Friday, December 23, 2011

Dec 23 2011 - Australia is slightly less pale

Olga and John at Bondi Beach
We flew out of SFO Wednesday evening, landing 14 hours later in Sydney on Friday morning. What happened to Thursday? They gave us one dinner and one breakfast. Why didn't I notice I was going hungry for an entire day? Maybe I slept through it.

Cutest recycling bins ever!
The first thing I needed to figure out is which direction the water swirls when you flush a toilet in Australia. So far we tried it on a couple of toilets and they all seem to flush straight down rather than swirling around first. Oh those tricky Australians trying to use their fancy toilet engineering to disprove to Coriolis effect

"It's stonefruit season...again!"
The Australian border patrol takes itself very seriously - after major infestations of flora, fauna, and rabbits over the past century or two, they have a quarantine system that rivals border patrol in any country we have been to. First they systematically wear you down with long meandering lines. Then when you are completely worn down and full from all the apples and oranges you brought and were told to destroy before entering the country, everyone is split into three groups based on some masterful profiling system: express exit, x-ray scan, or dog sniff. We had the cutest dog sniff our bags, and then when we lingered in customs a bit, he gave us another complementary sniff. Super cute!!

Roadside sign: "Stay left unless undertaking"

Vat of meatballs simmering in streetfood area on The Rocks
Our friend John picked us up at the airport and did a wonderful job showing us around Sydney by way of Bondi beach. Despite what Bill Bryson says in In a Sunburned Country

end of downtown, beginning
of botantical garden
Australians aren't all overly defensive or sensitive about their past as a penal colony. John proudly discusses his ancestors who were sent to Australia for a term of four years for forgery - after which they were given a farm. That farm is still in his family after the centuries. The wonderful Museum of Sydney - which had such a horrible review in our guidebook that we want just to check out the trainwreck - thoroughly discusses the currently-accepted view of history, which includes soldiers, criminal prisoners, and native Aborigines.

Look carefully, they are not coconuts
but Flying Foxes (Australian for Bats)
Our self-guided walking tour of Sydney brought us past Pancakes on The Rocks, which was recommended by a friend. My stomach said it was a bit early for their famous dessert pancakes, but I did enjoy a lunch of their buttermilk pancakes with hash browns and "turned over" eggs. As we were sitting down, Olga observed it was the most boring American thing to have at the most boring American-style restaurant. But how would we know Australians aren't obsessed with pancakes? As far as I know, it IS the most authentic food one can have in Australia! Anyway it was in an interesting area of the city (The Rocks) that was condemned and then razed in 1900 because of the Bubonic plague! COOL!

Epic happy hour scene next to the Opera House
After the museum and the botanical gardens, we ended up at Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel. It's a fun place, but they were all out of their Nelson's Blood Porter. We tried their Three Sheets Australian Pale Ale. What makes it an Australian Pale Ale? I couldn't find an official answer, so want to say it's "slightly less pale"!

Dinner at the Australian Hotel (no,
we didn't try their Kangaroo pizza!)

After a walk all around the city, and two failed attempts at finding a nice seafood place that didn't have a 2+ hour wait, we ended up having dinner right down the street from our lunch destination at The Australian Hotel on The Rocks. We gladly shared a communal table and conversation with a group of 4 slightly toasted Australian gentlemen who were discussing work, hunting, and genealogy - diverse interesting characters!


Karen said...

Sounds fun! I love that the first thing you did is check the toilets. Was the museum as bad as the guidebook said?

Karen the first said...

There's an imposter on your blog - I didn't say that. ;)
Stonefruit? I never heard of that expression but can figure out what it means. Is that an Aussie term?

Dave said...

The museum was particularly good! I think what people don't like about it (the random variety of exhibits ranging from surfing in the 1950s-70s to the history of the spot where the museum itself is to a computerized exhibit where you can select two Australian settlers or natives and they will have a conversation about the complexities of those times) - its randomness is what makes it great.

Stonefruit is a term I use back home...maybe it's Californian :)