Thursday, May 18, 2017

Third day in Sydney

Today, we decided to take the ferries around town. But, first, we went to the Sydney Tower Eye. It's one of the tallest buildings in the world, and it looks a lot like the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.

On the way to the Tower, I also had my first encounter with a kangaroo!



I was kind of bummed because I thought we would be able to get outside (much like the Empire State Building) once we were on the observational floor. But, alas, we had to settle for seeing Sydney from behind glass. It still featured some absolutely gorgeous views though!




Oh, and here's us in our neat-o 3D glasses that we got to wear while watching a quick film all about Sydney at the Tower.



After the Tower, we decided to head to Manly Wharf. We had heard it was gorgeous and not to be missed. So we walked up to Circular Quay, caught the ferry, and enjoyed the incredible views on the trip there.

Some pictures from the boat:






Once there, we set out on the little strip/boardwalk (but, first, we had to get vegan gelato, but of course). Manly reminded me a lot of a vacation destination in Florida. There were many palm trees and tourist shops selling Bahama Jack-esque clothes. We stopped at the beach for a while and watched daring seagulls try to snatch food out of the hands of people eating picnics. Some of the seagulls got lucky, and I was amazed at how gutsy they were!

One of said gutsy seagulls.
Where an unfortunate sandwich-snatching incident happened.

Pretty church along the boardwalk.
In Manly, we even spotted an Aldi, which to my delight had vegan rice crispy treats! And, of course, since if was Aldi, it was super cheap. We also set out on our quest to find Vegemite.

We finally spotted it and decided to give it a try. Here was our go:

Some ladies next to us immediately started laughing at us and asked if we had just eaten it plain.

"Yes," was our reply.

Acting as if we had just committed a cardinal sin, the lady loudly declared, "no, no, no!" And promptly informed us we had to put it on something. She said that even though she's Australian, even she can't stomach it without putting it on toast. She suggested we put it on toast with avocados on top. Side note: I later tried it back in our room with Ritz crackers, and it was actually decent. It's definitely an acquired taste though. I'm excited to bring home the tiny tub we purchased, but I'm not sure if I'll be buying any bigger tubs this trip.

We then took the ferry back to Circular Quay, where we boarded another one to Darling Harbor. Since we had enjoyed it so much the night before, we thought, why not head back during the day? It was definitely nice to be able to see it during daylight.

After Darling Harbor, I went back to our room to take a nap while Keith sought out Chinese food. Well, my nap turned into sleeping the entire night. I didn't even eat dinner (well, unless you count polishing off the rest of the rice crispy treats). My body clock is still pretty messed up, but at least I am enjoying getting early starts to my days.

Tomorrow, we head to New Zealand!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Second Day in Sydney

After having a weird, jet-lagged sleep schedule yesterday, we managed to get in a couple more hours of sleep before waking up around 7 am, which was nice because it allowed us to start the day fairly early. We walked around for a bit, and stumbled into Christ Church St. Laurence, where the priest let Keith ring the bells.





We also went to a cute, indie coffee shop for wifi before boarding the tour bus to the beach.

Our tour bus came with two different routes: a city tour, and then a tour to the surrounding areas. So, we decided to take the bus to Bondi Beach, which is one of Australia's most famous beaches.

The beach was full of surfers, who we watched for quite a while. We even talked to one, who informed us that it was not a good day for the tide. He also explained about the components that make for good waves (something about the sand).




We walked the beach for a bit and then walked the boardwalk along the beach as well.

I always wear proper beach attire.
Bondi seems like a really upscale neighborhood, complete with boutiques and fancy restaurants. Not feeling all that fancy, and loving the concept of"food plus fun," we decided to get lunch at a place called Sushi Train, which features sushi on a conveyor belt. I was surprised by how many vegan choices they had, and I may or may not have gotten five plates.



Then, while walking back to catch the bus, we spotted a gelato place that advertised vegan gelato, I decided I had to stop in. After sampling five different ones (including a watermelon mint gelato), I settled on the dark chocolate fudge flavor. Holy tastebud explosion! This stuff was the most amazing ice cream I've ever had in my life, and it even put Ben and Jerry's to shame.




I immediately wanted to propose marriage to it, but Keith told me that would be embarrassing to do in such a public place, so I refrained.

