Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Australia: Sydney: 4-6 August, 2007 (Written 7 August, 2007)

Arriving in Sydney, it was instantly much warmer. Matt and Bron were there to get me, thankfully, and off we went. I have to admit that the first glimpse of the Sydney Opera House from the Harbor Bridge were impressive, even though I was surprised at how small the Opera House was (sorry, I know that sounds so superficial - it's just that in all the photos and things you always see, you imagine that it will be enormous). We arrived home at Lane Cove, and after a short break, headed back into town to meet Mark and his friend for dinner.

We went to a Korean restaurant where we were the only table with any non-Asians, and afterwards we went down to Darling Harbour to have a few drinks. I was exhausted from my walk and flight that day, so we turned in early - especially since I had a big day planned for Sunday.

Sunday morning Matt and I quickly ate breakfast and hopped on the 7.30am bus towards the Harbor Bridge. The bridge is one of the icons of Sydney, an enormous piece of metal - it actually took 9 years to build, and was 2 separate halves that were brought together and joined on top of the water. It's not necessarily a beautiful bridge, but the views to be had from it certainly are. Crossing the 1.2km bridge, you definitely get an idea of Sydney's reputation as a city by the sea, the urban sprawl, and the love of the outdoors; joggers, walkers, cyclists, kayakers, all going about their sport at 8am on a Sunday.

Once we finished crossing the bridge, we went down to Circular Quay to take a ferry over to Manly. Manly Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the Sydney area, and it is easy to understand why. Beautiful clean, golden sands and perfectly shaped waves roll in, with heaps of ocean view cafes and tacky crafts shops. It's a quintessential urban beach town. We walked along the beach to Shelly Beach, and up around on good tracks along the headland, and finally went back. I picked up an apple, watermelon, pineapple, and ginger juice - quintessential beach town again.

After we got back on the ferry, we walked around the Rocks area. I actually find Sydney to be beautiful. The CBD is really different from Melbourne's; tall, sleek, shiny buildings line the harbor's edge, with the Botanical Gardens adding a splash of green and vegetation to the urban cityscape. Matt had luckily been able to pick up a variety of free tickets so we traversed the botanical gardens to get to Sydney Tower, where you can go 250m up in the viewing tower and have fantastic 360 degree views of the area. It was a beautiful clear day and the view stretched for miles. We then walked to the Sydney Aquarium and Wildlife World, and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of Wildlife World; I thought it would be much tackier than it was, and I was glad to see the size of some of the enclosures, given its urban location on Darling Harbour.

By this point in the day, we were totally exhausted so headed home and had an early night. On Monday, Mark and Wei-lin came to pick me up in the morning and we went to the Northern Beaches. We stopped at Mona Vale to pick up picnic supplies and we had a delicious picnic by Palm Beach. We strolled along Palm Beach, then went for a drive, looking at the multi-million dollar homes reminiscent of Malibu, passing along Bilgola and Whale Beach. I thought, hmm I could live here.

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