SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA — Since we hadn’t yet seen Darling Harbor, the most touristy part of Sydney, we headed there after yet another rainy night and morning.
This time, we took the light rail. Our first stop was The Star which turned out to be a generic indoor mall with a casino and shops with overpowering perfume smells, so we left almost the moment we got in and followed the waterfront to the Australian National Maritime Museum.
First, we stopped at the Welcome Wall, commemorating the 10 million immigrants to Australia with a selection of names and stories in the immigrants’ words.
It was interesting to read the anecdotes, given that within a few days we’ll be going through the same experience, but we wished we would have been told more about the people featured. Why did they leave, and what happened to them?
The Maritime Museum includes ships at dock: a modern destroyer, a submarine and, most interesting, a replica of the Endeavour, the ship Captain Cook commanded on this first trip to Australia and New Zealand. We would have liked to look around, but it was closed for maintenance, so we moseyed on.
We started to get hungry, consulted Yelp and saw there was a highly rated Grill’d in the next-door mall. It’s a chain, but Beth really liked her Moroccan lamb burger and Torsten his vegetarian burger, and they were cheap.
Nearby, we had to stop at the British Lolly Shop — the clerk explained that in Australia, lollies refer not to lollipops but to candy in general — and in no time, she had us eating samples.
The samples were good and we didn’t have dessert, a major sin in Torsten’s book, so we bought a few toffees, bags of rum balls and licorice candies and went our merry way.
Continuing around the harbor, we saw Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, Madame Tussaud’s and the Wild Life Sydney Zoo. They looked mostly like tourist traps to us.
Our goal was the Royal Botanic Gardens and Mrs Macquarie’s Chair on the other side of Circular Quay, and the fun way to get there is by ferry. We expected a straight shot, but instead we were treated to a small harbor tour, including a stop just outside the Luna Park amusement park.
The Botanic Garden had a few oddities: A ficus tree that appeared to have grown from aerial roots with nothing to drop the roots from, a tree which had tipped over and is now too fragile to be set back and a display of rocks and plants that caught Beth’s attention.
Across the bay, a giant stage was floating on the harbor for a production of Carmen set to open the next week. The stage was still bare, but they were checking the sound system, so we got to listen to part of the opera.
We went around the next point to take a look at Mrs Macquarie’s Chair, a bench chiseled into rock for the wife of a notable early governor of New South Wales. Torsten was more interested in the aircraft carrier across the bay, which had arrived the previous night.
With our late start, the day was coming to a close, so we took the bus back to “our” Eat Street and stopped at a deli for seafood salad, marinated octopus and a yummy couscous salad. After the usual walk back to our cottage, the day was a wrap.
That night, we woke up several times to downpours, and the rain continued into the morning. By this time, we were getting tired of trying to guess when it would or wouldn’t rain.
After a morning spent reading the depressing news, we took a bus to the Saturday market in Glebe, a cute bohemian neighborhood we had seen on our way to Coogee Beach. But most of the stands were just selling old clothes and cheap jewelry.
By the time we left, it had started to rain again. We stopped for a quick lunch of vermicelli noodles with lemongrass beef, and though we’d seen a teaser of blue sky just a few minutes before, it started to rain as we left and crossed the street to the bus stop.
With this changeable weather, we abandoned our plan to take the ferry to Watson’s Bay for another hike, and we went to the movies instead. Probably a frothy French farce would have been a better choice than “Moonlight” after six days of rain, because our moods were not improved after the movie.
We killed some time in a book store, where Beth was happy to find a used copy of Jan Morris’ 1992 book “Sydney.” Then we walked to Goia Wood Oven Pizza and shared a half mushroom, half tropical pizza and, for dessert, a Nutella pizza that came with ice cream.
We had just finished when it started to pour; chivalrous Torsten helped our neighbors carry in the pizzas a waiter had delivered just a moment before.
By now, the pattern was getting old. We made it home and tried to forget yet another rainy day.