The random thoughts of an architect-turned- lawyer from the deep south living in Washington, DC...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

G'day from Australia!

Wow. Sydney. Not sure where to begin. How about night one when my trip was colored a little grey by the theft of my camera. My really nice camera. My camera with pictures of Hawaii and the Sydney Harbour from the airplane. Yep, stolen right off my table at the bar. I guess I deserve some of the credit since I left it unattended on the table when we went on stage to sing "We Are Family" with the Kiwi boys we met. Yeah, smart move. In my defense, we had been warned about boys slipping things in drinks so we spent our evening cautiously watching every movement of every beer purchased for us. I guess watching the rest of my possessions would have been too difficult at that point. Anyway, this is not a post about how the theft of my camera hurled me into a world of sadness and uncomfortable feelings of someone in Sydney having so many pictures of me (and of some of you since I failed to delete all my pictures before the trip.) I got over the camera thing. Eventually.

We spent Monday walking around Sydney concentrating most of our day on the Opera House and Harbour area. We took the ferry over to Manly, a small town north of Sydney known for being tacky and timed our ferry ride back to catch the sunset behind the Harbour Bridge. Absolutely stunning.

On Tuesday, we caught a tour out to Hunter Valley to check out the wineries. That, my friends, has been the best $90 I spent on this trip so far. The 2.5 hour scenic bus ride was quite lovely and gave me some good reading time. Our day included wine tasting at 5 wineries, beer tasting, olive tasting, cheese tasting and chocolate tasting. I'm pretty sure I did not taste a single thing that was not delicious.

On Wednesday, I went for a morning jog around Darling Harbour then grabbed K and we headed back to do some touring around Sydney. I spent time lounging around the gardens of the Sydney Observatory before we ate lunch at The Rocks (where the original prisoners were brought over to Australia many years ago.) After a bit of shopping, we spent the bulk of our day in the Botanical Gardens which, incidentally are enormous! Our intended low key evening of a few drinks and dinner on Darling Harbour took an odd turn. It all started with a local gentleman named Brett who needed a place to sit and drink his beer. Next thing we know, this new travel agent friend of ours has us in a cab on our way to Bondi Beach, an alleged must see outside of Sydney. Yeah, the night just went on from there.

On Thursday, I took on Sydney Solo trying to catch what I could before we left. I spent some time at Paddy's Market which is the D.C. equivalent of Eastern Market only larger and with Asians chasing you around to give you massages. I took the monorail over to Sydney Center and went to the top of the Sydney Tower, just staring out at a truly beautiful city. I was probably most struck by the interaction between the water and the city, an interplay that I only really understood from above. I spent the last of my time in Sydney indulging in some sushi on the Darling Harbour.

"Most Notables" of Sydney (I have to this time - one very general observation and one specific story):

1) I was very intrigued by the similarities and references between Sydney and London: Oxford Street, Hyde Park, Covent Garden, King's Cross, Picadilly. Very interesting.

2) My new camera. I held off for a few days because one of our gentlemen friends from the bar got my email and was going to try to track down my camera for me. Once I heard from him and realized all hope was gone, I decided I needed to move on and purchase a new one. After passing multiple shady looking camera stores, I was getting frustrated with my prospects. I did what I do best...I talked to strangers. I tapped a guy on the shoulder and asked if I were to purchase a camera, where should I go. "You are in luck," he says. "I am on my way to an electronic store to buy a computer." As my luck would have it, not only was this guy's friend really good looking, but he was also a camera expert. In fact, he took us to an electronic store that he works in the camera department in Melbourne. Not only did he find me a great new camera, but he used his staff discount to get me $85 off. Score!