Thursday, June 30, 2011

Day One: Sydney

*this post has photos coming but I'll add them later

Ahhh, sleep, the elixir of the angels. Jarrah was up crashing around at 3:00 a.m. and I was like "Somebody just kill me now." David somehow got her to take the iTouch into the bathroom and (never been achieved before) go back to sleep until six, and now we're all up and starving. I actually find the peculiar, unexpected hunger pains to be the worst part of crossing the International Date Line.

Not sure what we're doing today, but it's a free day before our coach trip to the Blue Mountains tomorrow. I know we're seeing Carolyn and I'm thrilled about that.

Yesterday turned out to be a great day. One of my guide books says "No matter what you do in Sydney, or how long you stay, it will always seem like it was not enough," and I concur. We had a day that was nothing like the time we spent here eight years ago, but it was special in a new way.

First, a walk across the pedestrian bridge--very near our hotel--to Darling Harbour, or Cockle Bay Harbour, or whatever adorable thing it goes by. It's very touristy, with places to see giant crocs and numerous gelato opportunities, but it's still pretty. We ate breakfast in one of the dozens of cafes, and I couldn't resist taking a photo of my first lemon-lime-and-bitters and flat white in far too long--they were both perfect. While we ate, we watched the new (to us) monorail going over the water, and thought it might be fun to take a ride. It's a circular route and we got a day pass, so we got on and off a couple of times.

Our first stop was the Powerhouse Museum, which has been in the same spot since the 1800s, and it was a wonder. The space itself was a fascinating warren of nooks and crannies and tiny staircases, and it was full of interactive gadgets and displays about computers, space, fashion, engines, and more. We enjoyed losing our balance in the space capsule (David swore it wasn't moving, but my stomach told me otherwise) and seeing how conductive we were in the electric chair. Also loved learning about the evil-sounding chemical compounds in famous perfumes. The space was cavernous, dimly lit and pleasantly warm, which was really perfect for a family of sleepyheads. Even the kids playground out back was cool.

Across the street was Hannah's Pies, but not those pies, Dear Readers. Not a cherry in sight. These were glorious little hand-held meat and veg pies, and they were sooo good. We wandered around a very non-touristy neighborhood, pies in hand, enjoying the cool, overcast day, the likes of which we never saw during our last visit during a particularly brutal Oz summer.

Back on the monorail, we headed to city center and strolled through the pedestrian malls during a busy workday afternoon, with many people rushing to and fro, street performers, giant blinking signs. I wondered what Jarrah was making of big-city life, but she seemed unfazed. After what seemed like a long way, we passed through a stand of trees and emerged in Circular Quay, with the grand Harbour Bridge rising up before us. This took me back to our last trip, when we stayed in The Rocks, and it was like no time had passed. We walked around the perimeter of the Quay (well, Jarrah ran) admiring the harbour and the Opera House (Jarrah was excited because she'd drawn it in school), wandering past the people enjoying glasses of wine and surprising numbers of cigarettes as the sun went down over the sparkling water and the crazy lights of Luna Park began to twinkle.

We were feeling nicely spacey, kept semi-alert by the chill and our stroll. Not quite up for the walk back, we found the free green bus that would take us up George St, but ended up missing it. Here's where I could tell that Jarrah was starting to lose it, in less dramatic fashion than I'd pictured--as the bus pulled away and left us in the now-dark depot, tears began to roll down her face and her little shoulders heaved: "We missed it...we missed we'll never get home." Readers, you'll be relieved to know another green bus came along, we got good seats, and our final stop of the night was "Grill'D," a burger place in Harbourside. We were a bit too finished to fully enjoy it, but man, those were some good burgers--David got lamb, and I had a combo of chicken, carrots, salad, "beetroot" and sweet chilli sauce...oh, soooo good. I absolutely love the Australian penchant for putting beetroot on everything.

The bed was comfortable, at least I think it was. Then again, I think I would have passed out on plywood as long it reclined 180 degrees.


Jen said...

Loving these posts! Hope you continue to have a wonderful trip and that Jarrah continues to surprise you in beautiful ways. So excited for you three!


Mary said...

Enjoying your tales! Can't wait to see photos! Jarrah sounds like a fantastic travel mate!


p.s. Hello to Jarrah from Joy!

Aunt LoLo said...

What an absolutely fantastic day! I keep thinking how different this is from, say...if my family took a trip back to MY husband's old stomping ground. There is no such thing as Children Running Free. There are far too many people!!

But, man, a trip to AUSTRALIA??! That's sounding lovely!!