February 12, 2007

Sydney: blue harbors & gilded lifestyles

I love Sydney!
What a beautiful, exciting city–it is like the New York of Australia (I've never been to NY). We saw city folk parading among skyscrapers, expansive gardens, the Opera House, Harbor Bridge, old suburbs dripping with history all under the Australian sun, extra strong from the hole in the ozone. My calves are still burning from walking all over the city, we also took ferry rides across the harbor.

I enjoy the rare occasion I'm a passenger on a boat, why don't I travel by water more often? Oh, that's right...I live in Tucson, Arizona!

Stayed at the Star City Casino Hotel in Sydney, with an awesome view of the city skyline. Nathan and I went downstairs to the casino when we arrived, we lost $40 in 5 minutes on the roulette tables. We should have played slot machines instead, because the fun lasts longer. Ironically, a few days later, void of hostility toward the casino for stealing our money, we returned with better luck. We split $7 dollars on the slot machines. I hit a semi-jackpot and $40 in one dollar coins spilled out. I won back how much we lost earlier, it was perfect, I can understand how people can become addicted to gambling.

Below is the view from the 12th floor of the hotel. Sydney's skyline is so beautiful and the harbor shines like diamonds in the morning. Three different cruise ships from all over the world were docked in Sydney harbor during our stay– gigantic, titanic ships with millions of tiny windows.

We had dinner (or "tea" as you would call it in Australia, being invited for tea at 5 o'clock really means dinner) right on the harbor. I feel healthy from eating fresh fish and vegetables and walking like a marathon tourist.

My adorable parents, Marian and David. My mom's hair is not as white as it appears. They've been married for 25 years. They enjoyed sharing Sydney with us, but we should've climbed the Harbor Bridge tower, Dad would've enjoyed it.

Lily pads, the most magical of all pond plants in Sydney's botanical gardens.

Visiting the Opera House was the trip's highlight. The Opera House was perched on hundreds of steps and pointed toward the sky; the exterior walls looked like armadillo skin; and the shape of the building like sails of a ship, butterfly wings or a futuristic landscape after the earth's destruction.

The ship below, titled "The Bloody Storm," was filled with intoxicated pirates tickled pink at the idea of Australian mermaids.

The surface of the Opera House was not as bright white as I imagined from Olympic footage. I wondered if one cleaner jumped down with suction shoes and a soapy sponge to scrub the side of the building. More likely, rain washes the dirt away.

Interactive science exhibits and designs across time were displayed at the Powerhouse Museum, a major public museum in Sydney. I saw the "Red and Blue Chair," Givenchy (who dressed Audrey Hepburn) gowns, Bauhaus kettles, 60s furniture, Art Deco textiles, posters and ceramics. I recognized them from books and classes at UC Davis. Seeing beautifully designed objects and their progression through time fills my heart.

I adore art history, like vegetarians like cheese.

On a Sunday, we managed to catch a street fair in "The Rocks" where people sold arts and crafts. The man below was demonstrating his $300 didgeridoos, a musical instrument of Australian Aborigines made from a long wooden tube that is blown into to create a low drone. Two couples with Texas accents were thinking of buying one, but only the largest and deepest sounding instrument. So they had the vendor scrambling to try each pieces, he was becoming out of breath from the frequent circular breathing. It was amusing to watch tourists interact.

There was a filming of a bollywood film in downtown Sydney. Yes, a bollywood scene, with singing, synchronized dancing and bright costumes. I know nothing of the film, except the director was female.

We had a beer at an old pub in The Rocks, a historic, hip suburb of Sydney. It was called "The Hero of Waterloo" with history oozing out of the walls. It has a 'secret passage' which we've heard runs from the pub down to the dockside, used, apparently, for smuggling, escaping and punishment for intoxicated minors who were put on ships and woken miles out to sea.

We took an iconic trip to the Sydney Zoo, which was nothing compared to San Diego's Zoo. These gorgeous koalas don't drink water, they only eat a certain type of eucalyptus leaves. And they can sleep up to 18 hours a day.

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