Sybil’s Leaves: Sydney, NSW, Australia (Part Nine)

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Day 10 – Tuesday, December 18, 2007 – The Never-Ending Day
Location: From Sydney to Toronto on Planes over 32 hours

Had to get up early and run out for ciabatta rolls and apple scrolls to make sandwiches for lunch and eat breakfast.

We arrived at the airport with plenty of time. Unfortunately, Ilya had to pay to store his luggage because Air China only opens its counters 3 hours before a flight. It was only 1pm. We ate lunch at a fast food seafood place… and i gave in and ordered a deep-fried Mars Bar. OMG! SO GOOD. Evil Genius in fact. Poutine has finally found an appropriate dessert to follow it. I may try it at home in our deep-fryer – there will be pictures if this happens.

I left Ilya to go through security. Apparently the Australian government’s security screening (which includes x-rays and all that other fun stuff) is not hi-tech enough for United Airlines/U.S. Homeland Security, so i had to go it again before entering my actual gate.

I sat on the plane next to a native of Ottawa who is completing his med schooling at Sydney Uni. The conversation ran the gambit and it was a lovely way to pass thirteen hours. I have been so lucky with the people i have met. I know NEED to try clove cigarettes. LOL.

I arrived in L.A. 6 hours before my flight even left Sydney. As Greg, my seatmate on the Sydney to LAX flight, kept saying “this proves that time doesn’t really exist.” It does. It really does. A big thanks to American Customs for still treating Canadians with the respect we deserve as the U.S.’s largest trading partner and our years of friendship. I was pulled out of the “visitors” line and told to go through as an American citizen returning home.

I tried to catch a nap in the terminal, but the incessant “please don’t leave your bags unattended” over the intercom was problematic. No earplugs are that good.

Our flight left a little late because of snow on the Eastern Seaboard, but we made up 15 minutes of that time during the flight. I was sidelined at customs and my bag was searched (for the third time – i watched them root through it in LAX and had been searched upon entering the gate in Sydney), but as i wasn’t smuggling anything it wasn’t a problem.

Mark and Veronica arrived within minutes of my getting to the door of the airport and i have now slept 14 hours in my own bed and am looking forward to eating lasagna and having drinks with Veronica this evening.

This has been one of the best weeks of my life.

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Sybil’s Leaves: Sydney, NSW, Australia (Part Eight)

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Day 9 – Monday, December 17th, 2007 – Happy Meals as Happy Endings
Location: Darling Harbour, Darlinghurst, NSW, Australia

There were still a few of the best souvenirs to purchase as of this morning, so a trip to the local grocery store to pick up British and Australia candies and chocolates was first on the list. I am going to have trouble parting with these purchases – but i did pick up a bottle of lime cordial syrup for myself in the hopes of being able to make some lime milkshakes.

We rushed out of the flat to meet Ilya’s co-workers at Milk +2, a restaurant in Darling Harbour. We were regaled with the conversation of people in the publishing industry and i was stuffed on a lamb and zucchini pizza. I love lamb… We mocked Ilya for liking Aqua and Hanson. I kid you not, but Aqua and Hanson have come up at least five times in the past week of events. Thursday afternoon MMbop was supposed to be a cure for my hangover.

We had thought we would head to the Museum of Sydney after lunch, but it was later than originally expected, so we headed to the Chinese Garden in Darling Harbour instead. Our dinner plans with Natasha, Ilyusha’s ex-girlfriend yet still paramour, fell through and we COULD have gone, but the Chinese garden was a very pleasant and relaxing way to spend our last afternoon in Sydney. There were fishes, duckes and birds. There was foliage. There was a little sunbathing. There was also some clandestine photo-taking of Heather on the part of Ilya.

