The photo at the top and the title say it all: Sydney is an absolutely amazing city!  Its Opera house

DSC01497

is as much an icon as the Statue of Liberty in New York or the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. It is hilly and covered with trees, is planted on a bay that seems to have endless twists and turns, coves and strands of gorgeous beaches, and has a downtown that borders the bay and is excitingly vibrant even long into the night. And it is, after all, peopled by Australians–some of the friendliest people we have ever met.

We often talk about places where we might want to spend from two to six months in residence, with an apartment and a neighborhood to embed ourselves in for that long as we have, for instance, in San Miguel, Mexico. Cape Town in South Africa, Luang Prabang in Laos, Venice, Aix en Provence in France—these are some of the cities we consider. Add Sydney to that list.

Here is a quick look around at what just one day brought us. We took the slow ferry like this one in the foreground

Sydney, Australia_8

across one piece of the bay to a beach town called Manly. On the one side it faces the bay; on the other side across perhaps two hundred yards of town it looks out at the Pacific Ocean from a beautiful beach.

Manly

We spent time exploring the town and walking the beach, and then had Bonnie’s birthday dinner at a restaurant called Garfish, ranked as one of the best seafood restaurants in Sydney. It was wonderful!

By the time we headed back to Sydney proper it was after dark and the sight of the city as we approached it was just breathtaking.

DSC01529

DSC01539

We left the ferry and found ourselves on the Circular Quay and next to the oldest section of Sydney called The Rocks. It was rocking!

DSC01564

Crowds of people everywhere, every variety of food to eat at a huge night market, bands in bars and even the street, jugglers, magicians, even the lady in the box whom we photographed the next day because it was too dark that night.

Sydney, Australia_2

She is about five feet tall and somehow manages to squeeze herself into the glass box you see atop its stand. In the photo she is just pulling her last leg into it.

Sydney is also blessed with an extensive public transportation system so that we could walk from The Rocks about four blocks to a station and board a beautiful new train that took us across the bridge and deposited us twenty-five minutes later a few feet from this sign we never figured out

DSC01573

and about a fifteen minute walk to where we were camping across a footbridge from a national park.

We were also blessed with three wonderful guides to the city who each gave us a day. Andrew and Matt met us downtown and proceeded to take us to the beaches which border the southern side of the city.

DSC01595

Bonnie has known Andrew since he was a baby in Iran and hadn’t seen him since he was ten but for one encounter in 1982.

Sydney’s most famous beach is Bondi Beach—long, wide and on the Saturday we were there covered with bathers.

Bondi Beach

Most beaches around Sydney include a salt water pool as well, and here is Bondi’s.

Bondi Beach Pool

Bondi connects with a series of other beaches as well and we followed a beautiful paved path along the sea that connects them.

The next day we were picked up at the campground and spent the day with Shavarsh, a friend of our close friends Jennifer and Clay in San Miguel.

DSC01636

He was wonderful! We think he took us to almost every beach and viewpoint in the whole northern part of the area. Here is a sampling, which if nothing else demonstrates how beautiful Sydney and its bay are.

The day was supposed to be over 100 degrees, and perhaps by design Shavarsh took us first to Dee Why Beach, still sheltered in early morning fog. In the foreground is the salt water pool with the beach beyond.

Dee Why Beach Pool

This is Balmoral Beach which has a wonderful tree covered esplanade.

Balmoral Beach

Knowing that we were old sailors, Shavarsh also took us to a number of overlooks with marinas below.

Sydney, Australia_5

Sydney, Australia_4

Australia also has an interesting system of ‘clubs.’ They are everywhere and seem to be focused on everything from war veterans to lawn. bowling to sailing. And if you live further than five kilometers from any particular club you are welcome as a guest and are entitled and encouraged to use their facilities, particularly their bar.

So late in the afternoon we found ourselves at the Flying Squadron Sailing Club enjoying a cold beer from the veranda and looking out at their marina as below us the racing committee finished up putting away the gear from the races which had been held that afternoon.

Sydney, Australia_7

We have since moved up the East Coast on our way toward Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef far to the north. But we will be back to Sydney before we leave Australia, not just to return the camper van we have rented and to catch our next flight, but to enjoy even more of the spectacle that is Sydney.