Beaches and fishes
Sydney Travel Blog› entry 10 of 34 › view all entries
Thursday, August 13
Sydney lives by and for the water. They live on a huge by -- officially Port Jackson -- and have a vibrant beach life. Today ws the day to explore that. We decided to check out Manly Beach (how could you not with a name like that?).
We strolled over to the ferry terminal -- a whopping 5 minutes from our hotel. We bought our tickets but had 30 minutes before the next ferry. The guys decided to hoof it to the Opera House to see about getting tickets for a show. Kitty and I opted to stay put at the quay.
It was a beautiful day. I snagged a gelato and we found a spot on a bench, waiting for the guys to come back. There were some sidewalk performers that kept our attention. A group of men, possibly Aboriginal but definitely dressed and painted to evoke Aboriginal, set up a small bench.
They were taking lots of pics but not selling a lot of CDs. I thought it an odd business model but it seemed to be working for them.
We were beginnig to wonder if the guys were going to make it back in time for the ferry when they came out of the ferry terminal (somehow we'd missed them). We'd just missed our ferry but there would be another in 30 minutes. We all sat and waited and caught it 30 minutes later.
We had seats in the bow. It was a glorious day, all sunshine, clear skies, and light breezes. The ride took us past The Heads, which are the two promintories that mark the mouth of Sydney Harbor -- where the harbor and the Pacific Ocean meet. It's a little daunting to think of the size and relative emptiness of the Pacific. I'm glad the ferry didn't decide to go exploring!
Manly Beach is a sweet little beach town, with plenty of t-shirt shops, carry-outs, and clothing stores. We stopped for lunch at Kelly's Bar :) So I know what one of my retirement options are.
We made our way over to the Pacific side beach. The water was a brilliant aqua blue with small rollers coming in. Maybe 1/2 dozen surfers. Another 10-20 kids on the beach and playing in the surf.
It's so hard when water looks that inviting to stay dressed and dry but I'm not keen on public nudity or freezing my arse off, so I stayed on the beach. Everyone else in the group wandered away eventually. I started playing with a 2-year-old who was running around in the sand in front of us. We spent probably 30 minutes just laying in the sand and clearing "roadways" for the "monorail". I loved it.
Wandered back to the ferry terminal, grabbed a beignet (yum) from a stand, and took the ferry home again.
Kitty and I decided we wanted to use our aquarium ticket, so Rich joined us.
I think the complex has been spending their money on the "wild kingdom" addition and the aquarium is looking a little run down and bedraggled. We did see some cool crocs and weird fish, though. They are so colorful! But the absolute best part is the Big Tank (I don't know what they call it, that's what we call it). It's huge and you can walk all around it and even thorugh a tunnel through it. It had several sharks, a rayshark (stingray in the front, shark in the back), and tons of beautiful fish. We could have played there all day.
We caught the train back to the hotel. On the advice of a former Sydneysider that now works with Jeff, we had reservations at a nearby "nice" restaurant, the Cafe Sydney.
It was dark and on the top floor (#6 I think) of the old Customs House. Magnificent night-time views of the bridge and the opera house. We had an appetizer of bugs. That is an Australian crustaean. It's round with the legs underneath. It has a tail sort of like a lobsters that curls underneath. I think it's the size of both of my hands side by side. They boil them and cut them in half.
The flesh is meaty, more like lobster than crab. It has a unque taste that I still can't quite describe. Not as sweet as crab but different from lobster. Maybe even a bit...peppery? I liked them. They were served cold but, like all crustaceans in my view, would be marvelous hot with butter. :)
I ended up with a local fish (hakuna?). The table also had pork, duck, and a number of other things I can't remember now. Rich had the chocolate hazelnut torte for dessert, which I really yearned for but was too full to order. It was a lot of fun, we said our good-byes to Dave who was leaving in the morning, and then we all went to bed. Woo-hoo! We didn't go to bed till after 10!