We came back to the flat to choose a suitable dinner plan replacement (stopping for some wine on the way). We decided to go BACK to Darling Harbour to a highly recommended (Go Rough Guide to Australia) Malaysian restaurant called Chinta Ria on the Cockle Bay Wharf. The prices were reasonable, the portions generous and the quality SUPERB. The ambience was a nifty mix of buddhist icons and fifties furniture. The background music seemed really nice too, but it was quite a moving and grooving place, so there was too much buzz in the room to really catch it.

After dinner we headed off to United Cellars, where Ilya used to work, to get some more wine for his family. I met his old employers and got to introduce some Frenchman to Quebecois French. It was an enlightening experience for them i am sure.

A summer storm rolled in as we were getting on a bus back to Glebe.

Still on the plate for this evening – making sandwiches for tomorrow, defrosting the fridge and sleeping.
Tomorrow morning – packing.

I WILL go to Le Petit Tarte and yell at them for having a grammatically incorrect name before the end of the trip, i swear. LOL. It’s LA PETITE TARTE – bunch of unilingual dweebs.

Sybil’s Leaves: Sydney, NSW, Australia (Part Seven)

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Day 8 – Sunday, December 16, 2007 – Churches, More Animals and OLD Acquaintances
Location: Sydney, Taronga and Newtown, NSW

Eating my Chinese bakery provided almond twist on the bus, we headed out for an 11am service at St. James Anglican Church off Hyde Park. It was the 3rd Sunday of Advent (the Sunday of Joy) and the first hymn sung was an old favourite that i got much pleasure out of singing along with: Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel!

St. James is the oldest church in Sydney. The walls are covered with commemorative plaques for first reverends and governors and there is a lovely copper dome at the very back. Ilya was a little surprised that we were the youngest people in attendance (and he’d never been to a Protestant service before). I had forgotten that the Anglican liturgy is substantially longer than that which i am used to, so we actually skipped out while people were lining up to receive the eucharist. However, it was a very nice feeling to be in a church on Sunday. I don’t believe anymore, so i won’t go on a regular basis, but it is very pleasant to visit a church for its architecture when it is in actual use. Furthermore, as i have said many times, i have the utmost respect for people who are able to maintain their faith despite rational questioning of its premises – i just can’t do it myself.

After the zoo, we took a ferry to Taronga Zoo to see koalas, platypus, wallabees, birds of all kinds, sun bears, fishing cats and much more. The Taronga Zoo is awesome. It’s a rather small enclave zoo, but it is affiliated with the much larger NSW Zoo which runs many breeding programs. My obsession with the birds of this country continues and… I SAW A BLACK SWAN AND BLACK SWAN CYGNETS! Black swans are GORGEOUS. We also saw parrots, cockatoos, these little tiny Java Finches. Le sigh.

After the zoo we came home for a gourmet dinner of chicken burgers accompanied with perhaps the best white wine i have ever consumed – Geoff Weaver Lenswood Adelaide Hills Riesling 2005 – which Ilya had bought when i first purchased my ticket down here in mid-October. We also had Russian Caravan tea and polished off the box of Mudpie Tim Tams. Yum.

It was pouring outside as we headed out to Newtown to meet an old elementary school acquaintance of mine, Jonathan. I had not planned on using my fall leather coat while i was here but it came in very handy. We met at the Vanguard, but they were closed for a private function, so we relocated to the Marlborough Hotel. The evening was very pleasant… Jonathan is staying with two Sydneysiders and it’s always great to meet some natives. It’s also nice to catch up with old acquaintances. The irony of the entire situation being that Jonathan and i were far from friends in elementary school. Archnemesis would probably be the more appropriate term. We have run into each other multiple times since then though and get along rather well. The coincidence of our both being in Sydney at the same time was just too much to pass by. Don’t you love facebook?

I had a detailed conversation with the bartender at the Marlborough Hotel about tipping practices (in Australia tipping is for good service not all service like at home and is not standardized to a percentage), American tourists’ treatment of people in the service sector, and cruising. All this while my lychee and cinnamon mojito was being prepared. The mojito was very good, not AS good as the ones Leo would make aboard the Baltic Cruise, but a fine mojito nonetheless.

