A Travellerspoint blog

Sunshine Coast on my shoulders

What you have to understand girls, is that Stuart is a Capricorn


Saying goodbye to Jane in Sydney meant saying hello to Rebecca in Brisbane. Rebecca and I worked together on Mackinac Island in Michigan three years ago, and she made the silly mistake of offering to meet me if I ever came to Australia.
Note: I take people up on those offers. You have been warned. As Annie in Bulgaria learned, there is no location too remote.
Rebecca and her family generously offered to let us stay with them in Redcliffe, outside of Brisbane. And since she has weekends off, she proposed a little roadtrip around the Sunshine Coast on Saturday and Sunday. So we set off bright and early on Saturday, starting with the Eumundi markets. It was raining pretty steadily but that didn't affect us much as we wandered under the tents and awnings.
In addition to the market staples like jewelry and art prints, there was also a whole section dedicated to psychic readings, tarot card readings, reiki, massage, etc. That was kind of cool. For some reason I can never convince Gina to get a reading though.
Afterwards we set off for Noosa, a famous beach area and national park. We had lunch in town and drove up and down in the car a few times before we finally found parking at one of the quieter beaches. It was still sprinkling off and on and the sky was flat and gray but the view was still amazing. The sand is fine and it slides out gently into the ocean, with some rocks just at the edges of the bays.
Then it was on to the Buderim Ginger Factory, which was a lesson in branding. Much like Coca Cola or Cadbury, the ginger people took what was an unremarkable factory and turned it into a huge tourist attraction. There are tours, cafes, a whole village shops, a little mini locomotive and a boat ride. If something was made from or resembled ginger in any way, you could buy it there. We didn't do the rides as they were expensive and geared towards children (same with the factory tour) but we did pick up some lovely ginger beer.
Isn't it marvelous? My friend Karen and I have a thing about having our picture taken next to huge things. We call it our World's Largest Collection. We took a few pictures out front before a man walked up and offered to take one of all three of us. When he finished we said thank you, and he commented that the pineapple was still open for a few more minutes? To which I said "You can go inside??" and took off. The giant pineapple was build by a growers association and the inside has dusty little dioramas educating the masses about pineapple farming and packaging. The little people were a bit creepy but the cool part about going inside was that we could come out of the top and stand by the stem.
Did you know if you plant the top of the pineapple it will grow into a new plant? Well maybe not in Michigan but somewhere warmer. See how educational this blog is? Lookitchoo learning and stuff.
It was raining again by that point so we messaged our Airbnb contact and asked if we could check-in early. The man, whom I will call Raymond, said yes of course, come by whenever you like.
I had booked an "entire home" option on Airbnb for Buderim because the price was friendlier and there was more availability than Noosa. But I guess I didn't expect them to be home. Gina said that whenever she has booked the entire home option on Airbnb the hosts are gone and they just leave you the key somewhere. This was not to be the case. It was a bit awkward. Raymond ushered us into his home, which was clean and spacious and lovely--he had even built a fire in the living room. But the awkardness was palpable. Raymond is a negative nancy. He sat us down in the living room and chatted with us, but it felt like every direction that Gina tried to steer the conversation in, he found a way to drag it way down. Also, I'M TIRED OF HAVING TO ANSWER FOR DONALD TRUMP.
Currently, when people hear you are American, they want to know three things:
1.) What is up with Donald Trump? Is that for real? (Please god no)
2.) Do you all have guns? (no)
3.) Is House of Cards based on reality? (please god no)
