Sunday, March 11, 2007

Mardi Gras | Reloaded

As you all know the theoretical concept of "tomorrow" is up for debate, since every new day has a tomorrow. I do however acknowledge that I have been lacking to update all of this and leaving you all wondering about when "tomorrow" turns into "today".

Well: Today! I have been sick these last couple of days. Yes I know - nasty, fever, strep throat, dizzyness, blablabla, not over yet, but well on my way to recovery - anyway: I am back here. To fill you all in on what I have been doing those six days in Sydney during Mardi Gras.

I left Adelaide at 9am on the first of March and this time I was well on time. No rushing, instead I had to wait and wait. More people were apparently leaving for a nice long weekend interstate, because the whole departure hall was full of people with large suitcases. Oh well, what can you do? Nothing, just stand in line. Of course at a slug's pace the queue shortened, but it was worth it, because the friendly lady behind the counter could swap me over to an over wing seat - I never say no to some extra space! And with that done I was checked-in, seated and ready to go.

The flight went by in a breeze and 2 small hours later I was on the train and on my way to the heart of Sydney. Thursday night I had called upon one of my internet buddies in Sydney, Saad, for a place to sleep. Saad had to go to Uni all day so I dropped my backpack at the Central Station and went into town. First stop was the Art Gallery again, I read that there was an anime exhibition on and I was curious about it. Unfortunately it wasn't really exciting - just a bunch of pages from anime comics framed with short explanations about what the pages depict. Lunch was then my second thing to-do. I went to a salt-water pool near the Art Gallery before and I knew that they served food as well, so I decided to head there. After a hearty lunch, I went down to the pool itself and came to the conclusion that even with goggles on, salt water is not fit for swimming. As luck wants it, just that same afternoon there was a yoga-class at the pool, so I joined and enjoyed that.

Time to pick up my stuff and go to Saad. A short ride on the train brought me to St. Peters where his apartment building was. After a short refreshing shower and change of clothes, we went to a very nice Indian restaurant in Newtown. For dessert we went elsewhere: Oxford St! When we arrived in what would be the main hub of activity over the coming days of Mardi Gras madness, it was still quite a shock to see gays everywhere. Where did all the women go?! Scary is too big a word, but the testosterone level was intimidatingly clogging my senses for sure!
We danced and talked a while in the Stonewall and left for a good night sleep, because I knew that sleep would be scarce over the next couple of days.

Friday morning I left Saad's place and went back to the city to wait for Gianni and Te-Yu to arrive from Adelaide. After some nasty checking-in delays at the hotel I could finally drop my backpack and leave it in the same place for a couple of days. We all got our own access key for the room and the hotel was right on the corner of Hyde Park and Oxford St: perfect! We had a late lunch and another friend of Gianni's and Te-Yu's walked past, he sat down with us, introduced himself to me: Wayne and of course asked who I was.
"Jago, from the Netherlands."
"Really? Last night I met up with 7 Dutch guys, how funny!"
"I'll bring them along tonight."
"Yeah for sure! That'll be interesting."
And so it was said and done. That night I met Richard, Jeroen and Michael, as Dutch as you can get them! We had a good night, but we, the Dutchies, really felt that everybody was holding back a bit. Nobody was completely out there or partying like there was no tomorrow. We came to the conclusion that they were saving themselves for the big parties tomorrow - the day of the Mardi Gras Parade. How boring, 'we' in Amsterdam party for days on end when the Pride is on (probably not true at all, but being 14000 km away from home makes you a bit melancholy about such things)!

Saturday. The day of the parade! During the day we did basically nothing, just like the rest of the city. Everybody was buzzing with excitement, a few early birds were already sitting along the route with their blankets and picnic baskets, but most people were just roaming the streets and shops in anticipation of the parade, which would start at 7:30pm. After a last shower and change of clothes, Gianni, Te-Yu and me went to Taylor Sq. at 6:45 to watch the parade. We had an OK spot. We could see most of it, but occasionally someone would step into our views - oh well, that's the price for being so late. What was a bit more of a problem however was that we were surrounded by a group of deaf-mute gays and lesbians. The fact that they were deaf-mute was of course not important to me at all - to live and let live is my slogan. However they were rapidly becoming really drunk, and really aggressive, resulting in them shouting and gesturing at almost anyone who came near, in the belief that everyone was making fun or insulting them, which wasn't true at all. It soon became so annoying and irritating, that we decided to move, since the parade was a bit boring as well.

The parade itself lasted for 2,5 hours - far too long! I have posted some pix on my Flickr page of the interesting cars and people that came along. In between these interesting parts there was a lot of boring stuff. Just a bunch of people, not really in costumes or with attributes, just walking and waving some flags and/or cardboards with scribbled messages. The Dykes on Bikes with headlights in all the different colours of the rainbow was probably the coolest part. We were glad that we didn't wait all day along the route to have a better view! After the parade finished the fences were opened by the police and everybody flocked into the streets to follow the trail of the parade to Fox Studios were the after party would be. After a hearty walk we arrived and it was party time - with 5 different venues and 17000 happy people, I was ready for it!

I partied from 10pm till 8am, it was an awesome night! The music was good, everybody was enjoying themselves, lots of beautiful people to watch, laughs to share - a blast! (and yes, I kissed with one really hot guy, he looked like a younger version of Sam Neill, with a body to match!) And I wasn't the only one who found a hottie - at 5 in the morning I got a txt message from Gianni saying:
"I am taking Joe back to the hotel room. Don't come back in the next 2 hours!"
Understood Sir! The night is young and love is in the air, sort of.
At 8:30 I stumbled in the hotel room and both Gianni and Te-Yu were still up. Gianni just worked his Joe out of the door and Te-Yu was back from Oxford St. We all had a great night, that much was clear.

As you can imagine, most of the Sunday was slept away of course, but at 2:30pm I put my bathers on and caught the bus to Bondi Beach. It was rather crowded, but a bit of the party mood was still hanging everywhere. I just relaxed and enjoyed the sun, the sea, the waves and the people. After a nice dinner on the boulevard, I went back to the hotel and decided that it was no more partying for me that night. I just crawled under my blanket and blissfully watched television. Gianni and Te-Yu needed to go home the next day, so they went out one final time.

Monday Gianni and Te-Yu had to go back to Adelaide, I waved them goodbye and I went off to Kathryn in Newtown. Kathryn is a friend of Liam and Tara's, I had met here several times already and I really like her, so I was excited to see how we would go this Monday and Tuesday together. She was staying at a friend's house in Pott's Point and said that it would be no problem for me to crash there as well - a godsend of course, because otherwise I would have had to pay dearly for a hotel room! Monday we had lunch, talked a lot and went to see The Illusionist. After that we went to her friend's place, freshened up, had dinner with some more friends and later drinks. But Kathryn and me felt that we wanted more: we wanted to dance!
So for the 4th time during my trip, we went back to the city for a night out. Again it was a super night with great music and laughter with Kathryn, she was great company! The night ended very pleasantly for me in the company of Taron.

And then it was Tuesday, my final day! I would leave at 6:45pm, so I went shopping with Kathryn for a bit, had lunch and a final look around town, saying goodbye to a wicked couple of days. After my last shower I looked in the mirror and concluded that I looked like shit and completely exhausted - it was time to go home and rest!

And so I did. Packed my bags, said goodbye to Kathryn, got on the train, got on the plane and finally came down the escalator of Adelaide Airport where Aki was waiting for me.

The journey was over. I'm still not completely recovered, but man.. it was well worth it!

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