Monday, 8 June 2015

Sydney, part III: I got 99 problems but a beach ain't one

Sydney, Australia
On our second day in Sydney, we wanted to visit the famous Bondi beach.
Even though it was winter, the sea was full of surfers looking to catch a wave. Instead of joining them, we took a leisurely stroll along the beach. 
I was surprised by how much rubbish was on the beach: at first I thought the white spheres were some sort of seashell or rock but they were bits of styrofoam that spanned the shoreline. There were also chip packets and other plastic items. While I'm sure there are much more polluted beaches, Bondi was a bit of a shock after being used to pristine New Zealand beaches. I guess the 100% Pure New Zealand ad campaign is showing the rest of the world how good we are at not littering. 
It looked like a storm was coming in so we decided not to do a coastal walk in the direction of Cogee as we had planned. However, after walking back along the beach to where the bus stop was, we noticed that the dark clouds had not advanced any closer. Tentatively we walked the coastal road, ready with our rain jackets in case of a downpour. 
Like the rest of Sydney, there were lots of rocks! Here's an odd looking one that three shags perched on to preen themselves. 
We didn't get all the way to Coogee - we stopped on a hill overlooking Bronte Bay and enjoyed the view for a while. It was here I realised that I need to buy some new pop socks, as mine are getting old and aren't the best for the amount of walking we're doing.
And we didn't get rained on! That storm cloud stayed right where it was. 
I'm impressed with Sydney's public transport. We took a train to Bondi Junction and a bus from there to the beach. With two opal cards that our hosts lent us (like Snapper cards in Wellington), tickets were not needed and it was easy to tag on and off. After Bondi we wanted to see Manly beach, so we caught another train to Circular Quay, and then a ferry which also uses opal cards. And as eight trips had already been used on the cards that week, all this was free! Not only that, but people actually do keep left on escalators and stairs! It makes the flow much more efficient. If only people would wait for passengers to disembark their train before trying to squeeze their way on, now that would be ideal.
While at Circular Quay, we stopped to watch Pe Pe as he worked on one of his large-scale and detailed paintings. He doesn't sell them, but takes donations and gives out postcard-sized sketches. 
The ferry ride to Manly was a little over half an hour, and provided great views of the harbour including the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. Instead of photographing this (as we already had photos of these iconic sights), we just sat back and enjoyed the ride from the balcony. 
Here is an artist's illustration of our view from the ferry (elevated for effect) courtesy of Pe Pe. 
Upon disembarking, we took a walk on the scenic route. There were many signs and notices on the footpaths to beware! Little Penguins are known to hang about in this area. We didn't see any unfortunately, but this artistic representation was an alright substitute. 
The sun was starting to set by the time we walked along the pedestrian street to Manly Beach. There were surfers here, but not nearly as many as Bondi.
It was nice to sit and watch the people and clouds go by. Still no little penguins to be seen!
Of course I had to take a picture of one of the many shops that are manly. Here we have some manly seaside kebabs. So manly! I find this way too amusing.
The Corso, with its tropical trees and lines of fountains. Pedestrian streets are my favourite kind of street, and this one wasn't bad. Not quite Cuba Mall level, but I'm liking Aus more and more each day.