So to boil down that conversation, he doesn't like Australia but he doesn't like his native New Zealand much either. The things he liked he can't do anymore because of his age and his health. All Americans are trying to shoot each other. Thailand is crap. He has two sons but they don't have their acts together. Then his partner Lynn came home, bless her. Raymond is probably in his mid-sixties, pretty strapping and tall with white hair and a tan. Lynn is the same age, a little slip of a woman, with a thick gray bob and elegant clothes. At first she seemed very meek and Raymond seemed to walk all over her but as the evening wore (dragged) on we noticed she actually had lots of control over the situation. What she did not have control over though was the wine. Raymond must have had a few glasses by the time we all finally sat down to dinner, and his filter was nonexistant. Unfortunately for Rebecca, everything was aimed at her. I just sat back, bemused, as he repeatedly proclaimed that she would be perfect for one of his sons (we were confused as to which one). Lynn was embarassed by this, and Raymond responded by shouting, "What! He needs a good girl! Instead he's out running around with those floozies!" He complimented Rebeccca on her hair a few times, asked about her job, her father's job (he asked us all about our fathers' jobs but not about our mothers'. Telling?) her eating habits, before giving her a brief lecture on the healing powers of asparagus. "It will fix everything!" he said, "I guarantee it! Canned, fresh, it doesn't matter! I even eat it raw! I love it! Tell you what! In the morning, I'll go out and buy-"
"I can buy my own asparagus," Rebecca was finally able to say, but Raymond just huffed and sat back in his chair. "Yeah well. You should. It'll fix you right up."
"What you have to understand, girls, is that Raymond is a Capricorn," Lynn said from the kitchen. "And a Capricorn has to call the shots."
We went round and round a few more times, us refusing offers of ice cream between Raymond sizing Rebecca up for a wedding gown, (and getting more obsessed with her hair) before we were finally able to retreat to our rooms. I was bursting to jot all of this down, and would take a good story at a home stay over an unremarkable hostel bed any day. Unfortunately for Rebecca, breakfast was more of the same. Over bacon and eggs Raymond repeatedly beseeched us to stay as long as we liked, but as we backed out the door and to the car we said thank you so much but no, we have plans to drive around again today. Plus we needed time in the car to jibe poor Rebecca with comments about her future in-laws. She took it like a champ but I think she was really glad when we were finally on the road again. We drove to Kondalilla Falls outside of Montville, on the Glass House Mountains tourist drive. The viewing point from the bottom of the falls was closed due to falling rocks but we could still climb down to a viewing area towards the middle where the falls form a pool and then stream off again over the cliff.
A few brave souls were swimming but the day was chilly. After the falls we drove to Montville itself, which is an adorable little mountain town of basically one street lined with shops and cafes. We had lunch at the Poets Cafe, which was stunning. It was classic Australian architecture with a sort of art nouveau interior, complete with marble cafe tables and long verandahs looking out over the valley. We loitered around Montville for a while before driving to Mary Cairncross Scenic Reserve, which is a huge nature reserve to preserve some of Queensland's rainforest. That's how far north we suddenly are guys: there's rainforest.
Due to the sensitivity of the flora and fauna you are only allowed to walk on the path, but it wound for a few kilometers past some of the coolest trees I have ever seen. The ancient fig trees are taller than my camera can ever communicate, with winding roots and trailing vines that make them look like something from Lord of the Rings. We saw a red-legged pademelon (rainforest wallaby) and hundreds of huge fruit bats throwing a fit up in the tree canopy. They had to have had a two foot wingspan. It was a little unnerving, listening to them shriek and flap overhead.
We had driven almost full circle by then, so the drive back to Redcliffe was only about an hour. Rebecca's parents treated us to a lovely dinner and then we collapsed from exhaustion. It's evenings like that that make me fall behind on my blogging--because when you finally crawl home the last thing you feel like doing is stitting down to type. It's pretty obvious when that happens because I don't read back over anything and just publish it, typos and all. English major shame!

