Thursday morning the 11th we flew back from Melbourne to Sydney. We once again took the subway to Circular Quay, then got a week long pass for the ferry and subway. The ferry to Manly Beach is mostly used by commuters during the week, but it’s a cheap way to see some of the best views.
When we got to Manly, we went to the Wharf Bar and waited for our friend Seth. I’d worked with him in 2001-2002, met him in London in 2002, and he’d lived with me for six weeks in 2003. But he moved to Australia soon after and we hadn’t seen him since. We had a drink with him, then he showed us around Manly. His girlfriend Michelle had recently moved in, and she made a lovely dinner of chicken, asparagus and mashed potatoes.
It was an early night as early the next morning we did the bridge climb. We were both a little nervous at first, but they treat you like soldiers preparing for battle: you form a group, then there are stations where you get your gear, you test your gear, and finally get a pep talk before you go. The first part is walking on a catwalk, not too bad, but the second part on the ladders is nerve wracking. Being on the bridge itself is pretty fun, it’s really wide and you feel safe. We still were glad to get down, though.
Our reward for our effort once we got back to Manly was fish and chips from the Manly Fish Market on the beach. We relaxed for a goo while after that. To thank Seth and Michelle for hosting, we wanted to take them to a really nice dinner, and decided on Rockpool. We were all pretty hungry (we had a late reservation), so we went with the tasting menu. It was some of the best food of the trip (wagyu rib eye, whisky sauce and pear sorbet yum) but marred by the cold breeze in the room we dined in.
Saturday the 13th Seth and Michelle made us breakfast, eggs with mushrooms, tomatoes and bacon. We went to Newtown in the afternoon for shopping, stopped at Urban Bites for a snack, then met up with Seth and Michelle and another couple for dinner at Arabella for sharing a lot of Lebanese food (the lamb shwarma was good, and the garlic sauce was the most garlic-y thing I’ve ever had. Next we went to the Enmore Theatre for a night of comedians. They were decent, but a number of their references went over our heads and we left before the end.
Sunday Seth and Michelle drove us out to the Koala Park Sanctuary. We had a quick lunch there before we went in (don’t order the sausage roll unless you want one hot from the microwave). Inside was really fun, pretty much like it was when I was there ten years ago. We saw the wombat, then headed to the kangaroos. We fed them and watched them hop around. We hooted at the koalas, saw the dingos, then came back to pet the koala they brought over. We finished up at the sheep shearing demonstration, and ended up chatting with the shearer for a while.
On the way back, we stopped in Mosman for a bit, and had ice cream on the beach. In Manly, we headed over to the 4 Pines Brewery for a pint, then went to the Sydney-side beach to meet up with Seth’s friends Al and Matt and their kids. After they left, we got picnic supplies, and Jill and Michelle got Indian takeaway from The Last Train To Bombay. We stuffed ourselves sharing a number of dishes (I really liked the Jungle Chicken).
Monday we were on our own and got breakfast at the Four Olives Deli in Manly (egg sandwich and pecan pie – guess who got what). I wanted to do the beach walk as they had just finished Sculpture by the Sea, but it was raining. We decided to tough it out and go anyway, so we took the subway to a bus to Bronte, then walked up the coast, watching the surfers and looking at the sculptures.
I thought there was a restaurant in Bondi we could eat at, but it wasn’t open then. We went back to Sydney and tried to go to another place I wanted to try, but it had just finished lunch. That wasok, as we went next door to Golden Sichuan for some tasty green beans with minced pork, pork and vegetable dumpling soup and steamed buns. We did a little more shopping before heading back.
We arrived at Circular Quay moments too late for the ferry, so we had a drink and waited for the next one. That evening we had dinner with Seth and Michelle at Garfish, where Jill had the salt & pepper squid and crisp fried zucchini flowers and I had the eastern lobster (similar to the Maine one, but not a match).
Tuesday the 16th we were out early as we had a morning flight. That didn’t do us much good as we had to sit in the terminal for nearly two hours waiting for them to resolve computer problems to check in to our flight, but soon we were headed to our next destination.