Thursday, July 20, 2006

Where am I?

Sydney, of course!

Love Chunks and I decided it was long past time for us to explore our country's capital city (we don't count Canberra) as genuine tourists.

We could easily excuse our open-hearted dagginess by telling our family and friends that "Oh, now that Sapphire's seven, she needs to see Sydney." And so did us oldies. LC and I had only ever been there for a couple of days on work trips and never together. As far as I knew, the place could have been full of rugby playing men with necks fatter than their heads and lost tourists still looking for the Olympic stadium, designed entirely by that taste-challenged artist Ken Done. By the way, his name is pronounced with a long 'Oh' as is stone. Not as in run - although it amuses a mind as simple as mine to think that he might have been teased at school with, "Ken's done a poo in his pants!"

But I digress slightly. We did all the sights - the bridge, the opera house, the AMP tower, Taronga zoo, ferry to Manly, Chinatown, Paddy's markets, aquarium, maritime museum, the rocks, the monorail, Hyde Park barracks and walked many, many kilometres. We were amazed at Sapphire's stamina which only flagged if an icecream/hot chocolate/opportunity to buy souvenirs wasn't dangled in front of her.

Other slightly less tourist-oriented sights included a pub punch-up on our way back from the ferry (no, Russell was home in Woolloomoolloo with his new baby); a woman being hauled by the shoulder through a crowded food-hall for shoplifting and Craig Reucassel from 'The Chaser' trying to harpoon Japanese tourists whilst wearing a dingy around his waist.

What was the highlight? Two, really. The first was catching up with my old mate, Deep Kick Girl (check out her blog: and her fantastic family. She threw us into their people mover and showed us Bondi beach, lunch at Doyles, a sticky beak into the posh side of the harbour that shelters Russell Crowe and Nicole Kidman, dream homes in the docks and frequent playground stops for passengers seven years and under. We also had some Yum Cha in Paddington on our last day there where we tasted the new delights of a fresh mango and cream spring roll before dodging swan shit in Centennial park. (I mean the birds, not the footy players, although you never know.....)

The second highlight was perhaps a more spiritual one. The Lindt cafe. The only Lindt cafe in the world, and it happened to be in Sydney; a stone's throw away from that Boofhead David Kosh's studio at channel seven. It took us nearly 4km of walking to find it (we first headed towards their Australian offices), but I was determined - nay, driven - towards my own personal chocolate experience.

On the surface it may have seemed like an overpriced coffee shop selling tiny cakes at monthly mortgage payment prices but to me, it was a tiny, warm room full of beautifully wrapped chocolate balls of bliss. Naturally it was imperative that I sample all the balls not available in other stores - raspberry, cookies'n'cream, orange, mocha and peanut butter. Oh and have a slice of the Lindt mud cake of course.

My disappointment? Krispy Kreme doughnuts. I had heard so much about them and noticed how people would buy a box of 24 at the airport to take home to the uninitiated in Adelaide. We had a KK store around the corner from our hotel and I was at that counter quicker than you could say, 'This holiday is going to be about eating sensibly.'
"Two please - a choc whatnot and a glazed", I said, trying not to let my drool drip on the napkins. Blueegh - they were like eating a stale, fried bun with watery icing sugar spilt all over them. Give me a six pack of lurid pink-iced ones from Coles any day. Kacky Kreme was more like it.

Despite this setback, I bravely fought on and lived to eat another day.

For Sapphire the highlight was seeing Deep Kick Girl's son, Will, whom she immediately held hands with and skipped off with on both days whilst simultaneously looking for something to spend her pocket money on. "Oh look Mum - how about this?" she asked many times, showing me a plastic model of the opera house spray painted in reflective gold. "Or this" - a koala bear improbably straddling a snowdome of the harbour bridge. "Aw please Mum, I've gotta get something," she pleaded.

Sapphire's depiction of the harbour. Poo Bum Bugger Off, Ken Done!

I relented, forcing myself to remember what a pleasure it had been for me to find and buy my own treasured souvenirs on family holidays. The collapsible cup from 'The Big Banana', a pink flag with 'Gilltrap's Yesteryear World' emblazoned in yellow; and, it's shameful to admit, a snowdome of Mt Gambier's Blue Lake. Sapphire ended up with a pink t-shirt (OK), a glittery blue plastic 'Sydney aquarium' mug (non-dishwasher, non-microwave, non-scourer safe and not guaranteed to hold liquids safely - not OK) and the boxed shower cap from our hotel (oh well, at least it's practical).

As for Love Chunks and myself, it was about just seeing things. Walking around, not trying to pretend that we belonged, but instead not giving a hoot if we looked stupid as we stopped in the middle of the streets and looked up at the architecture or out to the sea. Blithely forgetting about the high prices of transport, food and drink and just feeling relaxed and entertained. Sharing a two-double bed hotel room with Sapphire and being able to watch her sleep and study her beautiful, little face.

Without knowing it at the time, it was Sapphire herself who was the most amazing sight of all - when will I ever wake up in the morning and not be dazzled by her?


fifi-belle said...

I know I went back to Sydney only a few weeks ago, but I'm feeling all nostalgic again now! Ps my verification word was Phhfddy.
Sound like something an old man would say when he was feeling sceptical through his dentures.

Anonymous said...

I kept staring at the pic and finally picked up what was bothering me: blue sneakers and brown tailored trousers?