I recently visited the Land of Oz, otherwise known as Australia, and had a blast. I took so, so many shareable photos that I had to break this down into four posts. This the last post about my Great Aussie Adventure, Part 4. (Click the images to see larger versions.)
The last stop on our adventure was a short stay in Sydney. My travel companion Nancy and I stayed in a completely charming hotel recommended by my friend Narelle Todd, book business and marketing consultant extraordinaire. We only had one full day to see the sights, so we made the most of it. We would have liked to eat our way through town, but alas, we only had time for dinner at our hotel and lunch on a touristy island in the bay.
Our hotel was the 125-year-old Mercantile, about half a kilometer from the harbor. They've worked hard to preserve the Art Nouveau styling from the original. Staying above the pub and restaurant was interesting. There is nothing quite like a pub full of exuberantly tipsy Aussies singing along to 80's American rock. “Sing us a song, you're the piano man…”
We hiked up several steps of stairs to get to the bridge from which we took this photo of Sydney's harbor. As a side note, neither Google Maps nor Apple's navigation service are to be trusted for walking directions in Sydney. Yes, the exercise was good for us, but we would have preferred the short and easy 10-minute walk to the wharf, not the 10,000-step odyssey through winding streets and bridges we got.
Perhaps I'm an outlier, but I'm always bemused by historical monuments to events that didn't happen. A section of Sydney's sidewalk is dedicated to a failed attempt to assassinate a visiting prince. Here's the TL;DR version of the words on the plaque in this photo: In 1868, Prince Alfred appeared at a public picnic to donate money to the local Sailors' Home. A mad Irishman shot him in the back, but the prince lived. Back home, Queen Victoria said “It was worth being shot to see how much one is loved.” I'm not sure I would have wanted her as my mother.
On the advice of a helpful guidebook that Nancy brought, we rode the public ferry through Sydney Harbor instead of the more expensive alternatives. The crew said Sydney law required tourists to take photos of their famous landmarks. On the off chance they weren't teasing, here is my photo of the world-famous Sydney Opera House. It looks rather gray unless the sun is bright. Had we stayed another day, I'd have tried to get a tour, as they've recently completely upgraded the acoustics.
I love the name and branding of this business, The Argyle Oracle. It made me wonder if the proprietor finds that pattern of socks to aid in prognostication. Whatever works! 🔮
This delightfully shiny sculpture in front of Sydney's Museum of Modern Art reminded me of starry skies, so I asked Nancy to take my picture. I think it's an appropriate backdrop for a science fiction and fantasy author.
Parting Notes on Our Great Aussie Adventure
It truly was a trip of a lifetime. I have to admit doing the 15-hour flights again would give me pause, even if I upgraded to business class ($$$!) seats.
If we ever go back (never say never!), we'll try to spend another couple of days to see more of Sydney. Sadly, we couldn't afford to live there as beachfront properties go for $25 million(!) and up. I'd also love to visit Tasmania and New Zealand. And I'd have to go back to the rainforest because it was my favorite destination. I want to learn more about the indigenous peoples' culture, languages, and teaching stories.
The Australian people are welcoming and patient, especially considering we Americans are always walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk. The food is good and the climate in fall is perfect, at least until climate change messes with it like it will for the rest of the planet.
If you get the chance to go (and I hope you do), please tell me about it and share photos.