Saturday, April 7, 2012

Playing Hooky

I really shouldn't try and write after I've been drinking - even just a little bit of wine with dinner, as my last short post shows, but I'm going to attempt to say the stuff I wanted to say then.

I've had a lot on my mind of late, what with running, challenging myself, changing jobs and all sorts of other things, it was time to get some clarity. For me, this meant getting out of Melbourne and playing hooky for a bit - but not too long as I have responsibilities - I have Glen Waverley's cat to look after for one. Also, as I'm still waiting for the paperwork to come though on my new job, the joys of large telecommunications companies and their lack of communication, it looks like I'll be having another week off - which suits me just fine.

Struck with the fact that I have a couple of weeks up my sleeve, the first thing I wanted to do was go away. Then I looked at the funds. And I looked at the funds again. And looked at my responsibilities, thought of the fact that I still have some stuff on in town and that I still haven't validated my passport and being Easter meant that a trip abroad was out of the question.

But it didn't stop me getting away for the night and paying hooky.

Using some Frequent Flyer points I obtained a return flight to Sydney. I also got onto a last minute accommodation website and found a decent hotel room at a bargain rate even for booking it the night before I left. They have some great mystery deals - so taking up the mystery offer, I was thrilled to find myself staying at the five-star Shangri-La Hotel for the night - something I never thought I'd do. Over the years, I've heard many things about this hotel and it's miraculous views of the Sydney Harbour.

Arriving at reception, I was chuffed to find out that I'd been given an upgrade, a harbour view room. This was what was out the window.
Along with a great view, a huge bed and a lovely big bath, being smack in the middle of the Rocks area of Sydney walking distance from everything.

Playing hooky has its advantages. No agendas. No responsibilities. No timetables.

I checked out of my life for 24 hours.

I told  precious few people where I was going. I was looking to go see the Picasso Exhibition at the Art Gallery, but stupidy forgot to check the  dates to find that I'd missed it by a week. I had a mooch around the gallery regardless visiting some wonderful, peace-inducing art. That was the first port of call after lunch.

The great thing about the Rocks is that there are all sorts of restaurants for the sampling. Rather than living on sandwiches and chips as I tend to do on holiday, I went up market. A lovely lunch of duck done a number of ways at a place called Baroque with great harbour views started things off nicely. Washed down with glass of wine and some macarons for after, I was more than happy - though the macarons weren't quite to the standard of my mararon shop down Hardware Lane in Melbourne.

 This is the first time I've been to Sydney without a real reason. I've been up for work a few times, visited friends on a number of occasions, did the City to Surf last year and that's about it. Sydney's never been a place I've liked that much, the killer humidity being a large factor in this, the brashness, the rudeness and the general melee just get me down.

This time, Sydney had a lot more to offer. Wandering the Rocks, taking in that this was the place that white Australia came into being some two hundred and twenty years ago, padding around the streets that would have been trod by all sorts, convicts, soliders and freemen alike. I was lucky with the weather too - a bit breezy, lovely and sunny and just a joy to wander around the streets with no plans in mind.

Dinner was taken at a Belgian Beer Cafe where a pot of mussels was had with one too many glasses of wine. Padding back to the hotel, I traipsed back through the streets to find a much needed holiday ice cream before returning to my room. After a long, deep bath and a good read and I was ready for bed.

This is where the Reckless clip comes into things (see last post). Ever had a favorite song for over twenty years? It's a song that has so many memories attached to it, it's a song that makes me sit, reflect and feel. Shoving my iPod on the docking station, cranking up the sound, there was something very, very surreal about watching the Manly ferry skate into the dock below. A feeling of the time continuum cracking came over me - tears streaming down my face, sitting on the window seat in the dark, watching and reflecting.

Maybe hearing this song all those years ago somehow lead me to this place, perched above the city, watching, checked out of my life, waiting for things to change. There was a feeling of completion about the moment. And a wish that I was sharing it with somebody.

The following morning it was off for a run, much needed after the indulgences of the day before. Strapping on the runners and the heart rate monitor I started on my planned route, somewhat annoyed that I'd left one piece of equipment home - the second level of industrial scaffolding needed to tame my breasts when I run. Setting a gentle pace, I walk/ran from Circular Quay, round the Botanical Gardens to Wooloomooloo and back again.

The run, albeit short and to overly fast, was dedicated to Caballo Blanco.

The runners around me have had quite a bit to say about his death. A man who embodied the quintessential runner. A man who demonstrated everything I know and love about running, especially the zen side of it that I bleat on about. The man was a legend. That he died on a run, doing something that he loved, is a blessing. The fact that they hauled his body out of the canyon to be picked over, autopsied and disposed with in a clinical manner - not so good.

If anybody should have been left to run off into the morning to be never seen again, Caballo Blanco was the man. Let him rot where he lay, the the coyotes and vultures have him for carrion. Let him blend back into the wide open spaces he loved so much. Don't dispose of him with the indignity of modern clinical indifference. Don't sing him off with hymns. Let the legend remain, the white horse that floats around the backwaters, to turn up on odd occasions free from any tethers.

Rest in peace, Caballo Blanco. Your legend will live on.

Coming back to Circular Quay, it was time for breakfast. Holiday breakfast of Eggs Atlantic and a big coffee with some charming breakfast companions.
After breakfast, another long bath spent reading my book (The Hunger Games - the book is fantastic - the movie not to much) I checked out, dropped my bag with the concierge and proceeded to spend another few well spent hours looking around the Powerhouse Museum.

Returning later in the afternoon, a decent steak lunch at Circular Quay restaurant, I made my way back to the airport for the flight home.

The 24 hours taken out of my life left me peaceful and rejuvenated.

It's something I hope to get the opportunity to do again - especially if I'm lucky enough to score a similar hotel room.

Right, I'd better get to spin class - burn off some of the indulgences of the Sydney trip.


Elisabeth said...

What a wonderful thing to do, Pandora, 'play hooky' for a day. And although you include the thought here that it would be wonderful to share this experience with someone else, I wonder about that. Not that it would not also be pleasurable, but in a different way.

I suspect you notice more when you are alone and this post arises as a consequence. You include such wonderful details, and so beautifully expressed.

Joy and a touch of sadness intermingled. Thanks.

The Elephant's Child said...

I am really happy that you had this treat. Being kind to yourself is something that so many women (me included) find hard to do.

The Plastic Mancunian said...

Hi Pand,

Sounds like a great trip. I remember the Rocks area of Sydney - a great place to hang out.




River said...

A great way to play hooky. I might try something similar the next time I take a week off work. A few days at Vicot Harbor sounds nice....

River said...

Damn typo.....

Jackie K said...

Sounds wonderful - good move.
I did this once years ago from London, took off to Tintern in Wales for 2 days without telling a single soul, and loved it. LOVED it.
Glad you enjoyed it.