Posted by: Rebecca | March 28, 2012

Ferry, ‘cross to Manly…

Manly was on everyone’s recommendations list for Sydney, so day one, I decide to hop on the ferry. As you’re probably gathering, my preference is not to plan or go in a group – I much prefer to just wander round, hop on a bus / ferry / tram / train and see where it takes me. I don’t know if this is because I like to be master of my own destiny, or whether I just can’t be bothered with the fuss of “where are we going today?” “what shall we do today?” or trying to cater for multiple agendas. Call me selfish, but I’m on holiday and don’t care!

So with no idea how long the ferry took, what I’d find when I got there etc, I took my bikini, my camera and my credit card – what else could I possibly need, right? The ferry’s pretty chilly but I want to see what’s going on. There’s a local-looking dude sitting on one of the benches outside, so I brave the breeze and plonk myself down on the next bench. Within minutes, a family of about 30 arrive and try to squeeze themselves in to the 5 remaining seats on the bench. Dad (?) then gets up and wanders down the deck to see if there are more seats further down (“Excuse me, sorry, may I just get past? Thanks, sorry…”) and finds there are. He thus calls back to the rest of the group to follow him down (“excuse us, sorry, thanks, sorry…”) only to find there aren’t actually enough seats to accommodate his clan, who subsequently traipse back to where they were before (“sorry, may we just get back past…”). On sitting down, they then decide it’s too chilly to sit outside and want to retire indoors to the coffee shop. To do this, you guessed it, they have to get past me and the dude beside me… (by this point we just swung our knees round as they stood up, rather than waiting to be asked.) Once safely indoors, I decided to make conversation with the dude next to me and asked “do you think it was something I said?” He merely replied “Na, I don’t think so.” And took a phone call from the bloke he was apparently going to Manly to meet. End of conversation. So, with the exception of the 4 bokes I met at the GP (who were in Melbourne at the time), so far, I’m not finding the Sydney Aussies anywhere near as friendly as the Melbournites. But it’s early days.

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We arrive in Manly after about 30 minutes, and dock at the wharfe – pretty, busy and lots of people all waiting to cross the road – clearly something’s worth seeing over there, so I tag along and follow the masses. On the other side, we reach a single esplanade of shops (known as the Corso) which runs perpendicular to the beach. At this point, I’m on the phone to a friend and the conversations is intermittently interrupted by my sighs of “oh no, there’s Qwiksilver” and “bugger, there’s a Roxy too…” and I anticipate that my card’s going to get severely bashed today.  But I decide that, whilst the weather is good, I should first make the most of it, so I restrain my retail tendencies and head straight to the beach.

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Now given that, at home, my local ‘beaches’ include Whitby, Scarborough and Filey, anything with clean water and light fluffy sand is a good step up, and Manly doesn’t disappoint. I’m still on the phone at this point, and the retail interruptions are now replaced with “wow – I’m finally on the beach again, yay! And “look, there’s the sea!” and “oooh, I have to paddle!” etc. At this point, whether through envy or boredom, my friend suddenly has to go and I am left to bask on the beach. So I cop a squat, lay out my sarong, load up Aphrodite on the iPod and pass out… Bliss.

A  couple of hours later (and yes, I did turn over!) I decide that’s enough sun for my fair skin, and pack up my things and head back up the corso. The temptation is great, but despite looking in Roxy, Billabong, Rip Curl and Quiksilver, I settle to just purchase a new bag. It’s functional (I do need it, really I do) as it’s got a soft strap (the bag I brought with me digs into my shoulder after a while and becomes uncomfortable) and it’s only $20 so isn’t breaking the bank. (Is that enough justification? It’s only $20 after all!) I also think logically – the shops here are big chains and, in prime location, are bound to be charging over the odds for everything.

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So, happy with my new bag and unusual willpower, I head back to the wharfe and celebrate with a beer. As I wait for the next ferry back, I suddenly realise where I think I am – remember the scene in Finding Nemo, where there are all the seagulls sitting on the harbour shouting “mine mine mine mine…”?  I think I’m there!

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The ferry back was far better than the one out – partly due to the lack of “excuse me, sorry…” and partly because the view as the ferry sails into Sydney harbour is spectacular. If there’s one way to arrive in Sydney, it’s by boat. It really is beautiful. So camera clicking, I take plenty of shots and do the courteous thing and offer to take numerous photos for other couples who want to be in their shots together. I’m building quite a repertoire of different ways to say “would you like me to take a shot of both of you?” “shall I do the honours?” etc. Had I done all this 6 months ago, that’d have made me feel sorry for myself, as I’m not doing all this with someone. But now? It gives me a sense of doing something for someone else and it’s a great way to make people smile / laugh, when they hand over their camera and I tell them to say something rude or stupid (generally gets a giggle and usually a better photo).

So. That was Manly. In itself, little more than a parade of surf shops and a lovely beach, but the ferry ride back makes the trip worthwhile, no doubt.

Tomorrow – it’s birthday time!!!!!

ttfn /Boxy xx

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