A major world city is like every other, except where it’s different. Sydney’s first impressions were:
Architecture like Honolulu
Landscaping like San Diego
Traffic like Seattle (except they drive on the opposite side)
Construction like Miami
Pedestrians like Washington D.C.
Cleanliness like Boston
We had to remind ourselves these initial impressions will later be turned around as new places seem “like Sydney”. Time and travel provide this perspective.
The harbor here dominates everything. Everyone points to the harbor, and seafood, and the daily bustle that emanates from there. A subtle undercurrent. Asked where to find hidden gems during our brief stay the answer came back “don’t miss the harbor”. Asked where to reserve a nice table to celebrate our anniversary and again “Nick’s Seafood on Darling Harbor.” Like New York’s Central Park or The Louvre in Paris, Sydney has their harbor.
We will visit it soon.
In the meantime we’re really loving the taste of Australian Coca Cola. The flavor is similar to Cold War cokes in Europe in the late 1980s, Montréal’s canned version or “Mexican Coke”. Cokes in the USA nowadays have too much fizz and too much hint of lime. Plus using cane sugar is SO much better for the flavor. How might Australian coke taste with rum, you ask? That might require some research…
In the evening we walked the few blocks past the Queen Victoria building and across the pedestrian footbridge to Darling Harbor. Accustomed to tourists, the city reminds you to “look right ->” in painted letters at every crosswalk. The harbor area is ringed with shops and restaurants for the benefit of the city’s financial workers and visitors alike. The chilly temperatures heading into the last weeks of autumn seemed to keep most people away. Workers were setting up for what looked to be an outdoor concert.
Boats come and go, a parade with no bandleader but with an underlying sense of purpose nonetheless. Commercial and private water taxis move yachtsmen back to their anchored yachts, pedestrian commuters between piers and sightseers between views.
Walking the promenade, we were treated to a chorus of birds. First the resident seagulls with a squawk more demanding than the typical eastern North American gull, and later this beautiful multi-colored specimen. He (by the plumage we think it was a he, anyway) seemed interested enough to twitter and sing as he hopped between limbs, peering back through wide and thick green leaves at our camera lens.
At the recommendation of locals we made reservations at Nick’s Seafood Restaurant. No appetizers here – they’re called “entrées” and full plates are “mains”. Michelle ordered tuna steak cooked medium (perfectly done over a nice lemon butter reduction) with a side salad of dark local greens. Ed had local snapper and blue eye pie, a veritable tureen brimming with both fish and scant else besides a savory brown sauce and perfectly puffed pastry. The restaurant graciously comped us each a desert, delivered with fanfare and brightly twinkling sparkler in honour of our 14th wedding anniversary.
As dinner drew to a close we watched the passers-by. The city claims a multi-cultural populace, a claim supported by the variety of late evening walkers we saw: Asian, European and a few with Native Australian heritage. Three friends paused to laugh and strike silly poses for each-other’s cameras. Oblivious to our gaze they enjoyed the moment thoroughly and unconsciously. A thin setting crescent moon dropped below high clouds. Although no contest for the brightly lit nightspots surrounding the harbor, it still offered a comforting visual period to an eventful first day “down under”.