Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Australia Trip (Day 7)

Day 7: Saturday, December 31
Queen Victoria Market, Circular Quay, Harry’s Café de Wheels, Sydney Observatory
Today we focused on (re)visiting some scenic spots around Sydney so that Mr. E could get some good photo ops with his new (shiny red) Nikon digital camera. After breakfast in the Exec Lounge, we started our tour with a stop just across the street in the beautiful Queen Victoria Market. 

We had avoided this spot during our previous visit due to the craziness of Boxing Day shopping, but we were able to really enjoy the amazing architecture and holiday decorations this time since the busiest part of the holiday sales was over.

Next, we headed off towards Circular Quay along George St. Along the way, I spied a fascinating public art display in Angel Place called “Forgotten Songs.” The artwork highlights local native bird species that have been impacted by urban development, with the names of the species etched into plaques in the paving and recorded bird sounds emanating from speakers in some of the hanging bird cages. Amazing, impactful, and so unexpected to discover down an alleyway.

When we reached Circular Quay, Mr. E searched for a spot to get a picture of us together with the Opera House in the background. We tried to go down towards the Opera House, but that area was already closed off in anticipation of New Year’s Eve, so there were long lines waiting to get in through the security checkpoint. We then tried to head a bit farther east and access the site along Macquarie Street, but that access point was also closed. So instead, we headed back down to the western edge of the Circular Quay waterfront, near the Contemporary Art Museum, and successfully set up a few shots with the mini-tripod.

Our next destination was the iconic Harry’s Café de Wheels, which is a bit farther east, near Pott’s Point. We used our Opal transit cards to take the train to King’s Cross and then wandered through the Woolloomooloo neighborhood down to the waterfront. Mr. E enjoyed one of the famous Tiger Pies, and I was able to get just an order of the mushy peas, which were delicious! 

As we ate, a woman sitting next to us on the bench under a tree remarked upon my side of peas and struck up a conversation with us. She’s from Melbourne and was very friendly and interested in our trip and experiences, so we had quite a lovely chat as we finished eating. We decided to walk back to the city centre, passing near the Botanical Gardens and the Cathedral.

Mr. E went to the Livingwell Club to work out, and I stayed in the room to read for a bit. I then went up to the Exec Lounge for “tea time” and to work on my blog. Mr. E joined me eventually for the evening reception, and we had some light snacks and beverages before getting ready for our New Year’s Eve event at the Sydney Observatory.

Luckily, the weather had finally started to cool down a bit, so our 20ish-minute walk to the Observatory was pretty comfortable. We arrived a bit before the 7:30pm start time but only had to wait about 5 minutes before the gates were opened. Since we’d never been to the Observatory before, we didn’t really know what the perspective over the Harbor would be, so we were delighted to discover that we had an amazingly clear view of the west side of the Harbor Bridge from the top of Observatory Hill. The Hill itself was one of the public access areas but was separated from our spot by a wrought iron fence. 

The back terrace area of the Observatory was set up with some low and high tables as well as several circular couches. Mr. E and I staked our claim on one of the high two-top tables so that we could settle in for the evening. The ticket price for the event included an impressive array of passed canapes (although we quickly realized that we would need to hunt the food rather than waiting for it to come to us…) and unlimited beer, wine, and sparkling. As we perused our surroundings, a couple nearby asked Mr. E to take their photo, so he struck up a conversation with them. I also chatted with them briefly a few times, and eventually they pulled their chairs over to join us at our table. So we ended up spending the evening getting to know Andrew (local from Sydney) and Victoria (originally from Romania).

The festivities began with an 8-minute family fireworks show at 9pm followed by a lighted boat parade across the Harbor and then the main fireworks event at midnight. In between, Mr. E did a “hunt and gather” routine to fetch food for the table, and we all enjoyed several rounds of adult beverages along with the live DJ and instrumentalists. Overall, the music was quite enjoyable, with lots of 80s and 90s selections, and many folks ended up out on the dance floor, including some who got a bit “silly” (to use Victoria’s term) as the evening wore on.

After the impressive 12-minute fireworks display to celebrate the beginning of 2017, Mr. E and I bid farewell to our new Aussie acquaintances and walked back to the hotel, joining the moving flow of people departing the harbor area. We decided that our next NYE in SYD would definitely have to be the “bucket list” full-on experience at the Opera House. Perhaps in 2018???


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