Sim also invited me to a girls’ day at the races! Getting all gussied up was pretty fun and watching horse races was a whole new experience! Sim even brought me a fancy headband because she said you can’t go to the races without something in your hair. This is when I learned the term “fascinator” for those funny feathery things the ladies wear in their hair at the races. A day at the races is a great excuse to get dressed up, drink lots of champagne, and make silly bets based on fun names (I was too chicken to bet)! My favorite horse name, of course, was Dancing Diva, but it didn’t win. With my luck, that’s to be expected! That’s why I don’t gamble!
Also, we scored our chairs by crashing a bachelor party and Sim sweet-talked them! So the bachelor with the “Bride To Be” sash insisted on being in our group pic. What a fun, silly day with Simone, Haley, Jess, and Johana!
After being in Manly for only two weeks (way back when now!) I was invited to our friend’s baby shower in order to meet a bunch of gals. It was a blast and I met some great peeps. Among them was this really awesome teacher who sought me out for my accent. Simone. She claimed she just loved Americans and was instantly asking if we could hang out could she take us on some road trips. And my response, of course, was yes please!
So this was our first road trip with Sim. She took us on a beautiful drive down the coast to the Scarborough Hotel. Winding along the coastline and looking up and down sheer cliffs, it reminded us a lot of Big Sur. It was gorgeous, and oh so nice to get out of the city! Five of us in a tiny Toyota was a bit squishy but oh so fun! Our crew consisted of the two of us, Mike, Sim, and Sim’s friend, Johana, from Colombia!
The last pic is Sim and me at the baby shower.
To start December off right and get in the Christmas spirit best we could despite the very unchristmaslike hot weather, we did the Santa Fun Run! There was no Black Friday to partake in, so joining a group of 4,000 Santas to run from Darling Harbour to the Opera House while singing Christmas carols, was the next best thing. And it was pretty awesome! We’ll never forget he one size fits all Santa outfit, ripping the excessively low crotches trying to run, and sweating profusely! It was quite memorable and a very fun way to kick off the holiday festivities!
Despite being so sad to miss Thanksgiving for the first time ever, we sure enjoyed cooking our very own Thanksgiving dinner! We had 8 for a traditional sit-down feast, 5 Americans and 3 Aussies. By the end of the night, however, we had fed about 15 people! It was all those years watching Mom, Aunt Jacki, and Aunt Jeannine slave away in the kitchen! They always make it seem so effortless and easy. Boy am I glad I was able to learn from the best! The turkey rocked! It was so moist and the process was fun to learn about- from a tiny oven and cooking in Celsius to basting times, foil tents, and sewing its legs closed with dental floss (not the minty kind, of course!). We had the whole spread: delicious, moist turkey, garlic mashed potatoes (even though I didn’t have fresh purple taters from my pops’ garden), green bean casserole (I FINALLY found fried shallots in the Asian section at the store to substitute for the fried onions), sausage and cherry stuffing (inspired by Aunt Jacki), gravy, and cranberry sauce (more like cranberry jam) that I recooked with cinnamon to make it taste more spiced like Mom’s. Eric was a super helper with all the prep and cooking too. It was so fun to do together! Two of the other Americans who joined us are friends of our flat mate. Coincidentally I ran into the girl at the store a few days before when she noticed the items in my basket and asked if I was American and making Thanksgiving dinner. We chatted briefly but didn’t introduce ourselves, and sure enough she showed up for dinner at our house and brought amazing candied sweet potatoes! The couple was a blast, and they invited us to their Thanksgiving feast two weeks later! To finish off the fantastic feast, we had the BEST, if I do say so myself, pumpkin pie EVER! I had gone on a serious scavenger hunt to every store in a three mile radius trying to find the right kind of cooking pumpkins for pie since canned pumpkin doesn’t exist in Australia. I found two I thought would work and decided to use both and mix them together. Cutting up pumpkin into pieces to boil down definitely takes the absolute longest of all the Thanksgiving preparation! I would definitely do it again, but Costco pumpkin pie is not only faster, but quite delicious as well. I was damn proud of my two pies though! By the end of the night, all the Aussies were pumpkin pie converts and we’re saying they couldn’t wait for the next Thanksgiving feast. Success! It was a wonderful ‘Yank’sgiving Thanksgiving!
