THE LAND OF "OZ’

Oz – as the Aussies called their homeland, was my destination when I left Los Angeles on May 30th.  I plan is to spend the next 11 months exploring a bit of Oz, a lot of New Zealand and a totally relaxing month in Indonesia on the island of Bali.  
First stop after a really decent, but very long flight on Virgin Australia, 

SYDNEY!

I use AirBnB almost exclusively whenever I can.  I like the idea of renting from a local.  I find that almost all AirBnB hosts go out of their way to make you comfortable and also share all they know and like about their city.  
I chose to stay in the Potts Point area for my 4 days in Sydney.  I was the guest of Cassandra and her partner, Fabian, in their beautiful Camelot Hall AirBnB. Check out the photos of this great place!
Arriving late afternoon, I followed her great directions, taking the tram from the airport to downtown where I switched to the Potts Point area’s local line, leaving just a few blocks to the condo.   She did forget to mention that she was on the top floor of a 3-story walk-up. Thank goodness Fabian was home to welcome me and carry my suitcase up all the stairs!
I had my own bedroom with a large sunroom overlooking the private school across the street. I barely remember but I think I napped, found somewhere nearby for dinner and fell back in bed at the end of the day.  
The next morning I could not figure out the pop-pop-popping sound that was coming in through my windows.  I stumbled out of bed (jet-lag sucks) and find that at 6:00 a.m. the students across the street are having basketball practice and what I am hearing is a ball being bounced up and down the cement court!
Since I am wide-awake – and have been since 3 a.m. –  I decided to just stay up and go exploring. Cassandra is the manager of a very well-known Sydney art gallery.  Fabian is a film-maker and director and is headed to Germany for work. They are expecting their first child – soon – and my room will become the nursery.  She had told me before I arrived that I would probably see very little of them during my stay and find them both heading out the door at 7 a.m. – Good morning – Good-bye – Have a great day!
The kitchen is supplied with all the necessities for a lite breakfast and after a nice cup of tea and a piece of fruit, I was off to see what Sydney was like.  Since I really wasn’t very observant on my arrival, so what a pleasant surprise to walk out the door, cross the street and see this view….
  
With my trusty city-map downloaded on my iPhone (as usual, I purchased a SIM card at the airport to use for the duration of my stay in Oz) I learned it would be an easy walk to get  here ↑ but first had to walk down here
                            ↓
     At the bottom of the stairs, I can follow the road that winds around the harbour all the way to the famous Opera House. While standing on the corner waiting to cross the street, one of the ever-popular and plentiful Hop-on-Hop-Off buses makes an appearance, stops and asks if I would like to Hop-on?  Why not?!
I paid the ‘senior fare’ and off I went for a 4-hour tour of Sydney.  This was a perfect way to spend most of the day, especially since my body was still in a completely different time zone and I knew I would have to crash and nap during the afternoon.  I had a signed-up for a ‘free walking tour’ the next day with I’m Free Walking Tours so I knew between the bus tour and a foot-tour,  I would only see most of Sydney and but learn a lot of history as well.
Speaking of history, when I was doing research before I left the States for the best book to read on the history of Australia, the most highly-recommended book was this one –     Though fiction, it is similar to James Mitchner books where you get a great story intermingled with a complete history of the country, including the flora and the fauna!   
But back to Sydney.  I took 100’s of pictures of the new and the old buildings, both big and small.  I learned that Sydney is a hilly city – should have figured that out from the stairs! Of course, we know that the British sent their convicts and low-life’s here to either perish or survive.  A hardy bunch those criminals, the first group arriving in 1788, survived and flourished.  Australia officially became a British colony, these newcomers treated the native Aborigines abominably, they built big cities around the coastline of their new country and left the hot, arid middle-section, to this day, barely populated.  They gave us ‘G’day’, Crocodile Dundee, shrimp-on-the-barbie’, Cate Blanchette, Nicole Kidman, Russel Crowe, Hugh Jackman and those hunky Hemsworth brothers.  They also gave us Vegemite, UGGS (though the New Zealanders will argue that one), the dual-flush toilet (yet to make it’s way to the US), koala bears, the Great Barrier Reef, kangaroos, Wi-Fi (really – invited by a scientist in Melbourne), some really good beer and wine and of course, the World Heritage Site Sydney Opera House. There are many more contributions, but this was enough for one day’s touring.
New South Wales Library
St Andrews Cathedral
The Right Honourable William Bede Dalley, PC – Scholar, Patriot, Statesman
Central train station
Taking ‘green’ to the next step
The harbor is bustling with people and places
Victorian homes still dot the streets
Harbor entertainment

 

Under the Harbor Bridge (you can walk across)

 

At the end of this very busy day, I met Chris Heidrich,  founder and owner of AirTreks for dinner.  Chris arranged my air travel for my entire trip.  He and his wife now live in Sydney.  He runs AirTreks huge RTW travel business from this part of the world while his partner heads up the Seattle-based US headquarters. 
The next and my last full day in Sydney included an early morning Insider’s Tour of the Sydney Opera House  and then an afternoon ferry-ride to Manly Beach to visit with a friend.
First, THE OPERA HOUSE. Amazing!! I had to arrive at 6:45 A.M.  Why such an ungodly hour, you might ask?  Because when you are touring the backstage(s) and working areas of the House, you need to do this when the actual workers and performers are not working or practicing or performing.  I’d figured out how to hop the local tram and the walk from it to the Opera House. It was well worth the early start to be there as the sun was rising over Sydney Harbour.

Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and our small group of 7 (Indian, Japanese, Australia, American and Norwegian) learned so much about the inner-workings of this magnificent performance center.  

Our tour guide standing amongst huge amounts of equipment including boxes and boxes of stuff, lighted acoustic circles,  big stages and small performance areas. The tour ended with a delicious full English breakfast in the performer’s dining room.

I was upset that there were no live performances at the Opera House the 2 nights I had in town, but I was there during VIVID SYDNEY, The Light, Music & Ideas Festival.  I only had to walk outside my door once the sun set to find sights such as these – the city and all its building and bridges spotlighted in brilliant color! Street performers were everywhere, music could be enjoyed by just walking down the street. The Opea House changed it’s light display nightly – one more amazing than the next.
I took the local ferry to met up with Lauen Evanosky, a fellow Peace Corps volunteer, for a late lunch on Manly Beach – where she has recently relocated and now calls home.  The ride over and back was so beautiful and relaxing.  Lauren picked me up and gave me a great tour of the area beaches – where surfing rules and they have these amazing salt-water swiming pools that are incorporated right into the beaches.  It was fun to catch-up and reminisce about our time on St. Kitts.
Cruising past the Opera House
Sydney Harbor Lighthouse
Seawater, seaside swimming pool
Aussie surfer
Lauren
I returned in time to pack, enjoy a great dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant and be the up bright and early to catch the tram to the airport for my flight to Melbourne. I enjoyed my stay in Sydney – I could have stayed longer – but I have a house/pet sit to get to.  Farewell from Sydney….
Unitl next time……

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