Friday, January 9, 2009

January 9th, 2009 - Sydney, Australia

Arriving in Sydney, we made our way through customs and into a taxi towards The Rocks, one of the older parts of the city. Ann had done some research and heard from friends and massage clients that this was a nice part of town close to the Harbor Bridge and the Opera House, and we had booked at The Observatory Hotel. Despite an extra dinner and a breakfast on the plane, we all quickly agreed that the first order of business was to find food, so we took the concierge's recommendation of an “authentic Australian breakfast house” called the Gumnut Tree on Harrington Street, one of the main boulevard's through The Rocks. Ordering a mix from fresh fruit (it's Summer here) to french toast to eggs and good English bacon and topping it off with flat white coffee (tasted like a cappuccino), the food mission was successful.

From The Rocks we made our way down beneath the Harbor Bridge for some nice views of the Opera House. The weather was in the high 60's with some clouds and a little breezy but cleared as the day went on, getting down right balmy and tropical at times.

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

The Opera House was as impressive in person as it is in the countless photos you see of it. I don't know about the validity of the stat, but the tour guide claimed a study was done that indicated that it was identifiable by 4 billion people on the planet. That's two thirds of the population. Sounds a little dubious to me once you think about how many very young children and extremely remote societies there are at any given time. Wonder what the stats are for the GG Bridge? Statue of Liberty?

In any case, it was undeniably stunning and difficult not to take pictures of. We went on a tour of the inside and learned some factoids. Construction started in 1957 after an international design competition. The winning design by a Danish (?) architect was essentially just sketches of the shapes but no real information on how they were to be constructed. The original estimate was that it would take $7 million over three years to build. It took $100 million over sixteen.

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

We walked along the harbor through the Royal Botanic Gardens and around to a point called the Yorung Precinct that offered a view of the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge together. The arrangement of everything around the water was definitely reminiscent of San Francisco or the few times I've been to Seattle. Finally feeling the effects of the long flight, a good day of sightseeing that we had thought would be slept away, and the persistent sun fighting through the clouds, we wandered back through the gardens towards our hotel for an afternoon nap.

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

After an hour and a half, somehow we were hungry again and walked in the other direction towards King's Wharf and Darling Harbour. This was definitely the place for people to come after work and the waterfront bars and restaurants were packed on a warm Friday night. We found a place that looked suitably hip but only reasonably crowded. As we asked the guy for a table for three outside, a woman walked up to us and said, “I know you!” then turned to the guy seating us and said “I know these people. Take good care of them!” She was the flight attendant in our business class cabin on the flight over. We look towards her group and it's the pilot, co-pilot, and the whole gang who'd been in the crew line next to us while going through customs. That was a good sign for our choice of restaurant.

From 2009-01-07 Australia and New Zealand

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