Shabbat in Sydney! What does every good Jew do on Shabbat? If you guessed shul....so sorry you'll have to proceed to the consolation round. No, these particular Jews emulated their Israeli brethren and headed for the beach...the world famous Bondi Beach to be specific.
It is the beginning of summer vacation here and it seems like every resident of Sydney had the same idea we did. It's 29 degrees Celsius, there isn't a cloud in the sky, a slight breeze is in the air, and freedom. We arrived early at the beach, but even then there wasn't a parking space to be had, and all the choice spots on the sand had already been scoped out. We weren't in it for the sun and the surf however, but rather had decided to do the Bondi to Coogee Beach walk along the coast. This magnificent but challenging path is about a 6km hike along some of the most stunning coastline ever viewed. The Pacific is a startling shade of azure blue, and the contrast against the powder white sand is simply gorgeous. We hiked and walked for a couple of hours, stopping numerous times to take pictures. I was in awe of the surfers. There is something truly mesmerizing about a kid defying gravity with nothing but a sheet of polyurethane to deflect the crashing of the waves. Breathtaking!
We took a scenic cab ride back through some of the eclectic neighbourhoods of Sydney, where of course the Jews in us just had to take notice of Chabad (they really are everywhere!) and the Australian orthodox marking Shabbat in their own way.
This afternoon we met with our tour group for the first time. The Husband is definitely the youngest in the group, and we are the only non-retirees, but they seem like a nice bunch. There are only two people who use walkers and one who employs the aid of a cane, so a basically spry group. Our guide Jim, is a transplanted American who has made Aliyah Down Under. We begin the tour portion in earnest tomorrow with a city tour of Sydney.
A few random thoughts.
For those who asked, the concert was really fun. We saw Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. (If you're like us, you're probably saying "Who?) This woman was incredible. She was like a cross between Tina Turner and James Brown. Her voice was blasting and her energy all-consuming. She was the absolute definition of perpetual motion. Sharon had the sold-out crowd dancing in the aisles and a few even joined her up on stage. We really enjoyed it, but were frankly more enthralled by our surroundings. This venue has perfect acoustics and sight lines. Truly a marvel.
My time as Phyllis seems to have begun. We checked in with the tour company and I introduced myself as Dawn as is, of course my natural habit. I had once again forgotten about the passport/given first name laws. We met our guide Jim, and I explained it all to him of course, but we shall see if he remembers or if I am doomed for the next week to be monikered as Phyllis by all of our fellow tourists. Mom and Dad....I curse you for this!!
Vegetarians of the world unite. I think that there is real opportunity for a chain of restaurants down here to serve our kind. I had my first taste of protein today in the form of some feta cheese in my salad. These Aussies seem very perplexed by the idea of tofu, seitan, or beans. We are working on it, but salads have so far been our standard bill of fare.
There seems to be a national, or at least a city-wide concentration on physical fitness. We have never seen so many joggers, bikers, walkers, swimmers, or skaters at one time. Everybody in this city seems to be trying to improve their fitness level. It is so fantastic. Just imagine if that were to happen in Toronto in preparation for the upcoming Pan-Am Games. A city totally invested in getting healthier and more fit. Think the mayor would go for it?