challenge: a to z of travel

I visited my luvverly friend Bron’s blog a few days ago, and found this (via Andrew Petcher) and I thought “Holy A to Z Batman, I’M gonna do that too!!!”.

So here it is! My A to Z of travel:

A: Age at which you went on your first trip abroad

I would have been about 11. My folks took me to the UK for a 6 week jaunt through the countryside. I remember one night when we were staying in a B & B (a converted barn near some woods – very quaint!) I couldn’t sleep because something was plaguing me; I got up, went to see my parents (who were enjoying a glass of red wine by the fire) and asked “Does Santa Claus really exist?”. They were a little drunk, and didn’t hold back on the truth… Sadface.

Something else I remember about this trip was having a glass of orange juice on the flight between Singapore and Heathrow and throwing up all over myself. There was a group of high school kids on the plane on an excursion and one of them made a tiny fluffy toy koala for me, to make me feel better. It really helped…

B: Best foreign beer you’ve had and where

ANY beer in Asia is the best. It actually doesn’t matter if it’s the worst beer ever, there’s something refreshing and thirst-quenching and delicious about an icy beer on a sticky, humid afternoon. It’s even more delicious if you’re on the beach, or in a hammock, or both.

C: Cuisine

The most memorable meal we had on our latest adventure was probably at Robinson’s in Croatia. The only way to get there is by boat (or 4 hour hike) and it’s on the most amazing rocky beach… There’s no electricity, so everything is cooked either on a BBQ or in a wood-fired oven (somehow they keep their beers and wines cold, which were equally delicious in the hot afternoon sun!); tables and chairs are set up under the trees overlooking the water. You order your food (freshly caught fish, crabs, prawns, mussels), order your drinks, go for a swim, then you’re called in when your lunch is ready. It was SO delicious and so flipping beautiful…

Our lovely friends Sarah & Ben, waiting for lunch

Some bobbing swimmers

Fish, squid, prawns: nom, nom, nom

D: Destinations, favourite, least favourite, and why

Iceland is definitely up there with the favourites – I’ve never been to the moon (does that surprise you?) but I kind of imagine it to be like Iceland. No trees, just rocks and moss and crazy bubbling pools of mud. The peeps are friendly and wacky and hilarious (and super styling too), and their sense of culture blew me away – I loved how knowledgeable everyone seems to be on their ancestry (so many Icelandians have VIKINGS as distant relatives!!).

Least favourite… Hmm…. Umm… I would say Caracas, and I would say that as a copout. We didn’t actually leave the airport, but had to spend a few hours there on our way to El Yaque. We had NO local money on us, there were no ATMs in the terminal and no money changers (though a LOT of people came up to us, whispering ‘Cambio? Cambio?’. We later discovered that Venezuela has two currencies – the official currency and the black market currency); I hadn’t eaten all day, was hangry and tired and on the verge of a major hissy. After trudging around the terminal we FINALLY found an ATM, got some cash, but when we went to get food, THERE WAS NOTHING VEGETARIAN!!! I settled on a packet of chips and a ginormous cup of lemonade and that tided me over.

E: Event you experienced abroad that made you say “wow”

We arrived in Oslo on a rainy, cold Sunday afternoon. After checking into our hotel, we went for a walk to get some lunch and our bearings. After a salad and a  coffee and a weird pastry near the central train station, we walked further up the hill, turned a corner, and were suddenly in front of a church surrounded by a sea of roses. I’ve never seen so many flowers; the ones closest to the church were brown and withered, while the ones nearest to the street were vivid shades of red, yellow, white. The bombing and shootings at a nearby island had taken place a few weeks prior; I’d had no idea we were staying so close to where the bomb had gone off. Seeing the flowers, the written messages to lost loved ones, the Norwegian flags, the open displays of grief, made my jaw drop. I had to spend a few moments alone after seeing this; it was an absolutely devastating sight.  F: Favourite mode of transportation

