I was off to a flying start and, although yesterday’s violent storm had gone, the air remained humid and it was very much a day for a slower pace. However,… I wandered across to the outdoor cafe across from my hotel and was delighted with the fresh orange juice, the toasted ham and cheese croissant and the two cups of ‘flat white’. Ahh…. great coffee – how I have missed you! People on their way to work came and enjoyed a variety of different options, which all looked excellent. I can so easily understand why people love living here in this relaxed open air environment and people went to work with a smile. A bus passed by declaring “Smile, you’re in Sydney” and who wouldn’t?
Having walked down to the Harbour to purchase my $22 “all day – go anywhere on any transport ticket”, I was flabbergasted to find that the guy in the kiosk not only remembered me, but recalled that I had bought a ticket for Manly yesterday. I didn’t think I was that memorable! He had all sorts of recommendations for my day (for a lady enjoying her own company!). These were in addition to the ones I had planned, so I found myself first of all on a 40 mile bus ride to the north beaches to see what Aussies really like.
Palm Beach was almost deserted (apart from its two steadfast lifeguards) and I could see the attraction. Miles of sand and some quite good surf with a couple of bars and a surf shop for completeness. I could have hopped off at any number of similar beaches and harbours, but would have to save these for another time.
Then it was back to the train (an incredible piece of transport with 3 decks). Why on earth do we not think of doing this sort of thing. My station was right by the ferries, so, without further ado, I was off to Darling Harbour. Having gone over the Harbour Bridge in the bus an hour or two previously, the ferry took me underneath it this time. From Darling Harbour, it was time to walk and take in even more of this vibrant city on foot, via The Rocks and various significant buildings. A bit like London, some of the modern tower buildings have sprung up around the historic ones to the point of almost swamping them. A quick stop by my hotel to ask the receptionist for some help with the printing of boarding cards for my flights to and from Melbourne and a check-in with the concierge to see if he had any luck with getting me a ticket for tonight’s performance of The Magic Flute at the Opera House. No luck so far but I have not given up in spite of refusing to pay the top price of $359.
Lunch happened rather late for me (5 pm) and in short order I was surrounded by guys exiting their offices and stopping for a beer. Good natured ribbing followed because I was on my own and “a Pom” at that!! They wanted to tell me all about the last Ashes Tour but still feel the pain of Johnny Wilkinson’s boot and say that he will never be welcome in Australia again! I didn’t think their suggestion that I bring back lots of t-shirts celebrating their cricketing whitewash would be well received! Sport is taken very seriously here and losing is extremely painful for them, so they only joke about their victories.