*For dinner we had our flat mate, Chris, his friends, Lisa and Tyler, my friend Christie (I met her while looking at apartments to rent), our friend Sarah (the gal who helped Eric find our place to rent–she lives in the same building and is now a very good friend of ours), and our friend Mike who came over from the states to work for Eric. Later that evening we fed many more friends of our flat mate.
So there aren’t a lot of mountains to conquer around the Manly area, but we do enjoy going “bush walking”! There is one 6 mile hike/walk that goes from Manly to the Spit Bridge that has beautiful views, fun beach stops, and even some cool aboriginal petroglyphs along the way. I loved finding these because it reminded me of French Meadows. I would love to go up to them again and do a rubbing like I used to do with Mom, cousin Meg and Aunt Hannah! Luckily, we have not had any run-ins with snakes or any other creepy crawlies either! Eric and I enjoyed the hike together and did it again when Mike got into town (Mike was sponsored by MINDBODY to come to Australia and sell as part of Eric’s sales team). Fun times!
There was a massive week-long celebration in Sydney commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Australian Navy. There were Naval ships from a variety of nations docked in the harbour for the week in addition to tall ships cruising around Sydney and Darling Harbour. These are my favorite because they look so cool, but every time I see one I can’t help but think it’s a pirate ship! Thanks Pirates of the Caribbean!
Submarine in the harbour
Tall ships (pirate ships!)
We explored Darling Harbour where they had naval ships open to tour, but we were too cheap to do it! Instead, we walked around then decided to take a ferry back toward Circular Quay. We got off the ferry at the first stop and decided to walk across the bridge to enjoy the views of the harbour! As you can see in the pictures, there were SO many boats out on the water to see the ships, to watch the naval air demonstrations, and to get a good view of the upcoming fireworks. We had a great view and enjoyed watching the air rescue demos from the bridge. We were trying to burn a few more hours until the fireworks show so we decided not to stay on the bridge to wait four more hours, but we should have!
Walking to the bridge!
Walking across the Harbour Bridge!
Naval rescue demonstration
view from the bridge
Naval air demos
We stopped at the local German restaurant we really like and enjoyed a refreshing liter of delicious Franziskaner beer!
We headed toward the botanical gardens, thinking we could stake out a good spot but they had them completely closed off…of course. We found a grassy area where we were certain we’d be able to see the amazing fireworks that were to come. We hung out and played cards for at least three hours just waiting for the fireworks, and of course when it finally came time for the show to start, we couldn’t see squat! We saw maybe 4 fireworks. Every place we tried to go in order to be able to see them was blocked off and there were heaps of people everywhere (the Aussie way to describe a lot of anything…heaps)! It was a total let-down! I was not very happy with Sydney after waiting all afternoon just to see what I had heard was going to be one of the most spectacular fireworks shows. I suppose we need to do some serious research about New Years so this doesn’t happen again!
View from our grassy waiting spot–waiting for the fireworks that never showed up–you can see one of the white tips of the opera house in the lower right
Naval ships lit up on our way back to Manly on the ferry
The air displays were very cool. Good thing the company was good the rest of the day!
More to come!
We have not begun to travel much outside of Manly and Sydney yet, but we have grand plans to! We live in such a great place, so it has been really fun to spend time together and enjoy all the things that living in Manly has to offer…great views, beautiful beaches, scenic walks, gorgeous sunsets, cool bird life, and a pretty warm ocean!
View of Manly Beach from atop a local hotel
Catching some rays and playing cards on the beach
Cold beer and a gorgeous sunset!
What a beauty!
Sunset from our balcony
Sulfur crested cockatoo
Rainbow lorikeets in the tree in front of our house
The infamous laughing kookaburra!
Tidal swimming/lap pool–these are pretty cool and are scattered all along the coast
Manly is a lively yet quaint beach town that attracts locals and tourists alike. The town and the beaches alone attract large crowds, especially on weekends, but there are also popular events that take place that bring in huge waves of people. The Manly Jazz Festival is one such event. We attended a few of the free concerts on the four stages they had set up through town!
As I was walking on the Corso one day, Redfoo (formerly known as the guy that belonged to the group LMFAO) was shooting a music video because he liked the Manly vibe and the Corso location.
Music video being filmed on the corso
More to come!