Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mom's summer vacation highlight - a day trip to Palmie

This year marked my mom's fourth annual trek to Sydney to visit us. Her extended stays range from four to eight weeks and necessitate that she not simply play the tourist, but make a life for herself here: find friends, develop routines, exercise and generally become a local. I'm always delighted to retell stories describing just how much of a local my mom is here; she's befriended butchers, given directions, spotted celebs and even found a bargain or two.

from left to right: me, Helmut, Roxanne

Though she loves Sydney, we make an effort to show her other parts of NSW/Australia during her trips. We've taken her to Kiama, Berry, the Blue Mountains, Adelaide, the Clare Valley, the outback, Byron Bay and even Canberra (I know, we were really scraping the barrel of Australian destinations there). She's been to Melbourne once and there are still plenty of worthy winter destinations on her to do list including, of course, the rock and the reef.

I was in the red with vacation days when Mom showed up in June so we decided to stick closer to home. Palm Beach, a fashionable yet relaxed beach community, is just an hour north of Sydney and home to some of Australia's rich and fabulous. The fact that Australia's most iconic soap, Home and Away, takes place in Palmie solidifies its status as the premiere aspirational beach town. Anyway, it reminds me of Carmel and I knew that Mom and Roxanne would love it.

Mommy in Palmie
Sydneysiders sans cars can take the L90 bus all the way up to Palm Beach, but we opted to hire out a goget car to allow us greater flexibility. Sandra, our friendly neighborhood Toyota Yaris, was unavailable so we reserved Helmut, a tiny Suzuki Alto that boasts four doors and an amusingly dinky 50 horse power or something close to that. All jokes that day revolved around Helmut's German heritage and his lack of get-up-and-go, but ultimately he was a great sport and got us safely to and from Palm Beach.

The weather threatened to put a damper on our beach adventure, but the rain was off and on and fortunately while we were in Palm Beach, mostly off. In fair weather, Palm Beach and the Boat House in particular can be absolutely magical. The sun shined through the clouds while we dined on fish and chips, salt and pepper squid and steak salad alfresco. It became warm enough to ditch our jackets and don our sunnies while admiring the water views.

We couldn't have dreamed up a better day. Mom read her Kindle near Helmut while Mick, Roxanne and I climbed up to the lighthouse at Barrenjoey head. Mickey had done this walk before, but the gorgeous views of the headland, beach and isthmus were new to me and Roxanne. When it started to sprinkle, we carefully trekked back down the hill, avoiding slippery rocks and mud puddles.

fish and chips of the gods
We concluded our jaunt up north with hot drinks at Jonah's at Whale Beach, a snooty restaurant with great views. The wait staff didn't want to waste the heat lamp on patrons who were only paying for coffees, but they did give us some blankets.

I'm sure Mickey and I would visit Palmie more often if it were a bit easier to reach. However, I suspect it is this relative remoteness which makes it so attractive to the wealthy folks who call Palm Beach home.

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