16 December 2009

These Shoes Were Made for Walking

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Up at the crack of dawn, we were!!  It seemed like I had just fallen asleep when it was time to wake up!  We couldn't even get a good shot of Janice's house, as it was pitch dark except for this lovely full moon.  So, our chauffeur Janice got us all loaded up and off to the airport, and soon Rex, Shelley, and I were boarding our flight back to Sydney.  Shelley and I sat together and talked the whole time while Rex got to snooze uninterrupted.  Or maybe he read - I was engrossed in conversation!  Shelley was telling me about this great 'grand finale' idea that she had for us - she had booked us (Rex and me, along with her and Keith) for a seaplane flight to an exclusive restaurant on the edge of the harbour and the Pacific for the next day.  Oh, it sounded so good!!  The only problem - you take your chances with the weather, and the outlook was not favourable!!  But I was SURE that we would have perfect weather for our perfect day.  How could it be anything else?  At any rate, something fun to look forward to, but that was tomorrow - what about today?

I think Keith picked us up at the airport, but maybe Shelley had left her car there - I really can't remember that part!!  We got back to their house in Kensington, got freshened up, and took off to spend the day in town.  We didn't have a set agenda - just thought we'd do whatever we hadn't done yet!  We took a bus down to Circular Quay, where we were again treated to the hauntingly beautiful sounds of the digeridoo.  We opted to take a ferry across the way to the zoo, only this time, instead of going to the zoo, we took a hike around the adjacent shoreline.  Right away, we saw some beautiful birds and pretty plants.  It was very overcast and looked like it could rain at any minute, so one of the only cloudy days we'd had in a month!  I took that as a good sign, thinking that surely the next day would be sunny again!

 The area where we were walking was the site of Curlew Camp, which was one of two artists' camps settled in the foreshore near Mosman in the late 1800's.  It was a place for artists to practice painting outdoors, and some of the more famous Australian painters who visited and worked her were Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts, Julian Ashton, Alfred Daplyn, Henry Fullwood, and Nelson Illingworth - not that those names mean anything to me, but I can see how they would have been inspired here, even without the views of the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, and the Sydney skyline of today!

Curlew Camp was "very refined" with canvas tents, fences, and maybe even a bush oven!  By the early 1900's, it had a weatherboard dining hall, a billiards tent, and maintained gardens.  This rock still bears the chiseled inscription "Curlew 1890".  Sounded a bit more primitive than refined to me, but I guess considering the time...

While we were amongst the trees, it did start raining a bit.  We wandered right along the coast, and got some great shots of the harbour and boats and just enjoyed the light and the surroundings.  And the company!

We walked through a little park and up a steep hill through the Mosman neighborhood.  There were exquisite flowers and magnificent houses, but no people to be seen!  Not even any wildlife!  I loved the rooftops of the houses - they reminded me of English homes and I was waiting for Dick Van Dyke to pop out singing Chim-Chim-Chiree!

We walked back down the hill to the Mosman ferry station and went back across the way, and we
decided to grab a bite of lunch.  We ducked into City Extra, which was a neat little bistro with a bit of Superman flair to it.  Not only was my meal delish, I got the best and biggest glass of iced tea, American style, that I had on the whole trip.  And to top it off, we all shared a pavlova, complete with strawberries and passionfruit!  Heaven!
After lunch, we thought we would try again to see if we could get an Opera House tour.  This time, we were in luck!

I loved the wavy sinks (and stalls) in the ladies room in the Opera House!  Plus, it was nice and warm in there!!  We got our tickets and waited for our tour guide, who, sadly, reminded us all of one of our worst teachers ever.  She had one of those really grating, sing-songy voices and she talked to us like we were kindergarteners.  And Shelley got reprimanded for (you guessed it) taking pictures!  Oh well, the Opera House was still cool, anyway, and it was fun to see it from the inside out.  Jorn Utzon, the Danish architect who designed the Opera House after winning a design competition begun in 1956, resigned from the project amidst cost overruns in 1966.  The building took 16 years to complete, and was opened by Queen Elizabeth in 1973.  I encourage you to take time to look at this website http://jornutzon.sydneyoperahouse.com/househistory.htm and learn about the history of this iconic building and architectural wonder - it is a fascinating story!  Relations with Utzon were repaired and in 1999 he developed a set of design principles to act as guidelines for any future building or renovations.  Sadly, and remarkably to me, Utzon died in 2008 without ever seeing his masterpiece in person!!  Here are some of my favorite shots from the tour - the huge tapestry in the Utzon Room, our guide, the beautiful and acoustically sound main auditorium, and a close up of the exterior shell:

After our tour, we strolled along the esplanade and did a little shopping, then we took the train over to the famous Queen Victoria Building for more shopping.  I LOVED this building - everything about it!  We didn't do much actual shopping, but it was a feast for the eyes!  There were tons of cool clocks, many with dioramas depicting world history - so entertaining!  Check it out at http://www.qvb.com.au/index.amx?pid=X&mainid=2 - it was built in 1898 as a monument to Queen Victoria and a way to employ out-of-work tradesmen during an awful recession.  It was almost demolished in 1959, but it has now been restored to its original glory.  Magnificent!

By the time we left here, my dogs were BARKING and I was about to lose my personality.  But then I got a glimpse of this building as we waited for the bus...

Mercifully, the bus finally came and we were back at Shelley and Keith's, where they prepared a lovely dinner for us and their son Rob came over to say hello.  Another fabulous day, and more to look forward to on our last day in Sydney! 

All walked out, but still fat and sassy,


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