Riding a camel through the Saharan desert is pretty incredible. A bit bumpy and terrifying (you’ve definitely gotta trust your camel!!) but amazing when all you can see for miles is red sand and your camels shadow.

camelwalk

G: Greatest feeling while travelling

The greatest – and most terrifying – feeling I felt was not knowing what was around the corner. You get on a plane or a boat or a bus to somewhere you’ve never been (and often somewhere you know very little about) and when you get there, and you see the sights and smell the smells and hear the language and the voices and the laughter – even the cars honking – and it’s really exhilarating. And you’re kinda in the hands of the Gods most of the time as well – you get sick and you miss flights and you can’t find accommodation – and learning to let go of the need for organisation and heaps of planning and all the jazz, just going with the flow, is what makes you a traveller and not a tourist. Don’t you think?

H: Hottest place you’ve travelled to

Like Bron said, Melbourne gets pretty hot (it was 47 degrees a week before our wedding a few years ago); Morocco gets pretty boiling. New York summers are pretty revolteh hot too!

I: Incredible service you’ve experienced and why

Definitely Abel and JC and all the porters on our Inca Trail adventure. Their gift of the gab, kindness, hilariousness, bag carryingness, cake bakingness (not to mention all the other incredible meals we had each day), and (gulp) the whole ‘carrying me down the hill’ thing was really above and beyond.

J: Journey that took the longest

Ha. Definitely the Inca Trail. That counts, right? 42 kms up and down, through sickness and health, hot days, cold nights, squat toilets, bruised toes and ALL THOSE STEPS it was definitely the most epic journey I have EVER been on!!!

K: Keepsake from your travels

Probably this blog. Awwww. And maybe this tattoo on my wrist, that I got on a trip to London when I was 23. I had just broken up with a boyfriend and was having my first ever overseas ALONE trip (I started in Japan, then had a few weeks in London, then had a week in Barcelona – with minimal skillz in Espanol); I decided I needed to document the trip (this was before the days of blogging), so popped into a tattoo parlour in Soho. I met an artist called Dingo, who flat out refused to tattoo my wrist. He held my wrist up to me, like I’d never seen it before, saying “No! I won’t do it! I won’t mark this lily-white skin…” (yes, he actually said that) “… what about your job? What are they gonna say if they see a tattoo on your wrist??? What if you want to go to the RACES???” (I’ve never been to the races in my entire life, and I don’t plan on going anytime soon). I finally wore him down, explaining that it would be inconspicuous, it wouldn’t be garish or bright or over the top, and he agreed. Before he started, he looked at me and said “Now listen darl, if you want to yell and scream and call me a motherf****r, that’s OK. You won’t be the first, and you won’t be the last”. He was a nice fella.

No need for name-calling

L: Let-down sight, where and why

The Amazon. BECAUSE WE DIDN’T GET THERE!!! Does that count?

M: Moment when you fell in love with travel

My first trip with Rich cemented how rad travelling is. My solo sojourn mentioned in K was great, but I struggled a bit on my own (more out of loneliness than any actual struggle). Travelling with Rich has always been easy and fun and having someone to share the sights and food and cocktails with, for me, is the bees knees.

N: Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in

Rich and I had a super lah-di-dah trip a few years ago to the Maldives. It is SUPER cray, yo. Over-water huts, white sand, clear water… you get the drill. We were picked up from the airport in Mali at around midnight, then got in a speedboat (that smelt like frangipanis) and were given refresher towels THAT WERE ACTUALLY TOWELS AND NOT BABY WIPES and bottles of water, and then we sped out into the black night. After about an hour of sailing the high seas at high speeds, the lights of the island came into sight. We were met at the jetty by a man in a golf buggy, who drove us to our hut (which was actually bigger than our house… and then some). There was a plate of antipasto on the table, along with a bottle of champagne and some flowers. Neither of us are hugely into champagne, but we guzzled that baby back, despite the fact that it was after 1am and we’d been flying for over 17 hours. After our champagne and antipasto feast, we took a moonlight swim in our own private SEA GARDEN under our hut which was amazing (but a little bit scary). During the day, puffer fish and baby sharks bobbed around in our sea garden (hence the whole ‘fear’ thang). The staff were divine, the food was amazing, and the digs… well…. I don’t think we’ll ever stay somewhere that fancy ever again, but it was so bloody amazing!!

