One of my favourite beaches in Australia has always been Manly, just east of Sydney harbour and a 20 min. ferry ride from the city’s Circular Quay. My travelling companion, Suzi, is also a fan of Manly so the first thing we did when she arrived in town was head down to the ferries for our Manly adventure. The trip was relaxing and scenic, going past the glamorous neighborhoods with multi-million dollar homes, sailing clubs and national parks and indigenous tribal lands.Upon arrival, we headed along The Corso, the shopping/dining pedestrian precinct that runs straight to the beachfront. There was an ANZAC memorial event the day we visited with lots of old “diggers” in attendance and a youthful contingent of military personnel paying respect.Aaaah, the beach – the broad golden sands looked stunning, even on an over-cast day.
After a half-hour stroll along the beachfront, we walked back towards the ferry docks stopping to admire some of the great old Victorian and Edwardian buildings, including the New Brighton Hotel (where I would frequent enjoy a frosty beer when travelling home for Christmas in the 80s and early 90s), and various vintage advertisements… Heading back, the ferry offered some great photo opps of the harbour, the bridge, the Opera House and the big cruise ship that was docked at Circular Quay. A fantastic and affordable ride. I wonder what other adventures await us tomorrow…..
Touchdown! It was late in the evening when my plane landed at Kingsford Smith airport in Sydney (named for a famous early Aussie aviation hero), and the first thing I did after passing through customs was….get a meat pie! Yummmm…I’ve been jonesing for an Aussie meat pie for years and fortunately there was one café open in the airport and yes, they had meat pies!I hopped in a cab and headed with my pie in hand to the Hyde Park Inn, a modest hotel located in the downtown core, overlooking the famous park. What a great view I had.. My first morning in Sydney started with a bucket of latte from Starbucks (below) 1 block down from the hotel. Friendly staff ended up taking care of me for 4 days and got my coffees just right! BEWARE: in Australia there is no such thing as drip coffee. Everything is based on espresso and boy are their coffees (all styles) super strong. I learnt quickly to request 1/2 strength in cafes – fortunately in nearly all the hotels I stayed there were kettles and packets of instant coffee which was just fine for me. Anyway, my daily breakfasts were ham and cheese toasties (toasted sandwiches) which were delicious, fast and convenient.
While waiting a few days for my friend and travel companion, Suzi, to join me, I decided to do some touristy things including a sightseeing trip around town on the Big Bus. Although it was a bit chilly (it was late spring Down Under), I took a seat up top in the open upper deck. I loved seeing the bus stops with shout-outs to indigenous language and recognizing the land and tribe associated with the region.
The city of Sydney has a very distinct vibe: high-energy, raucous, fight-or-flight. I’ve become used to Toronto’s noise and chaos but Sydney is a whole other world! In fact, I couldn’t wait to get outta town and start my outback adventures. I did love visiting the Queen Victoria Building, filled with exclusive boutiques, lots of cafes and sweet/cake bars, filled with olde worlde charm and stunning architecture.So many other great old buildings to admire and the wide pedestrian-friendly sidewalks…The next day, I decided to visit the big ANZAC memorial in the park opposite my hotel…I’d been looking at it from my window for 2 days so it was time for me to explore and learn about the Australian New Zealand Army Corp. history from WWI thru Vietnam and the middle east. I knew it would be an emotional journey so…..it deserves its own blog post (tomorrow).