D left this morning to head to our next stop. This divergence came about because I wanted to spend more time here than he did (he has been to Sydney previously) and our planning had reached an impasse. As a result of my delayed arrival, however, I have ended up with as much time here as he recommended.
At brekky, the waitress commented that I was going to “give it a go” with the vegemite. She had no idea that I have a bottle of the stuff at home, and I really just wanted to have some here because it adds to the local experience.
First stop Darling Harbour, which is where the maritime museum, aquarium, wildlife zoo, and Madame Tussaud’s are located. The latter is a sure sign of tourist neighborhoods everywhere. When I arrived, everything was still closed (I keep forgetting they are on winter schedule here), so I wandered around taking in the view.
Sydney is a young city, sprawled along the many undulating shores of the harbor, and it is growing rapidly. There are cranes everywhere, stretching their necks and their reach high into the sky, standing as they do on the shoulders of modern architecture.
As I stood there, staring at the city around me, I decided not to wait for Darling Harbour to open. The predictable stores had nothing to offer, and the only appealing tourist destination was the zoo, and I had done a zoo yesterday, notwithstanding the fact that they promised a closer look at the Koalas here.
So I boarded a ferry that took me from Darling Harbour east through the main body of Sydney Harbour, continuing yet further east toward the sea (just for the record – Darling Harbour is a smaller harbor within the larger Sydney Harbour). We passed under the Harbour Bridge, which I have assiduously avoided showing you until now, but is very close to the Opera House.
See that pylon, standing at the southeast corner of the bridge? Remember it.
We went past the Opera House, looking somewhat different given the clear blue skies today.
We paused periodically in bays where numerous boats were moored, and still continued east.
At the far eastern end of the harbor, we finally reached the ocean. I disembarked at Manly, a small town that sits hugging the beach. Within her corners and byways are countless shops, restaurants, and cafes, aimed both at serving the locals as well as tourists.
I walked to the seashore, where to the south a peninsula of hiking was promised by the woman at the tourist’s information desk. And, I paused, tempted as the sea roiled just below me. I was tempted by the hike, and I was tempted by the town. I could lose myself here for the entire day, but I finally concluded that my time in Sydney was already short, and is even more minuscule now, so I decided to turn back.
Back in the city, next stop was the bridge. You can pay to climb to the top of the bridge, but it costs about $200, and they don’t let you take cameras (something about safety precautions), so instead I decided to walk across it. They say you get a great view of the harbor, and indeed you do.
Remember that pylon? You can climb it, and it is substantially cheaper than climbing the arch of the bridge, so in the great Butterblogger tradition, that’s what I chose to climb. Up a mere 200 steps, none of them at all precarious, the entire harbor stretched out below me.
To the east was the opera house. Again. But to the south, the bridge arched above me, encrusted with bridge climbers.
To the north, the central business district, growing, stretches her concrete and glass and steel fingers into the afternoon sky.
And to the west – more harbor and the other pylon. And rainclouds.
The rain drove me off of the bridge and back into the streets of the city. Our hotel is in The Rocks, a popular neighborhood right by the harbor. I explored this neighborhood for the rest of the afternoon, ducking my head into various shops, looking at gifts, and generally relaxing. I would say I got lost there, but I didn’t – it really isn’t that large.
One thing I did notice about The Rocks: it has a rat problem. There are rat traps everywhere. There are at least 5 in the above photo. Go ahead – see if you can find them.
With that I was done for the day. I had a remarkable dinner at Mr Wong’s, which is a Chinese restaurant recommended by the New York Times, and then I walked around for a bit taking in Sydney at night. My time here was definitely too short. I barely got away from the harbor, and there is much more to explore and experience. For now, however, I must head to the north, where the reef awaits!