Are you a postcard? NO! You're a photo from the Maldives!

O: Obsession – what are you obsessed with taking photos of when you travel

Dogs and cats. Hands down. I have hundreds of cat and dog photos. One dog, eight angles.

O hai cat!

Wass that?

Just chillin'

P: Passport stamps, how many and from where

I got a fancy e-passport just before we embarked on le world tour, but I still have a pretty nifty collection of stamps – from the start of my p-port to the back, we have: Indonesia, UK, Iceland, somewhere called Dobova, which I think is in Slovenia and I think we got this on the train, Norway, Singapore, Venezuela, Costa Rica, Croatia, Brazil, Turkey, Canada, Peru, MACHU PICCHU, the USA is in there somewhere too (but I can’t find it – yikes!).

Q: Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where

Blood Manor.

R: Recommended sight, event or experience

Hmmm…. The White Night Hike in Iceland is definitely a must (provided you’re there during summer). Strolling around in the daylight AT NIGHT is definitely rad, not to mention eating soup and cake and drinking wine in your bathers in a hot spring. Do it!

S: Splurge – something you have no problem forking out money for when travelling

I have no problems at all forking out cash for an experience you couldn’t have anywhere else; riding a camel and camping in the desert, learning how to make ceviche in Peru, going for a hike at midnight in broad daylight – spending money on things you couldn’t experience at home is important, I reckon.

Ceviche. I MADE THAT!

And. Food and beer. Not all the time. But I think you’ve gotta have at least one amazing meal in each place you visit, and you definitely need to try the local brew (or wine, or cocktail – whatever takes yo fanceh!!).

T: Touristy thing you’ve done

I feel like it’s kind of impossible NOT to do touristy things in New York. The city that never sleeps is the perfect place to take cheesy photos, eat ridiculous food and immerse yourself in BEING A TOURIST rather than a traveller. Hire a bike and ride around Central Park (and stop to watch some beat-boxers or break-dancers or a weird dance troupe who seem to rely on flexing their pecs and psyching out their minimal audience with intense stares and glares); go to Serendipity3 and try to finish an icecream sundae (you can’t); go to Rockefeller Plaza and pretend you’re Liz Lemon; eat a slice of pizza in Greenwich or a bagel from a street vendor; revel in the accents (“I think that baby lady done want her some SOO-SHI”, said a man handing out fliers for a Japanese restaurant in Times Square, when Eva went to take a pamphlet but decided against it…). NYC is the greatest place in the world to be touristy. Yay!

U: Unforgettable travel memory

We had a stupid amount of fun when we were on le world tour, and I’ll treasure every single second it (even the annoying times were unforgettable), but my absolute favourite travel memory is definitely my birthday in Slovenia. It made my love for Rich multiply by about 80,000 (which I didn’t even think was possible but IT DID!!!!).

V: Visas – how many and for where

Just one. For Brazil. And look where that got us.

X: eXcellent view and from where

When we climbed onto the roof of an art gallery (that had a tree growing through it) in Rio and looked out over the favella, my breath was well and truly taken. In a sea of mostly brown and grey square, squat dwellings, there were blocks of red, yellow, purple and green buildings; I’d liken it to a magic eye puzzle, but I feel like that lessens its awesomeness. I’d also liken it to a patchwork quilt, but I feel like that makes me sound like a derb with no skillz for adequate descriptions.

