Today was our first of two in Sydney. We had an objective: we needed to buy a couple more suitcases, as we’ve bought so many souvenirs and gifts for the folks back home that there’s no way they’re fitting into the luggage we brought.
Luckily, the couple who’d had the table next to ours at dinner for the last leg of the trip was from Australia, and gave us some great guidance about where to find reasonably priced luggage, and how to get there. It turns out, Sydney public transportation is really easy to use, and there’s a big station at the quayside.
The downtown shopping district is interesting – there’s not really any traffic on the main street with all the shops, because it’s taken up by the light rail line. Cars can drive on it, but they mainly go from hotel driveways to the nearest cross street. There are also quite a few pedestrian arcades, so walking around was easy and enjoyable.
Sure enough, we found the department store with reasonably priced luggage, and to make it even better, they were having a one-day-only 40% off sale. SCORE! Although it meant that for the rest of the afternoon, we had to roll two huge suitcases all over town with us. Luckily, there were lots of people who had taken advantage of the sale and were doing the same.
That evening, we had tickets to the opera. The Sydney Opera House is right on the waterfront, so the only traveling we had to do was from the ship at anchor in the harbor on a tender to the quayside. It was kind of nice traveling with a little boat full of people all dressed up for the opera.
Everyone has seen pictures of the outside of the Sydney Opera House, but very few people have seen pictures of the inside. The two surprising things: it’s smaller than you’d think, and it’s done in that kind of “we can make concrete look decorative” style popular in the 1970s. But the opera itself was excellent, and we had a really wonderful evening.
Our second day in Sydney. We went into town again, this time all the way to Town Hall, right next to Saint Andrews Cathedral, a beautiful Gothic Revival church. The bells were ringing for the service as we got off the train, and it was lovely to just stand there on a lovely morning in early autumn, listening to them.
Yesterday, we had the first decent Mexican food we’d had in 2 ½ months. There’s no way you’re getting decent Mexican food on a ship that offers “avocado chutney,” and hates any kind of condiment that might accidentally add flavor. The place in Sydney was a chain called “Mad Mex,” and in addition to decent food, they offered a fun mix of covers of popular music from the 1980s and 1990s – a dubstep version of the Men at Work song “Down Under,” a fun cover of the Eiffel 65 song “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” – stuff like that. So of course, not knowing the next time we’d see Mexican food, we had to have it for lunch again.
Later, we went to the Museum of Contemporary Art. Australia is great about acknowledging the indigenous people’s claims to the land, and celebrating their culture. Then again, there are an awful lot of white people making an awful lot of money on it, mostly by being the ones doing the selling of indigenous art. The MOCA is mostly indigenous art, and it was great fun.
We came back to the ship just as it started to sprinkle, and decided to have dinner on the balcony of our room. We sat there, eating our dinner and waving at people going by on ferries, who waved back. Just as the sun was going down, flying foxes (a large species of bat) flew past the ship. I’ve only ever seen pictures of them, so was delighted to see them in person. They’re HUGE! (Okay, huge for bats.) There they went, off to hunt some elusive wild fruit.