02 January 2007

Still seeking great pub to inaugurate the new year

Okay, it's back to reality as I've returned from my one day getaway to South Carolina. It was a pleasant one, albeit far too short. Happy 2007 to all.

In many ways, this New Year's celebration mirrored that of last year's, to which I was thankful, although it certainly was not designed to be. Comparisons between Sydney and Myrtle Beach are hard to make, but yet I try LOL.

Great seafood? Check. Last year I didn't make it to my beloved Doyle's at Watson's Bay for New Year's (I think they were closed or something scandalous like that), so this year it was "The Original Benjamins Seafood Buffet", which came complete with a replica of the "Queen Elizabeth" liner in the lobby, sheltered from at least 10 artificial life-size sharks hanging from the ceiling. Unlike Doyle's, though, this place was so large I actually got lost from the buffet going back to my table.

Celebrations on and/or in immediate vicinity of a beach? Check. The only difference was that I bought my fireworks (well, sparklers) for this year, although the "Sydney Harbour" set was on sale at Willard's Fireworks...had I wanted to shill out that kind of dough. Gotta love South Carolina: they have year-round fireworks stores, whereas most of North Carolina's only stay open during the Fourth of July holidays.

Australian food? Check. And, no, I did not go to Outback, but instead to the superb Greg Norman's Australian Grille in North Myrtle Beach...although that place doesn't serve a decent Aussie beer, his wine selection is overpriced, and they even marinate some of the luncheon fish items in Fosters beer instead. Still, I forgive The Shark for these transgressions and compliment his soon-to-be ex-wife Laura for the interior design.

A day spent a bit too much exposed to the elements? Check. Last year it was the hottest day in Sydney's immediate history when the trains stopped running and I decided to walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge...earning a horrific sunburn; this year, I actually had to retreat from two beaches yesterday because I feared double earache and from the cold. Either way, Mother Nature had her way with me.

Did some reading on the beach? Check. Last year, I spread it out some at Bondi Beach and then much later at Maroubra Beach (well, actually the latter was stranded at the wooden bus shelter there waiting for a tardy bus, weathering out a surprise nighttime sandstorm), and it was some philosophy. This year, it was near the closed areas of Cherry Grove Pier, reading about weight and debt management. I'm hoping in five years' time to be at still some other beach and just read the normal beach junk and magazines like everyone else does.

Did I collect seashells? Check, most definitely check. (For those of you online who are unaware of the story of me and my seashells, suffice it to say my beloved Father started the collection with me when I was about four years old. Now, no matter where I go, I bring back a rock and/or a seashell with me and add it to my collection: France, Spain, Italy, Monaco, Canada, England, Australia of course, and many others.) In many ways, these physical mementos are the most loved souvenirs of all my travels...and represent all the journeys I've gotten to go on...and all of the same trips my dad never could.

And, finally, the pub...did I toast the night off with a good meal and bottle of brew? Last year, I was lucky to make it to my two favourite pubs in all of Sydney for some great food, some great beer, and even better conversation with complete strangers (and sports fans) alike. Last night, I attempted to do the same in Wilmington on the way back home, at the Front Street Brewery downtown (which used to be quite good, once upon a time). Sadly, with the exception of good conversation, the meal and beer were substandard. On the plus side, though, I've got a new lead on where I can get some work as an extra there this summer...so maybe not all was lost. But oh, what I would have given last night for an Irish singalong at The Mercantile in The Rocks or some steak (with mushroom sauce) and middie beer special at Churchill's (wherever in Sydney my friend Sunshine says it's located). Oh, well...the search continues.

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