Y: Years spent travelling

32 (age now) minus 2 (age started) equals 30. From those long drives as a kid to visit family in Queensland to my first time riding a horse on the New South Wales Central Coast, to visiting Beatrix Potter’s house in England (clad in my knitted “people finger” gloves), to espying a tank of baby turtles at a market in Tokyo, to moving to Canada to further my career in the film industry, to moving home again because I was too in love with Rich, to the Maldives and Bali and the Philippines and Vietnam, to…. the world tour. Travelling is definitely in my blood. I’m happy to stay put though… for now.

Z: Zealous sports fans and where

I feel like Y & Z should really be reversed, because Y is kind of a nice point to finish on. And because the only sports fans I encountered were at a baseball game in Toronto, and… well… I was expecting WAY more out of control fandom and I just didn’t get it. Short of singing their teams song, hand on heart, balancing hotdogs and beers and giant tubs of popcorn on their knees, that was about as passionate as they seemed to get…

Do you wanna have a go? You should! Epic list, BUT FUN and a great way to remember past trips… Woot! Let me know in the comments if you do it on YOUR blog!

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so long, cities..

For a while, at least… Yesterday was our last day in New York – and our last day in a big city, probably until we get home. Rich and I are spending the next 8 weeks moseying through Central and South America, doing some jungle treks, enjoying some beach times, and, of course, frolicking with lle llamas on the Inca Trail – woot!!

This morning we had a mega wega early flight, so were up at the crack of dawn – in fact – even EARLIER than the crack. I have been having weirdy insomnia for the past few nights, so that, combined with my usual ‘night before an early start’ stress, meant that I got a whopping 2 hours of shut-eye.

We spent our last day in New York doing something quintessentially Rich. That’s right: we went to the movies. Twice. Saw ‘Moneyball’ (which honestly, I found quite zzz-y and would have much preferred if Jonah Hill was the main character so he could quip it up more often and do power wagging and fist pumping) then ‘Take Shelter’ (which was quite incredible – a little bit M. Night Shamaladingdong but not… I didn’t know anything about it and roolly liked it – 4 outta 5), then we headed back to the East Village for a Japanese dinner.

At dinner, I accidentally-on-purpose overheard a torturous conversation between a mother and daughter. When it started, I found it quite hilar, because it went a little something like this:

Mom: So I was thinking, for your party, why don’t we all go to the salon and get mani-pedis, then come back to the apartment and watch ‘Grease’ and have a Beauty School Drop-Out Sleepover?

Emo teen: But you’re not gonna watch the movie, right?

Mom: No way! I’ll be in the kitchen making popcorn and just making sure that there’s enough food and everyone’s happy!

Emo teen: OK, well, you’re not allowed to watch the movie. And Shelley and Micah and Debbie and Chrissy are all sleeping over and Renee and Sara are coming too but they’re not sleeping over, OK?

Mom: No, Renee and Sara are NOT coming to your party. And Gareth is gonna watch ‘Grease’ with you guys too.

Emo teen: What? Gareth? No way Mom!!!

Mom: Yes way. Gareth is gonna watch ‘Grease’ and then I am gonna teach you the dances.

Emo teen: WHAT??? You said you weren’t even gonna be in the room!! And why are you so desperate for us to watch ‘Grease’ and DANCE??!!

It went on like this for ages. Ages… I couldn’t concentrate on anything Rich was saying because all I could hear was ‘mani-pedis’ and ‘Grease’ and ‘dancing’ and ‘Moo-ooo-ooom’. When they left, the kid was crying and it seemed like the partay was definitely NOT happening…

After dinner, we strolled home, packed everything up, watched a ’30 Rock’ and went to bed (where, as mentioned, I lay awake for the majority of the night).

But it wasn’t all in vain – yesterday morning, in the grips of a nasty case of The Hangries, we stopped for breakfast at a Jewish diner on the Upper West Side. Sipping my coffee and getting stuck into a plate of blueberry pancakes, I espied a familiar face stroll through the door, attempting the incognito look in hoodie and scarf.

I knew he was someone semi-celeb, and I was SO excited that my one and only New York celebrity sighting of Richard Wilkins was about to be eclipsed. But who was it?