And thus concluded the penultimate day of the Sydney saga.

Sybil’s Leaves: Sydney, NSW, Australia (Part Six)

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Day 7 – Saturday December 15th, 2007 – Markets
Location: Glebe and Paddington, NSW, Australia

Still a rather late rise yesterday, but not as bad as some of our other days. We left the flat by 11am and walked to the fish market where I was overwhelmed by the many different types of fish and seafood. Unlike in Venice, where I would arrive early to see them packing the products in ice, nothing but the lobsters and the occasional crab seemed to still be alive. I know understand what Rosario was talking about when he said that his family owned a king prawn farm in Goa. To think, I might have been Empress Prawn in India for a couple of months and I let that pass me by.

We didn’t know what type of prawns we should be using in our prawn cocktail sandwiches, so we stopped to let me have a chai latte in a little café and people watched. Seafood makes a lot of mess. Watching people eat baby octopus turns my stomach.

After Kylee kindly messaged us back, we picked up our own prawns, bread and prawn cocktail sauce and sat shelling for a good ten minutes before satiating on seafood. I thought the meal was lacking an essential food group and added cherry tomatoes to the mix. I love cherry tomatoes.

After, we walked to Oxford Street in the CBD and took a bus out to the Paddington Market. The merchandise on sale there was gorgeous. Jewellery, bags, LOTS of clothing and some housewares – but very much a woman’s market. There were no ties or men’s hats to speak of, which I found surprising. I still have some souvenir shopping to do, but the women on my list are now all accounted for and I got a chance to chat with quite a few shopkeepers. I did NOT buy anything for myself – I know you are impressed.

At 3:30, I met Ilyusha outside the market and we walked down Oxford St. through Paddington to the Victoria Barracks, a five-block complex still in use to house the military in Sydney. Of course, we could not get in, but the walk around the outside walls itself was worth it. The security guard at the gate was kind enough to let us stand in the doorway and stare in to see what the inside looked like too. I believe there was a picture taken by Ilyusha of me, but I am afraid to check out the result.

We discovered a lovely bookstore called Ampersand (isn’t that a great name for a bookstore?) and I was shocked as they had, in stock, four Nabokov’s I had never seen for sale used before. I left them (like I need more books and even used books are very expensive here), but Ilyusha bought quite a bit and we generally enjoyed a very well laid-out store with a good selection and great ambience. We didn’t sample their cafes wares, but I cannot imagine that they would not be good for they looked scrumptuous. I thoroughly recommend Ampersand.

We hopped a bus back to the Town Hall and walked down Broadway back to Glebe, but first, we encountered a Chinese bakery. Now, I am the founding member of the Cult of Zach on facebook and if there is anything more “Zachian” than consumption of BBQ pork buns, I don’t know what it would be. I HAD to eat a BBQ pork bun just to let Zach know how it was, however, I have never had a BBQ pork bun before. I have no comparison. I imagine Zach will fix that when I get back to Montreal. LOL. We also bought some pastries for Sunday morning breakfast before Church.

We dropped off our stuff in the flat and went to pick up some Thai at Ilyusha’s favourite place on Glebe Point Road. It was PACKED. We ordered Pad Thai and sat on the Church grounds across the street waiting. The Thai was brought back to the flat and consumed while drinking the restants of the Connawarra Valley from last Monday and watching Sneakers. I think I was asleep by 10pm.

