Monday, September 04, 2006

4 - September 2006

We stepped out of the hotel this morning into the warmth of Sydney sunshine. Our first stop was the waterfront (an easy walk) for morning views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge (we briefly debated doing the celebrated and dramatic Bridge Climb despite our fears of heights--but they told us it's not appropriate for pregnant women, so we were soon off the hook). It's very cool to be able to touch world icons.

Then we strolled through the shops and galleries in Sydney's heritage quarter known as the Rocks before finding a great little hidden courtyard cafe for brunch (my scone was nothing like the ones we get at was more like a cornmeal muffin). The oldest area of Sydney and considered the birthplace of modern-day Australia, the Rocks is a restored 19th-century village with stately historical buildings and cobbled lanes and stairs built along a hillside with prominent outcrops of sandstone. (They offer a night-time ghost tour here, too--apparently there's a dark history at the Rocks of disease, disaster, violence, and murder--shall I spook Mike again?!)

After that, we hit the Circular Quay (the ferry landing and a bustling tourist area much like San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf with all sorts of world eateries, souvenirs for sale, and street artists) to catch a ferry to Manly which is, as the wharf sign reads, "Seven miles from Sydney, a thousand miles from care..." Yep, it's that laid-back in Manly. And it's young and bikini-clad, too--we suspect it's where Aussie students come for spring break.

Oh, and pedestrians definitely have the right of way here in Sydney--even the cabs stop well before the line. Whew! And look how tourist-friendly they are, lest we silly foreigners look the wrong way when stepping off a curb:

At a local's recommendation, we lunched on "yum cha"--that's what Australian's call dim sum--at the Manly Phoenix Chinese Restaurant on the wharf. Delicious! Then we shopped our way to Manly Beach (groceries are way pricey even at supermarkets like Coles) and had some ice cream for dessert.

We took the Jet Cat (fast boat vs. traditional ferry) back to Sydney Harbour in time to catch the area by sunset. We explored some more of Syndey by dark and found ourselves some "takeaway" (it's not take-out here) pizza and garlic bread for a relaxing evening at the hotel (where the bellman greeted us by name after meeting us just once late last night--these folks are impressive!).

When we flipped on the TV back in our room (aside from the news, morning shows, and commercials, it's almost entirely American programming), we learned of the shocking and tragic loss of the charismatic Crocodile Hunter Steve Irwin, who played such an important role in the way that people around the world view Australia and Australian wildlife. No matter how they felt about his ways, Australians (along with the rest of the world) are definitely in mourning.

Today's sign of the day:

(Beware of body-less legs crossing in the night...)


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