In my state of alertness late last night, I googled ‘Comedians who look like Jemaine from Flight of the Conchords’. Unfortunately, my google uncovered no leads… Then… ‘Saturday Night Live’ comedians, because I had a feeling that mebbe he was an SNL regular. And there it was. This guy!!

So he’s not really THAT much like Jemaine, but you can see the resemblance, yeah?

Anyhoo. I’m a bit delirious. We have been in transit all day and have arrived in Costa Rica and are about to get stuck into some local beers and some food and it’s kinda really dark because it’s night time, but I have ALL my fingers and toes crossed that tomorrow morning when I wake up, I’ll see a MONKEY!!!!

Adios amigos xxx

spooky pooches!!

OMG!! I just went to the Halloween Dog Parade at Tompkins Square Park. It was mutha-flippin’ CRAZY!!! People have way too much time on their hands. And I am SO in favour of that!!!

Dogs are hard to take pics of at the best of times, but when they’re dressed as buses or cans of spinach, it’s even harder. Factor in that 80 million people are around you, all vying for the poifickt shot. Seriously, I felt like I was part of the paparazzi!!

Dinosaurus Rex

My highland goatee-oatee-oatee-oatee-oat

Prince William Terrier!!

Corgi bus!! There was a small child with him dressed as a bus stop...

This French Bull-Frog was over it...

The Best Behaved Dog Award goes to... The Fireman

Doggy Gaga

Skelator Pooch

Maestro Dachshund (look at his little feet!!!)

Well, DER, it's Spaghetti & Meatballs dog!!

Mario (his owner was Luigi)

Are you torkin' ta me?

Tim Riggins, is that you??

o my cakeness…

I have just returned back to our little apartment in the East Village from a cupcake baking & decorating class. I love cooking (LOVE cooking!!) but I find I have little time for baking. And I was keen to do a cooking class while in New York. So when I strolled past Butter Lane Bakery the other night and saw that they offered cupcake classes, well, I couldn’t go past it. Hone mah baking skillz, meet some peeps, and walk away two hours later with nine cupcakes. Sweet!

First we sat at a big, long table and each ate a cupcake. I’m not sure what flavour mine was, but it had pumpkin seeds on the top and it was kinda spicy and gingerbready and superbly delicious.

The 'Professional' batch

We were split up into groups and each designated to a flavour station (I was in the chocolate crew). We chopped up butter (a lot), put it in a mixer, added sugar (a lot), eggs, flour, chocolate, the usual cupcakey jazz, mixed it all together, scooped into patty pans and whacked into an industrial oven. Heavy duty cupcakes!!

Action shot!

Stirring shot!!

Ready to bake...

Half an hour later they were cooling in the New York evening, while we got stuck into….

ICING!!! – sorry – FROSTING!!!: chocolate, vanilla, cream cheese, pumpkin, peanut butter and chocolate cinnamon. Holy hellburgers. A LOT of butter goes into icing. It actually makes you want to have a little heart attack. A delicious heart attack. But sheesh – it’s seriously a lot.

Then! We learnt how to ice our cakes. I would have thought that icing a cupcake wasn’t really all that hard, but, like a Transformer, icing cupcakes is more than meets the eye. You hafta smoooooooth out the icing in the bowl; then you hafta ball it up onto your spatula; then you hafta hold your cupcake in your non-dominant hand (not my words), plop the icing on top and rotate the cupcake underneath it until you get an even consistency across the top and a little icingy flick. Who woulda thunk it would be such an involved task???

Two nude cakes, ready for.....

FROSTING!!!!

Nine iced cupcakes later, a few sprinkles here and there, I boxed up my goodies, bid my classmates ‘Adieu’, and headed back to our apartment. For a night of pure, uninterrupted, cupcake-eating bliss….. Yummo!

I won't give up my day job....

p.s. how great is this amazing print on the wall of the bakery??? I’d like one in my loungeroom….

