We looked at one another and confirmed with a grin that, yes, we really are in Sydney. The city is one of those iconic places and having last been here around 15 years ago, it was surprising how well we remembered it. Our room wasn’t ready when we arrived so we lost no time in going straight out and down to Circular Quay and away.
The Costa Deliziocia was docked there in the Rocks, a huge and overwhelming presence. Our ship will be there tomorrow and it’ll be interesting to compare!
The city was looking glorious in the sunshine, because we struck lucky in the weather stakes. After weeks of non stop rain and cloudy skies, the sun put his hat on for us, for which we were thankful! In the early afternoon, people were sitting out at the pavement cafes, taking their afternoon stroll or, in many cases, pounding the street in their best running shoes, in training for something or other.
We turned the corner at Bennelong Point and agreed that yes, the Opera House still works its magic, doesn’t it? No time to go inside this time (we saw Rigoletto here on our first visit, some twenty odd years ago: the first time we ever booked tickets on a long distance phone call, for us quite an adventure!) As we walked past the sign, I did a double take and nudged Mark “Look, twins” – only now, uploading my photographs, do I see that they feature like a Where’s Wally cartoon!
We carried on around the pathway, skirting the Botanic Gardens and dodging the runners, still. The sun was warm on our backs and we both wished we had thought to bring sunglasses, hats and so on. Never mind, we’re here, and that’s the important thing!
Some construction work at the foot of the Fleet Steps sent us on a small detour and we were nearly at our destination.
Mrs McQuarie’s Chair. That first visit to Sydney all those years ago left such an impression on us, and this place in particular was etched in our memory. I remember writing in my journal (yes, I kept one even then!) that Mrs McQuarie must have been of a similar mind to me; that even in those pre-bridge, pre-Opera House days, this must still have been a spectacular place to sit, for this is a magnificent harbour and the headland offers the most breathtaking views.
Once again, we looked at one another and sighed. Yes, we really are here.
We spent quite some time there, just looking, taking photographs and counting our blessings.
Returning through the Botanic Gardens, we enjoyed a little more shade, a cooling breeze and the rustle and clatter of the bamboo. We were in no hurry and yet, we were ready to cool off, to settle ourselves in the hotel and spend a quiet hour or so before going out again.
The city rises much higher than we remember and the busy streets and motorways crisscrossing the centre were quite a contrast to the peace of the garden.
After a shower and short sortout of our luggage, we wandered out into the Rocks, on our way to meet our friends. Alan and Jane had booked a table at our favourite Doyles and we couldn’t wait to see them again.
We walked alongside the Quay to the restaurant, fearing that we weren’t going to have much of a view from our table
But as we squealed at spotting them at the end of the quay, there was a shudder and the ship sailed. Perfect timing!
We sat with the perfect Opera House backdrop, cocktails in hand followed by the most delicious hot seafood platter talking twenty to the dozen as we do. So much to catch up on – or not, since Jane gets her news here on my blog! But so good to be with them, to remember fun times and to giggle about Mumbai, the shoe shop and that tiny little taxi we shared; to look forward to some more good times to come during the next couple of weeks.
Oh, and to redress the balance sheet following tiffin at the Taj!