Sunday, May 15, 2011

Let's see, where was I?

After Brisbane, we headed to Sydney for a few days (itinerary determined by speaking schedule, not by geographic logic).

In Sydney we stayed in the World Square area of the CBD. Our block, including the large indoor mall adjacent to the hotel, seemed to be the center of Japanese and Korean cuisine. Chinatown was a block up from us. The block to the left was mostly Spanish restaurants. So much good food, so little time. Sushi was everywhere, it seemed. Several restaurants offered freshly made plates of sushi on a conveyor belt that surrounded the chefs. Plates were priced according to what color the china was, totted up when it was time to leave. We had dinner one night, though, in a restaurant called Tokyo Ria. The menu was closer to the wide variety of food we had in Japan two years ago than any of the sushi lunch places had or than we typically see in the U.S. Their ordering system consisted of a jukebox-like touch screen display in each booth. The photo menu went on for many pages of thumbnails. Touch to open a full-screen photo and description. Order immediately or cancel. Click another button to call a server to the table for help. Each dish was prepared immediately upon ordering and delivered when it was ready. So there’s a bit of an art to ordering things in the order you want to eat them. The food was excellent.

The next day we took a bus down to Circular Quay and walked to the Sydney Opera House. We took the one-hour tour (not the two-hour backstage tour) and enjoyed that very much. We had lunch at one of the Opera House caf├ęs. Then we walked along the water, under the Sydney Harbor Bridge, over to Darlington Harbor (a bit of a hike). We both watched the people traversing the top of the bridge while we were eating lunch and decided that was a little too high and too scary for us. (It was odd to see, a couple of days later, that a fellow had caused a stir by climbing the bridge and hanging a protest banner, considering that hundreds of people a day climb almost to where he stood.) We had a light dinner at Darlington Harbor (shared some appetizers and some grilled kangaroo loin), then walked the last few blocks back to the hotel.

Early the next morning we flew to Perth. There’s a bit of the Wild West about Western Australia that expresses itself in terms of the jocular disdain the residents have for what they lump together as the “Eastern States,” to the dismay of the residents of those states. Perth’s CBD is a lot less glitzy and glossy than those in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. There are plenty of unpretentious small shops of all sorts that are not chain stores catering to the rich and famous.

After a day in Perth capped by dinner at a home in the hills on the north side of the city, we drove south yesterday in a rented car, to a rented house in Prevelly, a surfers’ beach community near Margaret River. This is a major wine region, and the main tourist activity is winery tours. But that doesn’t interest us particularly. For one thing, we’re getting on a plane to Singapore Monday and can’t exactly take a case of wine with us. So we skipped the tours in favor of hanging out at the beach. It’s fall here, cool and overcast, but I couldn’t be this close to the Indian Ocean and not take at least a brief swim.

Driving in Australia is always a challenge, as it’s on the wrong side of the road (well, it’s the right side of the road here, but it’s the wrong side for an American driver). Our solution to the safe driving problem is that I drive, and Tina sits in the passenger seat constantly reminding me what lane I’m supposed to be in. It works out better than it sounds. We also try to avoid driving at night if we can.


marksierra said...

"Then we walked along the water, under the Sydney Harbor Bridge, over to Darlington Harbor (a bit of a hike)."

A quick correction, Dick. The location is called Darling Harbour.

And I'm disappointed you don't like the way we serve our coffee here. Funnily enough, most Australians I know who've been to the States rate American coffee as close to dishwater. Tastes vary, I suppose.

Dick Margulis said...


You spell it your way, I'll spell it mine. As for the coffee, you're exactly right: de gustibus non est disputandum. I do not like your coffee. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with your drinking it. Just as I would never force you to drink ours. A matter of personal taste. Many Americans love burnt, bitter coffee and would love the way you serve it. I don't speak for them.

Dick Margulis said...

Oh. Darling, not Darlington. Missed that. Sorry.