Australia, Day Six: Tues 1/19
Slept so well. We have a king-size bed, which I always say feels like I need a visa to go and visit Richard, he's so far away. We lolled around in bed, looked at things on our computers, shared things worth sharing. We were out the door at 7 AM, bound for breakfast.
Anne had recommended the vendor in the park right down the street from the hotel - - unfortunately they weren't open until 7:30. Our initial plan, if this had been the case, was to go back to the hotel and eat breakfast there. We knew they opened at 6:30. But we decided to be loosey goosey and hang around, watch the dogs, twiddle our thumbs until they opened.
The service window opened and we went over to place our order. The guy saw us and said, "Hello, we'll be opening in a couple of minutes." And then he and the other guy came out with coffee for four or five regulars. Now, you might think that's the advantage to being a regular and that I should get over myself and be aware of my place in this particular pecking order. You'd have every right to think that, but I have every right to feel slighted and disgruntled! I felt better when I ate, and I must say it was a delicious brekkie (as they say here). Richard had a cold strawberry and rhubarb compote with yogurt and honey (his review: "Out of this world!"), I had an onion roll with a poached egg, ham, spinach, and cheese (my review: "Shut the front door!"). Coffee with cream for each of us, a bottle of water, and we split an order of toast. Richard had Vegemite with his (blech). I kinda felt like jam but didn't quite see how to make that happen. The cute young guy came over to our table and explained that they have jams at the counter and I'm welcome to come over and help myself. I went to the counter and the cute slightly older guy gave me a guided tour through the varieties. I got fig jam on this round and ginger jam on a later round. Both were scrummy (as Mary Berry says on The Great British Baking Show).
Here's a before and after on breakfast. Before:
The park was full of cute dogs, I'd say we saw at least 30 of them. Here's one particularly friendly pooch:
Annie sent an email: "Today will be hot, so perhaps a swim at north Bondi Beach? That is, northern end of Bondi Beach. Go before it gets too hot - get out of sun by 12. Swim between the flags. Wear sunscreen everywhere that is exposed. Wear a hat. This has been a public service announcement."
Next up: a tour of the Sydney Opera House. Of course we considered going to a show there, but they're not doing anything we care to see. So there. The tour was first rate. A few interesting tidbits: the architect, Jorn Utzon (my apologies for not putting the slash through the O), originally didn't make the first cut of entries. He was added to the "for consideration" pile by late-arriving fourth judge Eero Saarinen. The original budget was $7 million - - the final price was (gulp) $102 million. Utzon had a falling out with the people building the opera house and didn't return to Sydney for the opening, or ever again.
We had a drily amusing tour guide named Martin. He was able to say "pictures are forbidden" in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese. We saw three small theaters and the big house, the Joan Sutherland Theater. Richard and I got sucked into buying a souvenir book, which included post cards of us superimposed on various images of the opera house. What a hoot.
One last stop before we left the opera house: Richard bought a hat in the gift shop.
Next: lunch at La Renaissance Cafe Patisserie. Anne told us about this place and we loved it. Richard had a chicken baguette sandwich, I had a mozzarella and pesto baguette sandwich. We split a bottle of water and Richard got some fancy gummy candies for dessert. The French call them <<pates de fruit>> (my apologies for the missing <<accent egue>> on the word <<pates>> - - please pronounce it "paa-TAY").
We walked over to Country Road and I bought the pale peach dress shirt I had not bought a few days before. The same cute young man was working, and remembered us. From there it was a short walk to Darling Harbour, where we caught a ferry to Central Quays. It was a hot and relentlessly sunny day, so it felt good to sit in the breezy shade out on the water.
We took a train to Edgecliff and went straight to the post office to mail off birthday cards for Richard's Aunt Connie and Aunt Nancy. We were about to leave the little mall and I saw a sneaker store right across the hall from the post office - - Richard was eager to buy a new pair of sneakers and pitch the ones he was wearing. The guy who runs the shop couldn't have been more personable. He was in his 60s, asked all about what we're doing on our trip, and encouraged us to go to the Blue Mountains. He had lived there for many years, and planned/built a number of their nature trails. Hm! To use a phrase of Richard's, it sounds more like his kind of fun than ours. But Richard did buy a pair of Asics. Very comfortable, and with the Australian dollar at 70 cents to the US dollar, the price was right.
We walked down the hill to the hotel, and made a stop on the way at the kiosk where we had breakfast. They were tickled to see us back again so soon. We each ordered an iced coffee:
BARISTA: I sort of get the feeling you're not from Sydney.
RICHARD: That's right, we're from New York.
BARISTA: Then I feel I should warn you: we make iced coffee a little different here.
ME: Please explain.
BARISTA: We use coffee, espresso, and ice cream.
ME: That sounds fantastic!
BARISTA: Great. We'll bring those out to you.
And as I said to the barista on our way out, it was the best iced coffee EVER! It's made not with plain ice cream, but coffee ice cream. Oh Lord it was so delicious.
Back at the hotel. I was still a little overheated so I got a bucket of ice from the bar. Brought it upstairs and used it to make about 45 glasses of ice water. Hit the spot. Up to the roof and had a very quick dip in the pool, which cooled me off even more. There was a young couple in the pool with their adorable little baby, probably about six months old. I hope he/she was wearing a diaper, is all I have to say.
More lolling about the room. I'm sure we watched some idiotic TV show but who remembers what it was. And then it was time for dinner - - we had a date with Paul and Annie at a very cute Italian place not far from our hotel, Fratelli Paradiso. We were the first to arrive and were given a cool, dark corner in the back of the restaurant. Annie was a little surprised that it was so dark and remote, and I told her it would allow us to talk dirty. She was pleased with that plan.
What a delightful dinner! They really are the greatest, I wish we could see more of them. What a delight it would be to get together for dinner on a Thursday night, to go to the zoo with them and the boys on a weekend, to meet at their house and play Transformers. But as long as they're living in Sydney and we're living in New York, these are not choices that are available to us. Alas.
We started with a cocktail: hard cider for me, Campari and soda for Richard, a Negroni for Paul (Campari, red vermouth, and gin), and vodka and soda for Annie. Later we got a lovely bottle of red wine, very light. We started off with some fried calamari - - my entree was the fish of the day (don't know what it was, a delicate white fish) in a dreamy sauce with cherry tomatoes and darling little fried potatoes. Richard had the papardelle in a duck ragout - - the pasta was way too al dente for him, and just a teensy bit too al dente for me (and I love a good firm noodle). Annie had the fish and a dear bit of salad on the side. Paul had the lasagnetta, served in an adorable little crock, bubbling with luscious cheeses. You should be getting the picture that I loved our meal.
So much to talk about. We told them all about our stay with Sue and Mark and how much we love them, told then what we'd been doing in Sydney and what our plans were for the rest of the trip. They told us about their days at work (ah, work - - I remember that) and the amusing things they have coming up.
Good night and kisses all 'round. We confirmed that we would be in touch about getting together this weekend - - we're waiting to hear from Richard's friend Nick before we nail anything down. Back at the hotel and in bed around 10.