25-09-2014 — 29-09-2014
Days 36 through 40
One of the joys of traveling is the newness of it all, arriving in a city or town and discovering what makes it exciting and compelling for its residents. While this act of discovery is wonderful, it can also be exhausting. Finding our bearings and searching out basic necessities like food is not always easy. (Samantha would like to add here that for her, a basic necessity is frequently finding the "cute part" of any town, city, or village we encounter. More on that in a post coming).
In our travels so far, we have visited countries and cities that have been new to our family. Sydney was different. It was the first location that at least two of us—Tom and Samantha—have explored in the past. We had chosen to stay in Paddington, a hip section of town outside the city center, and instead of working hard to discover the city, we chose to just live in the city and fall into something of a routine for us and the kids. Sure, we could be occasional tourists, but we also wanted to cook dinners at home, take out the trash, maybe learn the TV schedule. So that's what we did in Sydney.
Thursday, 25-09-2014. Day 36.
Nothing Much Happened Today
We'd meant to head off to The Rocks today to finish what we'd started the day before, but after so many days of being constantly on the move, it felt good to dawdle for a while. So we dawdled until just after Noon, and then, just as we were started to think about heading out, it started to rain. It was really coming down pretty hard at first, but hen it eased up. Still, walking around in the rain wasn't really that interesting to us, so we stayed home.
We did some laundry. We did some homework. We read some books. We watched some television, including some of the old staples like M*A*S*H and Adventure Time and Dragons: Defenders of Berk, and some new shows, like VS Arashi, which is a strange Japanese boy band game show that involves bowling and curling. We did some grocery shopping. We made some dinner.
In short, we didn't do anything vastly notable.
One final note. The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon is on in Sydney at 7:00 p.m., so that was a bit odd. Also, we saw a lot of roaches roaming the streets of Sydney.
Friday, 26-09-2014. Day 37.
Back to the Rocks
This was supposed to be a nicer day than yesterday, and, aside from some brief, light showers in the morning, the weather was fantastic, so we renewed our plan to head back to The Rocks, and again, we decided to walk down there. But this time, we were going to take a slight detour to have lunch at Din Tai Fung, the world-renowned dumpling house that has a few locations in Los Angeles. It's as notorious for its long wait times as it is for its dumplings.
We got to the location in World Square just after the lunch rush, so we only had to wait about 15 minutes for a table. The prices were higher here than they were in the U.S., and they advertised a limited-time "Gem Dumplings," which was a serving of seven different colored dumplings, each a different flavor.
Naturally, we had to try it. And, just as naturally, they were sold out. Oh well. The regular dumplings were still great.
We continued our walk down to The Rocks. The girls had combed through The Rocks website the day before and picked a few likely spots we had to visit, like Buttons, Buttons, Buttons, Alpaca Barn, Chocolarts, and, of course, Royal Copenhagen.
After all that shopping, we walked up the Bridge Stairs and along the walkway beside the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Pylon Lookout., which marks the halfway point along the bridge and offers some great views of the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour.
We didn't want to go all the way across, because it was getting dark, traffic was getting thick, and and we didn't want to have to take a cab back to Paddington from Kirribilli. So we turned around after Pylon Lookout, and as we headed back to The Rocks, we looked up to see a group of people climbing up the top of the Harbor Bridge.
We walked back across the bridge, past all the padlocks attached to the chain-link fence that marked some notable, personal event, like weddings, birthdays, and honeymoons, and hired a taxi rather than walk the five kilometers back home. As luck would have it, we caught one in front of Fortune of War again (good spot for taxis it seems).
We had enough fixings to make dinner at home, and Samantha, not content to merely try Pavlova in a restaurant like most tourists, had to make her own.
We watched the Rabbitohs play the Roosters as we ate Pavlova (so native). The Rabbitohs (Russell Crowe's team) won handily. We didn't understand all the rules of rugby (even the positions are strange with names like five-eighths, props, and hookers), but it's a fast-moving game (a lot more so than American football or soccer) and quite enjoyable to watch, if you go in for the sports.
