Thursday, November 02, 2006

Sydney Day 1

This morning Aaron and I met Karen for breakfast at the Spoon in the West End (another restaurant called the Spoon, I'm thinking it's a chain!) and I got handed off to Karen for my ride to the airport.

I arrived in Sydney on time and an hour ahead of Brisbane. The rest of Australia had changed to daylight savings time while I'd been in Queensland (they don't change). After a packed shuttle ride to the CBD, I got to the Wynyard Hotel (say win-yard). This historical downtown hotel is located right above the pub. No bathrooms in the rooms, but there is a kitchen for residents with free toast any time of the day. If I lose my cash at the pokies (slot machines, poker machines) downstairs I can at least catch up on my peanut butter intake for the year.

Settled in, I threw my Lonely Planet into my bag and made my way to an internet cafe on George Street. Sadly the download speed was less than desired. So I made my way back outside into the shopping district and and saw a gigantic building across the street. This one building was a city block long. Intrigued, I stepped inside. The Queen Victoria Building (QVB) is four stories of retail glory, complete with Christmas decorations.
Yep, that's a Christmas tree. A big, evergreen pine tree with ornaments. Doesn't quite make sense since evergreen trees like that don't exist on this continent.

With the rest of the day calling, I left the QVB and headed north to Circular Quay. (Well, not on purpose. I thought going all the way to the Quay would be too far, but I missed the park I was looking for (turns out that it was a building- I have no idea why it was special enough to make the map) and ended up there. (It wasn't that far.)

Two major icons that you hear about when you travel to Sydney are the opera house and the Harbor Bridge. It's amazing how close they are to each other.
Knowing I'd spend some quality time getting a closer look at these in the coming days, I wandered around the neighbourhood between them called the Rocks. The Rocks was the site of the first European settlement and soon became the center of commerce, prime real estate, and oh yeah, riddled by the bubonic plague. These days it's mostly warehouses converted into art galleries. And pubs.

A couple of wrong turns and I was looking at the wrong end of a very long staircase. As I made my way back up hill, I noticed that the walls were seeping. Not just a couple of drips, but enough water coming out of this sandstone to have plants sprout out of the retaining wall. I'm no geotechnical engineer, but, I think that is somehow a bad sign for the rock that makes the footing of a gigantic bridge.

I headed back to my hotel and had some dinner in the pub downstairs. It was poker night and the crowd was not very social outside of the card tables, so I headed back outside for an evening stroll. When I checked in earlier in the day, I noticed a bit of blue water peeking out from the end of the block, so tonight I went to check it out.

Turns out that a short few blocks away from the hotel is Darling Harbor. Darling Harbor is a renovated docklands lined with a promenade of shopping and restaurants. King Street wharf is where I will catch the ferry out to Manly. Cockle Bay wharf (they are only separated by a pedestrian bridge to the other side of the harbour) is home to the aquarium and more restaurants and shops. The promenade just kept going and going to the IMAX, to Tumbalong Park, to more restaurants and more shops. I decided to stop once I lost sight of the harbour and I found my way back to the hotel.

Vocab of the Day
Brekky: breakfast
Shout: Your turn to pay/your treat at the pub/restaurant.

When we sat down to for brekky, Karen said, "It's my shout, so you guys get whatever you want!" I had French toast. Again.

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