On the road again! An exploration of the land down under this time. A few pictures at bottom. Here are some quick observations of Sydney, based on our 5 days here, in no particular order:
– This city feels like San Francisco with it’s hills and waterfront, but not nearly as crowded. Population is just 3 million. There’s room between houses here. Not so much matchbox house living. Roads are pretty curvy, though, versus the grid in SF. It makes for loopy driving.
– The black crows here don’t caw like their American brethren. They bleat like lambs, seriously. Locals say it’s the sound of winter coming. The city is also infested with bright green lorikeets that screech (they look like small green parrots). Hawaiian myna birds got nothin’ on these lorikeets when it comes to making a racket. At least they’re colorful and pretty to look at.
– In the eastern suburbs, about 30 minutes by bus from the city center, there are little pocket beaches everywhere. On the harbor side they are calm and windless are usually sites for offshore moorings. On the ocean side they can be windy with dangerous rip tides. Great for shorebreak surfers, bad for swimmers. The urban beaches on the harbor side, found every kilometer in some parts, are neat to me since Hawaii has no harbors with beaches. They’re usually one or the other.
– Speaking of boats, the harbor traffic on weekends is surreal. Lots of sailboat races, training runs and recreational traffic, not to mention the city ferries. We’re surprised there aren’t more accidents.
– The sun is strong here, as much or worse than Hawaii. Sunscreen needed. Always.
– It isn’t very diverse here. Coming from the mainland USA or Hawaii, it’s pretty noticeable. Besides tourists there are only a handful of local people of color. We went to a beer garden on a Sunday and saw nothing but European styled men and women. But I’m told that is starting to change.
– Mainland Chinese tourists are inescapable. They’re just as loud here as they were in Thailand and Burma and everywhere else we traveled last summer.
– As in New York and SF, people of all stripes use the ferry and buses and trains and public transit. Nice to see.
– Where are the homeless? I know they exist. Encountered only one in the botanical gardens and two others at the main transit hub Circular Quay.
– The famed opera house is thought of as this gigantic larger than life icon. In reality, it is very modest in size and a bit faded with age. It’s once gleaming white tiles are more like beige. The opera house structure itself is dwarfed by the sky scrapers and bridge next to it. It may be blasphemy to say so but it looks especially puny when mammoth cruise ships like the Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas is at port.
– Weather is most like Hawaii here (right now, anyway) than anywhere we have been. Comfortable and not too muggy or humid.
– They’ve totally mastered indoor-outdoor living here, in part because there seem to be no mosquitoes. Windows and doors wide open with no screens, even at night! I wish this were the case in Hawaii.
– The Toranga Zoo was nice, set on a hillside with views of the city. The exhibits and zoo keeper presenters did nice job of actually informing us if concrete steps we can take in our daily lives to help vs hinder conservation efforts. For example, recycling your cell phone and the rare metals in it can help save gorilla habitats from felling in Africa. You don’t encounter that instruction much in American zoos. They talk a lot about sustainability and recycling here, even offering water refill stations throughout the urban core to encourage people to reuse water cups and bottles. The irony is that Australia remains one of the biggest producers of coal in the world.
On to Brisbane next!