Sunday, March 2, 2008

Hello, Sydney

Let me just start with a visual. Here’s what I left in Ohio.Here’s what welcomed me in sunny Sydney.Need I write more?

Actually that was a rhetorical question so I’d like to give you some of the highlights of my first trip to Sydney. After lugging my life-in-a-luggage from the airport to Phil’s place, he took me on a tour of his uni, University of New South Wales.

There’s the bell - recess time!

We then moseyed on down to Coogee Beach, one of the eastern beaches of the city, which is about a 20 minute walk from Phil’s apartment.

It was pretty, so I stopped and enjoyed the view.

Lipe knows that if I don’t eat every two or three hours I get really mean, so he thought ahead and had a neighborhood Thai restaurant in mind. The place was called Thai-riffic, and it was… great! I had grilled barramundi topped with a papaya salad.

And Lipe had prawns and veggies in a coconut curry sauce. A great intro to my life in Oz as a gastronome.

I was surprised I was able to keep my eyes open that long, so after dinner I promptly retired so I would be fresh for the following day.

And what a day it was! We hit many highlights of downtown Sydney, starting with the amazing Botanic Gardens.

Leading us to the Opera House.

This building is way bigger in person than it looks in photos.

Next on the itinerary was a ferry trip to Manly Beach. What a super name for a beach! There were plenty of guys jogging in Speedos on Manly Beach but they didn’t seem too Manly, if you know what I mean. Now I know men in every other country in the world except the US (excluding Miami and some random 80 year old men on Cape Cod) deem it perfectly acceptable to proudly wear wet spandex bikini bottoms in public and I generally consider myself an open minded citizen of the world. But come on, guys, put on some trunks, please. I apologize for not having any close up photos but if you're interested you can check out the Santa Speedo Run that happens each year in Boston (I have obviously chosen to skip this event). Here’s a PG shot of Manly Beach.

Phil and I parked ourselves on a roof deck on the beach and ate mussels and fries and drank ourselves a few James Squires. I’m genuinely impressed with this beer. It was founded by Australia’s first brewer (a convict!) in 1806, and the beer remains true to its original formula.

We had a good walk on the beach and returned to Sydney on the ferry. Half the fun of the Manly trip was the ferry views of the city and particularly of the Opera House. See for yourself:

After disembarking, we putzed around The Rocks, the site of Sydney’s first European settlement. Apparently this used to be where swashbuckling ne’er do wells lived in squalor, sloshing through open sewers and getting sloshed in the pubs. There’s still some sloshing of the latter variety happening here but it’s generally a neat place to explore.

This part of town offered more great views of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

If you look closely, you can see the lunatics who paid more than $200 to risk their lives climbing the Harbour Bridge. Um, no thank you.

I wish I remembered what was so funny? Maybe I'm laughing at you silly suckers still stuck in Northern hemisphere winter.

After The Rocks we returned to Phil’s ‘hood and had a comforting Italian dinner, then I fell to sleep before my head hit the pillow.

Day three was similarly stimulating. Our first and awesomest stop was to the Sydney Fish Market. Oh dear me, I love that place. !! Love it love it love it.

My eyes were as big as Sr. Alfonsino!

I went photo crazy so I’ll only post a few here, but you get the picture – it was a market with lots and lots of dead fishies for sale. I learned a ton as there were some exotic species here, and everything was perfectly fresh and ready to swim into my belly. According to the market’s website, it’s the largest in the Southern hemisphere and the world’s second largest in terms of variety outside Tokyo.

If you can't trust the sashimi here, you can't trust the sashimi anywhere.

Phil also enjoyed the bustling market scene.

I was so overwhelmed after the fish market that I needed a break, so we stopped in Darling Harbour and I enjoyed a bubbly.

We then walked through Chinatown and the Spanish Quarter of the city. The Spanish Quarter was HUGE. There were at least TWO restaurants serving Spanish-ish food! We had a difficult time choosing where to eat but finally chose the place claiming to serve Asturian food (from the north of Spain). Not sure if that was completely accurate but the waiter did speak the King’s Spanish (you know, with the thilly lithp) so it felt totally authentic. We decided on a typical spread of chorizo a la plancha, gambas al ajillo, pan tomate, and patatas bravas and were thus full and felices.

My last day in Sydney was spent in Phil’s part of town again. After his final bell rang at school, we conquered the Cliff Walk along the eastern beaches, from Coogee to the infamous Bondi. The path is well trodden and affords some spectacular scenery, such as


Sorry Bondi, not impressed. I’d rather live on Tamarama.

And that concluded my first trip to Sydney! The following morning Phil put me in a taxi and shipped me off to my new home, Adelaide…


Unknown said...

Hey! I know that speedo-clad old man on Cape Cod! I think I just turned green with envy thinking of the two of you on your escapades...miss you being 5 miles down the river! :(

Anonymous said...

Well written article.