Posted by Chloeah 04:44 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Adieu to Port

whale watching and shrimp on the barbie: last days in Port Macquarie

Time has crept up on us, and suddenly we're staring at our final days in Port Macquarie/Telegraph Point.
Tuesday we stayed at home and did some odd jobs around Jane's. Sadly it took me twenty minutes to screw in a lightbulb (the first person to make a blonde joke gets a pinch) but I chalk that up to ladder troubles and weird Australian light bulbs (seriously).
Jane made us shrimp on the barbie! Really Australians call them prawns not shrimp, but both Jane and Adam knew we would geek out over the cliche. She also made sausages, steak and lamb chops, as well as several salads and Sydney oysters.
I made a meringue for pavlova, which is an Aussie fave. You make a meringue the size of a dinner plate with a dip in the middle and then once that is cool you spoon berries, passion fruit and fresh cream into the center. It's light and airy and simply delightful. I was pleased with the way the meringue turned out because Megan and I tried to make pavlova last winter but there was some seepage issues with the meringue due to a typo in the recipe. Note Megan that pavlova is super easy and super fast to make. And it looks like you are super fancy!
We also cracked open Gina's Cadbury with Vegemite chocolate bar, which Adam refused to taste, Jane and Gina hated, and I thought wasn't bad. It kinda tasted like salted caramel chocolate. I woudn't buy one but it's not the horror show we thought it would be.
Thursday was our last full day and our last chance to finally go whale watching. We would have loved for Jane to come (she has never been! Why do we all never tour our own towns? I think every single one of us is guilty of that. Staycations, guys!) but she had to work. By 8:45 we were on the dock, not exactly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, slugging coffee and struggling into our lifejackets.
In retrospect, our first warning was the boat seats that looked like saddles. Our second was the big steel "oh shit" bar in front of every seat. They put the youngest people at the front, so Gina and I were in the second row, aka the area that gets air on every single wave. It was rough pretty much from the start--the day was iron gray and the water choppy--and we rode huge waves all the way out into open water. Right by the Town Beach we passed a pod of dolphins. It's lovely how often you can see dolphins here.
This was the best pic I could get though. It was not a great day for pictures. Which was just as well, as we were both gripping our oh-shit bars pretty tightly as we rose up out of our seats and caught air on at least every fourth wave.
Our guide was a swarthy old sea captain type (eee!) but we couldn't hear a single thing he said back there. We were too busy getting sea spray in the face and trying to remain at least in our seat area, if not on the saddle itself.
It was super fun though. Exhilarating! Though while Gina's reaction was to laugh uproariously and say again and again, "I love it! Oh, I love it!" Mine was to giggle and involuntarily squeal "no!" every time we rose up. Because that is the scariest part. Like on an amusement ride, you pause for a milisecond as you rise up, long enough for all of your guts to clench before the boat slams back down on the water. I really had to trust in the sea captain as it seemed like we were really getting tossed around and a tiny boat like that shouldn't be going that fast on such huge waves? But what do I know. I trust him.