By the time the tour bus picked us up, our tickets had expired. Luckily, I'm pretty good at giving the "sad face," so the driver let us on. We drove around Sydney's outskirts and saw some amazing views. Sadly, my camera wasn't able to capture too many of them. Here's me trying though:



We also got to see where all the rich people live.

After the tour, we headed back to our hostel and took a four hour nap (an improvement from yesterday's seven). Around 8 pm, we decided to get up and explore Darling Harbour, which is (as the name suggests) right along the water. It features a Chinese friendship garden, restaurants, mall, Ferris wheel, and some incredible views. I even found myself some falafel.



We still weren't tired, so after the harbor, we walked around a lot more. Some pictures from our walk:



On our walk, we started to notice that there were a ton of places advertising "Thai massage." We immediately wondered if that was just a front for prostitution, but they were everywhere! And even the oldest profession in the world seems like it would be hard to make a go of a business with that many competitors. So, we started wondering if they are indeed legit, and made a list of arguments for and against.

For said Thai massage places being legit:

-the outside signs show people getting stone massages (and the last time I checked, prostitution does not often involve rocks)
-they're super out in the open. Surely if it was prostitution, it would be hidden...at least a little.
-some of them featured massage chairs visible from outside

And in the "no, it's just a total front for prostitution" camp:

-they're way cheap (like $30)
-they're open until 4 am
-some of them are up a lot of stairs/hidden from the public

Since we can't use our phones here, rather than googling, we asked the front desk at our hostel. They did not seem to know. So, our quest to find out if these places are legit (especially because I wouldn't mind a $30 back rub) shall continue into tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Sydney

I have been anticipating this day for quite some time! Going to New Zealand had been on my bucket list for as long as I've known what a bucket list is. So, in January, I decided to book a trip there to celebrate passing the bar exam. This booking was likely premature as I hadn't even taken the bar yet and was due to get my bar exam results right around the time I was set to head to the Southern Hemisphere.

I'm happy to report I did indeed pass the bar exam! Thankfully, this trip can now be celebratory (vs. it turning into a me-crying-on-the-plane fest).

Since I was heading so far anyway, I decided to swing by Australia, too, and started my trip in Sydney.

I spent my departure day taking my mom out to Mother's Day at Seva restaurant. I feel so lucky to have been able to spend the day with her (and even luckier that I got her for a mom).



Plus, she understands that when you have vegan brunch, you can never order just one thing!



 After brunch, she dropped me off at the airport. I was hoping the food coma I was currently entering would help me fall asleep on my flights.



 The first leg of my flight (Detroit to Los Angeles) was really smooth. Although I don't think my neighbors enjoyed it too much, I was able to watch a Naked and Afraid marathon (much to my seemingly 80-year-old row-mate's chagrin).

My lay-over in LA was super easy. My arrival gate was right across the hall from my departure gate (score for not having to drag carry-on bags through the terminal!). Another score for the flight not being full. I thought I was going to have my own row for the LA to Sydney leg, but right before we pushed back, I got a row-mate who took the window seat. Drat. Luckily, the middle seat between was still open. Unluckily, he snored the entire flight. There weren't strong enough earplugs in the world to drown out his mouth-breathing and sleep apnea.

I am now convinced that if I ever own an airline (likely), I will ban passengers who snore.

I also had the coughiest neighbors I've ever had the joy of sitting near. Between the woman behind me and the woman to my right, the flight was pretty much 15 hours straight of coughing. I thought for sure that eventually they'd fall asleep and stop the assault of everyone else's sleep. Nope! The one woman, who literally sounded like a cat puking up a hair ball, kept at it the whole flight. Points to her for consistency, I suppose. And points to them both for syncing up their coughs so I got the sounds of cats vomiting in stereo.

I don't think I've ever wanted to douse myself in echinacea so badly.

I did manage to score some frequent flyer miles. I had called ahead (twice) to ask Delta for a vegan meal. Well, when dinner time rolled around, turns out they had forgotten it. So, to make up for it, they gave me enough frequent flyer miles for a domestic flight. Hey, I'll take being hungry for free travel any day of the week. Good thing I packed nearly my weight in Clif bars just in case something like this happened.

I also got to watch indie foreign films. I didn't watch nearly as many as I would've liked as I wanted to spend some time sleeping, too. But, I did catch "I, Daniel Blake," a U.K. drama about poverty and the fight for dignity, and "The Murdered Memory," a Dutch psychological thriller that reminded me a bit of "Girl on the Train."

