Monday, March 10, 2008

Land of the Free

I love free stuff the way a fat kid I love cake.

I like to sift through newspapers and magazines in search of festivals, shows and other events gratis. On my second day in Sydney, I hit up the Chinese New Year Dragon Boat Races, exhibits at the Maritime Museum, Gay Mardi Gras and a short film festival at The Domain — all for free.

The best part of free festivals is that they usually involve more free stuff. I’ve accumulated seven free beach bags, five tins of orange Eclipse mints, four Schick Quattro razors, Vitamin Water, green iced tea, a ball, a Frisbee and a medley of pens. But best yet, surfing lessons.

This week (in my free copy of Time Out Sydney) I heard about a free surf class in honor of International Women’s Day. This Southern California girl has never tried to surf before, believe it or not, so I called up and reserved the last free spot.

We got an hour of instruction and surf time, with boards and wetsuits provided, at Dee Why Beach. Saturday was my first time on the other side of the Harbour Bridge. I liked the atmosphere better at Dee Why than Bondi or Coogee, but they each offer something different.

After our surf lesson and a good hour of recovery, we explored the tide pools, where we spotted two octopi.

We also found a dead blowfish, which was interesting, but hardly aesthetically pleasing. I’ll spare you and offer this starfish photo instead.

Then we took a short walk through the Dee Why Wildlife Reserve along the lagoon. And who doesn’t love lagoons?

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