The Gadigal of the Eora Nation are the traditional custodians of the place now called Sydney
What a privilege it has been to travel and cycle in South Korea and Japan, if only to barely touch the surface of these ancient, fascinating and gracious countries. Having a family connection to Korea added a wonderful new dimension to our experience, for which we are so grateful. We look forward to returning, perhaps with our grandchildren?
A taxi van took us and our repacked bikes the 97 kms to Kansai airport, where again we had to go through a challenging check-in! Never before have the bike bags been measured and weighed, resulting in overweight charges. We were able to reduce the extra fees in part by carrying on Lois’ panniers, after frantically transferring various liquids and other toiletries to one of the bike bags. Fortunately, the Asiana staff person was very accommodating. At the last moment, she came running after us asking if we had any lithium batteries in our checked baggage. The answer was yes, which required a bit more un- and re-packing! The transfer in Seoul was tight, but OK, and we settled in for the overnight flight across the Pacific Ocean and Papua New Guinea to Sydney, the farthest south we will have been in the Southern Hemisphere. Our plan is to use Sydney as a base for a few weeks while we wait for our friends Helen and Wayne to arrive from Canada. Wayne will cycle the Sydney to Brisbane leg with us.
We arrived on a beautiful sunny morning, easing the transition from northern summer to southern winter. After our bikes were checked by quarantine officers to make sure we were not bringing in any soil on our tires, we went in search of Aussie espressos. At our VRBO on Karraba Point, we were welcomed by some Sulphur-crested Cockatoos perched on the balcony railing!
While the apartment was bright and modern, with a good view of Sydney Harbour, we soon realized it was quite a hike through hilly residential North Sydney to get to the ferry terminals or any cafes or restaurants. It was also draughty and cold, particularly when the weather suddenly turned decidedly more wintry, with the wind whipping up the sea and the rain streaming down across the water. After several days of returning to a chilly apartment, we cut our losses and moved to a (much warmer) boutique hotel in Paddington.
We did discover good espresso at Thelma and Louise, next to the ferry at Neutral Bay, our way over to the city. We got our first sighting of the iconic Sydney Opera and the Sydney Harbour Bridge when the ferry rounded Kirribilli. We saw people on the climb up over the bridge, but decided that the view from below was good enough.
We were pleased to find that our friend, Isabel, whom we had met in New Zealand, would be in town for a few more days before leaving for an extended trip to London and Geneva. We were able to catch up over a couple of afternoons, enjoying a long walk around Rozelle and Blackwattle Bays and dinner in Annandale. Isabel was very gracious in inviting us to stay at her apartment after we return from the Northern Territory and for allowing our bikes to be stored on her balcony.
Counted as one of the world’s great international cities, Sydney has stunning natural beauty with its famous harbour views, great architecture, superb restaurants, world class galleries and shopping and interesting walkable neighbourhoods. The older gentrified neighbourhoods have preserved attractive Victorian or Edwardian terraced houses, many of which have decorative cast iron railings and ornament, built in the “Filigree” style.
A tour of the permanent collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art gave us a very good introduction to some prominent Australian artists. A very knowledgeable guide concentrated the tour on indigenous art. Her interpretation of the pieces, together with the context of the history of colonization was important to hear.
While the food everywhere has been excellent, two restaurants deserving of particular mention are Tequila Mockingbird and Mejico, offering a sophisticated new twist on Latin American cuisine.
Espresso notes: Good espresso is not hard to come by in Sydney, but of special mention is Campos, served at Thelma and Louise, which was exceptional: 9.0/ 10 & Paddington Grind Raging Bull: 8.9/ 10.