Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sydney day 3 Friday

I had a list of what I wanted to do in Sydney, but after us going out in the morning for a pint of milk and getting saturated by rain, I modified our plan for the day.

We caught the 311 bus to Observatory Park. Great views of parts of Sydney from the high ground of Observatory Park. We did not go inside the Observatory. I am not very interested in skies. Learning a bit about it being a navigation point and the time ball was interesting.

We had planned to get the bus back to Circular Quay, but it was a bit of a walk back to the bus terminus and the service was infrequent. It is not so far to walk, I told R, as we stared across the multitude of car, bus and train lanes travelling across the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I remembered seeing what looked like a tunnel when we walked up the steep hill to the park. Yep, it went under the bridge and we were quickly in a market street at The Rocks. We have done The Rocks to death on previous visits. I knew my way from there to Circular Quay train station. We caught the train to Central and the tram, Sydney people like to call it a light rail, to Dulwich Hill. The tram originally terminated at Lilyfield but the line has been extended to Dulwich Hill. The only reason really is that there was an existing goods train line to the location. Nevertheless, the tram was busy enough along the way and I would call it successful.

There was little to see at Dulwich Hill, but near the tram terminus was quite a good cafe where we lunched. The two guys who seemed to be owner operators of the cafe where Middle Eastern looking and quite hot. We were catching the train back to the city and with some minutes to spare we stood on the street near the station and one of the owners came out and had a cigarette as he crossed the road to his very smart sports car. He zoomed up the street with much exhaust pipe roaring and then parked in another space. A sexy and slightly sleazy bloke. Would not do me at all!

The return trip to town on the train was uneventful. We alighted at Town Hall Station and I wanted to see Martin Place as I had not been there since it was first constructed. I had forgotten about Pitt Street Mall and we crossed from George Street via Strand Arcade. Martin Place was a bit benign and then we saw the tv Channel 7 studio, opposite the Lindt Cafe where the awful murders were committed. We were suddenly sad and I had no inclination to take photos. We walked a little further and caught the 380 bus back to our hotel.

Where to go for dinner? We had a glass of wine in our room. We stepped out to Oxford Street and went to Columbian Hotel where we had a few glasses of wine. My wine glasses were now perched on my nose and every bloke looked hot, in some way. He was older than me, so no great cred, but I detected him looking sideways at me. Huh R, I can still pull. It was time to move on and I gave the old dude our pub raffle tickets. He began to bang on about odds of death and winning a raffle. Cheers man, see you. The Columbian Hotel is great and the staff very nice. A Kiwi drag queen was the hostess for the evening.

More wine was had at the Courthouse Hotel, where we sat outside in the warm evening air and watched the passing parade. I will say by this point we were not quite sober but enjoying ourselves immensely. We are supposed to eat.

We walked a little further along Oxford Street. Fancy a little Greek, my dear? Why not. I got upsold. Would you like a salad with your lamb balls? I replied yes but immediately realised what had happened. No matter, the salad with the Greek balls was perfect for us to share.

It was quite wet when we set out, but did improve as the day went on.

The bridge from an different angle to the normal.

Anzac Bridge in the distance.

The works going on mid picture are for the creation of Barangaroo. I read somewhere that they are doing the nice part of works, a public area, before the true horror of what will be built begins.

An airport control tower? Where is the airport? Ah, shipping control tower. It looks quite old.

Imagine the impact on the local residents of the construction of the Harbour Bridge, well those who weren't in the way and stayed.

Looking across to the North Sydney office towers.

The time ball atop the main building.

There were a couple of these chains. What were they for? See how they have eroded the stone.

A little info on the Signal Station.

Perhaps where the signals were signalled from.

Down in The Rocks.

A gas lamp.

Mostly food stalls.

The Manly Ferry passing by the Opera House before she berths.

Circular Quay Station and Ferry Terminal.

The old Customs House, now a hotel I think. We had coffee at the outdoor coffee on your right.

A more conventional photo of the bridge.

Departing on the train. Did you think I was standing on the train tracks?

Central Station, not to be confused with Centraal Station in Amsterdam or Sentral Station in Kuala Lumpur.

Here comes the tram. There is only one every 15 minutes.

I can't say Dulwich Hill is the most attractive or prosperous looking suburb. Maybe at the bottom of the steep hill there is a more attractive shopping area.

Terrific little cafe.

An ad for Bearded Lady bourbon.

Mortuary Station from the train.

High roads and low roads.

The Strand  Arcade, linking George Street and Pitt Street.

The studios of tv broadcasting station Channel 7.

 Looking down Martin Place with the GPO clock tower in view. It probably isn't a post office now.

I don't normally publish food photos, but the lamb balls and salad were so nice.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Sydney Day 2 Thursday

Another title could be, the day Victor won free pizza for life.

I have never had to depend on the kindness of strangers but when kindness from strangers happens, what a wonderful thing it is. I think of That's So Pants who hosted us for a couple of nights on our local road trip, Jane and Lance in Budapest who took us out for the day and evening, Marie in London who took us out for the day and the latest is Victor in Sydney with whom we spent much of the day. Strangers, well blogmates, become friends. Victor is somewhat excluded as we had already met him. Well, we had met That's So Pants too, so it is not quite so simple.

We had previously walked through Hyde Park, but we had never walked in Hyde Park. In the morning we took a walk to look around Hyde Park.

