Saturday, January 29, 2011
Day 5: Sydney
Day 5: Sydney
While other nations of the globe
Behold us from afar,
We'll rise to high renown and shine
Like our glorious southern star;
From England, Scotia, Erin's Isle,
Who come our lot to share,
Let all combine with heart and hand
To advance Australia fair!
In joyful strains then let us sing
"Advance Australia fair!"
Pictures: SOH, Dark Crested Cockatoo eating a huge roll, THB revisits the 2000 Olympic Volleyball venue, Manly Beach public art, SOH at sundown from the ferry
Book Review #1: The Lost Books of the Odyssey, Zachary Mason, Kindle edition. A series of vignettes retelling (unveiling?) various alternate explanations of the myths of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Fascinating mostly for the well thought out viewpoints behind the actions that drive the story as told by Homer, as well as the way different storytellers might have interpreted the actions and motivations. Almost as if new scripts for key points of the history are being tested out for expansion/revision. Recommended
Book Review #2: The Bullpen Gospels, Dirk Hayhurst, Kindle edition. Another tell-all from a minor leaguer’s point of view of the camaraderie and idiocy of a group of testosterone driven youngsters (or guys acting much younger than their ages) bonding together in the pursuit of making the major leagues, or is it to relief the boredom of months of being together playing a pretty dull sport? Dirk turns out to be a 25 year old non-drinking virgin with a loaded family history and college level intellect, so he alternates between family strife and mental anguish and the strife and anguish involved in trying to succeed at a sport where most wash out before age 25. Sometimes maudlin, overall engaging, makes a bold statement for why all sports teams at every level should hire a full-time psychologist to help the athletes cope (and to distribute more appropriate drugs). Recommended if don’t mind that there isn’t a ton of insider baseball stuff (basically none), that the ending is pure molasses, and you want to know how nice Trevor Hoffman is (now the all-time saves leader).
Up early, right on schedule, and the Opera House is suffering from a total eclipse! Hey, how could an entire World Heritage site disappear? A cruise ship snuck into town last night and is now taking up most of the view from our room. Do we ask for a new room? Call the port authorities and request a new berth? Were all those stylish people we saw last night at Customs House really cruise ship escapees out on the town? Turns out, we just wait and by the time we get back from dinner the cruisers have cruised off. View restored!
Breakfast at another local spot, for pancakes (served practically cold) with youghurt and fruit, hold the ice cream (yes, ice cream) and syrup. With one small cup of coffee and foam: $30. Actually, not bad…how weird is that?
We decide to take the early Sydney Opera House one hour tour (they have a two hour version that goes backstage, which we don’t opt for), starting at 9am. Only six of us show up, and that makes it very easy for the guide to answer all the questions and maneuver us around. See pics of SOH from various odd viewing sites. Not quite as special as the Copenhagen opera building tour, mostly because we went backstage with the Danes, still fascinating for the struggles of building the thing and how good it came out.
We then start plodding through the heat….yes, today is a scorcher with no clouds in sight…and end up at what is the Natural History museum (not its real title), to see the various animals (not live, stuffed or preserved or made up) from these parts. Pretty well displayed, and cool inside. We only have to worry about tripping other the 3 year olds running around.
More strolling at a slow pace to end up at the East Ocean restaurant, a distant cousin of the dim sum place of the same name in Emeryville. Ordering is a bit different also: you pick stuff off the menu, fill in how many you want of an item and whether it is to come with the first course or second. Nice way to make sure all the food doesn’t come at once. We order some things we don’t recognize, a few we do, and overall the quality is pretty consistent with what we get at home. Of course, the prices aren’t: $45 total, with jasmine tea and 6 dishes ordered (only six…OUCH!).
Then another long walk back to the hotel, this time THB makes it into the pool for a refreshing dip.
Off we go to Manly again via the ferry, this time to get off the ferry, walk the ocean side beaches, and have a seafood dinner. Very pleasant, fish and chips, blackened barramundi (white fish of some sort), two glasses of wine, one beer, $75. Ferry back and start getting ready for heading to Auckland tomorrow.
One final note: just outside our hotel, three or four large bats cavort every night, and sure enough there they are when we get back. Strange in an urban setting, and nobody here even notices.