Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Au Revoir Antipodes

Yesterday, our final day in the Southern Hemisphere was spent checking out of 57 York St and checking into 67 Sussex St where the Hilton Hotel is.  Sussex St holds fond memories for me.  It is where I got too much hair cut off with Road Scholar friends, Jennifer and Betty.  It was further down the road in Chinatown, though, so I wasn’t too traumatized by the reminder.  The hotel was very nice, new and located just off Darling Harbor.  We walked to the Central area and had a great pizza.  Today we are flying home.  See you in 20 hours.  Ha.  Some things I noted along the way to remember about our trip.

1.  The wine in Australia and New Zealand is very good.  I especially was fond of the Pinot Gris.
2. Affogato: a desert of ice ream, espresso and Fra Angelico that I WILL make. We had this in Fortune of War, Sydney’s oldest pub.
3.  Rug Up phrase means to  put on a coat.
4.  In Christchurch there is a piece of the 9/11 building that was brought by US fire fighters to commemorate the earthquake.
5.  There are no screens on windows in New Zealand.
6.  In New Zealand there are few places with air conditioning, including restaurants and supermarkets
7.  In both NA and Aus you never get a check at your restaurant table.  You just go to the cashier and they miraculously know what you ate and how much you owe.  It eliminates prolonged waiting and the tipping dilemma. However, we did once walk out without paying.  Fortunately we realized it, and returned to pay.
8.  Bugs are everywhere in New Zealand.  Locals claim the unusual prolonged rains are to blame.  We were inundated with an influx of flying crickets one night, cicadas last night.  See #5
9.  Major construction for a light rail is in Sydney.  It has been prolonged and disruptive.
10. There is a free light rail in Melbourne that traverses the downtown.

New Zealand Sounds

Monday, April 2, 2018

In Search of Flinders’ Cat, etc.

Flinder’s Cat, Trim

Today we went in search of Sydney’s public art.  It’s easy to find; it’s everywhere.  Near our apartment is a small enclosed street, Angel Place, where a multitude of various styled and sized bird cages hang about 30-40 feet above the pavement.  From each cage a bird song plays.  The cages and the songs represent birds that once lived in Sydney, but have disappeared due to human encroachment.  The area is only a pedestrian pass through, which adds to the isolation and loss.  

Forgotten Songs at Alice Place

From Alice Place we walked through Martin Place past the Lloyd Rees Fountain.  Rees was an Australian artist who was very civic minded.  He partially funded the fountain in this pedestrian mall.  There is beautiful architecture here in this rather civic space that cuts north to south through the CBD. The fountain was featured in the film The Matrix.  

Lloyd Rees Fountain, Martin Place

Our next destination was the Public Library.  But we had to stop and rub il Porcelinno’s nose again before arriving at the spot where the sculpture to the memory of Trim stands.  Trim was Captain Matthew Flinders’ cat who traveled the world with him.  They circumnavigated Australia and even went to prison together when Flinders was arrested for espionage.  Trim sits on a library window sill behind a sculpture of Flinders.  A more detailed accounting of Trim’s adventures can be read at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trim_(cat)

The State Library of NSW is a large reference and research library.  It is the oldest library in Australia, established in 1826.  An addition, The Mitchell Building, has an ornate vestibule and a marble mosaic map.  It was here we entered and began to explore.  There is a very modern addition that houses large computer labs filled with people.  (Not all were pursuing high minded goals on those machines either.). We wandered through, took a look at the closed Shakespeare room, and exited at Shakespeare Place to find the Memorial to Shakespeare. 

Memorial to Shakespeare

On the way home we found Frank Stella art in a Harry Seidler building, an Alexander Calder stabile sitting on a corner, and a small child hanging at another corner.  The most interesting find was the Tank Stream Fountain which paid homage to the stream that once provided water to the European settlers.  It was this stream that caused Admiral Phillips to choose Jackson Port rather than Botany Bay as the area to settle. Other than a culvert, the fountain is the only remaining evidence of the stream. 
Pictures at flickr.

Tank Stream Fountain

Saturday, March 31, 2018

A Day of Rest

Royal Botanical Gardens

Our days here are short now.  We’ve pretty much hit all the top attractions and are now just enjoying the nice weather and walking in the city.  We spent most of today in the Botanical Gardens.  When we first walked in there was a large wedding party having photos taken.  Other areas were filled with kids hunting Easter eggs, families hanging out and solo yoga practitioners.  We ate our Subway sandwiches (yes, everything is still closed) and then Wayne read under a giant tree while I drew.  The wedding reception was nearby and provided some nice 60’s music.  Every now and then a flock of cockatoos would fly overhead competing with the music with their loud squawks.  Pictures at flickr.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Good Good Friday

Empty Street on Darling Harbor

The Aussies take Good Friday very seriously.  Everything was closed today.  We had nothing planned anyway so we walked to Darling Harbor for lunch.  A couple of funny things did happened today, though.   Last night at the Opera I had to revive my school teacher persona and ask a man and woman next to me to stop talking.  I actually had to say it 3 times because he loudly said, “what?”  “I’m not really into this.”  Finally his mother? consort? cougar? shushed him.  Well, suddenly today 12 hours later and in front of us (and only us) on the very empty boardwalk was the very same couple.  And, he was still yakking away and she was still telling him to shut up.  

UGG Girl

The next funny thing.  After lunch we walked back our neighborhood Coles Supermarket to shop for dinner.  For the past 7 days there has been a girl outside of Coles holding a sign for the UGG store.  When we see her we know we are on the right corner.  No matter the time of day, she is there.  No matter the time of day, she is staring at her phone.  We have never seen her raise her head, look away from her phone, wave her sign.  Her fingers spin around that keyboard in a blaze.  Today.  Today she was not there. Our first hopeful thought was we were on the wrong corner. Not so. Just no UGG girl.  And, no Coles either.  It too was closed on Good Friday.  Circling the blocks we finally found Pie Face open.  A little hole in the wall, it provided sandwiches for Good Friday dinner.  Maybe about 3 other photos of our non-eventful day are at flickr.

PS We also stopped in a 7 Eleven for ice cream and discovered that cigarettes are $29 a pack.  Yikes!  No, we weren’t buying.  Just observing a purchase.  

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Mimi! Mimi!

View of Sydney Harbor from Royal Botanical Gardens

I’ll just mention very briefly that we went to the Museum of Sydney today hoping to see and learn a lot about the settlement.  What we got was one room of photographs depicting persons from the mafia and high crime era, a small room with video showing Aboriginies explaining some cultural and an area showing Australians of European ancestry who were accomplished.  The most interesting (but unexplained) thing is that the museum was built over and around the remains of Australia’s first Government House built by Admiral Arthur Phillip.  He was the Royal Navy officer who founded the penal colony.

Handa Opera

What made today wonderful was la Boheme performed at the Handa Opera.  We packed a picnic and ate on a bench in the RBG facing the harbor.  It was a beautiful setting and primed us for the most uplifting of evenings.  The Handa Opera is an open-air and all-weather event. (Thankfully it was perfect weather!)  Opera Australia is the principal opera company in Australia and the performers for tonight.  Their voices were magnificent.  The setting was Paris 1968 during the student protests.  Mimi (My name is Lucia, but they call me Mimi.  I don’t know why.) is probably dying of lung cancer because she chain smokes rather than consumption.  When Musetta appeared the man next to Wayne exclaimed and bumped him pointing to the stage.  Turns out it was his daughter.  We became acquainted with the people behind us because all of us could not restrain the oooos and ahs.  Fireworks, snow falling, beautiful acting and singing put it all together for an absolutely perfect evening. Pictures at flickr.