Today, unfortunately, was filled with a lot of verbal sparring between Ilyusha and myself. We are very hard-headed people and when I am in close quarters with someone for a long time I get snappy. I am doing my best, but we end up on these deep philosophical arguments sometimes and it’s very difficult not to get into a very heated debate. I love the challenge, but I think I am getting out of hand. I will provide an example: Since I got here, I have heard the word “cunt” used more times than I think I had in my entire life up until this point. The term is SO vulgar at home that it just isn’t the go-to word to describe someone (except in the case of describing a long-term girlfriend who cheated on you, which is, actually, the only time I think I have heard it used back home). In Bondi Friday night, I was trying to explain to the people around that I don’t actually know what they mean when they call someone a “cunt.” This resulted in much laughter as apparently I needed a human anatomy lesson (of course I know what it means physically). I gave up (considering there was too much drinking going on to really get into a deep conversation about a swear word without it just degrading into potty talk), but Ilya and I returned to the subject last night. My lack of understanding stems from a lack of contexts. Unlike other words, vulgarities require contexts to get their true range of meaning – a definition never really can catch that level of nuance an expletive is adding to a sentence. Ilya was trying to explain to me what “cunt” meant. I was getting frustrated because I KNOW what it means and I understand how it’s being used. I just don’t know WHICH horrible qualities it is supposed to be emphasizing in each given scenario. We agreed to let the discussion drop after some frustration. I felt like a bitch for being so argumentative. I am hoping today is better. We are starting off with a eucharist mass – hopefully it will be inspiring.

Sybil’s Leaves: Sydney, NSW, Australia (Part Five)

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Day 6 – Friday, December 14, 2007 – Relaxation and Refuelation
Location: Bondi, NSW, Australia

We got up late today, still recovering from Wednesday night I imagine. Only left the flat by 1pm and had a couple of stops to make before being able to hop on a train to Bondi. We felt sort of rushed to get there because of the setting sun and Ben’s call mocking us for being so slow to get a move on, but we were incessant on our relaxation plans. It’s fun to need a vacation from your vacation.

After stopping at the post office, kmart and the news agent we took a walk through Redfern to the rail stop. Redfern is Sydney’s “no-go” district. Although it seemed pretty safe during the day, Ilya assured me that walking around there at night is not the brightest idea.

We arrived at Bondi around 4pm and went to Ben’s flat where we were encouraged not to head to the beach until the sun was at a much more obtuse angle. Although I had originally hoped to spend a couple of hours on the beach, I think both Ilyusha and I recognized the person who lives two blocks from the beach greater authority on the matter. When Ben’s girlfriend Jacynthe came arrived in from Canberra we eventually meandered over and I sat under a parasol reading, chatting and generally enjoying the view.

After sitting on the beach staring at a population of both natives and tourists, I will finally get to the reflection on the aesthetics of the Sydneysider population (I can’t really say anything about Austrialians as a whole, now can i?). I preface this paragraph with the obvious caveat that it is a HUGE generalization. People look healthy here. Portions are smaller and food is more expensive, which likely accounts for their being slimmer. The accessibility to lots of outdoors, sporty activities is likely accountable for their glowing complexions and muscle tone. This is not a place to be unattractive if you are of either sex. However, people don’t seem as hung-up about their imperfections as I would say the French-Canadian population often is (even though it’s reknowned for being slender). Being here is inspiring to an active, healthy lifestyle – and it’s a pleasant change not to have to fight the urge to eat crap.

So, the beach was lovely. The sand wasn’t too hot and there were children everywhere making sand castles (if I lived on the beach I imagine I would start my week-end by going to the ocean too). I only went in for a very brief dip (the water was still a little cold to my liking, it IS the ocean and still only early summer), but the riptide wasn’t too bad. I saw people ocean kayaking which I had never really realized was a sport before. I want to ocean kayak before I turn 30. I guess this means that I need to come back to Australia 

After the beach, we decided to go to an Italian place that Ben’s friend Kamal had heard good things about. Although I found the food very tasty, I will admit that the service was poor and the prices were exorbant. Ben, restauranteur that he is, caused quite a bit of a raucous which resulted in my informing him he could be an American with regards to his demands. Lovely. By this time we were six at the table: Ilyusha, myself, Ben, Jacynthe, Kamal and Vish. Kamal is a manager of restaurants and coffee shops and Vish is a surgeon. Both are originally from New Zealand – we were quite an international bunch.

