We arrived in Wagga understanding that it was Good Friday and there would more than likely be nothing open, as we were told by Linda at dinner in Bairnsdale. It seemed like some sort of crude joke when we rocked up (Oz speak for arrive) into the city of nearly 50,000 people and there was no one around. It was as though the population had hidden as if they had been warned that the Yanks were coming into town; I wouldn’t blame them had the yanks been a few of the people I know back home.
We left Wagga the next morning wondering what Wagga Wagga meant. We couldn’t come up with anything to describe the town since it seemed so boring. We later found out in the travel book that Wagga Wagga translates to “the place of many crows” in the Wiradjuri aboriginal language. I’m sure this was due to the fact that the only noise heard in town is the calling of crows. To be completely fair, we were only there on Good Friday, but I can’t see myself ever making the trip to revisit Wagga again any time soon.
We woke up early on Saturday morning to book it out of Wagga to escape the mosquitoes in our hotel room and to get to Sydney early. The drive was beautiful and we really made great timing since there weren’t too many cars on the road until we arrived in the city limits of Sydney.
We arrived at our apartment in Kirribilli, an area on the north side of the harbor overlooking the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. We were quite impressed with the views from the apartment and reasoned that it would be a nice apartment if we resided in Sydney.
Sicne we arrived so early, we had plenty of time to head over to the Sydney Cricket Ground for the Aussie Rules Football match between the Sydney Swans and the Fremantle Dockers. I really wanted to get to an AFL match with my parents while they were here, and this was the only match in Sydney during the week.
We headed down to the train station, a few blocks from the apartment, and each picked up a a MyMulti public transport ticket. This would allow us unlimited travel for the week on the trains (within the city), the ferries, busses, and trams. We agreed that at $43 per ticket, it was the best deal in Sydney. As of today, we have already surpassed the ticket’s value.
We made it to Central Station where we had to catch a charter bus to Moore Park, where the SCG was situated. On the bus we met an older couple who were Sydney Swan club members and helped us navigate the outside of the ground. They were extremely nice and just after getting off the bus, the gentleman gave me his 2012 members hat. I couldn’t believe his generosity; actually I could because I’ve been living in Australia for a few months now and have come to realize that everyone here is so munificent. Here’s a guy that we had just met on the bus to the match, giving us directions, and going out of his way to make sure we were barracking for the right team! I will never forget it!
The SCG is one of the most famous venues for cricket and is small enough to allow everyone in the stands a close encounter to what’s happening on the field; the capacity is only about 40,000 spectators. The first cricket match played on the ground was in 1848, quite a long time ago! The ground is also home to the Sydney Swans, the team we were supporting that afternoon.
After buying our tickets, we headed into the stadium and found our seats, directly across from the iconic Members Pavilion. We sat around for an hour or so waiting for the match to start, watching the stands fill with people wearing red and white in support of the home team. There were even a few people wearing purple in support of the Perth team; a long trip for a fan if you ask me! The game was rough and turned out in the Swans favor! I have really come to love this sport and will greatly miss it when I move back home.
On the way back we decided to go to Circular Quay to see the city as the sun faded in the horizon just under the Harbour Bridge (from where we were standing). We took a stroll down to the Opera House and were stunned at the size of the expressionist art complex. Looking up at the tiled roof and beautiful architecture, I really had to pinch myself because I realized that I was in Sydney and was really looking at one of the most photographed and famous Australian icons. When I turned around, I also had to pinch myself when looking up at the Harbour Bridge towering over the ferries, yachts, and sailboats in the water. This city is gorgeous and when it is lit up at night, there is no other city like it in the world. My dad, so far this week, has said that Sydney has characteristics of many cities he has been to, including San Francisco and Hong Kong, but agrees that there is nothing quite this extraordinary.
After dinner in Circular Quay and a run-in with John Cleese, yes, THE John Cleese of Monty Python, we headed back to Kirribilli via the ferry. This gave us a fantastic opportunity to take pictures of the lit up skyline and surroundings.
Yesterday, we took the ferry over to Darling Harbour from the Luna Park dock, just down the street from us. We took a quick look around Darling Harbour at the different yachts, military ships, and submarines, as well as the replica of the HMAV Bounty. We then headed up the street to Paddy’s Market, a covered market home to all sorts of trinkets as well as fruit and veg.
We walked back to the Harbour from the market, past the Hyde Park (a familiar park for many cities around the world), and the Sydney Eye. We eventually came to Circular Quay after walking for quite a long time. We decided to have a quick lunch under the bridge and a walk around the area just west of Circular Quay, home to a street market full of crafts and trinkets.
After arriving home via the ferry, I decided to go for a run across the Harbour Bridge and back. It wasn’t a terribly long run, but it allowed me to see the skyline and the Opera House from a different angle, and helped me work off some of the fish and chips that I had at lunch. The views from the bridge were spectacular and will certainly be an incentive to go for a run later in the week again!
Due to some rain, we decided to have dinner in Kirribilli, trying out one of the Thai fusion restaurants just up the street from the apartment. We split a bottle of wine and each ordered something different from the seemingly endless menu. Thankfully they had their menu numbered, like any great Asian restaurant, to keep the Yanks (me) from embarrassing themselves trying to pronounce the menu items for the waitress! I’m not afraid to give the name a go but I like the ease of just saying a number! The system also allows people to try new things because they don’t feel like they need to always go with the Pad Thai, because they know how to pronounce it!
Today, we headed over to Circular Quay to catch the half hour ferry to Manly Beach. As soon as we arrived at the ferry station, I decided to experience life in the shoes of an Australian for the day. To do this, I just took mine off and walked around barefoot. Why not, right? I haven’t seen any signs saying “No shoes, no service!” I kept my shoes off the whole time until we decided to hike up into the bush into the Sydney Harbour National Park.
Manly Beach was spectacular. A little crowded, the town was full of restaurants and small shops and a ton of surfers causally walking around in their board shorts with their boards under their arms, like a fashion accessory. I loved it there, and would love to go back to get a surf lesson!
Lunch was amazing! Dad and I ordered the daily special, consisting of a bowl of mussels, prepared in a tomato broth or an Asian style, spicy broth, accompanied with a pint of beer. My dad settled on the tomato mussels with a pale ale, and I settled on the spicy mussels with a stout beer. Mom, on the other hand, enjoyed a free cider (we brought a coupon), and a lamb burger. We still, and I still, haven’t had a bad meal yet in Australia!
On the way home, on the ferry, we decided to get off at Circular Quay and walk home to Kirribilli via the bridge. The cool temperature and ocean breeze made the views even more pleasurable from the bridge walkway. As we passed over the bridge, we kept looking up at the climbers on the “Bridge Climb” experience, wondering if we wanted to do it. I don’t know how the views could get any better, but I’ll bet the climbers can see the ocean from their vista at the top of the bridge.
For dinner, we decided to take the ferry to Darling Harbour. We settled on a nice dinner an beer at a restaurant just up the street from the water. It was great to see the harbor lit up at night, and was surprised to see so many people out on the last night of the holiday weekend. We took the train home from the Town Hall Station.
Tomorrow we are planning to get up early to head west to visit the Blue Mountains. We will be driving to Katoomba, in the Blue Mountains National Park, and will more than likely just play the day out as it comes to us! I know my mom would really like to see the “Three Sisters” rock formation!
I’m sure there will be more to come tomorrow…