24 May 1999


Arriving in Sydney

After 20 hours in a plane, we emerged into a new continent.  The sun was just rising, yet we felt like it was bedtime.  We made it through customs, which wouldn't allow us to bring in banana chips in our trail mix due to national quarantine laws.  The taxi we took, which looked more like a police car, was driven by a friendly Lebanese man who took his family here twelve years ago to escape civil war.  Later, we remembered that it was impolite to sit in the back of a cab - luckily, he didn't seem to take offense.


  • View from our hotel
  • The Hotel Boulevard was modern and upscale.  The room was a welcome sight, and the showers were hot and powerful.  After we rinsed off the airplane grime, we headed out to explore Sydney.


  • On the Overseas Passenger Terminal, looking north
  • Looking east
  • Looking west
  • We strolled through Hyde Park, which contained a grove of eucalyptus trees whose dense branches provided a protective canopy for the occasional drops of water falling from the cloudy, rainbow-filled sky.  We stopped at the Circular Quay, the headquarters of the ferry fleets that puttered their way around the complex Sydney Harbor.  To get a good view of the Quay, we climbed onto the roof of the Overseas Passenger Terminal.  Eventually, we made our way to the Rocks - the site of the original Australian settlement by the convicts dumped here in 1788.  The stone fronts had a late 1800's feel, and the area had only a couple tourists.



    The Ferry and Bus Tours

  • Starting the ferry tour
  • A rainbow over the harbor
  • Cruising under the Harbour Bridge
  • Makeover of an abandoned warehouse
  • Feeling hungry, we made our way back to the Circular Quay.  We booked a luncheon cruise, did some window shopping, and returned to the piers at the specified time - only to be told that we wouldn't be let in, on account of the fact that the ticket salesperson forgot to give us tickets.  Armed only with the receipt, we convince the ticket taker that we weren't frauds (as charged by the now beligerant ticket seller) - and we got on board.  A gentle rain fell as we pulled out of the Quay, passed by the Opera House and made our way into the Harbor.
  • A replica of the Bounty
  • Expensive houses on the shore
  • Tobin on deck of the ferry
  • Daria admiring the view
  • The cruise revealed to us just how densely packed the Sydney area is.  All waterfront properties resembled houses built practically on top of one another.  There were occasional parks to break up the nearly uniform covering of multimillion-dollar homes and apartment complexes.  The tour guide went through the history of each bay as we passed it by, repeating the name at the end in order to ensure that we never forget.  When the sun finally broke through the mist, we ventured out on top of the ship and took some fantastic pictures.  The area looked like what I imagined San Francisco to be.



    When we returned to the Circular Quay, a heavy rain set in - thus ruining our plans for a walking tour of the Rocks.  That, combined with the fact that we had serious jet lag, led us to hop on board the Sydney Explorer Bus.  These buses run a circuit of 25 stops around the city, letting you get off and grab the next bus that comes by.  However, we chose to stay on board for the entire route.  The bus driver was talkative - she didn't bother with the recorded narrated tour and supplied the details herself.  We passed by museums, shopping districts, parks, casinos, convention centers - everything of note.  I was filing away details for potential excursions tomorrow, while Daria took a nap.  We eventually got off at a stop not too far from the hotel.  It seems that the Hard Rock Cafe is practically next door.  I hope we can get away with never stepping foot inside it.

    We went upstairs to our room.  Daria decided to extend her nap for a few hours while I went out to explore.  I visited Kings Cross, the Red Light district and the only place I saw during the bus tour to buy this journal notebook.  I detoured on the way home and discovered a whole cluster of Italian restuarants only a block from the hotel.  I also found a few places to get a temporary email account; maybe we could send mail tomorrow.

    The media is very similar to that found in the States.  The billboards contain the familiar brand names; television programs have the same overproduced quality, but with Australian accents; radio morning zoo programs here also pull stupid stunts.  The Aussies have their own version of the Today show, Hollywood Squares and Wheel of Fortune.  The big news stories of late:

  • a recent hailstorm caused AU$350 million in damage, and many roofs are now temporarily covered in plastic tarp because the roofers are in such demand
  • the victms of a serial killer were found sealed in a vault
  • much construction in the city due to the upcoming 2000 summer games.
  • We went to Trovata, one of those Italian restuarants I discovered earler.  The fantastic wine and food (I had a sausage ricotta) caused me to practically fall asleep at the table.  Daria had to cut her meal short because I nearly toppled over into my food.  When my head hit the pillow, I slept soundly for 10 hours.

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