August 11th, 2016

First day of school

A perfect day in Sydney

From Mom, with tiuches from me.

Perfect weather
Perfect activities
Perfect surprises

But first, flashback Wednesday:

Last night, we walked one block over to a Chinese restaurant recommended by the front desk clerk, and lo! We'd stumbled on Foodie Heaven! As the celestial music swelled, we danced from Mexican to Chinese to Thai to Lebanese to Italian to BBQ to Indian. A high end bakery and chocolatier! A fancy-schmancy gelattoria! And all on one street! It was like being in "Singing in the Rain" with gourmet food raining down in place of the water. We settled on Lebanese, (Sammi) feasting on moist lamb and (Laurie) on moist chicken kebobs, (both of us ) on creamy hummus, silky taziki, warm pita, bright green chopped salad. Superb food, friendly atmosphere.

Checking Out Another Part of the Elephant
Around 8:00am (since I'm up at 4:00 and if Mama's up, Sammi's up), we started up College Street, the main thoroughfare, a lovely wide street reminiscent of Museum Mile in NYC, dotted with an eclectic and charming mix of old and new, including the Mint, fountains honoring war heroes, the majestic church of St. Mary, the Library (more on that later), tall shiny modern buildings, and museums. The weather was perfect, perhaps around 65 with a gorgeous clear blue sky, the kind we get on those perfect crisp Thorton Wilder autumn days. Sammi thinks downtown Sydney looks like Boston, but the colonial British buildings with wide shutters and full-length verandas remind me of the governmental section of New Delhi, sans beggars.

The Library.
Oh! The library! I'd pay homage to the citizens of Sydney for the library alone. I suspect it's the Australia equivalent of the NYC mothership, sans the lions Patience and Fortitude (sorry. Had to flaunt my knowledge of their names. Shameless.) Anyway, the facade looks like the Museum of Natural History, but the inside is the marble and towering ceilings and shelves of Library of Congress plus the stained glass of Trinity College plus the modern steel and glass of the Princeton Public Library. The clashing styles should not work, but, boy, do they ever. I could have moved in, but had to content myself with a 15 minute schmooze with two of the librarians, one of whom had taken the Port Jeff ferry to Connecticut.

A Three Hour Tour, a Mandatory Tour
Fortunately, our tour worked out better than the Skipper's and Gilligan's did (not to mention Captain Cook's in Hawaii) because we had an outrageously good guide, a former teacher/actress my age, who knew everything and sat and talked with us for quite awhile. We saw the entire harbor, all the landmarks, and even learned where Russell Crowe lived (on the water) and how much he paid for his house (a lot) Ditto on Cate Blanchett. The guide loved Crowe, admired Blanchett, but thought her husband had a notable lack of talent. The guide, as with every single other Aussie, is soon visiting the US, and so we were able to return the knowledge she had imparted, informing her about BAM, the TKS booth, and the free museum nights. She was remarkably insightful about American history. And then...

Wake up! This is a long letter, but we did a lot today.

The Sydney Opera House
Lives up to the hype. Cool bathroom sink, too. We found a play to see Saturday, but apparently a pig is slaughtered on stage and since the $100 tix were down to $50, we decided to take a pass.

Still with me?
The Botanical Garden, not as nice as Richmond's, but boasting many unlabeled and thus unidentifiable plants. Something that looked like mangos on a fig tree, but they could just as easily have been coconuts on a crepe myrtle. Or goiters on a mutant pine tree?

A Much Needed Break
Double chocolate gelato for me, salted caramel for Sammi. From our Streets of Many Foods and better than even Friendly's mocha chip, which is saying a lot.

Random Facts in Case You are Ever on Jeopardy
1. The Sydney explorer Sir Darling had a healthy ego, hence Darling Point, Bay, Harbor, Streets, Downs, Point, and Beach. He named them all himself.
2. Explorer Philips named the bay Manley Bay because the Aboriginals there impressed him as manly. That was before they drove a ten foot spear through his right shoulder, which just proves that he was correct. Astonishingly, he did not die, nor did he change the name of the place to "Darling Bay."
3. Water is supposed to go down the drain counterclockwise in this hemisphere, but I keep forgetting to look.