<<  Manly & Cronulla, 24-May-2013  >>

2 x CouchSurfing

Manly & Amu - BBQ, cliffs and first surfing in Australia, Cronulla & Krystle & James - guitars and fun, fun, fun

After the initial 3 nights in the hostel in Sydney I spent next 2 x 2 days/nights CouchSurfing.
My first host was Amy, American born daughter of Czech father and Japanese mother, who previously lived in Korea, South Africa and Georgia… and now she lives in Australia. This is what I call cosmopolitanism!
Amy lives in super tiny room I Manly, which is part of wider Sydney and occupies a tip of peninsula which forms northern part of the gate from the Pacific Ocean to Sydney’s harbor and can be reaced by half hour ferry ride from Sydney. Manly is quintessential Australia, Australia as I have always imagined it: looooooong beautiful beach, public beach volleyball courts right on the beach, surfers all over the place and free public barbeques facing the ocean. We went to make BBQ on one of these great extras provided by Australian government and municipalities, and heck a giant piece of steak has never tasted better than at this beautiful place. Strange thing about Australia is that while vegetables, and basically everything is incredibly expensive, beef and lamb meat is pretty darn cheap. The price of 1/2kg of lamb of beef costs as much as 1kg of potatoes or 2 yogurts. So having a barbecued steak is cost saving option of lunch!

In the morning I ticked off another “must-do” of my life: surfing in Australia. Well, it was pretty lousy surfing, I’m not even sure whether I should call it surfing, but well, I paddled around and had few moments of standing on the board. The problem was that the waves were not so much beach break than shore break (and now only Samo, Janka and Lukas know what the hell I’m writing about…) so it was not really smoothly surfable without risking having my neck broken by the shore dump. Whatever, I sort of surfed. Check.

But there’s more in Manly than just beach, surf and BBQ. The whole town has certain charm, but above all, it’s surrounded by magnificent cliffs. Thanks to Amy who showed me around, and on the second day walked with me a cliff walk of almost 20kms I had amazing views over the Pacific and beginning of Sydney harbor. And I even spotted a whale from the cliffs. Yeah, I can imagine spending couple of months in Manly, just like Amy who had come for few weeks but has spent here already 6 months.

In the evening, while I was waiting for Amy to get back from her work I went to a bar, had a beer and suddenly a young guy came to me, said “I like your jacket. I’m Mark, from Scotland” and he handed me a napkin with some number hand written on it. So I asked what it was and he said “That’s my phone number”, winked and sent me an air kiss. And so I got my first gay offer :-) I think he would be disappointed if he knew that the next day I used that napkin for wiping my nose.
Just few minutes later two mid-age mens sat next to me and we started talking and somehow the topic drifted to surfing, so I mentioned that I went surfing in the morning. One of them asked what board had I surfed, so I told them that 7’4” Malibu (Malibu is one of the types of surfboard, shorter version of longboard), upon which he lifted his eyebrow and asked: “Are you heterosexual?” Jesus, did I accidently go to a gay bar or what??? So I told him I was heterosexual, and then he told me “Don’t surf Malibu. Take a longboard”. What is gay about Malibu I did not manage to find out :-)
Those 2 guys turned out to be ex-soldiers who had both served in Iraq and Afghanistan. On this topic, one strange thing about Australia is its weird obsession with war. It’s really ridiculous that a country which was never directly involved in war on its own land, except for some bombing of northern Australia by the Japanese during WWII is so obsessed with war. There are historical and not-so-historical cannons and howitzers situated at every other lookout, despite the fact that they had never been used, ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) memorials are more frequent than McDonalds and they even sell ANZAC cookies. Sure, few thousand of Australian died in WWI and WWII, but they have here more war monuments than in Slovakia, with all its communist military-crazy history. The two guys, ex-soldiers, also found this Australian army obsession very stupid.

After 2 days/nights in Manly I moved to the southern suburb of Sydney – Cronulla, where I found another couchsurfing hosts – Krystle and James. While Cronulla has also its lovely surf beach, it is by far not as cool as Manly, but the 2 days with Krystle and James were the best 2 days in Australia so far. Krystle, a big traveler, has unbelievable amount of creative energy which bursts out of her. She weaves and knits (!) sings, plays guitar, recorded few songs and made a bunch of crazy youtube video, some of them pretty psychedelic :-) She is like embodiment of all muses turned into crazy jack-in-a-box.
In the evening she and her boyfriend James took me to a dinner/party to her sister’s place in Sydney. The two girls, as they told me, grew up in rough-and-wild small country town somewhere inland, and so are very boisterous (boisterous, that’s exactly the word Krystle used). After some wine, great risotto, bong and few games of pool (they had a pool table in their apartment) we played Uno, card game which I had last time played maybe 20 years ago, and every single turn was accompanied by loud “Here cunts!”, “Eat this, motherfuckeeeeers!” and “Hah, BITCH!” by Belle, Krystle’s crazy younger sister. It was really hilarious to watch and listen this completely “inappropriate” language in use :-) It was a great night, except for stepping in a dog shit while playing pool (WTF?!?) as their spoiled puppy Bronx shitted all over the place and even around the pool table.
Staying with Krystle and James was a quintessential CouchSurfing experience. They really made me feel at home, shared lots of their stories and interesting life milestones with me and hosted me with wonderful generosity and trust. Thanks Krystle and James, it was awesome!

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     MARCEL STRBAK | www.strbak.com | www.facebook.com/marcel.strbak