Moo.

 

 

rooftop cocktails

Last night Rich and I partayed up a storm in a PENTHOUSE in Manhattan, where we drank beers and cocktails and chatted to various peeps and gazed out over the balcony at a view that seriously rivals that at the Top of the Rock. My luvverly friend Emily was there and we chatted about cheese and ghettos and Brooklyn and friends, then we left and got burgers in the LES because there was no food at the schmooze-fest.

Today I feel like I have quite a bad headache and I am in desperate need of a cawfee…

p.s. Did I tell you that last week a guy asked me for my autograph?? True story. Mebbe he could foresee that I had a penthouse partay on the horizon and wanted to get in early in case I got signed by a music industry bigwig or Hollywood talent scout or met Tina Fey and became her right-hand-woman.

Well, that's quite a nice view...

a little guy with a stick

We have been doing lots of family-ish touristy stuff in New York with the girls here – it’s been really fun and funny and intense and busy and we’ve been doing lots of walking and talking and sitting and eating and lining up and looking around.

On Friday afternoon we had a luvverly time strolling around the American Natural History Museum – we split up and I wandered around with Eva and we marvelled at African vistas and the reproductive systems of frogs and humongous jellyfish suspended from the ceiling and… the list goes on. I was truly amazed and astounded and felt like I could have spent the whole day there. I think I might hafta go back and pay Natural History another visit. Sit in the Hurricane exhibit, or see the Butterfly House, or spend more time with the dinosaurs….

Eva and I chatted as we strolled, about favourite breakfasts, favourite lunches, favourite dinners, what to do in the event of a snake bite…

It was so totally stunning though. Being there made me want to go back to school and relearn all that jazz about biology and evolution and history and geography. It made me want to get a job in a museum setting up life-like exhibits of forest scenes and making models of poisonous mushrooms and dusting off stuffed buffalos and impalas and that sorta thing… Mayhaps I could incorporate a Natural History element into my bowling alley roller rink band venue?

O hai guyz, howz mah beard?

Doe! A deer!

Aw yeah, you like mah hair??

So from a thing of a beauty and inspiration, it would only make sense that we then spend one hour in a line outside a ‘haunted house’ on Varick Street, called ‘Blood Manor’. ‘Terror has a new home’ screams their website, which is adorned with hideous photos of exposed flesh (not midriffs, like, bits of guts) and scary clowns and revolteh sideshow freaks. Eva saw a poster for it a few days ago and was DESPERATE to go (much to my chagrin) so I gritted my teeth and said “Sure, that sounds great, I’d LOVE to go to a haunted house”. I actually didn’t say that at all. What I said was “No way, there is no way on EARTH I am going to Blood Manor. Look at their revolting website. I am not going. NO WAY.”

But over the course of the day, I was peer pressured and eventually caved.

Where was I? Yes. So we stood in line for an hour on windy Varick Street, surrounded by screaming teens and couples on hot dates and every so often a terrifying ghoul would stroll past and scream at us, or a scary zombie, or a lookalike of the lead singer of My Chemical Romance, or a child in blood-stained pyjamas wielding a mallet. Good times.

Finally we were at the front of the line and headed up a long dark stinky staircase, and then into a dark corridor… Every so often some cliched screams would play over the speakers (way too loud, if you ask me), but weirdly, after the screams they played a bunch of farm animal noises. I get the reference of the screaming pig, but when they had an ee-aw-ing donkey, I thought ‘This is not really very scary… Since when is a farm a scary place to be?’.

So my pounding heart was starting to pound a little less. I was starting to think that the scariest part of the evening would be the anticipation we felt in the line outside.

Until.

A security guard walked past and told me to take off my earrings and my necklace. What the hizell was I getting myself into???

I can’t even do the absolute terrifyingness of it justice. I’m not even going to try. We were pushed into the first ‘room’ of Blood Manor in a group of about 12, and somehow, I found myself at the front of the group. Clutching onto Eva, we were the first people into every room, thus the first people to get every fright and experience every level of eff-upped-ness. Like the second room we entered, which was a completely pitch black maze. So we had to feel our way along. And there were SCARY PEOPLE IN THERE BEING SCARY!!!!

