Friday, May 15, 2009

Harborside in Sydney

We went to Sydney at the height of the swine flu panic. I’d gotten the (regular) flu in Singapore, like everyone else, and though my raging fever had passed, I was still miserably clutching piles of Kleenex and mugs of hot tea. We called Qantas: surely with the flu scare, they’d allow us to cancel? But it seems that even with an international health crisis, nonrefundable tickets are nonrefundable tickets.

So we flew to Sydney, expecting that at any moment some nervous health official would take me off to quarantine, never to be seen again. But apparently I set off neither the infrared sensors in the airports nor the suspicions of the flight attendants (I did run them completely out of herbal tea), and we arrived without incident.

I have only hazy memories of our first day in Sydney, and I didn’t make it out into the streets until dinnertime. But I did sit up in bed and watch the day breaking over the harbor, with the iconic bridge and opera house slowly highlighted by the sun as it crossed the bracing blue sky.

After that I was well enough to do some exploring in the harborside neighborhoods, so we went out to immerse ourselves in life along the water. We wandered in the cobblestone laneways of The Rocks, once home to rowdy sailors’ taverns and now filled with quiet cafes. We took a ferry past marinas filled with huge white sailboats and gorgeous glass-walled lofts. We walked along the wharfs and ducked into the aquarium (where we greeted the dugongs). At the stunning maritime museum, we climbed aboard a replica of Captain Cook’s ship that still plies the same waters as Cook did in his original voyages.

One night we attended a magical performance of (appropriately enough) Debussy’s symphony The Sea at the opera house, which quietly glowed in the darkness. In the music we heard an echo of centuries of life on Sydney’s waterfronts: the longing for the sea, for exploration and adventure, the freedom of being out on the open ocean, and the satisfaction of returning to the safety of the harbor after a journey well sailed.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loved the photos!