When we fly together, the husband and I, we usually book two adjoining aisle seats, rather than squeeze our substantial selves into the same row. For our flight from Melbourne to Sydney, however, he reserved a window seat for me. There are two things he remembers most vividly from his business trips to Australia, the stunning view over Sydney Harbour during the plane’s descent, and almost drowning in a riptide on Treasury Beach.
Camera poised, I sat glued to the tiny oval window when we broke through the clouds, awaiting my glorious photo op – only to be engulfed by more clouds, wispy mists, and rain all the way down to the runway. Oh well, next time then.
Despite the mostly moist ambiance, the views that greeted us in our exchange home were stunning.
The next morning offered intermittent sunshine, highlighting the brilliant greens of downtown parklands.
Not to mention the arrival of the ‘Queen Elizabeth’, cruise ship extraordinaire, sliding ever so gigantically past the peaked shells of the equally famed Sydney Opera House.
We made the most of the gorgeous weather, descending happily from our perch into the city streets.
Walking along Hyde Park on Elizabeth Street, we encountered religion, booze, fast cars, higher education, and a lot of things tall, old, new, busy, or artsy.
Eventually, we joined the multitudes at the overwhelmingly busy Circular Quay, the harbor that isn’t actually circular.
If anything, this is a semi-circular passenger transportation hub for ferries and cruise ships. Its northwestern promontory is anchored by the Harbour Bridge of New-Year’s-Eve-Fireworks fame, while the iconic Sydney Opera House dominates the eastern spit. In between these two landmarks, a dizzying array of ferries swallow and disgorge commuters and tourists alike in a never-ending pattern of crisscrossing vessels throughout the larger harbor basin and beyond.
On this, our first day in Sydney, we weren’t actually allowed to wander about freely on Circular Quay. Police had cordoned off the entire eastern segment of the boardwalk leading toward the Opera House. Even though they wouldn’t answer questions beyond the ubiquitous “Police Procedure. Please move on, Ma’am.”, the overall-clad power washing crew on the glass hotel awning across from us spoke volumes. Poor sod, may she or he rest in peace.
To circumvent the blocked off area, police directed us up Alfred St. to Macquarie Street, but we never did make it to the Opera House. When we approached the Moore Steps and look down toward Circular Quay, we saw this enormous queue of people trying to leave the area. That view induced a smart turnaround.
Lesson learned. Do not visit Circular Quay on a weekend!
Instead, back home, we comfortably enjoyed a glass of wine while watching the ‘Queen Elizabeth’ leave Sydney Harbor brilliantly highlighted by the setting sun.
What a day!