We made it through though. Into a clowny-carnival-y room of mirrors. There was a zombie clown sitting on a bench with guts all over her face, and she was wearing polka dot tights. I was wearing a polka dot t-shirt. She was wielding an axe. I tried befriending her, saying “Hey, we match!” pointing at my teesh and her tights. She said “Yes we dooooo. I’m going to KILL YOU FOR YOUR SHIRT!!!!!!!!” which I thought was a bit extreme.

Room after room, each one grosser and more revolting than the last. I can’t even explain or describe how truly awful it was. Eva and I screamed our guts out and clutched each other for dear life.

In the very last room, a dwarf popped out from a chimney with black eyes and a big stick. He looked at us (Rich – 40, me – 32, Scarlett – 15 and Eva – 12) and said “Get outta here, you bitches”. That, to me, was the most shocking element of the whole shebang. And I could see that he was shocked as well; that he had his lines that needed to be read and his scary looks that needed to be looked, and he saw a family and called us bitches – there was definite hesitation before he did it. I think he felt bad… I almost told him he shouldn’t call a 12 year old a bitch, but I was too scared he’d hit me with his stick.

When we came out 20 minutes later, we were exhilarated and sick and excited and cold and hungry and buzzy. For all my wah-ness it was actually pretty amazing and pretty scary and definitely exciting and fun. I was so glad to get outta there though, put my lucky llama necklace back on, and get some pizza in my belleh.

Post-Blood Manor dinner, scary faces still abound...

coney island baby

New York seems to be in the grips of a crazy heatwave at the moment – it’s early October and the days are sunny and shiny and 28 degrees. It’s quite blissful!

Yesterday we packed our backpacks, did a little research on Google maps, and trained our way to Coney Island for some rides and fried treats and oversized cups of lemonade.

Coney Island is kinda bananas. I always thought it was one big theme park, but when we got there (and spent an exorbitant amount of cash on wristbands for ‘limitless rides’ at Luna Park) we discovered that there are actually SEVERAL parks, each proclaiming to have the best rides, the best thrills, the best fun. I think we picked pretty well with Luna Park though (even though we didn’t really know it at the time).

Like many things I’ve confessed to on this here blog, I’m not very good at rides. It’s not that I’m a particularly vommy kind of person, but I’m not very thrill-seeking, I’m scared of heights, and I refuse to go on a ride that goes upside down. I was anticipating not only a headache but broken limbs and a punctured lung on the way to Coney Island. What I was not anticipating, however, was a FLIPPIN’ GREAT DAY!!!!

First ride up was the Tickler, which is a disgusting ride. You are strapped into a circular dish, get hoisted up a rickety ramp (with no apparent machinery actually keeping you from flying over the edge), and then you’re hurtled around, spinning and whip-lashing, up and down slides and ramps and bumps and zigzags at breakneck speed. It’s a little bit like the Mad Mouse, only worse. I screamed the WHOLE way. It was amazing.

Just LOOK at that evil face - ew!!

Next up was the Raging River Log Ride. We partnered up (I was with Beev) and got into our logs, that – great – had no seat-belts or straps or anything to actually keep us in. Only bars at the sides to hold onto. Which doesn’t feel all that secure when your palms are sweating like cheese in the sun. Our log, floating on a gushing river of chlorinated water, burst away from the entrance and around some bends, up a ramp, down a slide (water splashing dramatically all around us), around a few more bends, then up a MONSTROUSLY ENORMOUS RAMP and down a slide that was pretty much a sheer drop (note: it wasn’t really). The splash at the bottom drenched our bums and legs and backpacks. I screamed the whole way. It was amazing.

