It’s hard to believe we have only been in Sydney for 2 days. We arrived pretty late on Thursday night after an easy flight from Christchurch. We are staying at a hotel across the street from the gardens with a view of the Harbour east towards the Pacific. We dropped off our bags and headed out to the Circle Quay ( Pronounced “key” not “quay”, go figure) to take in the quintessential Sydney Harbor view at night and grab a late snack. It was beautiful, and romantic.
Friday morning we took another walk on the Quay for some breakfast at one of the many sidewalk cafes. No need for Starbucks here. The coffee was yummy and we were entertained by wild parakeets. We had no idea there were wild parakeets in Sydney! Then we headed to the truly phenomenal Royal Botanical Gardens. They are more than gardens, they are a museum of plants and flowers from all over the world with gardening tips for locals, beautiful views, interesting birds and a welcoming sign that says “hug the trees, smell the flowers and please walk on the grass”.
After our morning walk we were picked up by Bob from a local sightseeing company and swept off on a whirlwind car tour of Sydney. There is no way we could have seen everything ourselves. It’s such a beautiful and interesting city. Those who arrived in 1788 on the “First Fleet” of English settlers and convicts (sentenced to 7 years of labor in Australia for nonviolent property crimes such as theft or forgery) struggled to eke out an existence in the sandstone quarries (now the trendy “Rocks” district next to Circle Quay) . 60 years later, the population in Australia was only 400,000. But when gold was discovered in 1850, the population tripled in 10 years. Today, over 5 million live in Sydney alone, a beautiful, modern, expensive city with 1/5 the population of all of Australia. Sydney is a nice combination of San Francisco & Los Angeles, with warm sunny weather, a large lovely harbor (with 200 miles of coastline inside the harbor) and both surfer grunge inland and multi-million dollar mansions overlooking the water.
After our tour we took one of the many inner harbor ferries to the local favorite beach at Manly, for a walk on the 2-mile long sandy beach there. Unfortunately, the Royal couple (who followed us here from New Zealand) had the same idea. The beach was beautiful but it was just too crowded. So we escaped the crowds and after walking up the beach tried a different route to get back to the ferry. We definitely left the crowds behind as we wandered, got lost and turned around in the residential areas of Manly (which is on a narrow spit of land between the ocean and Sydney Harbor, near the north side of the harbor entrance).
We finally found someone to ask for directions, turned around and headed off in the right direction. It was certainly the path less traveled. After our unexpected hike around the suburbs of Manly we grabbed some pizza before taking the ferry back. It was quite a day.
We chose a more leisurely day Saturday and walked around the gardens some more, and visited the Provincial library which had a great exhibit on the early drawings documenting the local wildlife by the artists among the First Fleet convicts. They are beautiful pieces of art, although many are anonymous. Then we wandered back down to the Rocks district to peruse the Saturday arts & crafts market and enjoy a lovely lunch by the water.
We took a break this afternoon, before heading out for a tour of the Sydney Opera house and the evening ballet .
We saw the Manon Ballet which was really quite good. It was Jim’s first ballet (other than the nutcracker). It was a romantic tragedy set in the same time period as Les Miserables. The ballet was composed in 1974 so the choreography, although classical, has some modern twists and some humor, before the tragic ending. The leads were extremely good. We both agreed to go to the ballet more often when we return to Seattle.
Flying to Cairns on Easter Sunday
It’s already Easter Sunday here on the other side of the world and we are flying to Cairns in a plane filled with parents and children. Tomorrow we’ll board a “live aboard” scuba diving boat and head out for 3 days of scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef.
We really haven’t bought much of anything, but for some unknown reason it’s getting progressively more challenging to close our suite cases. So far, the zippers are holding, but if they ever break we will be in big trouble,
This trip has been great, but we have learned as we enter our travel phase of life that we won’t travel again during Passover and Easter. I miss gathering with the kids and of course little James.
Being that it is Easter and a vacation week for school children here, our plane is full of adorable children. And our Quantas flight has an IPad for entertainment in every seat. The exclamations of glee “look Mom we all get iPads” echoed throughout the cabin when we boarded.
We send everyone our love and best wishes for a wonderful Passover week and Easter Sunday. We are deeply grateful for God’s many blessings, particularly our dear family & friends.