Sydney

Those are bats hanging on the tree

When one mentions Australia there are two things that come to mind, especially after the Olympics of 2000, Sydney and beaches.  Well it is all for a good reason.  If there is one place that you can visit in Australia it has to be the state of New South Wales.  I wondered why it is called New South Wales as there is no other Wales than the Wales we know in the UK, would it not be simpler just to call it New Wales?  Well, name issues aside NSW is the most populous state and it has a bit of everything that we associate with Australia.  A trivial fact is that New Zealand was briefly part of NWS in the mid 19th century.  Sydney is the biggest city in Australia and its trademark is the Sydney Harbor but besides the city which has a lot to offer there are beaches in and around Sydney and within a couple hours drive you can reach the outback, see the Blue Mountains and drive north on the Pacific Highway to Hunter Valley, the oldest winemaking region of Australia. We flew to Sydney from

The CBD from the Botanical Gardens

Melbourne on the 12th of March, the flight was uneventful until we reached the city where we flew over the city and had grant views of the city and the harbor with the dominating Harbor Bridge, locally known as the “Coat hanger”, the Quays and the Sydney Opera.  What a view!  It was and will be one of the greatest approaches that we have ever experienced.  The city looks big and I remember reading somewhere that the area of Sydney is about 7 times bigger than Paris!  So you get the idea, there were a lot of expectations and Sydney did them all justice.

You need time to explore Sydney and we only had a week.  We used as much of that as we could.  On the first day we went downtown and started our walking tour at Martin Place, this is where Channel 7 has their main offices and if you are there at the right time you can see some of their morning shows being aired live, similar to

Another view of the CBD

the morning news show is New York.  We walked through the Domain and the Botanical Gardens. While the Botanical Gardens are not as spectacular as the ones we saw in Singapore, they are still very very good.  The city skyline in the background and the general setting, the lush green and the many birds make this a wonderful place to picnic, jog, stroll or even just sit on the grass and enjoy the warm sun.  From the distance you can see the roof of Opera House and once you hit the water the views are just amazing.  Behind us on the left was the skyline of Sydney, while not as big as New York or Chicago it is very nice and with the Gardens in the foreground and the water it is just amazing!  Now to the main attraction, the Sydney Opera house and the Sydney Harbor Bridge, there is no much one can say.  It is stunning, it is a view that is just breathtaking.  I

Voila!

have seen it so many times on TV or pictures but nothing can do it justice, you just have to be there.  It was a sunny and very warm day but Ben was enjoying the outdoors, he loves being outside – I know we did not give him much choice but still.  We just stood there and took in the scenery, while all around us there were tourists and locals alike strolling through the park or just having a picnic.  The warm wind and the sound of the water just enhancing the whole experience.  We took many pictures as you can see and wondered loudly why it took us so long to get here to see this.  We walked towards the Opera House.  The Opera House is not really as nice when you are close up, this is a building that you have to take in and admire from a distance.  When you are walking along it you do not see much and what you see seems a bit outdated, a bit old… …the brown glass does not help the appearance either as it looks like the windows have not been cleaned in a while.  From what I hear it is not the best of theaters and the indoors is rather mundane.

Ben abusing his mother!

The Sydney Harbor is actually part of Port Jackson.  Port Jackson is the natural harbor and it is location of the first European settlement in Australia.  The first European to discover Port Jackson was Lt. James Cook in 1770 and it was named after the Judge Advocate of the British Fleet.  Although, Cook’s first landing with the HMS Endeavour was on 29 April 1770 (230 year in about a month!) in Botany Bay, slightly south of Port Jackson.  The sight is marked within the Botany Bay National Park near Kurnell.  In 1788 Governor Arthur Phillip returned and established the first British colony, later to become the city of Sydney.

As we passed the Opera House we sat in awe of the Harbor Bridge, sure I have seen bigger, longer bridges before but the setting and the form are a sight to behold.  It is the world’s tallest and probably widest steel arch bridge.  There are two pairs of pylons on each side and one can actually go up one of them on the south side of the bridge.  For the adventurous, there is also a climb the bridge for exciting views.  As I am afraid of heights that was not really an option.  We stopped and enjoyed another excellent flat white (my new favorite brew down under) while taking in the scenery and observing the colorful masses going about their business all around us.  It is a very busy place.  We then

Oh... he's so much fun!

continued our walk through the SydneyWriter’s Walk, that honors Australians and foreign writers.  The plaques start somewhere near the Opera House and go all the way around through Circular Quay (pronounced key for some reason) to the International Passenger Terminal west of the Quay.  It provides  an overview and interesting quotes.  The Quay is a bustling ferry, bus and train terminals where commuters and

The Family

tourists mix.  It is around this spot that we see the famous New Year’s Celebration.  We walked west around the International Passenger Terminal and into the Rocks, an inner-city suburb that today has established itself as a chic area full of bars, restaurants and an interesting market on the weekends.  This area though had a rowdy, it was an area filled with prostitutes and shady taverns that sailors frequented.  The buildings were about to be demolished for redevelopment, thankfully though it was saved.  Its close proximity to the Sydney Harbor and its slightly elevated position make it very popular with the tourists.  We got some food and walked through the weekend market, so many people, so many sights, so much to do.  We decided to call it quits for the day and head on home, we had just spend a good five hours mostly walking to one of the prettiest urban places on earth.
So long…..

Ben is greeting the world!

The Harbor Bridge

...the view from the east side

Breathtaking!

An artistic approach!

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