After dinner we went to a bar off the beach with perhaps the worst ambience I have ever seen. It felt like a dingy shopping mall. I don’t know why we decided to go back to Ben’s, but that didn’t work out either because we were making too much noise, so we headed to Vish’s (don’t ever think that surgeons don’t live swankly) for another hour. There was much wine consumed during this evening. Much conversation. Much talk of life plans, laziness, travel and much else. There was a moment of awkwardness as I was my usual cuddly self on a couch with Vish (read: we were both tired and I like sitting with someone’s arm around me – it’s cozy).

We hopped a cab back to Glebe with a native heading to his girlfriend’s Christmas party. The conversation in the back of the cab was relatively amusing. The poor guy was worried that his girlfriend wasn’t calling him to come meet up because she was picking up other blokes. It was difficult not to laugh as Ilya tried to assuage his fears.

And… just so you know… I fell asleep in my cover-up and bathing suit without getting changed again.

Sybil’s Leaves: Sydney, NSW, Australia (Part Four)

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Day 4 – Wednesday, December 12, 2007 – Athletes, Animals, Art and Aimless Conversation
Location: Olympic Park, Blue Mountains and Bondi Beach, NSW, Australia

Ilyusha and I woke up early and went out for caffeinated beverage and breakfast bunnage at his favourite little spot on Glebe Point Rd. The exotic fruit scones were heavenly and the hot chocolate came in a neat sippy cup which is very useful for klutzes like me who manage to spill just about everything.

The van to take me to on OzTrek showed up at the Glebe Village Backpackers about 5 minutes late, but the driver, Michael immediately started passing around shortbread and gingerbread cookies in order to make sure we were all well-nourished for the upcoming nature walks. He reminded me very much of the excellent bus driver we had in Florence in 2005, named Iago. I quickly struck up conversation with the family speaking French next to me whom were from Nouvelle Caledonie – which I had never heard of before. You meet so many interesting people when abroad!

First stop was the Olympic Park. Sydney’s Olympic Park was paid for 2 years before the Olympics began (doesn’t that make every Montrealer cringe?) and cost only 10% of what the Bejing Olympics are costing. There was an interesting display about different scandals associated with the construction, the length of winning jumps and other events. I wasn’t half as bored as I expected to be.

Second stop, Euroka (unsure of the spelling there) where we encountered kangaroos, cockatoos and other flora and fauna on a brief walk through the brush. There were no snakes, unfortunately, but there was a valley where the cicadas were so loud it was deafening. I kept hoping that the joey an American tourist was too close to would get up and kick her, but, alas, I was not so lucky.

Third stop, Wentworth Falls where the fog was thick and we could see nothing from the look-out. However, Michael suggested that we walk down to a lower look-out point twenty minutes down the trail and see if the fog would clear in the meantime. It did and I got some very valuable exercise.

Fourth stop, lunch in Leura, but I had brought a lunch of half a peanut butter, apple and date sandwich (saved from the day before), a nectarine and a granola bar. Although it was drizzling by now, I set off to wander the streets of this sweet little village and found a nice little park with a great view into the unkempt, lush backyards of the residents. I am a peeping-tom. I got stuck in some pretty heavy rainfall and had to wait it out under a large tree.

Fifth stop, Victoria Falls and Three Sisters look-out, but the fog never cleared around the Three Sisters. We drove away with the intention of coming back and headed off to the Grosse Valley. We had better luck out there and got a lovely view of the different valleys before heading back to Three Sisters.

