We’ve had a lovely first few days in Sydney along with my older brother, catching up, reminiscing and visiting places around town. He arrived from Queensland (located in the northeast of Australia) just an hour or so after our train arrived in Sydney. He had booked himself a hotel in our neighborhood not knowing we were staying here, and the hotel turned out to be only a couple of blocks away from our apartment, so it was easy for us to get together each day.
My brother has lived in Queensland for over 40 years, working for the Australian Institute of Marine Science as an oceanographer and chief research scientist. He has both Australian and U.S. citizenship. His wife was a veterinarian, and both of them recently retired.
We met up early Thursday morning to go down to the harbor for a ferry ride across to Manly Beach. Temperatures that day were predicted to reach the mid-90s, and they did – the weather was beastly, and the heat draining. Being out on the water was lovely though, with nice breezes as we rode along the water both coming and going, and stunning views all around. We got our first glimpse of the opera house which completely exceeded all of our expectations, and of the magnificent Sydney Harbor Bridge as well, another famous landmark. We also got views of the prime minister’s and governor-general’s official houses, the navy base, the zoo up on the hill and other sites.
When we got off at Manly, the heat unfortunately was at its worst and we quickly found we barely had the energy to walk around. We had hoped to eat lunch out there, but the heat took away our appetites. The air was actually shimmering at one point because it was so hot so we ducked into a small restaurant and ordered cool drinks and sat and chatted for a while before heading back to the ferry for a cool ride back to the quay.
My brother had a shopping errand to take care of downtown, so Brett and I decided we’d go along and look for a replacement for my pilfered sunscreen/moisturizer (I realized later that a bar of special soap from one of our Indian hotels had also gone missing from the bag). We did find a product I could use, but taking care of that small errand was when l fell and broke my toe. Thankfully I could still (somewhat painfully) walk, and we stopped at a supermarket on the way to our apartment for supplies, relaxed at our apartment for a while, and then all headed out for dinner at a nearby fish restaurant.
I took the day off Friday to rest and keep my foot iced and elevated, while my brother and Brett went out to do “boy stuff.” The weather had nicely cooled off so they headed back downtown to the harbor area to visit the Maritime Museum as well as the Powerhouse museum just down the road from it, filled with steam engines and other mechanical stuff that Brett loves to look at. It took them several hours to do both, and they both thoroughly enjoyed themselves. We again all hung out in our apartment for a while to enjoy some wine, cheese and conversation, and then walked over to an Italian restaurant next door to the fish restaurant we’d eaten at the night before. The restaurant was very busy, and we waited an hour for a table, but our dinners made the wait completely worth it – the food was that good.
My brother was scheduled to head for home this afternoon (there has been massive flooding in the area near his home), but this morning we decided to take the guided tour of the opera house before he had to leave. The tour was absolutely FABULOUS, worth every penny, and we had a great (and funny) guide who spoke like an announcer on British nature shows, where they sort of bring things down to nearly a whisper for the really interesting tidbits of information. As for the opera house itself, it was beyond stunning, both inside and out, and we loved learning its history, from idea to design to construction, and about its future (renovations are taking place). We were also quite lucky to be able to be one of the last groups to be able to enter both the main concert hall and the opera theater as events were being held in both this morning – we got in to view them just before they opened to the public and tours could no longer go in. Unfortunately, because of final preparations going on for the events we weren’t allowed to take photos inside the actual halls and theaters.
After the tour we all sat outside beside the harbor and had coffee and chatted some more, then said our good-byes. The last time I had seen my brother was in 2005, and neither of us know now when we’ll be able to see each other again. However, both of us are travelers, and now that we’re retired there’s a very good chance we’ll meet up somewhere again sooner rather than later.
Although it was very humid today, it was still cool-ish, and my toe thankfully didn’t hurt too much, so Brett and I decided to walk home from the Opera House along the harbor and through the Sydney Botanical Gardens. We decided to stop for lunch at the Garden’s cafe, ordered a plate of fish & chips to share, and sat outside to enjoy the beautiful surroundings. I was thrilled to discover that a kookaburra was sitting on a sign just looking over where we were sitting as I had very much wanted to see one in the wild. However, this turned out to be one of those “be careful what you wish for” events, and a true dining adventure, because the next thing we knew we were being dive-bombed not once but twice by the kookaburra as it attempted to snatch a piece of our fish! The attacks scared us out of our wits as they happened VERY quickly, and literally without warning, but thankfully we didn’t have to “share” any of our fish, especially after I set my purse up on the table next to the plate which blocked the bird’s view of our lunch.
We have some great activities planned around town for the next three days, so hopefully the weather will continue to cooperate and not heat up again! But so far, heat and broken toe aside, we are thoroughly enjoying our time in Sydney, and I’m so grateful I got the chance to spend some time with my brother.