I had mentioned to Victor that we had never seen Centennial Park and he offered to take us there for lunch. He collected us in his car at 12 and after driving around and showing us Centennial Park we gained a good gist of the park. We had a lovely lunch and some time ago I learnt to not argue and just graciously accept when someone wants to treat you to a meal. It was really quite a lovely experience.

While I did note that most diners were people taking their elderly mothers out for a birthday lunch, next to us were two quite hot guys. Gay? Maybe? Maybe not. They left and went out to the perimeter to smoke. 

I brought up over lunch about Australia's only Nobel Prize winning author, the late Patrick White. Sadly the only thing he wrote I liked was his autobiography. That perhaps says more about me than his writing. Victor had a vague idea of where White's house was, on the edge of Centennial Park, so we all got busy on our phones. We found it and Victor drove us to the address and sure enough, although seeming much altered, this is where White lived until he died, with his partner Manoly and I think Manoly stayed on until he went into care and subsequently died.

I knew a little of where Victor lives but we were somewhat gobsmacked at how fine his highrise apartment overlooking Sydney Harbour actually is. While the 60s building itself could be considered as old fashioned, read no fire sprinklers, it was full of style. We had no need of toilet facilities at Victor's, but we could have chosen one of three lavs to use. The views from and the size of his home were amazing.

While Victor would have driven us back to our hotel, I wanted to catch the bus and Victor understood why. R suddenly remembered a pint of milk we had not bought and popped into the local supermarket. The bus arrived soon enough and it was quite a new bus and very smart. We didn't quite know how far the walk was from the bus stop to our hotel, but we managed the uphill, once again.

After refreshing ourselves, Victor once again collected us to return to his apartment for a very special viewing. While Victor is known for his culinary skills (cough), we pressed the point of no bother, insisting we would have takeaway food at his place. Pizza was the choice and Victor decided to order our pizza online from his local pizza delivery place. He entered his email address and location address and we chose pizza varieties. As some sort of inadequate repayment for lunch, R paid with his credit card.

Alors!!! Victor: Can I order pizza online again. Please enter your existing customer email address. Verified. Please choose your pizza. Do you wish to use your existing details (including R's credit card details). Yes. Free pizza for Victor for the rest of his life, at R's expense.

It was a special moment around 9pm on Sydney Harbour. Queen Mary 2 was passing by Queen Victoria on her way out of the harbour. It was also the 150th anniversary of the Cunard line. Ah, the shipping line that brought you the non sinkable Titanic.

Stately is a word and it is the word that came to my mind as the Queen Mary 2 progressed from Sydney Harbour. It was almost like seeing a whole city floating away in the harbour.

Victor most kindly drove us back to our hotel again, at quite a late hour. What a terrific day we had in Victor's company and our thanks to him is profuse.

The War Memorial in Hyde Park, the site for Anzac Day commemorations.

Within this structure is a very modest drinking fountain. The structure was presented to people of Sydney by a former mayor of Sydney.

I see it here, I see it there, the omnipresent Sydney Tower.

Annual flowers. How delightful and so rarely seen in Melbourne public parks and gardens.

No, I would not say the trees fail. I would suggest it is doing a very natural tree thing, dropping branches. One on the eastern side of the park was being removed by workers.

Archibald Fountain, presented to the city to commemorate the connection between Australia and France during World War I.

Rather nice, isn't it. Were it to be in Melbourne, it would be darker colour but the polished granite is quite beautiful.

Ibis can be seen everywhere in inner Sydney. Some say they are a pest but we never found them to be aggressive in the searching for human food. The certainly weren't around when we first visited Sydney in mid 1980s, in my recollection.

I see it here, I see it there....

St Marys church. Some Sydney tram trivia fro you. The Watsons Bay tram line ran along William Street and then along King Street through the city. King Street is narrow and towards the end of the Sydney tram system and after protests about the congestion trams caused in King Street, the line was truncated to run in a loop around St Marys Queens Square. The Watsons Bay line was eventually closed and the influential Sydney eastern suburb folk protested and the line was partly reinstated, perhaps to Rose Bay in my memory. When the whole Sydney system shut down, including the Watsons Bay line, the same opportunity to re-open the line was stymied by a tower wagon truck following the last tram and taking down the overhead wires.

A pretty amphitheatre, which later would  probably see plenty of children running in and out of the water.

A more modern fountain sitting on top of something.

The Australia Museum.

Another unimaginative fountain.

The south east corner of the northern part of Hyde Park.

Greetings from a museum resident.

Next to our digs is the somewhat grander Pullman.

Cannas past their prime in Centennial Park.

With an interesting water feature outside where we dined.

The closest I can liken Centennial Park to in Melbourne is Royal Park, but really, they are quite different. At some point Victor mentioned something about a bi-centennial something and suddenly I twigged. Centennial Park, 100 years.

Patrick White's house. He was a strong campaigner against Centennial Park land being taken for 'commercial' purposes. He also campaigned against the construction of Sydney's monorail. He has the last laugh as the monorail has been dismantled.

The house next door was quite impressive. By golly, there are some very nice houses in Sydney.

Voila. We are at Victor's and admiring the views.

As we walked to the bus stop, we happened across a future Prime Minister's electoral office.

The Minister for Communications has a clever little plaque.

A very modern bus, very smooth and quiet. The step lights came on when the doors opened, not new, but the interior lights also brightened when the doors opened.

I think it was about 9.30 when the Queen Mary 2 sailed. I have decided I need a new camera.