My first week in Sydney has come and gone. My apartment in Potts Point is walking distance to almost everything (so far I haven’t taken any public transportation) and is quite comfortable. I unpacked as soon as I arrived, but the next day I nested, settled, and rested. I walked around a few blocks, stocked up my fridge and pantry (from Woolworth’s and Harris Farms, but will check out the local farmer’s markets next weekend), and noted where all the cute cafes, bakeries, and restaurants were in my new neighborhood.
Saturday I met up with T at Monopole, a hot new restaurant/wine bar down the street on Macleay. It’s also where G happens to work so T arranged for us to meet there for drinks. It felt more than a little odd to see these two lovely ladies I met in Buenos Aires here in Sydney. Granted this is their hometown and I knew I’d see them here, but it still confused and discombobulated my brain. Needless to say I had a great time. I also had the pleasure of meeting M, T’s guy whom I liked right away. It was so good to see T and catch up with her, and to see her so well and happy.
Sunday was another day of rest. A day to recover from Saturday with T. As I recall, I have had a few days like that in Buenos Aires whenever I hung out with T. I think there is a recurring theme here… always too much fun when I’m in her company. I did manage to go out later in the afternoon for a stroll up and down Victoria and Darlinghurst, stopping to have dinner out (my first Thai meal in ages).
I finally felt as if I was sufficiently rested to go out for a long walk on Monday. My blisters were more or less healed, but my feet were still swollen and my right ankle was hurting a bit, all from the Overland Track. I wondered when/if they’d go back to being normal again and whether I should be walking long distances in my condition. But I couldn’t very well be cooped up inside all day. I walked slowly but made it all the way around Rushcutters Bay down to Paddington and then over to Darlinghurst and back to Potts Point.
A few things I learned and noticed- I can’t believe I live so close to the harbor/waterfront, people in Sydney seem very active/outdoorsy, and this city is not flat. I had to climb several hills and stairs; it felt a bit like I was in San Francisco. As a reward I treated myself to two scoops of ice cream at Gelato Messina. I had to have dark chocolate, and seeing a tub of red velvet ice cream made me think of New York (and my favorite red velvet cupcakes from Two Little Red Hens) so I got a scoop of that as well. While chocolate fondant was rich with subtle bitterness I loved, I didn’t like anything about the red velvet gelato. You can’t win them all, I guess. But I did read that Gelato Messina is considered the best ice cream shop in Sydney and there were lots of other flavors to choose from, so I’ll probably go back a few more times. UPDATE: I tried their panna cotta with fig jam and amaretti this afternoon and it was great.
Tuesday was Haymarket day. I know that there is a big Asian population here in Sydney (I read somewhere ~17% of Sydney population being Asian) and I wanted to find out what Sydney’s Chinatown was like. Well, it’s a lot smaller than I imagined (~5 block radius), it’s not all Chinese (Thai, Malaysian, Korean, Japanese, etc), and it’s so much cleaner than any Chinatown I’ve ever been. I chose to have lunch at the best-known/extremely popular Malaysian restaurant called Mamak and thoroughly enjoyed my spicy curry (kari ayam). I regretted not being hungry enough to have a roti; seeing them make it right in front of me made it really hard to resist- another place I’ll have to go back to.
I did queue up to get some Emperor’s Puffs, which I understand is equally popular. They were hot and delicious. I bought 8 too many (should have just gotten 4 of them) but oh well…
I will definitely have a few more trips to Haymarket/Chinatown, to check out the contemporary Asian art gallery, for dim sum (they seem use the term yum cha more often here), Paddy’s Markets, Thai food, Friday night market, pho, and the Chinese Friendship Garden. Of course I’ll have to make it over there for Chinese New Year, too. I guess I’ll be going to Chinatown at least once a week.
On Wednesday my mind was set on seeing the iconic Sydney Opera House, which surprisingly took less than 30 minutes from my apartment on foot. I also saw the Sydney Harbour Bridge for the first time and walked through the Royal Botanic Gardens. In the evening, I went to the Art Gallery of NSW for a glass of wine and some live jazz (open late on Wednesdays), which was really fantastic. I only got to look through a few rooms so I will dedicate a day next week to spend more time at the gallery.
I thought I’d end my first week in Sydney with a walking tour of the city. Just like the ones I did in Buenos Aires, I found out that some enterprising young Sydney-siders run a free walking tour in this city. I walked over to Town Hall to join the group and spent three hours learning about the various landmarks in Central, Circular Quay, and the Rocks. Oscar, our guide, was full of energy, funny stories, and great information. It was definitely worth doing. Of course I walked back home after the walking tour, as if all that walking wasn’t enough.
Australian slang of the week: “arvo” short of afternoon. I don’t really get how arvo stands for afternoon but I’m going with it. They also say “brekkie” or “breakkie” instead of breakfast, like “barbie” for barbeque.
Monopole: 71A Macleay Street, Potts Point, Sydney
Gelato Messina: on Victoria Street in Darlinghurst, on Crown Street in Surry Hills
Mamak: 15 Goulburn Street, Haymarket, Sydney
Free Walking Tour of Sydney: www.imfree.com.au