Friday, September 9, 2016

Messages From Myanmar #18

Messages From Myanmar #18
Australian Vacation Special - Part 3 of 6
10 September 2016

Photo Update Alert:

Day 7 - Sun., 08/21 - Adelaide (and my 69th Birthday)

Our flight to Sydney being scheduled for late afternoon, we had time to visit the Cleland Wildlife Park, near Mount Lofty. The day was clear and cool, and we had a lovely time visiting with the kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, emus, dingos, and koalas. The kangaroos are especially friendly and keen to eat the animal food purchased at the visitors center. I can also testify that at least one of the roos enjoyed having his back rubbed and chin skritched like a cat.

After lunch, our exemplary host gave us a lift to the Adelaide Airport, where we caught our flight to Sydney. Prearranged transport took us to the Harbour Rocks Hotel, a boutique establishment located in “The Rocks,” where the first English convict ships dropped anchor in 1788. We had supper in a trendy and noisy eatery located near the Harbour Bridge. The walk up the steps was tenuous and the food was average, but the view was outstanding.

Day 8 - Mon., 08/22 - Sydney

Sydney is a scenic, sprawling, and very expensive city. It is also convenient to navigate once you suss out the excellent public transportation system. We started our day by walking out onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge to take in the view. Deciding that halfway across was about right, we returned to Circular Quay and boarded a ferry to the Australian Maritime Museum. As a former sailor, this was a primo destination.

It is a great museum, comparable, in my opinion, to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, DC. We toured a submarine, a destroyer, and a replica of the HMB Endeavor, Lt. (later Capt.) James Cook’s first command. (A.J. and I had serious issues with the lack of overhead on both the sub and the Endeavor.) In addition to the regular exhibits, we also took in a special exhibition titled “Ships, Clocks & Stars: The Quest for Longitude.” We know something of this history and find it utterly fascinating.

After a visit to the extensive gift shoppe (gotta visit the gift shoppe), we decided to take the ferry back to the hotel and make arrangements to meet some friends of ours, newly relocated to Sydney from London, for dinner the next night. And as the rain settled in, so, too, did we.

Day 9 - Tues., 08/23 - Sydney Opera House

I try to resist rhapsodizing, but the Sydney Opera House is one of those works of humankind that lives up to the hype. Controversial, and completed years behind schedule and millions of dollars over budget, it has become an architectural embodiment of one of the most overused words in the English language: Icon. Sydney is defined by it and, should you ever have an opportunity to visit, GO!

We arrived for the first tour of the day and were taken in hand by Bruce, a very entertaining and knowledgeable guide. We visited the Concert Hall, where we listened to a youth orchestra warm up. (The sound is quite big.) We sneaked into the Joan Sutherland Theatre just before they closed it for rehearsals of “My Fair Lady,” directed by Dame Julie Andrews. (Dame Julie was not in evidence.) We learned about personal drama and political intrigue, as well as the brilliance of Danish engineering. It was a marvelous morning.

That afternoon, we took a ferry to Watson’s Bay, “Australia’s oldest fishing village,” ate fish & chips at a local joint, and strolled along the coastal walk, taking in views of Sydney on one side and the South Pacific on the other. Very pleasant; then, back on the boat.

By this time, we were savvy enough to catch a train from Circular Quay to Bondi Junction, where our aforementioned friends met us for dinner. We had last seen them when they stayed at our apartment in Buenos Aires and were still planning their move from England to Australia. They are lovely, talented, artistic people and it was very special to visit with them again.

To be continued...


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