sydneytrip2010: day two

montage: the men of sydneyToday's Montage is dedicated to the men of Sydney... just because they're so sexiful! And also because there won't be a Random Hotness this week...

Oy, what a day!

We left the hotel at around 8:30am and didn't walk back in the door until 4:15pm. A Very Big Day! And that's not even counting dinner!

I also feel like the back of my neck is sunburned... which is weird, because there really wasn't very much sun around at all today. Either that or it's the continued lack of water. We're definitely going to have to watch that tomorrow!

I can't say that I slept terribly well either. Part of the problem with being used to sleeping with a body pillow is that it's REALLY hard to sleep without it and I end up resorting to all kinds of weird and wonderful alternatives. Folding doonas, rolling up blankets, doing odd things with pillows, the whole she-bang. Only none of it was working for me last night. Very irritating. Eventually I must have either hit on something that worked, or else just passed out from exhaustion, because I didn't wake up again until about 6am.

Then I just lay in bed for a while fiddling with my iPhone (okay, playing on Grindr mostly), then got up, wrapped myself with one of the aforementioned blankets and continued to play around with my phone. Ma messaged me eventually and I got showered and ready and we headed off in the general direction of Walsh Bay. We did end up taking the long way, along the foreshore, under the bridge, but it gave us an opportunity to see a whole bunch of stuff that we wouldn't otherwise have seen.

I was watching the morning joggers do their thing around the bay with the Opera House and the Bridge as background, and I have to say that I was more than a little bit jealous. I honestly don't think that that particular view would ever get old. Maybe it's just because it's only the second time I've seen it, maybe if you were born here and have lived with it as "background noise" for your whole life, then it's no big deal. But I kinda think that it would always be a big deal.

And I know I said it last time, but that is one BIG ASS bridge. As far as I've experienced anyway. And once you're underneath it, it loses all of the iconicness (which I know isn't a word).

Our wanderings eventually got us to the wharves in Walsh Bay and we went looking for the cafe that one of my Tweeps recommended when she was in Sydney very recently, Bar Fredo.

As far as cafe breakfasts go, I don't know that I've ever had one that was quite as nice as Bar Fredo. Lots of food, and instead of having to make do with something you didn't want, you started with egg and toast and got to add things (for the record, mine was scrambled eggs, bacon, mushrooms and roma tomatoes).

The waitress was adorable too... I thought at first she was French, she had an accent and apologised about her English when Ma asked for a half-strength coffee, but it turns out she was Italian. Just as sweet as a bug's ear!

And like I said, the breakfast was great, soft fluffy scrambled eggs, mushrooms that weren't overcooked, tasty toast, the whole deal. And the cafe latte I had was wonderfully strong, just the right thing first thing in the morning after a fairly mediocre night's sleep. The only downside is that I've been dealing with the saltiness of the bacon all day... salt lips!

After we'd finished stuffing ourselves pleasantly full we wandered off in the general direction of Darling Harbour, happily snapping pictures as we went along.

I have to say that the actual harbour/waterfront part of Darling Harbour is a bit of a disappointment. I know we did the Aquarium last time, but I remember thinking that that was also a bit lame (although I'm sure it's in a different spot this time, I could have sworn that part of it actually projected out over the water, but I could be wrong)... it's all very"touristy" in a way that other things we've seen today really aren't. And by "touristy" I really mean "fake and plastic".

Even the the Harbourside Shopping Centre was something of a disappointment... not an interesting shop to be found... okay, maybe just one, a dodgy little "All Asian All The Time" kind of store (I don't think it even had a name) which actually had ninja versions of the Kimmidoll geishas, Ukido Ninja Warriors... so I ended up getting Takao (the Honourable One) which seemed appropriate (actually, I picked out two, the other one was a keyring, Shintaro the Humble One, but Ma added that to the Christmas vortex).

I thought there was at the very least like a department store of some kind in Harbourside, but obviously I was wrong.

Fortunately our next stop more than made up for it, even though it's technically very "touristy" and more than a little bit artificial...

