Postcards from Sydney I

Despite 10 days in Australia, thanks to a hired bike, gyms in the hotels and suitable places to jog, I have been able to keep up with my training programme. I am however having severe withdrawal symptoms which will hopefully be assuaged tomorrow in Manly, where I’ve hired a road bike for the day. I’m hoping this will bear no resemblance to the bike I hired in Melbourne, which was the mountain bike equivalent of the supermarket trolley with the wonky wheel. That said, it was better than nothing.

My feet are feeling distinctly the worse for wear. This, I suspect, is a direct consequence of hours standing watching the cycling and hours spent pounding the pavement: walking and jogging. A foot massage would be bliss but I’ll have to settle for soaking them in cold water.

I have done Sydney. Yes, I have walked all over the place, aided and abetted by the Hop on/Hop off buses. I love the juxtaposition of old and brand spanking new in the centre of town. I particularly liked those modern buildings that take some reference from the surrounding sandstone ones, specifically those in Macquarie and Bridge Streets.  I loved the refurbishment and conversion of the Queen Victoria Building and the Strand Arcade into Shopping Malls. I approved of the refurbished Hilton Hotel, opposite the QVB, and the retention of the historic Marble bar. I adored the view of Sydney from the Rocks where you can see the town’s modest beginnings against the backdrop of the modern skyline  and the iconic Bridge and Sydney Opera House. I also liked  the renovated wharves at Star City.

I revelled in the bohemian feel of Kings Cross and Paddington with their eclectic mixes of dwellings and their pavements enlivened with restaurants, bars, cafes and interesting shops. Equally, I enjoyed the ritzier locations of Rosecutters, Double, Rose and Vaucluse Bays where some of Sydney’s most expensive real estate is located.  While the bus commentary advised that they had been no deaths from shark attacks on Sydney’s beaches since two incidents in 1929, it failed to mention the numerous attacks since where victims had lived to tell their tales, albeit with missing limbs. You won’t therefore be surprised to learn that I passed on the opportunity to get up close and personal with sharks and other assorted marine life at the Sydney Aquarium. Equally, I felt no pressing need to visit Sydney’s Wildlife World despite the presence of a huge crocodile and a deadly taipan. I guess this isn’t one of those touchy feely places where the kiddies are encouraged to pet the animals.

I did however stop off at Sydney’s fish market, where the exhibits are largely dead, apart from a few swimming around in tanks awaiting their fate at the point of a finger. My father would have loved to have seen this wonderful array of glistening, fresh fish. I dined on an assortment of plump oysters for a fraction of the price I’ve been paying in local restaurants and would have had a lobster if only I could have found one small enough. They breed ’em big in Oz.

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