We now had a few options: walk down thirty minutes of stairs to a platform, hope the fog would clear, and take the scenic railway back up to the look-out; take the monorail down to the rainforest, walk around for twenty minutes and take the monorail back up; sit in the café and hope the fog would clear. I took the cheapest option and the one that resulted in the least wetness (it was still drizzling), and as the fog never cleared for any of us, it wasn’t an unwise move. I never saw the Three Sisters though.

I slept on the way back to Sydney. When I got off the bus I was accosted by some very sweet looking backpackers (which made me feel a bit better about being unable to work up the nerve to talk to the three Swedes on the bus), but had to walk by as I was due to meet Ilya.

We had originally planned a harbour cruise and it was nice in Sydney, but Michael had told us all that the New South Wales Art Gallery (read Museum) was open until nine on Wednesdays and has free admittance to the permanent collections. Ilya seemed to agree that this was not only a cheaper, but also a more interesting option. We enjoyed ourselves perusing European and contemporary art, without meandering into the aboriginal section, and I was rather upset that there was no guide to their permanent European collection. It was quite good. There Rodins were impressive and there was some nice examples of different styles, though few masters. The building was beautiful and furthered my desire to one day compile a guidebook to the floors of museums across the world.

After the museum, Ilya and I headed out to Bondi to meet his friend Ben who owns a bar out there. We met, went to the Bondi Hotel for a drink, decided as there was no food being served there anymore it would a bad idea to drink on empty stomachs, and left for falafel. I have never had such expensive falafel, nor falafel with so many different ingredients: chilli, coleslaws, corn, yummy! We bought wine, went to Ben’s apartment and spent the night there talking. Well, Ben and I did, Ilya was lost around 2am and had crashed in the alcove. It was nice to meet another native of this lovely place. I got a crash course in Australian politics and we talked about conspiracy theories and other pseudo-intellectual nonsense. It was fun.

Day 5 – Thursday, December 13, 2007 –Irrational Fears, Walks and Jazz Music
Location: Bondi Beach, The Rocks, Surry Hills, NSW, Australia

We woke up around 9:30am badly in need of our toothbrushes and left Ben to sleep until he had to go to work. The walk to the rail station was a good half-hour in the sun and I am a tad sunburnt on the cheeks now. We stopped in Bondi Junction Shopping Centre to buy me flipflops at targets and pick up some much needed smoothies for breakfast. We hopped on the train and then walked home from Town Hall through Darling Harbour. I’d only gotten four hours of sleep, so we decided that I needed an hour nap.

At 3 we were showered, rested and ready to go. Our original plan had been to go to the zoo, but the zoo closes at 5pm, so this was no longer feasible. We decided to take the ferry to Luna Park instead and ride the ferris wheel. We got off at the wrong stop, I panicked and acted like usual, miserable self for about 15 minutes, but we got back on a ferry that ended up dropping us off at Luna Park anyways (there were other ferries in between and a general inability on our part to read the schedules) and we rode the Ferris wheel which provided a great view of the bridge and harbour.

Ilya apparently no longer likes me because when we were stopped at the top, I asked how long he thought it would take if I jumped before there was a nifty kersplatt. Hehe. We walked across the Harbour bridge to get back to the city and I kept up the mockery of his fear of heights. A security officer heard me and I got a pretty severe, but jolly, scolding about talking about jumping off the bridge. I like being teased…

We rocked through the Rocks, which feel a little like Montreal below Ste. Catherine Street, and got on a bus to Surry Hills. We walked up to the top of the hills in Moore Park which I imagine Surry Hills are named after and had another great view of the skyline, the mountains in the opposite direction and Fox Studios (LOL). I saw people playing cricket.

We used the guidebook as a restaurant finder for the first time and had Indian food at Maya Tandoori on Cleveland. It was EXCELLENT. A cafeteria-style restaurant with lots of choices that were cheap and tasty. I was so full from the special of the day that I could not sample the extensive dessert selection (but oh how I wanted to), so we decided to purchase two samosas and an almond burfi for me for the beach on Friday.