The Chinese Gardens of Friendship. Because we went there last time, we were less concerned about seeing every single little last detail, and took in much more of the atmosphere I think... and I tried to take different kinds of shots than I had before. The carp are always awesome though.

I know that we'd been walking a lot today... and we walked a lot yesterday... in fact our holidays are pretty much turning into big fat walkathons... but in places like the Chinese Gardens, where there are lots of different levels and stairs and uneven surfaces, it does reinforce that Ma is getting older. I mean, yeah, I've pretty much always kept my eye on her when it comes to stairs and uneven ground, but I was making sure I was there every time she needed to deal with stairs and whatnot. Having said that though, I think that both of us are better than we used to be, our first trip to Melbourne Ma ended up having little rests between excursions. I'm pretty sure there is no way knows she could have done all the walking around that we did today back then.

So swings and roundabouts really.

There were also some added visitors at the Chinese Gardens. I don't know if they just found their own way there or if they had specifically been introduced, but the place was just lousy with lizards. Okay, at least half a dozen, but there weren't any last time. And they weren't really the least bit afraid of people (which is why I suspect that they could have been introduced).

After we stopped off and had a spot of light lunch (dumplings and a nice cold drink), we left the Gardens and headed for Market City/Paddy's Market. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), since Paddy's Market appeared to be very much like the Central Market in Adelaide, at least the little of it we could could see, it wasn't actually open today, so we never got to do that bit. But fortunately Market City was sitting there all full of factory outlet goodness.

And there was a Converse shop... so I had to go in. Turns out they had the leather Jack Purcell shoes that Sugarmonkey has that I've been trying to Single White Female for ages. I'm not sure if they're the exact same ones, there were two sorts, one with smooth leather and the other with textured leather. I went with the smooth version.

Of course now I have to find room for them in my suitcase, which could be entertaining. But as Ma said, I can always pack the shoes by themselves and then pack other stuff in the shoebox. Which was a very wise idea I thought.

The downside was that then I had to carry a shoebox around with me for the rest of the day.

Once we were done in Market City we wandered through part of Chinatown (and no, nice Asian lady holding a board with pictures of dishes in your restaurant, I don't want to come and eat there... thankfully a smile and a blank stare gets you a long way.

We also wandered over to World Square, which very much reminded me of QV in Melbourne... very similar feel.

It was about then that the Bathroom Deities started ganging up on me... I went into the one and only men's bathroom in World Square, which was completely full... and I stood around for a little bit... didn't get any better. And from there it was pretty much the kiss of death for me being able to find any bathroom anywhere. I tried the Museum Station, I'm guessing you actually need to go through the turnstile, I tried the ones in Hyde Park, but they were closed for some reason... so very annoying Sydney! Just let me pee dammit!

Anyway, since we were already down that end of the city, I rather foolishly suggested to Ma that we could wander down Liverpool Street, take a look in the aforementioned Hyde Park (since we only did the fountain end last time), including the very gorgeous ANZAC War Memorial, then wander down Oxford Street so that I could take a look at The Bookshop. This was a silly idea mostly because I'd forgotten how far down Oxford Street it actually was. Last time it wasn't quite so bad because I just headed down Macleay Street until it turned into Victoria Street and I was pretty much set. But Oxford Street just keeps going and going and going and going...

But I saw The Exchange, and the Toolshed (which I might have had a look at if I'd been on my own... and making a return visit solo is tempting) and the Stonewall and the Columbian and all these random little businesses that had a rainbow flag of some description outside. And there were a lot of The Gays around...

We did eventually find The Bookshop though... and it was just as small and crowded as I remembered. The fact that I had Ma with me was probably a good thing because I was conscious of how long I was looking at stuff, and it also made me think "Well, do I really need this very pretty, very expensive book full of photos of very beautiful and naked men?"... not in a "she won't approve" kind of way... it's hard to explain. In the end I picked up a couple of calendars for next year (Corbin Fisher's Down on the Farm which is fairly small, and Bel Ami by Howard Roffman which is huge) and a rainbow flag.

Oh and oddly enough the nice lesbians that were served just before me were also from Adelaide. It really is a small world after all... or something.

