I'll admit I've fallen down lately on the blog posts so here's to a fresh start. I'll be tracking progress on the runs here, showing some of the beautiful sights around Sydney that I've seen on foot. Plus asking for donations along the way. Please sponsor me at www.cantoo.org.au click on sponsor participant and type in my name – Natalie Romig. Instructions will come up for you to enter your details. The ultimate goal is to raise at least $1,250 for cancer research...and hopefully pick up a new PR at the race in September.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
I'm tempted to say that the best thing about Sunday is not waking up to an alarm. I'm training now for a half marathon with a group called Can Too, a not-for profit fundraising organisation for cancer research. And although the people running in the group are great and provide motivation through all the training sessions, my body is still getting accustomed to a wake up time of 6:45 on a Saturday. So, without any alarm this morning, I woke up to a sunny, winter day in Sydney and ran to the Botanic Gardens and Opera House.
Sunday, January 31, 2010
Funny that the only dives I've done outside of my diving certification course have been in Australia. My first two were off the Great Barrier Reef when I first traveled through Queensland in college, though neither was as exciting and terrifying as my latest dive with grey nurses. It definitely wasn't my idea as I hadn't been diving in 8 years. Full of anxiety and a bit panic stricken, I had more nerves about diving again given the time lapse than I did about the sharks. It still takes me a while to get used to the thought of breathing underwater and I was feeling pretty clueless about the equipment and the whole process of preparing to dive (had to put together my equipment when we arrived and it was a bit precarious). After hearing the low rates of attacks with these sharks (a meager 2 deaths in AU), some internal debate, and assurance from our dive coordinator 'Rotten Ronnie' I finally agreed to dive with the guys.
Amazing, exhilarating, surreal! We dived in two locations, Latitude Rock and a place called the Baitgrounds that were teeming with sharks. During the first dive I was just starting to get my bearings when I saw a shark about 6 feet long swim by nonchalantly. Soon after, we were holding on to a wall of coral to prevent from being thrown in the current where there were 4-5 sharks swimming around -- what I've been calling the shark pit. These grey nurses were so chill and kept to themselves, gracefully maneuvering through the current. The second dive produced some more anxiety as we had to swim along the kelp at the bottom of the ocean floor where numerous hefty sharks swam above us, shooting menacing stares now and then but swimming independently above. There's safety in numbers (or so it seems) so it wasn't until I was hanging out soley with my dive buddy that a shark swam 10 feet away from him and I made the executive decision to go back to the boat. There was so much to see underwater -- sea turtle, jellyfish, eagle ray, blue groper but the sharks provided the real rush. The underwater pics are taken from the net but are very similar to the greys we saw.
I joined the ranks of over 500,000 people that called in a 'sickie' earlier this week to take advantage of the Australia Day long weekend. Australia Day celebrates the colonisation of Australia, which first occurred in Sydney with the arrival of 11 ships full of convicts in 1788. The impression I've gotten so far is that Aussies are just now starting to embrace their convict past and it was a source of embarrassment for a long time.
It was my first national holiday in Australia, a great day filled with meat on the barbie, beer and the beach. With 4 days free, I went to Blueys Beach north of Sydney with a handful of friends. We rented a beach house with a gorgeous view and had a wonderful getaway.
So there are lots of beaches in the area we stayed and it was a nice change from the hordes of people you find on Sydney beaches like Bondi. But the true highlight -- diving with sharks! More to come but let me just note there was no cage, there were grey nurse sharks 6-9 feet long and I definitely was stared down by more than one shark.
Monday, November 2, 2009
Sydney's got a GREAT restaurant scene and my friends can attest that these words mean a lot coming from my mouth. When you grow up in New Orleans, it's inevitable to become a food snob. Just thinking about dressed po-boys and crawfish etouffee at the Galley, Jacq-imo's rabbit tenderloin, and Galatoire's crabmeat au gratin makes me homesick. And even if you don't love heavy, rich food, the service spoils you so that you can make rash decisions (like choose not to frequent a restaurant for 20 years if say, a waitress over pours your sweet tea and you have to mix the drink again to get your sugar:tea ratio just as you would like. I may be related to one such person.)
Although the food is great here, the service isn't always set to the same standard as tipping is optional. I found it very difficult when I first arrived to get a straight answer on how much to tip -- "It depends on the service," or "however much you like." This was frustrating as both a customer and a waitress. And it begged the question -- how much does tipping count? Because Americans are very prone here to overcompensate for their 'American-ness.'
For example, I was at brunch with two American friends, a girlfriend visiting from Denver and a girl that recently moved to Sydney from Jackson Hole. We ordered shortly after sitting down. Only after an hour of salivating over other tables' meals, mumbling under our breaths whilst trying to make light of our hunger pangs, and dealing with an absent and unapologetic server, did we confront him about our lost food. Indeed it was lost, he had forgotten our order which he haphazardly admitted. He continued to put off our inquiries and kept over-promising the food delivery which took roughly another half hour. We had already threatened to leave at that point -- really, our food was already being spit at in the kitchen so what did we have to lose? -- but, we continued to wait somewhat patiently and joke with the waiter so not to be perceived as 'those obnoxious Americans.' He didn't get a tip from us, but in the end we waited an hour and a half for eggs and toast without calling a manager or throwing a fit. Job well done, some might say. Or maybe this whinging online is just my way of showing my true 'American-ness.'
Monday, October 5, 2009
Nearly 2 weeks ago, I woke up in Sydney to an eerie, red sky. Along my walk to the CBD, the sky was a reddish gray, dust particles flew everywhere and a "cloud" had descended on Sydney with a foreboding permanence about it, as if to show us what life could be like in a very polluted Sydney.
The truth is that New South Wales was hit by the most massive dust storm it's experienced in 60 years. Similar storms are typical in Australia's interior but rarely travel this far east. With eight years of drought and record temperatures that had baked outback soils dry, the outback's topsoil was easy to transport. Some estimate that nearly 1 million tons of topsoil were deposited in the Pacific Ocean as a result of the storm.
One of the bigger questions raised has been regarding the dust's toxicity. Australia conducts nuclear testing and uranium mining in its vast, desolate interior. Although pollution levels significantly increased following the storm, scientists have argued that the dust won't pose health concerns as it came from a variety of places, any levels of uranium would have been diluted, etc. It's not a hugely comforting thought, however, it's an eye opener that we're all part of one big ecosystem. The damage from the storm is still being assessed. This will take a toll on Australia's agriculture, yet there are predictions the "dusting" of the sea and ocean could have positive effects. Here are some pictures from that morning found on the Sydney Morning Herald's site.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Running in a new place whether you're on vacation, just moved or running an unfamiliar route, enables you to see things you often miss when traveling by car. It's one of my favorite ways to explore a new city. There are great running and walking tracks all along Sydney's coast which makes it easy to sometimes lose yourself and feel like you're in a small town instead of a thriving city of 6 million. The recent races I've run in help put Sydney's population in perspective. The City2Surf 14K last month had a record 75,000 people registered, starting in the city and ending at Bondi Beach. The winner crossed the finish line before I even started the race! This last race pictured here is from the Sydney Running Festival which has a distance for everyone. There was a marathon, half-marathon, 9K and 4K. My flatmate even had a chance to ride his bike alongside racers in wheelchairs. The highlight -- the Sydney Harbour Bridge is closed for the race for everyone to run across. Wish I could claim I did the marathon but I ran the 9K, a gorgeous run through the city with a course that weaves through the Botanic Gardens and a finish line that all racers cross in front of the Opera House. Running across the bridge was amazing. The only downside is I miss the beer trucks and bananas on race day....