It was a little eerie once we got way out there. Shore was a shadow way back in the distance and every once in a while we could see a pinhead rolling around on the horizon that was a huge fishing boat, but other than that it was just us and the whim of the seas. It was still steely out and started to rain, so you really felt your insignificance out there, bobbing like a lost toy. They cut the engine and you all sit and wait for the whales to come play, WHICH THEY DIDN'T. Poo. The first time we stopped the boat and sat we saw two of them--that is, we saw their backs and dorsal fins swimming away from us. Then we tried several more spots according to old sea captain's experience and knowledge but all we saw after that was a tail.
See that flat spot right in the middle? That's a tail. It was more obvious in person but yeah, still disappointing. Still it was worth it just for the boat ride. Also did I mention that the tour was THIRTY FIVE DOLLARS?? That's Australian dollars! That's about twenty five American dollars! A steal right?? Whale watching in the States is in the hundreds! From Sydney it's over eighty, and over a hundred in Queensland. And some of our backpacker friends did a whale tour from Port Macquarie and got excellent whale action, so I know they are active up this way. We just had a sad rainy day when the whales were in the doldrums and didn't feel like playing.
That night we were all pretty quiet at dinner. Adam and Jane were super excited for Adam's wife Clare and their two small kids to come back from three months in England in less than two days, but they still had a lot to do to prepare. Gina and I were just weepy about leaving. Friday morning we distracted ourselves with packing and cleaning and doing odd jobs around the house. We arranged some fresh flowers for Clare and Adam's side of the house and finished some last minute laundry. Peppercorn staged a sit-in on both of our piles of clean laundry. I think he will miss having his own harem of women to snuggle with all night.
I got stung by a wasp as one last "screw you" by the most dangerous continent. Or what I hope will be last. Then too soon it was time to drive with Jane to Sydney. She and Adam were driving separate cars to pick up Clare and the kids, so we were piggybacking with Jane to the Sydney airport to catch a plane to Brisbane. (Australia is simply huge and as we don't have a car, the cheapest way to get anywhere is almost always to fly). It wound up taking us quite a while because of traffic and a long, longing lunch, plus a few laps around the airport due to some unclear signage, but I'll venture to speak for both of us when I say we didn't care one bit. It meant more time with Jane. How on earth are we supposed to say goodbye to such a fast friend and soul sister? Especially when Australia is close to NOWHERE? She said we are always welcome at her place, and she is most definitely always welcome at ours (wherever that may be), but we selfishly want her to come with us NOW. She's our Aussie angel and great fun, and I feel like a better person for every day that I spend with her. We kept telling her that we weren't leaving, we were just popping back to the States to get our stuff, then we are moving in. And I wish that was true.

