Versailles: Treasures from the Palace

Recently on display in the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, this exhibit showcased some of the many treasures from the Palace of Versailles. It was a collection that ranged from old plumbing equipment to intricately carved, gold clocks.

Clock

It was very busy at the exhibition, but the people there with me were relatively polite and accommodating- people would not stand directly in front of something and block the view for everyone else, no one shoved anyone out of the way, which I think has happened to everyone at least once.

The tour began in a room with portraits and the gates from the palace of Versailles, then led through to a room with large, patterned carpets, as well as vases and this godly image with one heck of a frame.

Frame

After that there was a room with portraits and range of elaborate luxuries, including what I think was a perfume-fountain-dispenser thing. There was information about the immense plumbing work done to create the gardens at Versailles, and some of the equipment used.

There was a statue from a fountain as well as ones of creatures on display in the gardens. The fountain piece has the soundtrack of running water, as well as a screen with water playing in the background. There was a little sitting area and it was a nice spot to rest for a moment.

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After the garden part, the exhibition led into a room filled with furniture, fans and bits and bobs that were all just as intricate and beautiful as those before them. There were more portraits on the walls and a lot of cool stuff.

Bird Cage

All in all it was a great day out and worth the money. Unfortunately, the exhibition has ended now, but if it ever comes back I definitely recommend giving it a go.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bondi to Coogee Coastal Walk

This coastal walk has been at the top of my to-do list since I moved here, and after close to two years I finally did it. I put it off for ages thinking that I would need to carve out a whole day, as well as coordinate my public transport route, but it was surprisingly easy to get to.

I walked from Bondi to Coogee. I caught a train to central, then changed and went to Bondi Junction. From Bondi station, they have buses that take you directly to the beach. From Coogee, there are buses back to Central. It was very easy.

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I began my trip, walking along the pathway in the beautiful autumn weather- meaning it was raining on and off the entire time, with huge gusts of wind coming off the waves. It would rain just long enough to be annoying, but not long enough that it was worth unfastening and holding an umbrella.

This walk is absolutely stunning. It is so beautiful, in sunshine and misty rain. The water is incredibly blue and the waves have carved awesome shapes out of the rocks over the past thousands of years.

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The walk around six kilometres and could be done in just over an hour, but I prefer my slow, wandering pace that stretched it out to about three. The good thing about the weather meant that most of the crowds dispersed and I was relatively alone there; no hordes of tourists blocking the fair share of photos I was taking. Some of the walk has been diverted due to collapse, and the path leads through a cemetery, but the ocean is never out of sight.

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If you are interested in doing this walk, I recommend going from Coogee to Bondi, not Bondi to Coogee as I did this time. I have never really liked Coogee beach, and it smelled awful the day I went. Every time the wind blew there was a smell like sewerage, and it was an underwhelming end to a great walk. Next time I do it, because it is definitely something worth doing more than once, I will start at Coogee and end up on Bondi Beach, which is much nicer.

 

Moscow Ballet: Swan Lake at the State Theatre

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I saw Swan Lake at the State Theatre back in March and I do not recommend seeing a ballet there, for a couple of reasons.

There was no orchestra for this ballet. What a pompous comment, I know, but they are important and here’s why. Instead of an orchestra there are speakers in place at either side of the stage, and all the music is played through them. These speakers loudly hum and crackle from time to time throughout the performance, and it was very off putting.

The next issue with the speakers is that I think the music track for each piece must be individually started and stopped, and as a result the dancers were often out of sync with it. Or, rather, the music was out of sync with them. It must be hard enough to be a professional ballet dancer (staying in character, working with costumes and props, focusing on your technique and movement being perfect…) without having to worry about whether someone will press a button at the right time. So sometimes the music started, then they would, and sometimes they would start and after a few seconds it would play.

Moscow Ballet Swan Lake

The backdrops were pretty and the costumes were intricate and stunning. The swans glittered and moved gracefully, as did the ones playing people. I honestly don’t know enough about ballet to comment about the dancing, other than to say that I thought it was wonderful.

The other issue I had with the State Theatre hosting the ballet is that it doesn’t have great seating. Usually seats are staggered, whether with height or put in a kind of brick pattern behind people- e.g. so that you are sitting and looking through the gap between the two people in front of you. Where I was sitting, I was stuck directly behind the huge, bald head of a man who thought it was acceptable to keep talking to his girlfriend throughout the performance. I had to sit with my neck strained to the side to see properly. That, and there were children behind me who were too young to be at something like that, because all they wanted to do was talk through it as well!

So a combination of poor sound quality, synchronisation, seating quality, and shitty audience members made this ballet at the State Theatre really brought down what could have been a great night

When I saw the Nutcracker there last year it had been much more enjoyable- I had been slightly closer to the stage with correctly alternating seats, the timing was better and the speakers were a little bit better.

So it can be quite nice, but if you are forking out hundreds of dollars for a ticket, you should expect more than that.