Saturday, December 24, 2011

Dec 24 2011 - Sydney: throw a kangaroo on the barbie

you've got the cutest little pie face
 On Saturday, we awoke at 7:30am in order to go online and have breakfast before a 10:30 Sydney free walking tour.  Even that wasn't early enough because we misunderstood the starting location of the tour and ran to try to get there. Even though we were running about 15 minutes late, I figured we should just keep running because eventually we might catch up with them - and we sure did! It was a really wonderful walking tour. We started in the tunnels under Sydney, which are not as cool as they sound. There are tunnels that run under the city, some were built for fallout shelters and used for water storage, others have been made into malls. Those are the ones we visited.

entering a tunnel 5 seconds
before it became a huge mall
Sydney is like an alternate universe London. They have a Hyde Park, Kings Cross, Oxford Street, Liverpool St, and Paddington. Surrounding towns are Newcastle, Swansea, Belmont, and Victoria. Yet on the other hand, walking around the city during Christmas Eve is warm and exciting, unlike how depressing and desolate an empty and bitter cold it feels on the streets of London on Christmas Eve. The Sydney accent is less Paul Hogan and more Flight of the Conchords. It comes across very cockney (London commoner) because those are the people who were brought here with the first fleet.

the happiest protesters

Australian paper money is plastic. The Australians figured out how to make "paper" money last four times as long but only cost twice as much to produce. They pioneered this process and mint bills for other countries around the world. Australia literally have the license to print money -- even though it no longer grows on trees.



The only country that eats its national animal?
Kangaroo and Emu aplenty.
The Occupy Sydney area is a very quaint group of about 10 people, and the clean, well-spoken, friendly leader invited me back to have Christmas Day lunch with them. Apparently the social safety net is quite strong here and unemployed citizens can get $240 a week indefinitely as long as they demonstrate they are looking for work in earnest. I'm not sure what they were protesting actually. Too bad we won't have time to come back for that lunch offer.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Walking around the Darlinghurst neighborhood, we stopped by Dr. Schwartz Brewery Hotel to sample their half pints. The Schwarzbier is a disappointment - (tastes as if Gordon Biersch's Schwarzbier has turned) but the Hefeweizen is a little nutty with a hint of citrus and a bouquet of wildflowers. Yum! For those wondering, the older bars and brewpubs in Sydney are called Hotels, although few if any of them seem to have lodging space. I guess it's a holdover from an earlier era - such as in Inn or Lodge.

Liberal is a very relative term
Our next destination was the Bourke Street Bakery in Potts Point suburb (neighborhood), which Olga found on David Lebovitz's blog. We shared a dark chocolate raspberry marshmallow tart outside the shop and enjoyed all the fine weather Sydney has to offer - mostly sunny in the 70s-80s with high humidity and scattered daily rains lasting about an hour.  The tart (and most food we've tried) was noticeably less sweet and buttery than its American counterparts.  The same cannot be said of the people ;)

My goodness!
Our friend John called and invited us over for Christmas dinner "meat on the barbie" with his family. John and his daughter Katie gave us another driving tour around the city - it felt like pure pride in their city mixed with a love of driving. Along with Jackie and Sam, they treated us to an Australian feast of beef steaks, lamb and kangaroo sausage, greek salad, and I followed it up with Lady Grey tea (a blend of English Breakfast and Early Grey), Christmas cake (a yummy spiced fruit cake) with custard (brandy egg nog as a sauce on the plate), and some gingerbread wafers. So delightful! The Kangaroo sausage is a little gamey and spicy - I would say it's peppery, crumbly, and a bit like chopped liver - except that it hopped from the barbie to the plate!

Barbie time
Australians don't make such a big deal about marriage as they do in the US. Couples (regardless of gender/orientation) have full rights and tax status as a couple regardless of whether they are officially married. Funny story, John's family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area for a few years - John and Jackie had to get married after having lived together for almost 30 years and having two kids - because otherwise the US wouldn't recognize John as a legal immigrant. The difference in attitudes between Australia and the US seem to be related to how/why the country was settled, with the US being settled by a Christian sect - and Australia being settled as a penal colony.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Australia could really make a "mint" licensing the money printing process to the Europeans. They should catch on really fast. They've been relying on plastic for years :-)