Tuesday, January 20, 2009
COOGEE - A GREAT "DEFAULT"
In our travels, when we picked out cities to visit it's been because they were either of historical or cultural significance or by their nature, exotic to us. Dubrovnik had its beauty. Moshi, Tanzania had the point of being an African city. Luang Prabang in Laos because it was, duh, in Laos. We picked the Sydney area of Australia out of default because this IS where you go in Australia. How many people visit Australia and say I stayed in Canberra (sorry Kevin), or Melbourne (sorry Vince) or even Perth? Nobody. You visit Sydney. Of course.
Our decision to plant ourselves in Coogee was also by default. I had a place reserved on Sydney Harbor but Barbara decided to break up with her “manfriend”, move to Melbourne and take her condo off the rental market. Same for Carol, whose place in the Northern Shores town of Narrabeen was pulled because her husband took a job in a different Province. So I had to scramble last May to have a place in this area during the “high” season of January 2009. The default place was in Coogee, on the shore, east of downtown Sydney. I expected a “default” type of place because it wasn't a “Harbor” neighborhood, or a place on the North Shore. No “default” here. Coogee has turned out to be a great community.
First off, it is a beach town. A small beach town. We are staying in an apartment building like many others here, probably built in the 1960s. We can see the Pacific in the distance from our balcony. These apartments were built years ago to house Coogeeites, not necessarily travelers from elsewhere. Ours is the only unit of six for rent for “holiday”. There are no new high hotels springing up to handle the tourists. It's a town built for locals but is somewhat filled with vacationers because of high season; probably not dissimilar from our beach towns on Cape Cod. It has that small town feel of regular small businesses, restaurants and some souvie shops. People seem to be speaking to each other in restaurants like they have known each other for awhile. The grocery store is one you walk in from the street without a large parking lot being present like our Krogers in the US. This place has the feel of Lake George in New York state with its old town charm. And it has Coogee beach.
Yes, the beach. If you listen closely to your computer with the sound turned up you can hear the waves. We aren't close enough to get this sound all the time but it's ever present as you near the beach. The beach here is doglegged into Coogee Bay with nice white sand bookended by large rock formations. There are also no rocks or pebbles in the water requiring water shoes. The waves here are big and powerful and will knock you down more times than not. We had a front go through the day before yesterday and some of the waves were eight footers. The expression Av, Si and I use is “My Gawd, it's a Pipe, it's a Pipe,” reminiscent of the surfing expression “Pipeline” mentioned in competitions from decades ago on ABC's “Wide World of Sports.” We of course say this in our brilliant Australian accents learned from watching “Crocodile Dundee”. What I really need are the cheap Thai and Chinese massages after being in the waves for a couple of hours. However, I do feel like I've taken off forty five years when I'm playing in the waves.
This was no default. This is where we were supposed to end up.