Today was intended to be a leisurely morning in bed since we had nothing to get up for (a rarity in our travels) but we both woke up bright and early at 7 am anyway. It seems we are really adults. We spent the next few hours doing our workouts, writing yesterday’s blog, and packing lunches for the day before heading out the door.
We didn’t really have a plan other than a few things we wanted to see and thought we would just stroll around central Sydney and see what piqued our interest. We started off by crossing through the Royal Botanical Gardens where we stopped on a hill on the far side to enjoy our roast beef sandwiches and look out over the gardens below. Lynn was quite excited at the number of ibis (ibi? ibises?) eager to eat the scraps from other picnicers. We both agreed that eating lunch in a beautiful park should become a daily routine.
After lunch we continued on to the Hyde Park Barracks which had been many things over its lifetime, most notably a sleeping quarters for convicts in the young colony of Sydney, and now a museum. We were a bit wary of it, since we’re both a bit museumed out, and especially because it was a pay museum but our guide yesterday had highly recommended it and I vaguely remembered it from ten years ago when I was here so we took the gamble and went in. We are very glad we did. We both agreed it was one of the best museums we have ever been to.
The museum was very well laid out and taught us about the history of Sydney and Australia from its penal colony beginnings, on into its development through the McQuarrie years and later as it graduated to a place of respectable citizens. Not only that, but the architecture of the building had been exposed throughout, with holes punched in the walls and the floors so you could see the paint colors through the years, the brickwork, and the structural supports. It was all quite fascinating, made even better with a free accompanying audio guide. By the end of the tour we were both glad we had not needed to steal bread to survive in late 1700s England, it seems being sentenced to “transportation” was not very pleasant for the most part. Lynn had bonus insight to add as we went along as well, since she had finally finished her tome of a book about the founding of Australia and she was quite enthused to see a place where the events in the book actually occurred.
Thoroughly impressed, we next headed over to the currency museum, which had also been recommended on our tour. This was a small, free museum attached to the headquarters of the Reserve Bank of Australia and documented the history of money in the country. In just one hundred years, Australia had gone from using a currency of rum and bartering, to using other peoples bank notes with “Australia” printed onto them, all the way to inventing the polymer banknote that is now used by 25 countries around the world including Canada, Chile, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Scotland. It certainly was an interesting museum, and they had a lot of bank notes that had been printed but never issued, including versions of finalists in various currency design competitions and notes with Edward VIII on them that were never issued because he abdicated before they could be. We also both thoroughly enjoyed the styling of their currency and lamented how boring the U.S.’ is comparatively. Overall we were impressed, but not nearly as much as we had been at the barracks.
Outside the currency museum again, we parked ourselves on a bench to eat some apples and decided what to do next. We had originally planned on heading to the fish market for some snacks, but TripAdvisor advised against it, saying that the quality had significantly dropped in the past few years and it now mostly just catered to large buses of Asian tourists. Instead we thought we would walk south to Chinatown in search of some dumplings for Lynn and then go from there. Along the way, I suddenly found myself recognizing buildings and realized we had walked into the neighborhood where I had briefly lived for three weeks on my study abroad ten years ago (nine years and ten months actually). We took a small detour to see the old Hotel Ibis we had stayed in and the Masonic Center where we had taken classes before continuing on to Chinatown.
Chinatown in Sydney is kind of a let down. It’s all very corporate, in shiny new buildings and seems to be pretty spread out with standard businesses in between. We did find delicious dumplings though after some wandering. We decided on Chinatown Noodles and ordered soup dumplings, pork buns, pan fried dumplings, and a scallion pancake. It was way too much food but it was good, and luckily we had Tupperware from our sandwiches we had eaten earlier to take leftovers with us.
After our early dinner we strolled through the Surry Hill neighborhood which looked to us like a hybrid of San Francisco and New Orleans. Neat, colorful row houses with wrought iron railings lined the hills, and a main thoroughfare cut through with all manner of vintage shops and cafes on it. We walked the length of the neighborhood back up to Hyde Park where we enjoyed the sunshine for a while and people watched before heading over to The Rocks for a Friday Night Bizarre (sic) they were having.
As we approached, we immediately regretted having already eaten as we came face to face and nose to smells with a line of tents selling bratwurst, turkish pizza, cannollis, chocolates, meatballs subs and more. We sadly strolled past to the art tents, envious of all the people purchasing food for their still empty tummies. We stopped at a few tents admiring some paintings, some jewelry made out of old watch movements, and LED bulbs that look like vintage Edison ones (so you can be an environmentally responsible hipster) before quickly reaching the end. A little disappointed that that was it, we started walking down back lane ways and found some very cool interpretations of old derelict buildings and some bizarre performance art.
Having seen all there was to see we headed for home by way of the grocery store. We had an old No 25 Model Hamilton Beach milkshake machine in our otherwise poorly stocked kitchen and thought it would be a shame to let it sit there unused all week. Plus we had walked 14 miles today and thought we deserved some milkshakes. We picked up some vanilla ice cream, whole milk, and very dark chocolate along with supplies for making calzones for tomorrow night’s dinner and headed home.
Back at the apartment, Lynn set to work making a pizza dough to rise in the fridge overnight while I improvised a chocolate and cashew milkshake for me and a chocolate peanut butter for Lynn. Both were delicious and incredibly rich. Lynn went so far as to say it’s the best peanut butter milkshake she has ever had. Sadly, we had to choke down another one (dang) so we could eat enough ice cream that it would fit in our tiny dorm room fridge’s freezer compartment. Full up on milkshakes we rolled ourselves over to bed and called it a night.
Daily Walking Miles : 14.6 miles
- Australia started being settled by prisoners after the American revolution because England could no longer send them to the US. Over 150000 prisoners were sent for transportation to Australia over the 80 years it was used as punishment.
- A lot of woman here have hair died a grayish blue color. Maybe they’re trying to look older?
- Australians seem to have a penchant for throwing themed costume parties. Walking home tonight we saw no less than 5 with themes varying from Caribbean to 20’s Flappers. Lynn and I both wish the U.S. were more into theme parties so Lynn can dress up (with Loki probably) all of the time.