It didn't make very much sense heading down any of the other cross streets, so back up Oxford Street we plodded... and by this time it really was a plod... we were both very tired little bunnies. On the up side we did get to see the patrons of the Stonewall running their own Melbourne Cup race by running down Oxford Street, crossing at the lights, running back up the other side and then across at the next intersection, etc. Drunk homosexuals and a very sketchy young drag queen making fools of themselves at 3 in the afternoon. As I live and breathe.

And that's about as much contact as we had with the whole Melbourne Cup phenomenon the whole day... other than crossing paths with overdressed girlies and mobile TAB stations. I don't even know who won, and what's more, I really don't give a damn. I'm guessing that it was a horse of some sort.

Eventually we made it back to Hyde Park, avoided the gaggle of old Chinese ladies who were mugging the guitar playing busker and shoving what I think were US dollar notes into the top of his shirt while they sang along and clapped to whatever the hell it was that he was playing. Very disturbing.

If we hadn't both been so tired, I might have taken more shots of our wander up Macquarie Street... we only saw bits and pieces of it last time, and there are a few cool Art Deco buildings along that stretch. By that point though, all we really wanted to do was get back to the hotel so that we could sit down and relax!

And fortunately, because we did come down Macquarie, it was all downhill all the way to the front door of the hotel. Yaaay!

I've never been so glad to take my shoes and my belt off... as well as take my bag off my shoulder in my whole entire life! Seven and a half hours, give or take, of traipsing around Sydney!

I could have done without the Melbourne Cup party or whatever the hell it was that was going on in Macquarie Park/Square when we got back... I had my windows open, and having to listen to the particularly painful strain of "Soft Cock Rock" was not something I was particularly excited about.

We had been toying with the idea of going to see a movie tonight. After all it is our designated movie night, and there is a Dendy theatre down in the Opera Quay complex... but both of the movies we wanted to see started at 6:30 but I don't think that either of us was particularly in the mood to do any rushing around... plus I think putting us in a darkened room for two hours could very easily have led to one of both of us snoring our heads off.

Instead we decided to go and have a slow and leisurely dinner down by the Opera House somewhere.

But again, the whole Melbourne Cup Experience got in our way. I don't know what the Opera House forecourt usually looks like on a Tuesday evening, but I'm guessing it's not jam packed with people (not to self, check calendar for ANY event related information when booking our next holiday).

We ended up coming back to Opera Quay and having dinner at Searock Fish Cafe for what was essentially very expensive fish and chips. Nice, don't get me wrong, but still expensive.

However the view we had while eating dinner was totally worth it... we sat and watched the sun set over the Harbour Bridge and the rest of Sydney Cove... all very pretty really. It was also fun to peoplewatch what with all the MC fashion and posing and the everyday ordinary people just getting where they needed to go and the tourists, it was a bit of a peoplewatch smorgasbord!

By the time we were done with dinner, the sun had pretty much set, so we wandered down towards the Opera House to take some photos of the Bridge all lit up (and I have to say that I'm surprised that the Opera House wasn't lit up better than it seemed to be)... I was incredibly thankful that my new camera deals with low light a million times better than the old one... I took shots that I would never have been able to capture! At least I'm hoping they came out okay... I haven't looked at any of them yet.

Oh, and we saw former Doug Anthony All Star, Tim Ferguson having dinner with some people... I wonder what he's doing with himself these days!

And of course, that was about the point at which the rain showed up again... not for very long mind you, but just enough to make it's presence known.

I think had it not been for the rain, we may have called it a day anyway, this just gave us a reason to stop off at Guylian and have a hot chocolate. And what's not to like when they have a very tall, very handsome, quite dark and profoundly deaf waiter... (to quote Torch Song Trilogy) he's all you could want and more, the deafness is the "more". But seriously... yum.

Also, the chocolate was very good. Not Max Brenner quality, but very tasty. And there's just something about drowning a little Guylian chocolate seahorse with more chocolate that's oddly satisfying.

And that was pretty much our day... and our night.

It was, in fact, A Very Big Day (and Night) and I should definitely sleep well tonight!

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