It is hot! Yesterday it was 38 degrees C. (~99 F) and it is only the beginning of Spring. It isn't a record but it might be today since it may have been even hotter. We are now in Sydney sweating away in a heat wave. If not, it is definitely a record to have multiple hot days this early in the year. We arrived in the morning rush hour after the red eye from Perth. We took the train into town and into a sea of black suits. Our room wasn't ready yet which was expected so we dropped off our bags at our hotel and headed off to explore.
After getting some information at the VIC (visitors information center), we grabbed breakfast in the Rocks. Our first view of the opera house was breathtaking. It is one of the icons of the world and it was so exciting to see it. We walked around Central Quay and checked it out close up.
Then it was off to the Botanical Gardens next door. We had to check out the fruitbats. A huge flock of over 4,000 bats have taken up residence in the park, hanging from trees and eating nectar. Unfortunately, they also kill the trees they roost in. Their tremendous claws girdle the bark as they land and swing down to hang. There doesn't seem to be any way to get rid of them either. We also checked out the Wollemi Tree, a species of conifer tree recently discovered in the 1990's in a canyon here in Australia. It was previously thought to be extinct. George could have bought one but the custom agents would have confiscated it. Unfortunately we forgot our hats and sunscreen. By time we returned to the hotel, I was pretty exhasted from the heat and sun.
We are staying at The Blackett. It is an easy walk from the hotel to many of the tourist sites in the Central business District. We have a loft room which gives us more room. It was originally a bank so the has a tall ceiling and the bedroom and bath are on a loft above a small kitchenette and sitting area. The decord is ismilar to the Seibel but not as good of view. So far quiet althought we did hear a bit of the club last night.
The sun or something took its toll on me. After a shower and a bit of relaxing, we headed out for dinner at the Palisade Hotel in The Rocks. It is a Aussie style Hotel which is more like a pub to Americans. The downstairs is a pub/bar, upstairs the restaurant and above rooms for rent. The food was very good but my appetite was nil. George had a great grilled kingfish and salad. I had roasted lamb with greenbeans spiced with pistacios. I didn't feel good after eating due to the heat but I made it back to the hotel and quickly fell asleep.
The next day George felt the same. We dont' know if it was the heat or something from the plane or lack of sleep. A women across the aisle was sick on the plane so it is very possible that we picked up something on the ride.
We didn't want to spend much time in the sun since we didn't feel great so we headed to the Sydney Aquarium. I was a bit disapppointed with it after the aquariums in Perth and Cape Town. We were also surrounded by swarms of elementary private school kids. We escaped and headed back to our room to crash. We needed to be able to get around that night because we had tickets to "Pirates of Penzance" at the Opera House. The rest did us well but we did skip dinner because we weren't hungry.
It was a great performance. We had seen a local performance this summer in Seattle so we were very familiar with the play. The pirate king was a lot of fun since he was the spitting image of Johnny Depp from Pirates of the Caribean. And he hammed it up just like Depp. Everyone in the cast were excellent singers. Of course, the interior isn't as dramatic as the exterior but it is till wonderful to have a glass of bubbly at intermission while viewing the lights of Sydney.
Friday we felt better. We slathered on the suntan lotion, grabbed our hats and took the ferry to Manly Beach. Originally our plans were to hike from Spit Bridge to Manly, a 6km walk through native bush and Manly but it was too hot. So we hiked a few km to see the views of the harbor. We returned and had lunch near the beach.
After lunch we walked along the promenade. The beach was packed with mostly teenagers. We watched a bit of volleyball and headed back - only to discover a lot of others had the same idea. No views from the ferry for us.
We went back and took a cool shower before heading out for a sunset walk across the Harbor Bridge. We finished the evening with a beer at Lord Nelsons Hotel Pub.
Today was another scorcher. We could feel the head as soon as we stepped out of the hotel. We decided to take the Bondi Explorer bus to the beach. The driver told us that it was already 35 degrees and it was only 11am! The bus trip took us through many of the northern suburbs with stunning views over the city. There were several small beaches and harbors but we stayed on until Bondi. We arrived at noon and the beach was packed. And there was no shade. Manly had a nice line of trees but not here. We walked a bit and then went in for a pizza lunch and gelato. Very good but the cool water was even better.
We spent a bit more at the beach people watching. I just didn't want to get in the water in the crowd and intense sun.
Tomorrow we return home. It has been wonderful and quick three weeks. We are somewhat dreading returning to fall especially in misty grey Seattle. But we miss our kitties. Australia will call us back in the future... And we will answer the calling.