One to Grow On

January 9, 2010

Big Leap Forward in Space and Time

Filed under: Uncategorized — midway2go @ 4:51 pm

So here we are in Sydney. I had such high hopes, of lusciousness and sparkling  blue waters and leafy neighborhoods and friendly people, but I have to say, it got off to a slow start. We flew in under cloudy skies and got settled, with mixed feelings, into our guest house. We headed out to explore the neighborhood, Glebe, and were tickled. We’re on a street with every kind of international restaurant, from Mexican (a real exotic and expensive treat here) to Spanish tapas to Indian take-out to Turkish with belly-dancing. We ended up at a Lebanese place, where we put ourselves in the hands of the owner. Plate after plate of yummy food arrived at our table. I can say without hesitation that it was the best babaganouj I’ve ever had. Yum. She even made us grain-free tabouleh. We had a plate of homemade pickles, everything from peppers to olives to small eggplants stuffed with nuts. Unbelievable. There was hummus, falafel, lentils and rice. It was our kind of food, just what I would cook if I had the resources. We ate until we were sore. What a feast. I could have cried.

Fortified by good food and good company (each other, of course!) we braved the local shopping center. Ugh. An enclosed mall with a massive parking lot, maybe 6 stories, that let’s you know that even in this metropolitan city with great bus service this is a land devoted to the individual in a car. Very much like America, and not the thing about home I miss. Inside we found K-Mart, Target, and four floors of stores. We were on the hunt for Coles, a supermarket, to provision ourselves to use the kitchen back at the guesthouse. Well, we could have been in the States, only with higher prices. The grocery store was huge and shiny, with a whole aisle of breakfast cereal (although maybe not as junky as ours and with lots more muesli to choose from). The seafood department maybe felt like the Australia of legend, with huge shrimp and piles of whole red snapper and sardines and what looked like mini-swordfish.

 We left with two sacks of good gluten and dairy free food, but feeling discontent and vaguely empty. I was hoping we wouldn’t have to go back. Well, no such luck. The thing is, those big mall places are so durn useful. All those services and goods under one roof.

The very next morning we were back, looking for a sim card for our cell phone. I tried to get one in a few different small shops, but each one told me to try K-Mart or Target. Back into Retail Hell we went, to three different stores before we got what we needed. By then I was ill as a hornet and the kids were pinching and pushing and yelling and basically desperate for a playground. We stumbled onto a great one, and they burned off tons of energy while I called my mom and consulted a map.

 Ten minutes later we came upon Darling Harbour. Now, by the sound of it, you’d expect charming shops and sailboats floating gently on the water. Something cute. Charming.   In fact the harbour is named after a government man from days gone by, and many things in Sydney (and maybe all across Australia) are billed as “Darling.” We’ll just see about that. Back to the harbour… it was not darling but it was action packed. It’s completely given over to keeping tourists happy, with museums and animal shows and street performers and a circus tent set up, flags flying, and a couple of great playgrounds. We played on another playground (more about that later) and then headed for the Maritime Museum. They had an exhibit on Mythical Creatures, and no way were we going to miss that. We saw models of the Kracken and Rocs and read about the cultural differences between Asian and European dragons and the deeper significance of mermaids. We even caught part of a Indonesian shadow puppet show. And did I mention it was all free? We were pretty jazzed to go aboard an almost exact replica of Captain Cook’s Endeavor, except for the tiny matter of the engine required by modern regulation. Built in the last 15 years it has sailed the world in Cook’s footsteps. And did I mention it would have been more than $40 to go aboard? We just looked from the dock and asked the informative volunteer lots of questions. Oh, well.

We purposely took a ferry from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay to get a great view of the Opera House, only to find that rather than being sparkling white, crisply standing on the brink of the glittery sea, it was creamy and soft nestled against dull water. Lots of water, but, still… Our ferry stopped off at Luna Park, an amusement park catty-corner across water to the Opera House, almost tucked under the Harbour Bridge. It’s entrance is the mouth of a giant laughing head with chipped teeth. Manic and creepy, but really enticing. We could hear the screams from the rickety-looking roller-coaster riders and bells and clangs from who-knows-what. It was pretty inviting. Now, I don’t know why we didn’t go. Oh, well. Next time.

 So much of my hopes for Sydney hinged on sunshine – bright, hot, cornea-dulling sunshine. What we had instead was cloudiness that threatened rain but delivered sunburn. Even the photos look dull and muggy. But I’d forgotten what warm, humid weather feels like, how your skin feels like it’s breathing, how little hairs stick to your neck and temples. It is wonderful. So nice to be hot again, even by a sun you can’t see for clouds.

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2 Comments »

  1. Enjoy the heat as you did the concert, with joy and exuberance. Love, Grandma Barbara

    Comment by Grandma Barbara — January 11, 2010 @ 11:46 am

  2. Hey there Chrislyn, Rory and Nora!! Hope you are enjoying yourselves, by the way this is a fantastic website… you write so much! Keep having fun in Australia! Love, Laura and Simonne

    Comment by Laura — January 21, 2010 @ 6:07 am


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