22 August 2009

On the Rocks!

Sunday, 16 August 2009

It's a good thing I got organized last night because before I knew it, it was time for Keith to pick us up for church.  We said our goodbyes and bid everyone a safe journey home, and then we schlepped our stuff downstairs, timing our arrival perfectly with Keith's.  Not sure how that happened, but it did!  So I finally got to meet Shelley's husband, Keith, who had been in Melbourne for the past few days.  Off we went to St. Mathias Anglican Church, which is in a very old church building that used to be the garrison church.  It is a small but lovely stone structure that has been fitted with 21st century technology.  Keith is a musician and would be playing the trumpet and the trombone during services, so while he was getting set up, Shelley introduced me to lots of her church friends and we had a bit of morning tea and scones.   With jam and cream.  Have I mentioned that my weight loss program is taking a hit?  I'm really trying to keep it somewhat under control, but isn't eating the cuisine of the place you're visiting part of the fun of the trip?  When you can't even resist temptation in church, you know it's a bad thing….


The service was different than what I'm used to, but enjoyable and uplifting.  It was most amazing to me that the whole order of worship fit on one column of one page of the bulletin – ours at home takes about three or four pages!  The whole inside of the bulletin had the outline of the sermon along with space to take notes, and after the sermon there was time for questions.  We sang some familiar songs – Rock of Ages (a modern version) and Amazing Grace (a stirring song EVERY time I hear it!) and I learned about a nearby theological school that this congregation supports.  I had time to chat with the minister and other new friends after church, too.


From St. Mathias, Keith played chauffeur again and dropped us off at the Rocks to meet Kerrianne for shopping and lunch.  The Rocks is the oldest section of Sydney, down near the waterfront, and on Sundays there is a great outdoor market, filled with stalls selling everything from jewelry to candles to food to books to clothing – you name it, you can probably find it here!  It was a little reminiscent of Rialto Market in Venice, except it was not as crowded and everyone spoke English.  At the very first stall we stopped at, I bought a gorgeous blue and turquoise beaded lariat necklace.  Anne, I tried to buy just some beads, but they are handmade and not for sale!  I will post a photo of the necklace!


We found Kerrianne, Kaylene, and Sue straightaway and then we just meandered through the market.  Imagine my surprise (and total delight!) to find a Shave Ice stand at the end of the market!!!  My only complaint about Australia is that they treat ice like the Europeans do – one or two cubes, if any, is all you are given in an iced beverage – so I thought I had died and gone to heaven!  I couldn't get my cola shave ice in my hands fast enough, and when the proprietor gave me just a handful of his finely spun ice to sample, I was swooning!  Kaylene and Sue were intrigued, so they made a purchase, too.  Converts!

We wandered along, picking up a few pieces of jewelry here and there, but mostly just looking, until we decided we might be getting hungry.  Even then, we took the long way around, and I got to see a tunnel which was dug out by hand by some of the convicts who were among the early settlers of Australia.  You can still see the marks of the chisels they used to cut through solid rock!  Doesn't seem like a good skill to teach inmates, does it?  Tunneling out of jail could be next!  As we crossed a street, Shelley told me to get my camera ready for a photo op, and when we turned the corner, there it was – the famous Sydney Opera House directly ahead!  Opened in October 1973, the Opera House is one of the most recognized icons in the world, and in real life it is just as magnificent as it is in photos!


We were at Circular Quay, which is the transportation hub for buses, ferries, and taxis, as well as being the place to see and be seen on a glorious winter weekend!  Have I mentioned that every day that I've spent here has been stupendous?  The weather could not have been nicer – blue skies and perfect temps have been the order of the days!  We wandered around the quay, looking for a good place to stop for lunch.  I saw (and heard) my first didgeridoo players, and it seemed like all of Sydney was out enjoying their beautiful city on such a pleasant Sunday afternoon.


We decided to have a bite at the Oyster Bar, right on the quay where we could see both the Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  Shelley ordered the seafood plate, Kerrianne got the Kingfish and a side of green beans and cauliflower, Kaylene ordered oysters, Sue stuck with the green beans and cauliflower but also ordered the chocolate dessert, and I chose two entrees – the goats curds with capsicum and sweet onion and prawns with lime and chili kaffir.  As you may have guessed, everything was delicious.  I shared the goats curds (really good, especially with the onions) and devoured the shrimp!  We each had a bite of Sue's dessert, too – mmm, mmm, good!


We decided to walk off our lunch, which was working pretty well until we came to a gelato stand.   I had chocolate truffle, which said it was 90% fat free.  I was feeling good about that, until Shelley had to mention that also meant it was 10% fat!  Oh well, we were walking, anyway!  We strolled down to the Opera House and walked all the way around it, and before we knew it, Keith was ringing to see where he should meet us.  Turns out that Rex's plane was actually arriving a few minutes early, so we needed to get to the airport.  We met Keith in front of the Opera House and off we went to pick up Rex!


No worries, he got there safely and even passed Customs (not without having to declare something he left off his form) so we made introductions and went back to the Alexander's for a while.  We had a 'cuppa' and heard about Rex's flight, then we started off for downtown with thoughts of dinner at Ripples (also at Luna Park, a sister restaurant to Aqua).  We were seated quickly and placed our orders.   I chose risotto primavera (asparagus, peas, corn, and a bunch of other good stuff), Rex had prawns tempura, Keith had beef tenderloin, and Shelley got XXXXXXX.  We also got a rocket, pear, and parmesan salad and tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil salad to share.  It was fantastic!!


We walked around Luna Park and took in the city lights of Sydney at night on the water – could there be a more perfect way to end the day?  Welcome to Oz, Rex!!


Rocking and Rolling,



No comments: