June 10, 2014

Sydney, Australia

Dec 2001
What is the best spot to see and understand Sydney?  I have two favourites:

The first is to go on a cruise in Sydney harbour. 

You can see the Sydney skyline that hosts a quarter of Australia’s economy.  (Melbourne is a close rival.  Did you know that Australia could not decide between two contenders for its capital – Sydney and Melbourne and ended up constructing a brand new one in Canberra?).  Sydney’s skyline is dominated by the AMP Tower offering spectacular views of the city.

Sydney Skyline

You can see the Sydney Opera House, considered by Sydneysiders as their signature icon.  Did you know that all the structures in Sydney Opera House could be combined to form one perfect sphere?  The architectural marvel hosts more than three thousand performances in its various halls each year.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House

You can see the Sydney Harbor Bridge, nicknamed appropriately as the Coat Hanger.  It represents Australian spirit in a unique way.  On the day the bridge was inaugurated in 1932, before the bridge could be opened by the Guest of Honor, a man rode in a horse through the bridge, cutting the ribbon and inaugurating the bridge on behalf of the people of New South Wales.

Sydney Harbor Bridge ("Coat hanger")

The second, and probably the better way to see Sydney, is from an unusual spot.  Just as the best way to see New York skyline is to take the cheap ticket and deck seat in Staten Island ferry, the best way to see Sydney is to take the ferry to the Taronga Zoo, and climb up to the enclave where giraffes are housed.  You get to see nice animals in a serene/peaceful area in the foreground, a busy harbor in the middle and an invitingly vibrant city in the distance.

View of Sydney from Taronga Zoo

Sydney did to Darling Harbor what New York did to Columbus circle.  Convert an old decaying relic into a modern and vibrant city quarter.  The aquarium in Darling harbor area is awesome. 

Aquarium in Darling Harbor

If you are a young dad accompanied by wife and children, Manly beach is a nice place to spend a day.  If you are single, young and slightly irresponsible, you would of course prefer the Bondi beach of “Baywatch” fame.

We went to Australia in 2001.  The then new Olympics stadium was a major attraction too.  (Beijing changed all that in 2008).  Did you know that the bronze medals for 2000 Sydney Olympics were made by melting the 1 cent and 2 cent coins that Australia abandoned in the 1990s.

Sydney Olympics Stadium

Sydney has its own "Nilgiris".  The Blue Mountains (a day trip from Sydney) hosts a substantial variety of Eucalyptus trees.  Just as a good perfume should, the aroma engulfs and soothes you without overwhelming you.  (Every time I say this, am reminded of His Highness Late Sayyid Sami bin Hamad Al Bu Saidi, who dabbed his favorite "Dehn al Ood" generously on my shirt.  It announced you across an airport lobby and would not go away.  I eventually had to abandon that shirt!). 

Our bus ride took us through spectacular views  of the Blue mountains, the Jamieson valley and the three sisters rock formation.

Three Sisters in Blue Mountain (and a mom and two daughters)

The Scenisender provides a tilted perspective of the same beauty. 


On the way back, spend some time with Koala bears. 

Koala Bear

I like Koala bears for a few characteristics that I wish I can emulate.  They sleep a lot.  They eat a lot.  They take time to do whatever they do.  No hurry. 

However, Australians have different preferences; and love two other animals more: Kangaroo and Emu.  Why?  Ostensibly, because both are unique to Australia and can only move forward; cannot move backward!  I like that too.

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