Christmas trees are everywhere, decorations adorn the streets and the presents are wrapped but however hard we try it’s just all wrong. With temperatures in the 30’s, light summer evenings and no turkey to cook, our brains can’t except it’s Christmas.
Unseasonal as it may feel, Sydney remains in every other way a wonderful city. As we have explored the sights and wandered the local area we have been struck again, despite the crowds, how clean and well laid out everywhere is. The modern shiny glass towers sit comfortably amongst the few remaining grand red brick Victorian buildings. One moment you are in a busy tourist spot, the next in a quiet square surrounded by tall trees and traditional houses. Small islands of green sneak in wherever possible and the harbour shoreline is omnipresent.
As I think I have mentioned before we are not very good tourists, we tend to avoid the crowds but we couldn’t be in Sydney without a visit to the Opera House. Built over 14 yrs and opening in 1973 it’s sculptural elegance is as good close up as it is from afar. We were glad to see that the powers that be haven’t been tempted to overwhelm it with tacky restaurants and shops, the empty space around it acting to set it off to full effect.
The Opera House from the land.
Darling Harbour on the other hand has been completely built up since our last visit, every square inch given over in the pursuit of tourist dollars. We have eaten in the crowded restaurants here twice now and unfortunately both times the food has been average, the service poor and the bill exorbitant.
Also full to bursting was the shopping district around George Street, harassed but mostly smiling Christmas shoppers rushing to buy last minute gifts. In the middle of this mayhem we were struck by how easily people of all nationalities mingle together here, an amicable acceptance of each other rarely seen in other large cities. At the entrance to Darling Harbour near the wharf where for hundreds of years, thousands of ships arrived with peoples from across the World, is a celebration of their diversity, the Welcome Wall. Nearly 30,000 names, picked out in bronze, are listed so far and anyone who themselves or who’s ancestors immigrated here can apply to have their names added and a short history of their lives stored in the archives.
While Rick joined the throng to finish his Christmas shopping, I went to see the Cathedral. It’s 100 yr old architecture is surrounded by modern high rises and it’s Christmas tree, bathed in warm sunshine, is surrounded by summer flowers. Happy Down Under Christmas everybody.
Sydney Cathedral with its modern backdrop and it’s Christmas tree surrounded by summer flowers.