We woke up with a good night's rest and a much brighter outlook on the
day. Breakfast was superb - a buffet of fruits, sausages, eggs and
breads. Then we walked out into the sunny morning. Unlike yesterday,
everything seemed fresh and alive as we walked through Hyde Park and admired
its fountains. It could be due to the sunshine, or to a good night's
After pausing to photograph some historic buildings, our first stop
was the Royal Botanical Gardens. Even though it is their autumn,
some flowers were still in bloom, such as their rose garden. There was
a turf garden, which was used as a test area for the city to decide which
type of grass to plant on the park grounds. Then we walked into a
richer part of the garden that featured some tropical trees. We heard chirping
noises from above, and we looked up to discover hundreds of fox-faced bats
clinging to the branches. The bats came to the gardens a couple of
decades ago, and they're starting to cause a problem. It sure was
spooky! We then took a walk along the shore and viewed the harbor.
Today, everything was beautiful - such a difference from yesterday.
The lush green vegetation made for a soothing enviornment in which to relax
- although we could still hear the sounds of construction from the city;
everyone is desparately building for the upcoming 2000 olympics.
We walked towards the Rocks via the Opera House. Its interior
looked very plush and very 70's: wood paneling, sculpted chairs, abstract-art-like
light fixtures. The white tops of the House are covered in tile.
Some tiles toward the ground were broken off - maybe by souvenier hunters?
Once at the Rocks, we hunted around for the visitor's center. On
its second floor, the history of Australia's settlement was described in
a fascinating sequence of paragraphs and paintings. The early days
of Sydney - convicts that built haphazard huts along the bay, overcrowded
conditions - made such a contrast to the city today.
We decided not to follow a self-guided tour and opted instead for just
wandering through the back alleyways of the Rocks. Many historic
buildings remain, although they now contain restaurants or gift shops.
We walked along the Nurses Walk, the Suez Canal, and got up onto the Sydney
Harbor Bridge. We ate lunch at the Gumnut Tea Room, which had a lovely
courtyard nested among the historic buildings. The food was unique
- sandwiches of exotic meats and vegetables served in Turkish bread.
This was a great place to relax and rest from all the hiking.
After having a quick drink at the Observer Tavern (a site where early
surgeons would perform autopsies right on the bar), we headed to the Circular
Quay Ferries. We boarded the one for Darling Harbor, and we got off
at the Sydney National Aquarium. At first, we weren't impressed by
the aquarium - especially when compared to the one in Baltimore.
But then we entered the underwater walkways - two tunnels that lead along
the bottom of a giant fish tank. We watched in awe as a gigantic
manta ray passed overhead; its wingspan was easily 6 feet.
We caught a later ferry back to the Quay, and then walked back to the hotel. Then we set off to Kings Cross (the Red Light district) in search of a recommended restaurant. We found it - the Bayswater Brasserie. It was a modest but busy cafe that served modern Australian dishes. I had a wonderful snapper dish served on sweet potatoes; Daria had grilled chicken on risotto. The guide book said that film industry people frequented this place - but we did not recongise anyone. We walked back to our hotel, remarking on the number of prostitutes that emerged onto our hotel's street.
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