Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Queueing at the Quay: a visit to Manly Surf Beach Sydney, Australia

The harbour bridge nudges an ocean liner at Circular Quay, Sydney, Australia. It's where you board the local ferries too.
Sydney's idyllic on a sunny day and if you happen to be lucky enough even to be there for an afternoon, one of the best and cheapest things to do is get on one of the ferries and traverse the harbour. It's easy and relatively cheap.

You can buy a ticket to the northern beaches suburb of Manly return for $14.90 an adult at Circular Quay (a route going since the 1850's) and get to see the harbour bridge up close, opera house, luna park in the distance and the magical harbour with its sometimes hundreds of sailboats and other sites. Along with about 1,100 other people.

 To get to the Manly surf beach it's about a 30 to 45 minute ride and then a 20 minute walk through the Corso to Manly surf beach from Circular Quay. Choppy or smooth it's stunning. You can get to the Quay by Sydney's fantastic train system (miles better than Melbourne's shambolic unreliable one) or bus.

A seagull flies over a side street market at The Rocks in Sydney.
The Manly Ferry entering Circular Quay, Sydney.
It's a fantastic view of the harbour up front of the ferry. The harbour is packed with every variety of sailing craft you can imagine. 
Fort Denison (1788) a former penal site, with its martello tower in the middle of the harbour. Sometimes called Pinchgut Island.
Sunlight on the waters of Sydney Harbour with a view of the CBD taken from the Manly ferry.

Parasailing on Sydney Harbour.
The tranquil waters of Manly front beach adjacent to where the ferry docks. Those pines in the background are Norfolk Island Pines.

There were many locals dressed up in santa type costumes wandering down Manly Corso. 

And at the Manly surf beach.
Santas hanging out at the local bar opposite the surf beach.
Manly surf beach. About 23 degrees and not too packed.



The Rocks history and heritage

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Melbourne Daily Photo 2: The Fitzroy Gardens

Fitzroy Gardens, Melbourne, Australia
Parrots high up in the eucalypt canopy.
One of the many painted trams in Melbourne.
View towards the conservatory in Fitzroy Gardens.
Beautiful sunny skies and 21 degrees in Melbourne. A perfect day to walk through the 26 hectares of the magnificent Fitzroy Gardens (1848). It's mainly a classic Victorian era garden design with long avenues of elm trees, which you can stroll through for hours and which lead to various points of interest such as Captain Cook's cottage which was shipped out from Yorkshire in 1934.

Situated basically in the inner city of east Melbourne, you can get there easily on foot (about 10 minutes) from Flinders Street train station (the central station) or get the number 11 tram (20 mins- it's quicker to walk most of the time). It's a magic garden and well worth hanging out in for an afternoon in the sun.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Melbourne Daily Photo 1: Bay Road nursery/cafe

I'm in Melbourne for a couple of months visiting family and friends so I thought I'd start posting a daily photo of my travels around Melbourne and Sydney.

Here’s the gardens of the nursery cafe in the southern Melbourne bayside suburb of Sandringham called Bay Road. It's a great place to go to if you want to get out of the inner city and have an original organic brunch or afternoon tea. On the menu was a Nordic dish containing salmon, of course, which I didn’t choose but you were tempted. But no fish other than this which was a bit strange as it’s close to the beach. The food is rich and filling in a flower filled environment outside or painting filled rooms inside. Dog friendly too.
To get to the nursery you can drive along Beach Road and see the occasional surf on Port Philip Bay. A lot of Melbournians don’t think much of Port Philip bay but really it’s beautiful and moody in any weather. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What to do during a heatwave in Stockholm

It's been a heatwave in Sweden this week so it's been impossible to sleep. Temperatures in the high twenties. The houses are designed for the cold not the other way round so the fan's been working overtime. The garden looks fantastic though.
So we took a train trip on the original 1912 train (runs on Saturdays from Slussen) to Saltsjöbaden baths for a bit of sunbaking and swimming though I didn't do either. Just walked around taking photos of trees and the water while Hiie sunbaked on the pine needle strewn ground.

Getting off the original 1912 train at Saltsjöbaden station.
Sunbaking at Saltsjöbaden baths. There's also separate womens and mens areas for nude sunbaking though we didn't go there.  As I was walking around the tiny island of pine trees and rocks a group of young women were jumping off the roof of the bathing house topless and screaming. The sound of joy floated through the air.
Only 15,596 kilometres to Bondi Beach from Saltsjöbaden it says on the sign.
The Grand Hotel at Saltsjöbaden.
The heat beating down on our garden.
The sun setting. Probably around 10pm.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Searching for the O'Connors in Ireland

view of the green fields of dingle peninsula ireland photo by susan wellington
View of the green fields of Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

My grandparents Doreen and Norm.
Bicycles in the air in a street in Killarney, Ireland photo by susan wellington
Bicycles in the air in a street in Killarney, Ireland.
My grandmother was an O'Connor. Back a few generations the O'Connors lived in Cork along with other ancestors in Limerick, and Galway. Possibly due to the tumultuous effects on Ireland of the potato famine in 1845-50- over a million people died of starvation- they emigrated to Australia. So of course I wanted to see the places where they'd lived.

I particularly wanted to go to Limerick. So we booked a tour with Paddywagon tours and hurtled through the irish countryside with the driver Michael singing, telling jokes and stories all the way with hands barely on the wheel. The scenery in Killarney national park, Inch beach and along the Dingle peninsula was stunning and the tiny irish towns, as neat as a pin, were postcard perfect. It was meant to take in Limerick though the trip to Limerick wasn't quite what I imagined.