P.S. Speaking of shrimp on the barbie and other super-Aussie things, there was something I forgot to mention in the scuba graduation post. Dive masters wear a knife somewhere on their suit--divers can get tangled in kelp or nets or whatever--and we were teasing Rick about the foot-long dagger strapped to his calf. He said that most divers wear a blade the size of a pocket knife but for him, he needed a "real knife." As he said this I was literally clenching my fists, willing him to say the words. For those of you who know Crocodile Dundee, you HAVE to know what quote I'm talking about. In my head I was like ohmygodsayitpleasepleasesayitthisistoofunny but alas! He danced around the exact words but didn't say the quote exactly. Still it was damn close and just proves what Gina and I have learned ten times over by now: the Australian cliches are all true and they get MORE true the farther away from the tourist circuit you get. Jane at one point tried to dispel the myth but she has kookaburras, kangaroos and echidnas in her backyard and Adam used to be friends with Paul Hogan's son, there is Vegemite in the cupboard and there's a host of other delicious Aussie cliches in play right at her house so she can't even talk. They're all true guys!
(Thats not a knife! *pulls out huge machete* Now THAT"S a knife!)

Posted by Chloeah 03:28 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Scuba graduation

Rays, dolphins, whales or two Americans struggling for air?


Some of you may recall my first post about Scuba. Thank you for your concern, I have regained my composure. Emotions were running high that day ;)
But we finished! Rick took us back out on the Monday after we got back from Sydney, this time we dove off the Lady Nelson Wharf in town. The ocean was looking rough again that day and, not wishing to trying the whole vomit-into-your-regulator maneuver, he graciously took us to calmer waters. Port Macquarie is nestled where the Hastings River meets the ocean, and the wharf is near that mouth. This lesson we got to try the leaping method of water entry, where you basically walk the plank with many kilos of gear on. This plunges you into the water like a whale and then you bob up like an empty bottle IF you've pre-inflated your BCD.
The riverbed was only about four meters down but it served our training purposes. And we got to explore the underwater wonders of shopping carts and lawn chairs and the creatures that have made them their home. The best part was the baby octopus living in a canvas lawn chair, who basically gave us the finger as he crawled away and under a shopping cart. There were also electric rays, which disguise themselves to look like sand, so that was worrisome. The hardest part of that dive was trying to hover or move in a specific direction without touching anything, from the sand (with its potential rays) to the wharf itself, which was coated in sharp oysters.
The best part though was surfacing. We had to practice skills at the end of the dive, and the final one was for Gina to pretend she was out of air. She had to signal me that she was out of air and we had to grasp each other's BCDs while she unhooked my spare regulator and put it in her mouth. Then we surfaced together, both breathing off of my tank. This all went fine, but then when we all three broke the surface it was to a lot of shouting, followed by clapping and laughter. There was about twenty tourists (mostly Asian) leaning off the wharf looking at us, taking our picture and shouting in foreign languages. A local told us later that they could see something moving down below, accompanied by a lot of bubbles. There was wild speculation that it was rays or dolphins or a whale (In four meters of water?), until we dashed all hopes by surfacing as three measly homosapiens in neoprene. I'm happy we messed with them though. That was fun. I'm sure the pictures are less than ideal...
Our final dive on Wednesday was also in the river, but still a saltwater tidal area, so the current was kinda crazy. Once again the ocean was being fussy in the morning so Rick chose a safer spot. Given our first dive, Gina and I were not about to argue. I never want to repeat that feeling again. So this time we just walked into the river from a residential beach area he would only refer to as Secret Spot X.
This dive was also uneventful (in a very good way) and enjoyable. The wetsuit is binding to say the least, and it basically pushed my boobs into the area where my lungs should be, so I can never inhale fully. You really are wearing a corset with a freezer strapped to your back and all sorts of shit strapped all over. But you get used to it. A lot of it was a mental game for me--I had to remind myself that yes I have air and if I just breathe slowly and as deeply as the gear will allow then I will be fine.
We tooled around on the river bed, where Rick found a pearl the size of a marble and we were constantly started by flathead, which look like mini-sharks to me and try to hide themselves in the sand. Then right when you are almost on top of them they fly out in front of you in a panic, which is very startling. We also came across some antique bottles down there and an anchor which we were unable to dislodge from the clay and what may have once been a metal office chair. Such bounty, eh? When we surfaced it was quite a ways down the river, but we just trudged back to the ute with all of our shit. Rick shook our hands and said congratulations, we are now open water dive certified. He even said we did quite well! I obviously did not mention my blog rant. Let's change history and say that we did the whole course with grace and aplomb. Gina hummed the graduation song for quite a while as we dismantled all the gear and stowed it in the ute. If anyone has any desire to get dive certified in Australia (which was cheaper for us than in the US) then I highly reccommend Rick's Dive School in Port Macquarie. If he can get us from sputtering baby manatee status to dive certified, then he can help anyone.

