Friday, 21 March 2014

My Perfect Mystery Weekend

We were at a birthday party, sitting at the head of the table, side by side. It was his turn to speak. About me. He said, we’re going to Sydney tomorrow.

I looked at my glass. And drank it.  

It’s a shopping trip, he said. But it wasn’t really. It was time alone. Together. Two souls co-joined by oceans for not much less than half a century. Away. Childfree.

More people spoke. About a blond I didn’t know. She sounded all looks and no substance. The girl next door. And later, I should have stood up and talked about your story. The story about your brother. It made me cry, I should have said…

We danced in the living room till late. Then got up and packed.

Then there we were. And there we weren’t.

We were in Sydney. At the Crown Plaza Coogee Beach (cuh-jee), with a balcony and beach view to the north. And a chip packet under the bed.

It was 60 hours.

Starting now. On a suburban beach with an enormous Lusi leftover swell. We watched foolhardy bodysurfers spear tackled by the dangerous shorebreak. It held them down and exfloliated them. Spat them out. We got in and out unscathed. There goes age and experience. 19 degrees of refreshing.

Night one - we ate room service, I had sword fish on cous cous with orange salad. He had the beef burger with beetroot. We were rocked asleep by the Tasman, at 8.30 local time. Tuckered out. Salt water dripped from his nose. 



We woke to a radiant sky. The water sparkled over the land. Sat outside café Barzura was like being inside a diamond. Princess cut. Pure brilliance. Sun rays reflected at every angle. Even off the man who appeared wet from the sea in his budgie smugglers and went upstairs to yoga at the Livingroom.

I should have ordered organic coconut water $5 but I had a skinny flat white instead and house muesli with berry compote and vanilla bean yoghurt. Then a postprandial stroll south along the cliffs. 

To the women and children only baths. McIvers. Put 20 cents in the box. Wear swimmers. A woman was doing downward dog on the steps. It was a crazy high-tide. To swim right then in that ocean filled pool would have been a dice with disaster.

Wait half an hour, said a damp woman, drying her folded flesh with a pink towel. I brought my husband in once. It was winter no one was here. He was dying to have a look.

Mine waved from the cliff above. 

We taxied to town. The H needed a wedding suit. She was the best sales girl. A visitor from Hawkes Bay. We got the pants, the Russian Blazer, the Russian blue pants that went with the blazer, a shirt and a belt. He looked hot. It was mix and match heaven. At Callibre, Third Floor, David Jones.

In the basement food hall, we bought half a kilo of king prawns, a huge juicy mango and grapes. And went back to our beach.

Night two - We ate in, with the back drop of hotel pool and golden blond beach beyond, serenaded by waves and an Irish song mix on Fox. It was St Patrick’s Day, 17th March, 2014. 

The tide turned. Life went on.

To another jewel encrusted seaside Barzura breakfast: banana porridge with sultanas and toasted coconut.  Then straight to the beach to sunbathe in a 10am Sydney autumn sun and a dip in the old briny. Bob. Both bobbing in the dying swell. On our backs, toes to the east. Smiling.

We had a lunch date at 12.30. 6 kilometres north at Bondi. We walked the coast. Past beaches and ocean pools and an imposing clifftop cemetery from: Coogee, to Clovelly, to Bronte, to Tamarama, arriving at Bondi on time. 

Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun. It was 28 degrees.

We were ushered to our window seat at, Icebergs Dining Room & Bar, with its uber cool ocean ambience and its waist to ceiling louvered windows, framing the surf break beyond.  Quietly we drank ice cold soda with a wedge of lime, as the fresh breeze dried the sweat on our backs.

We watched the roll of the ocean and the lap swimmers in the Icebergs ocean pool below. Then we ordered chargrilled tuna with cuttlefish, celery orange and pine nut salad. Prawns with pistachio and almond crust. And Bloody Marys; because we could. It was divine.

We talked about growing old. I don’t have a bucket list, I said. I think they’re dumb. I just want to do loads of good shit. 

Finding the perfect woman was the only thing on my bucket list, he said. 

We had our last swim back at Coogee. Almost towel to towel with other tourists at 3pm. Then we played tennis at our hotel, until the grip-less tennis racket made his palm raw. 

Night three: We hoofed it 15 minutes up the hill, inland to Randwick, home of the Art Deco cinema, The Ritz. And wall to wall eateries of every nationality.

We watched the Dallas Buyers Club. Not exactly old honeymooners fare perhaps, but a film that needs viewing all the same. It was still warm outside walking home in the dark.

We departed early the next morning. The beach was already covered with boot campers, surf lifesavers running drills and ocean swimmers in a dim morning light.

It was 60 hours in Coogee. Together. It was heaven.

NB. Ever since I tried to photograph a semi submerged hippopotamus in a greasy green river in Kenya while on safari in 1990, I've fancied myself an intrepid travel writer. You can read more cool travel tales on: #TravelTuesday
Happy travelling!

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