Along for the trip was my good buddy (and fellow comedian), Keith Lenart. However, since Keith and I couldn't get on the same flight, we met up at the Sydney airport. While I was waiting for him, apparently, I saw a famous actress exit the airport since there were a ton of paparazzi there. Immediately upon her departure from the customs area, they snapped pictures like mad. I'm not sure who the actress was, and when I asked the elderly man next to me, he simply replied with a smile and a wink, "that's our prime minister."

Not long after PM Hollywood made her exit, I saw Keith. We both agreed we weren't feeling too tired and or jet-lagged, so we made our way into the city, found our hostel, dropped our bags there, and then got tickets to the Hop On Hop Off bus. Keith even talked us into a $10 discount. Score! 



Unfortunately, the tour didn't have much commentary, but we did get to see a lot of gorgeous sites. Sydney reminds me a bit of Seattle in that it's a newer city, and it seems fairly green with a lot of parks and trees. You can definitely feel the British influence (especially when you see signs for the "lift") with little English-looking pubs and quaint, old-style buildings.

Some pictures from the bus:



Our first stop: the world famous Sydney Opera House.



The building is pretty spectacular up close, and we both enjoyed looking at the architecture. We also reminisced about our time at the Oslo Opera House.

Some views looking out from the Opera House:


After the Opera House, we decided to head back to our hostel to "take a nap."

7 hours later, we finally woke up! Eventually, unable to sleep more, at 1 am, we decided to walk around Chinatown, which is close to our hostel. We're currently staying in Thai Town, so we explored there, too. We explored for a few hours before eventually trying to get to bed at 4 am.



Hopefully, by tomorrow, we'll be caught up on sleep so we can see more of Sydney!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Myrtle Beach, vegan calzones, and massage chairs

Last week, I got to perform at one of my favorite clubs: the Carolina Comedy Club. Not only is it in Myrtle Beach (hello, warm weather!), but the staff and local comics are simply awesome, and I've always had such a great time whenever I've gone down there.



Against my better judgment, I decided to do the 15+ hour drive there all in one day. Wow, did that ever hurt. Luckily, Wednesday's crowd was a lot of fun, so they made it worth it! Plus, I got to work with Adam Hunter, who I really enjoy.

That's him on stage:


Plus, my friend, Jim (who I met a couple years ago at the club) came to check out the show. I hadn't seen him in a while, so it was great to catch up.
Hello humidity (working a number on my hair)!
Despite having been to Myrtle Beach several times previously, I had never got to the actual beach. So, on Thursday, I set out to do just that! I took lots of pictures of the boardwalk, and even contemplated going on the ferris wheel. But, I figured that the Seattle ferris wheel gave me my fix of heights for a while, and ultimately decided against it.


I asked where the first was. They did not know.
I also discovered the awesomeness that is Mellow Mushroom. I had no idea they had vegan cheese! So, of course, I had to get a calzone the size of my arm.
I'm not telling whether I ate this all in one sitting.
After lunch, I met up with my buddy, Dennis Bellamy (a local comic who I met the first time I worked the club), and we hit up the mall.

More vegan treats were had.
Don't mind if I do.
We also went to Brookstone, where we sat in the massage chairs for entirely too long. Note to self: get rich in order to afford the $5,000 sticker price of these babies.



Over the weekend, I did more exploring. I checked out the Vereen Gardens, but I didn't stay too long, as I was convinced I was going to encounter snakes, whom I'm deathly afraid of. It was definitely pretty while I was there though.




I also went to the Horry County Museum, which tells the history of the Myrtle Beach area. It was quite interesting, and in one exhibit, I actually saw a tv/DVD player that I still have. That's right: Kate Brindle does not own a flat screen. Nor cable. And I have no idea how to use SnapChat. Call me old and out of touch (you wouldn't be the first).

The rest of the weekend was a lot of fun. More shows with more cool crowds, and more hangs with Dennis, Jamie, and the other folks at the club. Oh, and did I mention they make a drink with Swedish Fish in it? I may or may not have helped myself to quite a few of those.

On Sunday, I left bright and early, which called for some sad faces.



Until next time, Myrtle Beach. Thanks for the awesome time!