Sydney And Its Icons
It is the largest, oldest and most cosmopolitan city in Australia with an enviable reputation as one of the world's most beautiful and liveable cities. Brimming with history, nature, culture, art, fashion, cuisine, design, it is set next to miles of ocean coastline and sandy surf beaches. The city is also home to the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge, two of the most iconic structures on the planet.
After spending the morning flying the 747 simulator with my couchsurfing host Rod, I met up with David in downtown Sydney to walk around the central business district.
My Idea of Shopping
First, we headed over to Chinatown since I needed to buy a new pair of sunglasses (my fifth on this trip) as well as an umbrella (it has been raining every day in Sydney). Needless to say that once I bought the umbrella, there was no rain either in Sydney or in Melbourne while I was there. You are welcome. The Chinatown itself was even more 'civilized' than the one in Singapore. There were no street stalls at all with the main market housed inside the Market City building. Another purchase I was eager to make was a jar of protein powder. After losing some weight traveling through south east Asia, it was time to get some of it back. I found the prices to be between 50% more and double of those in US, but it was still cheaper than the rip-offs in Bangkok.
CBD and Darling Harbor
Later, we walked through Hyde Park, past Queen Victoria Building and St. Andrew's cathedral to the Darling Harbor area. There we spent a few hours strolling along the waterfront, checking out some crazy street gymnast performers and watched an impressive fireworks display in the middle of Cockle Bay with Sydney's CBD in the background. David was craving some pancakes so we grabbed some of those for dinner before I had to catch one of the last buses to Gladesville.
Opera House and Harbor Bridge
I spent the second day in Sydney walking around looking for a good shot of its iconic landmarks. I got a few ides from Ilya Genkin's blog and got off the bus on Bridge street to walk through the botanical gardens. Those reminded me of the Central Park in New York City - a huge green space contrasting with skyscrapers at one of its sides. There were a lot of birds at the gardens and I also saw a bunch of flying foxes hanging from the trees. Exiting to the north, I walked along the bay to Mrs Macquarie’s Point point for a good view of the Opera House, the bridge, and North Sydney.
Next, I walked back along the shore to the Opera House, past Circular Key wharf, into the Rocks district. I found the visitor center, picked up a few brochures, and headed up to Harbor Bridge. The bridge itself is pretty massive with six lanes of traffic, two rail lines, and a pedestrian walkway. It was really windy up there and he walkway was surrounded by metallic mesh with barbed wire at the top - a bit too much? It took me good 20 minutes to walk across the harbor and another 20 minutes to make it to Kirribilli area. While having a nice view from a small pier there, I was not able to fit the Opera House and the bridge in one photo with my camera, so I walked back to Luna Park area to get a few more pictures. Once back at the house, Rod treated me to some delicious grilled kangaroo steaks to complete the Sydney experience.
Since it was too early for me to apply for Brazilian visa while I was still in US, I spent my last half day in Sydney doing just that. After getting all paperwork printed out at a Regus center, I got the money order (it was crazy expensive at $6.95…) and headed over to the consulate. I had to wait about thirty minutes for my turn to come up and just before calling me up, they asked if anyone was there to pick up their visas. A few people were and while they were getting their documents, more folks came in. At the same time, they grabbed a few Brazilians and took care of them as well. While that added another half an hour to my wait, it was nice to see them treating their own citizens well (a stark contrast to the treatment I received at the Ukrainian consulate in Chicago last year).