a blog about seeing the world

Archive for May, 2011

Pies in the park: a visit to Sydney

Warm, sunny days, waterfront eateries, good beer, and beautiful parks are the recipe for a perfect city experience. And that’s exactly what we got during our two days in Sydney.

After an unappealing drive in through the suburbs, we checked into a hostel in Glebe, a lovely residential neighborhood lined with cafes and large trees. Leaves fluttered down and collected on the shaded sidewalks in crisp, cool autumn perfection.

Sydney’s harbor is as beautiful as we’ve always heard. We wandered along the docks in Darling Harbor in the morning—taking note of upcoming happy hour specials—and made our way out onto the Harbor Bridge.

Our first glimpse of the water at Darling Harbor.

Midway across, the sun cast the bridge’s shadow onto the sparkling blue harbor, and illuminated boats of all sizes that ply its waters. Scalloped dark green shores extended into the distance and the city’s iconic Opera House lured wandering eyes directly below.

We expected the Opera House to disappoint. Synonymous with Australia, slapped on a million postcards, and featured in many a token travel photo, the Opera House is victim to the kind of overexposure that often ends in letdown upon seeing the real thing. But it’s awesome. As we walked further across the bridge, the differing angles changed the shape of the sails entirely, giving it a totally new look. Up close, it’s even better. The tiled roof— actually, those of three separate buildings— soars into the sky, sloping gracefully away from your eyes, with the harbor and bridge as an unbeatable backdrop.

Landmarks aside, Sydney’s incredible Royal Botanic Gardens were by far the highlight.  The 75-acre gardens hold countless plants from all over the world, arranged aesthetically for maximum pastoral enjoyment. Enormous fig trees spread shade over swaths of grass, their thick branches almost skimming the ground. Vegetation of all shades and shaped is scattered around, while birds and flying foxes twitter from the treetops. At a turn of the trail, you can find yourself in a different environment— from the Oriental Gardens to the Rainforest Walk to the Fernery and the succulents. It’s just incredible. And it’s free.

One of the garden's many sprawling fig trees.

A perfect mix of garden and open space— this is how to design a city park.

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