puppy was over excited and crawled into my lap and licked my face and I wanted to pet it more but it had pee all down its back. So adorable.

To be continued ...