Posted by Chloeah 00:24 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

Three Sisters out on the town

Night out in Sydney and a weekend in the Blue Mountains


By Friday Jane was finally able to join us in Sydney. Gina and I spent the morning drifting through Newtown again, ogling shop windows and taking it easy, and we met Jane for an early dinner at The Grounds of Alexandria.
For those of you keeping track: Gina was previously moving to Valparaiso, Patagonia El Cobre, and Melbourne, but I think now her mail can be forwarded to The Grounds.
I just asked her how she would describe it and she said the following:
It's everything I want in life
It's just.... it's just.... (hand motions indicating she "just can't even")
It's everything I want in life (again)
It's like Pinterest exploded.
It's just the best. Including the flannel.
It's everything I want in life.
So there you go. Blog post done! I will attempt to be clearer than my sister. The Grounds is a lot with a group of cafes and event spaces. It pretty much is like Pinterest exploded. There is a coffee shop, little adorable food carts, a florist, even an area with a pig named Kevin Bacon and several poofy chickens. It specializes in adorable. The website can probably illustrate better than I can http://thegrounds.com.au/
We made reservations at The Potting Shed, which sent Gina into literal spasms of wonder and joy. For those of you who have seen Sense and Sensibility (the good version) and know that it is our sister movie, I had to deal with her sitting there at our table like Elinor when Edward Ferrars finally corrects that mistake at the end. Get it? She was beside herself. I loved it too but we all know I don't emote outwardly as strongly.
We treated ourselves to a lovely night out, sharing dishes and indulging in artisan cocktails. Naturally I had the Old Fashioned but it was certainly the fanciest Old Fashioned I have ever been presented with, and one of the tastiest. They even had a wheelbarrow outside with a fire in it and free marshmallows for roasting as you left the restaurant. How cute is that.
Afterwards we took a cab uptown to the Sydney Opera House, where we took Jane to the Bell Shakespeare production of The Tempest (I would have liked an opera as I have never been but there were none on that weekend). Still it was very wonderfully done, especially the comedic bits.
Can you tell we're just giddy? After the play we walked to the Shangri-La Hotel, where Jane in turn treated us to even fancier cocktails. I don't remember what they were called (there was a bible of cocktails for the menu) but Jane's had quince preserves, Gina's had whipped egg whites, and mine required dry ice. The Blu Bar on 39 at the Shangri-La is up on the 39th floor with a full-on view of Sydney Harbor, complete with the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House. It was stunning. We were up there for quite some time, just taking in the atmosphere.
In the morning we had to say goodbye to Rick and Jenny and Princess Churby, then Jane drove us up into the Blue Mountains. The Blue Mountains are named that because the gum trees (eucalyptus) emit a certain kind of gas, which from a distance makes them appear blue and hazy. Cool right? We drove all the way to Katoomba, a few hours from Sydney, where we could see the valley and the Three Sisters.
We saw them from this side, then we hiked down and around to the "Honeymoon Bridge" that crosses over to their base. The number of steps and their treachery brought back some memories of Peru.
Three sisters at the Three Sisters! Adorable right? Jane is like family to us already and we are not at all prepared to give her up.
We wound up spending the night at the YHA hostel in Katoomba. The original plan was to drive out to Jane's friend's house but we were all just too tired (still exhausted from our bacchanalia the night before). We ate dinner at a pub in town and then crashed, with both of them falling asleep on either side of me in the bottom bunk during the first 15 minutes of a movie.
The next morning we had brunch in Leura, which is an adorable town also in the Blue Mountains. It has lots of nice shops and quaint little cafes, including a chocolate shop that had a chocolate model of the Game of Thrones throne in their front window (about two feet tall). Then it was several hours back to Telegraph Point and Jane's wonderful house, which already feels like home (Jane, fyi we are moving in). We were, as Jane always puts it, "just shattered." Being a tourist is exhausting. It was lovely to be back again though, after our busy week in Sydney.
Guys. Soooo......this happened. Two months ago Michelle sent me a link of these incredible Nutella donut milkshakes sold in Sydney, and you bet your cotton britches we made that happen.
Jane even had one, and the consensus was that we're glad we did it, but if we were to have one again we would definitely have to work up to it. It's not the sort of thing you can have just anytime. And perhaps the Nutella donut would be better paired with a strong hot coffee. But delish, to be sure.

Posted by Chloeah 02:17 Archived in Australia Comments (0)

You pick it, we will cook it...