After dinner we headed out to White Horse, a trendier jazz bar on Bourke street. Though the guitar, bass, drum and piano quartet did not play any of their own compositions while we were there, their covers of some of my favourite pieces (like It Don’t Mean a Thing If We Ain’t Got That Swing). I was, unfortunately, falling asleep by 10:30 though. We took a taxi back to the flat and konked out. I was still clothed again.

Ilya is still having problems with my snoring. However, he has told me to stop snoring at least twice when I was wide awake and not even in bed. Last night (I found my earplugs and the birds make a lot of noise so I was wearing them), he took to shaking my bed by grabbing its foot when I would start to snore. He did this once when I wasn’t in the bed… I am amused and wondering how many times I am being awakened for no reason…

We slept a good twelve hours and are currently prepping to head out to Bondi Beach where Ben is supposedly to meet us again. I only have four more days left… sniff.

Sybil’s Leaves: Sydney, NSW, Australia (Part Three)

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Day Three – December 11th, 2007 – Animals, architecture and awesome botanics
Location: Darling Harbour, CBD and King’s Cross, NSW, Australia

I began the day in very typical Heather fashion – i forgot my watch.

Breakfast was a banana smoothie as i walked towards the Aquarium, which i was told is supposed to be the next-best thing to actually going to the Great Barrier Reef. I saw platypus, crocodiles, seals, sharks and Nemo. The coral reef was so colourful and impressive. The shark tank (which you walk under) also has rays in it and watching them swim over the top of you is actually incredibly soothing. It was a very pleasantly spent two hours.

After the aquarium i decided to go on an architecture hunt in the Central Business District. I found the Queen Victoria Building (QVB) with its two historical re-enactment clocks and the massive Christmas tree decorated with thousands of Swarovski crystals. The QVB is wonderfully restored and a joy to walk through. I also got a little window-shopping for jewellery in.

Town Hall is across the street from the QVB, an ornate neo-Baroque building (i think) that was unfortunately closed to the public because of a recital.

I wandered around TRYING to find the old Post Office, but my guidebook had an error in it and after giving up and deciding to walk down the 5 block pedestrian mall – Martin’s Place – i was suddenly in front of the neo-Renaissance building i was looking for. It was pretty impressive.

It was almost time to meet up with Ilya by now, so i walked back to Darling Harbour (where the aquarium is) and sat writing postcards. I met up with the second person asking me for directions from this locale. The first was a French woman who wanted to know which way the Fish Market was during the morning. The second was a Native Sydneyite who was looking for the casino. I felt so powerful with my trusty map. LOL.

Ilya stopped for wedges on our way to Hyde Park and the botanical gardens. Hyde Park is gorgeous, but more gorgeous at night. I am particularly fond of the arcade of giant fig trees. The Botanical Gardens in Sydney have a central location akin to that of Central Park in NY, but they are much more lush and there is no woodsy area really. There were runners everywhere and i felt sort of left out, so Ilya and i flew a kite… yes… a kite which i bought two hours earlier. It took us way too long to figure out how to put it together (academics for you), and we couldn’t get it off the ground. It was fun trying though. The Botanical Gardens in Sydney are free and permit you to see the swarms of fruit bats that come out at dusk. It was definitely worth the trip.

We walked over to the Opera House, because it’s iconic, and then around the pennisula to come out in King’s Cross. We got the kite flying when we were directly on the harbour. It was great until we thought it was going to crash into pedestrians. We are bringing it to the beach on Friday… hehe. We wandered around the old red lite district for a while before stopping at a Slavic restaurant where i had goulash and absinthe while Ilya ate a meal of roast duck. Absinthe is … OK. I prefer wine.

We walked back through Oxford St (the gay village) to Town Hall station to catch a bus home. I was so exhausted when we got back here i fell asleep fully-clothed and don’t even remember Ilyusha putting a comforter over me. It had been a very long day… over 12 hours of walking.