Friday, 4 January 2013

Sydney While Conscious

It is amazing what one misses while semi-comotose. This is a truly beautiful city to behold, especially while my eyes are wide open. We decided to get an early start today.....not difficult since The Husband was awake at 3:00am. By 8:30 we stopped for coffee and a muffin and set out our plan for the great walking tour of Sydney.

We decided that we really wanted to visit the Sydney Jewish Museum. Australia has a vibrant Jewish community and God forbid I should miss the Jew stuff in any part of the world that I visit. I may be on vacation, but that little voice that screams Yiddish epithets in my ear won't let me forget my roots. So we hiked through downtown Sydney, past some very upscale stores, about two miles to Darlinghurst, a very funky neighbourhood where the museum is situated. Given our start time, we pretty much opened the place along with another couple and a young student from Brisbane. We were all set to self-guide, when an elderly Holocaust survivor named Gita offered to give us all the grand tour. Given that there were only five of us we could hardly refuse. Gita's story is not unlike many heard before, but I was fascinated by her first emigration from Vienna to Shanghai before the worst of the war, and finally to her final stop here in Australia. She told us that following the war, Australia took in more refugees per capita than any other country besides Israel. The Jewish population down here has ballooned to almost 70,000, with the majority found here in Sydney and in Melbourne. Many came following the war, but many more came from South Africa in the sixties and seventies. The first Jewish settlers down here were not surprisingly, convicts shipped over from England. One of the most famous, a thief by the name of Ikey Solomon, spent most of his life evading his transportation to the colony, but when he did get here he made a name for himself. It is thought that Dickens used Solomon as the basis for his character of Fagin in Oliver Twist. Literary Jew facts. Cool!

The museum is small, quaint, but beautifully structured. It does make a lasting impression.

We headed out and over to the Domain, another lovely area in order to see the New South Wales Art Gallery. We didn't last all that long. Realizing that we hadn't had a proper meal in almost 24 hours, we walked through the Botanic Gardens and found a nice spot for lunch.

The Harbour and Quays areas showcased quite a bit that we missed during yesterday's stupor. We ambled down passed the port terminal and found ourselves in The Rocks, a neighbourhood filled with small shops and galleries. This is a spot that demands a return visit.

Tonight...R&B at the Opera House. I think I might have said jazz in yesterday's post, but I was awash in an exhaustion haze. Forgive me.

A few random thoughts.

This may be a beautiful city but it also an expensive one. Eating out here on a regular basis could bankrupt a person.

Where did all of the leggy blonds come from? Was Sweden having a garage sale?

I still haven't entirely figured out how to cross the street. It just isn't in my DNA to look right first. The Husband has saved me from near disaster more than once already and it is only day 2.


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