Sydney fish market and Darling Harbor


So this happened. Look at it. It's gross. All gooey and stuff. Is it embedded in your brain yet? Good. Leave it there. We will come back to THAT.
Thursday we stopped at the State Library of New South Wales for a bit, and on the way we literally ran into a parade celebrating 100 years of women in Australian policing.
The library has some nice little exhibits, the best of which were original sketches by Beatrix Potter and original designs by Jorn Utzon, the architect of the Sydney Opera House. What surprised me when we took the opera house tour was that his drawings and sketches were submitted with no real plan as to the actual building approach. It took many years for them to figure out how to actually construct it. I would have thought that any submissions would have real blueprints behind them, and the math already all worked out. Shows what I know.
Before arriving in Sydney, we were told that the Circular Quay area was basically Sydney's tourist central. We disagree. Yes there were a few buskers and that's where the harbor tours and whale watching tours all depart from, and there are tons of people gaping at the opera house nearby, but it wasn't anything like the touristy areas we've experienced in American cities. Then we walked to Darling Harbor. Sydney is a bit awkward to traverse sometimes because it has so many harbors, with all of these little fingers of land jutting out into the sea, both from "above" and "below."
Darling Harbor is south west of Sydney Harbor (Circular Quay), and it is where they store all of their tourists. It was a bit chaotic, with a tiny zoo (damn you Sydney Zoo and the confusion you create), aquarium, wax museum, maritime museum, a mega mall, IMAX, etc. etc. etc. all crammed along the shoreline. There is a big bridge across the middle, and a marina too. It is bright and haphazard and I didn't mind that we didn't spend much time there. We crossed the bridge to walk across that finger of land to the Sydney Fish Market for another stop on Gina's Sydney Food Tour: Vic's Meat Market.
So who goes to a fish market and eats a pork sandwich? Anyone who isn't crazy. It was fantastic. We split it, because in our efforts to find Vic's we walked through the rest of the market and saw many other tempting things. Also many things I didn't even recognize. What is a "bug"? It's like a stubby lobster and looks like it should be extinct.
So we went halvsies on a item from this stall, an item from that one. We discovered the heaven on earth that IS lobster mornay (I'm lookin' at you Grandma, you would have loved it), which is half of a lobster with some sort of creamy goodness topping the lobster mean and cheese broiled on top. It got a little graphic trying to rip it out of the shell with only a plastic fork though. We also ordered scallops from this little stand in the middle of the market, effectively arming this sweet little asian girl with a blow torch. The shell is filled with white rice, cheese and scallops, topped with roe. She fires it until it is all nice and melty and then you struggle to also scrape that out with a plastic fork.
There's also tons of sashimi, every type imaginable, sliced right in front of you. But what G and I were intrigued by were the huge tubs of sea urchins, each one the size of a cantaloupe, their long spines still moving. Then we saw someone with one on a plate. Now. Do you remember the picture from earlier? Good.
Because that was lunch. Sometimes the I-wil-try-anything-once approach really bites you in the ass when you wind up choking down sea-goo and an aftertaste of evil.
Food show people! Isn't sea urchin touted as this heavenly gourmet item? They make soups and stuff. Lies. We went to a large stall that advertised "you pick it we will cook it" and Gina requested one sea urchin (we learned from the guinea pig tragedy to only order one of something when swimming in new waters). "And do you like, cook it or whatever?" The chick said no, you eat it raw. And ONLY the yellow part. Well alrighty then. Sashimi doesn't scare me, so that wasn't the intimidating part. The intimidating part was, after she halved it, removed the teeth, and wrapped in on a plate with cling wrap, it was still moving. There were long picnic tables in the back, crowded with families-mostly Japanese-having lunch, most with a few plates of sea urchin in front of them. We crowded into a bench and stared at our victim as it wriggled on the plate, spines waving accusingly. It had to be muscles or tendons just contracting, I mean it was split in HALF. We tentatively peeled off the cling wrap, trying to keep the thing on the plate, which Gina brushed her hand against a spine JUST BARELY and shrieked like she had been bitten, then started laughing uncontrollably in embarrassment. That's how tense she was. The Asian family next to us were laughing at us.
It was gross. I can get past the texture, which is firmer than Jello but not as tough or chewy as liver can be. The taste was somewhat like poached egg yolks gone slightly bad with a bit of brine. Want some? Plus we had to pry out the yellow parts with our chopsticks, away from the rest of the insides, and the thing never stopped moving the whole time. It was barbaric. The blessing was that there was really only an ounce or two of yellow in the whole thing. I made us eat it all. It wasn't good but by god we were going to do this, hysterical or not. But then we suffered through the aftertaste for several hours before we finally broke down and ate something else just to try to replace it.
That night we cooked dinner for Rick and Jenny as a thank you for letting us stay. Of course they are just lovely people and their apartment is gorgeous and Churbs is just the cutest so our karma debt just grows and grows. Once again we don't want to leave.

Posted by Chloeah 13:23 Archived in Australia Comments (1)

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