Saturday, 27-09-2014. Day 38.
A Proper Weekend Market
The girls went down to the Paddington market. I went for a run to the Sydney Opera House and back (one of these days I'll write these runs up, but until then you can view them at my Runkeeper profile).
After one missed farmer's market and another that was a little on the small side, Samantha was quite thrilled to have a large market to peruse at her leisure. Frankie, too, was having a grand time at the market, but Jackie was getting a little bored. So she joined me back at the house where she wrote a book report on the last book she'd read (the highly educational Scooby Doo and the House of Horrors) and did some math lessons.
Jackie and I thought about heading over to the local pub, The London, for a bite to eat while we waited for Sam and Frankie to finish shopping, but the championship game between AFL (Australian Football League) teams Sydney Swans and the Melbourne-based Hawthorn Hawks was raging that afternoon, and the whole neighborhood was out of control. The London was standing room only, and a lot of taxis were unloading scores of inebriated footy-loving Australians into the crowded streets. But when it was all over, there was no joy in Paddington—the Swans lost.
Once the crowds cleared up, we walked over to Les Nérérides, a local shop that Samantha and Frankie had visited earlier. Jackie had been asking for a watch, and, since her birthday is coming up, they found a likely option they though Jackie would like—an orange Noon Copenhagen number that was on sale. It took her a little while to decide if this would be a worthwhile gift, but she came around pretty quickly, and now she won't take it off. Since she strapped it to her wrist, she's quite regularly been keeping us posted about what time it is.
No one felt like cooking that evening, so we tried Blue Train Sushi, just around the corner from where we were staying, it was one of those places with a variety of different sushi coming around on a conveyor belt, which is always great fun.
Sunday, 28-09-2014. Day 39.
A Day at the Beach
On Sunday in Sydney, you can buy an all-day bus pass for $2.50 a person. So we walked over to the local 7-11 and snapped up four of these, then jumped onto the bus to Bondi Beach.
Cheap bus rides make for a crowded bus, and as we made our may from Paddington to Bondi, more and more people got on until we were jammed to capacity. There was one stop when the queue was so long to get on, not everyone was able to fit. You can only cram so many humans into a metal tin. So were were happy when we finally arrived at Bondi ... but before we could actually get to the beach, Samantha somehow found another market for us to walk though.
Our plan was to do the Bondi to Coogee Walk, a 6-kilometer paved path along shoreline cliffs and four or five different beaches. It was a nice day in Sydney (some said the first nice day of spring), so the beaches were all jammed with sunbathers, surfers, swimmers, and snorkelers.
There were great views of the ocean throughout the whole walk. After a few hours we arrived at Coogee beach, where some sort of well-attended sand soccer match was being held. The area was really busy, and, after deciphering the bus timetables and figuring out the quickest route back home, we got onto another jam-packed bus and rode back to Oxford street. Well, Oxford-adjacent. We walked the rest of the way, stopping to pick up a few things before we settled in for our last evening in Sydney.
Monday, 29-09-2014. Day 40.
Midnight Train to Melbourne
We were checking out of our house at 4:00 p.m., so we spent a leisurely morning getting ready. When you're traveling around the world, you never know when your next shower is going to happen. So, everyone took showers before we went to have lunch at The London, which, in stark contrast to Saturday, was empty. Then mailed some goods (mainly extra stuff we'd brought with us that we really didn't need) to friends back home via Australia Post. Mailing stuff overseas is always an uncertainty, mainly because of customs, so we hope it gets there!
Then we packed up our suitcases for the first time in six days (they were a lot heavier than we remembered) and took a taxi to Sydney Central. Our train didn't leave the station until 8:30 p.m., so after we checked in our bags we walked over to Chinatown, had some dinner and took in the sights for a few hours.
But before long, the sun had gone down, and it was time to get on the train. We climbed onto Car B of the Sydney to Melbourne overnight train and we were off.
Notable Statistics (for six days)
- Buses ridden: 2
- Taxis hired: 1
- iPadographers: 2
- Dumplings eaten: 32
- Trains boarded: 1