I left Peter and Helen's house on Sunday morning (Peter even washed my windshield for
me -- what a guy!) and drove into Australia's largest city, Sydney, thus completing
a two-month, 9,000-mile drive around the country. Although I'd spent my first few days in Australia on the
periphery of Sydney, I didn't have much of a chance to check it out then because I
was packing up and getting ready for my drive around the country. I
was flying out of the Sydney International Airport the next morning, so I had exactly one afternoon to see the city. I figured that would be enough time
not being a real "city person," I didn't have high expectations
for Sydney. My impression of Sydney from my brief visit in February wasn't
very favorable. It seemed to be a lot like Los Angeles -- big, hot,
sprawling, and smoggy.
I headed across the Harbor Bridge
Sunday morning and drove smack dab into the middle of downtown
Sydney. Good thing this was a Sunday and traffic was light, because the
street system in downtown Sydney is really convoluted, a holdover from the early settlement
days. I quickly realized that Sydney, like Boston, isn't a great place to drive around if you
don't know where you're going -- which I definitely didn't. Melbourne was
big, too, but at least the streets there were in a grid and laid out
I drove around downtown Sydney for about 20 minutes
looking for a parking garage, too busy driving to glance at my map and figure out
where the heck I was. Finally, though, I found an underground garage
at a place called the Queen Victoria Building. Harried from the drive, I
really wasn't looking forward to exploring Sydney but figured I better, or else I'd
really glad I did.
As I walked through Sydney during the next six hours, I
discovered that it's a utterly fascinating city. The most interesting part
is a section called "The Rocks," Sydney's Old Town area which juts
out into Sydney Harbor, with lots of curving cobblestone streets and charming old brick buildings.
From the Rocks, you can stroll across the 70-year old Harbor Bridge. If
you're adventurous, you can walk up inside one of the bridge turrets for a great
view of the city. If you're REALLY adventurous and have 50 bucks (I'm not
and I didn't) you can join a guided "Bridge Walk" and walk on TOP of
the entire bridge from one side to the other. By the way, you can do the same
thing now on the bridge in Auckland.
For legal reasons, I'm sure, they
don't have these kind of bridge walks in the U.S., which is a real shame because
I'd imagine that walking on top of, say, the Golden Gate Bridge would be pretty
awesome. That's one of the big differences between the U.S. and Australia,
by the way: lawsuits. Compared to America, Australia and New Zealand
are not litigious countries at all. Folks there take a lot more
responsibility for their actions and, unlike a lot of Americans, they don't go
whining to a lawyer or judge every time something bad happens, which is a
the newer sections of downtown
also interesting. The Sydney Opera House, one
of the most famous icons of Australia, was pretty cool too. After a
few hours, I decided that I really liked Sydney.
Above left: Sydney from above.
Above center: Inside the AMP Tower, where you can get a 360-degree view
of Sydney. I don't know what AMP stands for... and neither did the AMP
Tower tour guide.
Above right: At Sydney's Royal Botanic Gardens, with the AMP Tower in the
Although the day was sunny and pleasant, for the first time
during my visits to Australia and New Zealand, it was a little chilly and fall was definitely in the air,
which made me automatically think of... Football Season! But wait,
this wasn't September, it was April. Oh that's right, I was in the southern
hemisphere. It's funny how fall weather makes you think about football,
even if it is April. With winter fast approaching here in Australia, this was a
good time, I decided, to head back the U.S.
walked back to the parking garage at dusk, I regretted having only a single
afternoon to visit Sydney because I could have spent a whole week there. I made one
last stop that evening, at a street-side cafe to buy a "meat
pie." In case you've never seen one, a meat pie is a small pie stuffed with meat, gravy, potatoes and
things you'd prefer not to know about, completely enclosed in a flaky crust.
Back in the U.S., they're called "pastys" (which shouldn't be confused
with "pasties" which are what female strippers wear in certain
intimate places... but not that I would know).
Anyway, I'd seen meat pies on sale nearly everywhere I went in
Australia, but for some reason I hadn't eaten one yet. The night before,
Peter told me all about meat pies, so I decided to try one. Actually,
it was pretty darn good -- better than a pasty (and much better than a pastie).
So as I walked back to my car that evening, I decided that next time I came to
Australia, I would:
Above left: The Hyde Park water fountain on a
Sydney Sunday afternoon.
Above center: And, of course, the Sydney Opera House.
Above right: Those little specks on the Sydney Harbor Bridge are
people. For about US$50, you too can climb across the bridge.
Above left: Circular Quay and the Sydney
Above center: Opera House from the Harbor Bridge.
Above right: Another shot of the Harbor Bridge
(built in 1932) and a few bridge climbers. They affectionately call this
bridge "The Coat Hanger" because... well... that's what it looks like.
Above left: The Sydney waterfront from the Harbor Bridge.
Above center: Walking back to my car late Sunday afternoon. I
stopped here and got a meat pie for dinner -- an Australian
Above right: Here's the Queen
Victoria Building. I had a great time in Sydney and wish I could've spent
more time here.
Left: Packing that night in a hotel near the Sydney
airport. This would be my last night in the wonderful country
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Visiting Sydney - Finally!