Did I mention that the Raging River Log Ride was actually for little kids (possibly even babies)? How do kids handle that shizz?? It was intense and GREAT! I wanted to go on it again STRAIGHT AWAY!!!

After the terrifyingly exhilarating Raging River Log Ride, I took a time out to gather my thoughts, and my guts, and soothe my screamed-out throat with a little (read: huge) drink of lemonade. Delicious. Rich and the girls went on a revolting aeroplane ride, that scissored up and down and upside down (yuck) and seemed to spin faster than the speed of light. Rich and girls emerged a little wobbly and woozy, but one sassy tween loudly declared “That ride was so boring, I dang near fell a-SLEEP” (note: I saw this sassy tween an hour or so later on this very same ride, and she was indeed SLEEPING!!! What a Sassy McSass Pants! Kids these days….).

"Bein' usside down is so boring, I asLEEP"

After a few other ‘HighThrill’ rides that I was too terrified to partake in, Rich and the girls were ready to tone it down a notch, ready to ride with me on a ‘MediumThrill’ baby-ish-looking train that looked way more my speed. There were lots of 6 year olds on this ride. And a grandma. I was in safe hands.

Except that I WASN’T!!! This baby/grandma-up-&-down train ride went ON ITS SIDE and was just as hurtly gurtly as the flippin’ Tickler. ‘MediumThrill’ my bum – that is a lie. I screamed and screamed (to the point where Grandma got just a little bit more deaf) and had to sate myself afterwards with another lemonade. I am DONE with these misleading rides!!!

But then we noticed that the swingy swing was open. You know the one. There are lots of arty photos of the swingy swing on various websites about the place. You sit in pairs, and the swing swings around, and you kinda swing out to the sides a bit, and it’s gentle and peaceful and a great way to see the sites. I could do this.

The Brooklyn Flyer... (it's really really high)

I’ve gotta stop being so overly confident about my ability (or inability, as the case may be) to enjoy, nay, partake in carnival rides. The swingy swing (AKA The Brooklyn Flyer) is actually not what it appears to be. After being strapped into the swing (and by strap, I mean you lower a bar onto your lap and clip a loose belt between your legs) the whole flipping contraption shoots up into the air about 50 metres, and then you start swinging around. And it’s not a leisurely swing. It’s really really fast. You swing out to the sides. You feel a bit like you’re going to fall out of the swing and PLUMMET TO THE GROUND!!!!! Not everyone feels this though – just me. Because I am SO terrified of heights. As I looked around (Wildly! Nervously! Anxiously!) I noticed everyone else on the ride completely and utterly chilled. The couple in front me had their arms around each other and were gazing into each others eyes. Eva and Scarlett, on the other side of the ride, were chatting and waving. I was gripping onto anything I could and screaming and shouting “IWANTTOGETOFF I WANTTOGETOFF!!” while Rich said soothing things like “Just shut your eyes… Just don’t look down… Woooaahhhh Look at how HIGH we are wooooohhhhooooohhhh!!!!!”

What a compassionate and loving husband.

Fortunately, and obviously, I did not topple out of the swingy swing, and although I nearly vommed my guts out with fear and dizziness, it was also amazing. And fun. And very very very scary. And after the Brooklyn Flyer, I was definitely done with rides.

Rich and Eva and Scarlett were keen to go on the Ghost Train, at which point I put my foot down. Instead, I opted to have my palm read and my fortune told by a lady with long long eyelashes and lots of mascara and a constantly ringing mobile phone (which kinda takes the magic out of visiting a psychic). I held out my palms, thought of two wishes, told her one, and she told me some things that I cannot repeat (bad luck, she said, to relay a fortune outside a reading). Then I paid her, and she pulled my change out of her bra. Amazing!! I didn’t know people actually kept money in their bras.

This creepy grandma did not read my tarot

Pondering my future, I met my gang (who confessed to keeping their eyes shut through the majority of the Ghost Train), we headed back to Coney Island station and made the hour long journey back to Brooklyn for a big bowl of pasta and ice-cream.