Nov 22, 2014

Week 7: Welcome to Oz

There are boomerangs in the gift shop and men are wearing Crocodile Dundee wide-brim hats. There’s a photo in the Manly Beach museum of Santa wearing a bathing suit with his toes in the surf. You know the line, Toto: We’re not in Kansas anymore. Welcome to Oz!

Sydney Harbor from Circular Quay

I can’t get enough of the Sydney Opera House; it’s the most captivating building I have ever seen. Every program about Australia I’ve ever seen opens up with a view of the Opera House, and now I understand why — it’s mesmerizing. From Circular Quay, it looks like a beetle’s shell releasing its wings, like a ladybug just before flight.

Manly Beach

Sydney boasts about 300 sunny days a year, so it’s nearly always a beautiful day to go to the beach!

Queen Victoria Building

The Queen Victoria Building was constructed in 1898 and its decadent architecture of stained glass windows and arched doorways really puts you back in time. In the center of the mall is a Christmas tree that starts on the lower floor and goes through all four stories. Just imagine if that were a real tree, and not a glowing plastic prop.

The London-made clock was the most fascinating: it depicts a ship sailing through the different islands and coasts of Australia when it was first “discovered,” and has figurines displaying the horrors of colonization. After the sobering sight, you can go to the lowest floor and cheer yourself up with a cone of baklava ice cream.

Sheila - my generous host and friend of an unconventional lifestyle (WOO!) - suggested I take a day trip to the Blue Mountains. I’d never heard of them before, and they were just two hours out of Sydney, so why not?

As the train pulled away the skyline changed from skyscrapers, to suburban homes, to small towns surrounded by “the bush.” Then the view gave way to the Blue Mountains... Incredible! The mountains look blue because of the oil released into the air by the dense population of eucalyptus trees. It makes for a beautiful sight.

As I was reading the information board looking out at the 3 Sisters rock formation, I noticed a spider creeping its way up the post. GOOD GOD! NOT A SPIDER IN AUSTRALIA! RETREAT!! I gave it a wide berth, and it was content to settle on the post without bothering anyone - whew. Now I can say I survived the Australian “wilderness,” haha.

More from Sydney to come!

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