View from Muckross House to the Killarney National Park, Ireland photo by susan wellington.
View from Muckross House to the Killarney National Park, Ireland.
Learning how to surf at Inch Beach, south-west coast of Ireland photos by susan wellington
Learning how to surf at Inch Beach, south-west coast of Ireland.
I really had no idea about Limerick as I'd never read Frank McCourt's novel or anything else about Ireland. But the fact that we only had a toilet break on the outskirts of town in Limerick on the way back to Dublin said it all. On the way into Limerick the bus driver Michael told us stories about the 'Irish travellers' and pointed out their caravan shanty town. I'd never heard of them but they travel from place to place and live in these caravans on the outskirts of town. According to him they can have weddings and wakes that go on for 3 days and sometimes drunken brawls break out involving dozens and dozens of men. Sounds great. Invite them over. I have absolutely no idea whether things were exaggerated or not. But his storytelling was very funny. I think I was one of the few on the bus who could understand it though through the thick accent.

That was my entire Limerick experience. I tried to buy a postcard there but didn't have time so the next day I tried to buy one again in Dublin and asked a guy in one of the absolutely ubiquitous tourist shops at Temple Bar (the club area), if they had any. Well he was amused. 'There are no cards on Limerick' he says, 'anywhere, even in Limerick.' 'Why was that' I said. 'People are embarrassed about it as it's full of public housing' etc. He obviously hasn't been to Sweden as half the housing here could be classified as public housing but there's not the same stigma to it which is good. Though maybe there should be.

Tourists taking in the view of Killarney National Park, Ireland.
horse and trap in landscape, muckross house, killarney, ireland photo by susan wellington
Horse and trap in the garden at Muckross House, Killarney, Ireland
The men in Ireland all seem to have been born charming and helpful. It was a surprising and beautiful thing. Sometimes it came with a dollop of swearing. I'd almost forgotten about swearing as they have different swear words in swedish so I don't notice it. But here I heard the f word again in all its glory. The taxi driver on the way back to the airport took the prize. Everything was feckin this and feckin that. It doesn't sound so bad with an irish accent though. He was very funny too and I think he had a hangover. He was telling us about the feckin differences between feckin men and women at 9am. He tells us he wanted to leave his wife after 2 years of marriage with the children. She says to him you're just the father they're my flesh and blood. Interesting.

I never heard my grandparents swear. Ever.

Majestic tree at Torc Waterfall, Ireland photo by susan wellington.
Majestic tree at Torc Waterfall, Ireland.
Other Ireland posts: Dreaming in Dublin 1

Jump into Ireland official website

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Dreaming in Dublin, Ireland 1

River Liffey photo by susan wellington
The main river through Dublin is called the Liffey. The irish language (gaelic) version of it is called 'Abhainn na Life '. We were told irish was a language that wasn't used much- everyone studies it at school- but according to the taxi driver who drove us into Dublin, not many people speak it especially in Dublin, it's mainly used in the country. Well the next day we heard it everywhere. In the gallery, shops, theatre, on the streets. It seemed to us that more people spoke irish than english. Especially the young people. So who knows? All the public signs in Ireland are in irish and english. It was a surprising feature of Ireland we hadn't expected but it sounds and looks like a beautiful, mysterious language. Like people are casting spells on each other when they talk. 
viking tour bus in dublin photo by susan wellington
You see these Viking bus tourists all over the place. Even in the water. The noise precedes them. The Celts started living in Dublin (Dubh Linn or black pool) from 500BC. The Vikings from the 9th century.
street performer in dublin photo by susan wellington
Street performer in Grafton Street, Dublin. Mainly it seems to be a bit of a hot spot for young up and coming pop and rock musicians. 
facade of st anns church 1720 in dublin photo by susan wellington
Facade of St Anns Church (1720) from Grafton Street,  Dublin. Dublin's full of churches and churchy organisations but we didn't visit any. After I saw Notre Dame in Paris I've kind of lost interest in exploring them. Unless they've got some great painting or sculpture in them and none of the churches in Dublin had any so we gave them a miss. Most of them are too dark and kind of oppressive. There's some great paintings in the National Gallery though. I enjoyed seeing the colourful expressionist paintings of Jack Yeats in particular. 

View of the Old Library, Trinity College, Dublin. It houses the Book of Kells which we didn't see as we were too tired by the time we got there. So we rested in the soft irish sun instead.

Visit Dublin official site

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Zooming along with a kite in Pärnu Estonia

Recently we were in Pärnu again in Estonia for a couple of days as the beach there is stunning. Beautiful soft clean sand. Crystal clear water, undulating sand dunes and plenty of refreshments and activities on the beach if you're bored of sunbaking. Which you never are as there's no sun! Except a few minutes here and there. But there's always kitesurfing if there's a breeze which there was. 
Equipment can be rented on the main beach at the MaxWave surf centre if you haven't your own. I haven't managed to go kitesurfing in Pärnu yet and probably never will as I have a bad back but I love watching it and taking photos.

view over the Pärnu rooftops to the cathedral photo by susan wellington
View over the rooftops to the cathedral spire from Hotel Victoria.

We stayed at the Hotel Victoria which is a little run down but it was so charming and comfortable and the staff were gorgeous it made up for it. Plus it's so central to everything. We'd definitely stay there again. 

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