Sydney first impressions- Thursday 20th October 2011


Sydney is a mix of 19th century charm and architecture mixed, quite sympathetically I think, with glass and concrete sky scrapers. A red brick banknote houses a pub (yes, I know it’s been done before) sparkling malls, ornate brickwork with arched windows and lintels over the universal plate glass shop front windows.

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The Strand is exactly equal to London’s Picadilly arcade. Mosaic, wrought iron balustrades, elegant shop front windows with extravagant prices. But how delightful to sit in the arcade, drinking coffee and eating raisin toast. In the nearby patisserie, macaroons in dainty pinks and greensand $5 a piece(smaller than their English counterparts) and a beautiful chocolatier sells selection boxes for $180.

We stroll from the Strand through paved shopping centers towards the Rocks. even with maps and the net to guide us, I am finding it hard to piece the city together. Poor John feels baffled that North and South have spun round and the sun has scuppered his natural sense of orientation in this hemisphere, but, with occasional map consultations we get there.

A true sense of “there it is!”

The Rocks, The Quays with a range of yellow and green ferries. The Bridge to the left and , of course the Opera House to the right.

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The water is clean and clean, the air brings faint salt in the gentle cooling breeze. A corner of rock beat accompanies a digareedo (and you can’t help seeing this is the only aboriginal role). The Ibis mix with seagulls. The huge overseas passenger terminal no longer serves a purpose. Loads of families and people of course, but the atmosphere is calm, relaxed. A large number of joggers thread their way through the sightseers. And I am drawn to the Opera House with an invisible longing.

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As you move towards it, its shape changes. From modern snail shells, to sailing ships. As you approach it rears up in front of you like a praying mantis, or a cathedral. Impressive! Dwarfing, yet, perhaps because of its curves, nor alienating; many faceted. Paths below offer joggers a sea view, gleaming restaurants behind sheer glass windows protecting diners and their linen table cloths. The roof. The concert hall. The foyer. I go in.

I had tried to book opera tickets from England? Don’t! Take the tour, using a coupon from the airport literature. This entitles you to a $200 ticket for half price. We book to see Don Giovanni. We also buy a week ticket for all forms of transport and instantly tryout the many ferries. Randomly this takes us to Darling Harbour, under the bridge to the business sector.

We are still trying to fool our bodies about the time shift so we must eat lunch. We miss the obvious leisure section of Darling and head off to find the business section mostly without restaurant. However, a falafel and juice come our way and we make our way on the free 555 bus back to our flat, which is now ready for us to take up residency.

It’s lovely, modern, near a supermarket, clean and it has a comfy sofa and big bed. We are VERY tired and sleep peacefully after our first day.

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