Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Harbour lights

I've reached Sydney, and spent yesterday being the cheesiest kind of tourist there is - great fun. I'm staying with my friend Keir somewhere to the north-west of the city, in the most idyllic apartment. He's right on the water (really - you can see the ferry stop three floors below), and I have spent much time soaking up the sun on his balcony, watching coxless fours being bullied across the water by men with megaphones and powerboats, and generally being cosseted with home comforts and bulging fridges. All in all I feel a bit like a baby seal, waiting on the beach while more grown-up and responsible seals head out to sea to forage for food, losing their bodyweight and leisure time in the process. Puritanism is battling hard with hedonism, and hedonism is winning.

The most energetic I've been so far was when I packed up my camera and a guidebook and headed over to the city on the ferry (great public transport!). I spent the day pottering around the Rocks (where the colony began), along the waterfront under the bridge, and down to the Opera House, where I hung out on the steps for a bit, soaking up the iconic scenery. Then it was down to the Botanic Gardens, Hyde Park, and through the business district, before heading back to the opera house for an evening of avant-garde ballet. Thank God I'd put on a dress - everyone was dressed to the nines in honour of the venue, which was as smart as the clothing.

The ballet itself was pretty great, too - it was a trio of pieces, the first one a response to dance in 16th/17th century Spain, with beautiful costumes and haunting music; the second was a comic piece with all the traditional Royal Ballet moves and scenery (my favourite); the third piece was frankly puzzling. It was by Wayne MacGregor, the top billed choreographer there, and was the kind of piece where everyone dances in white undies to discordant music and represents polar exploration. I admired the technique and athleticism, but the dance itself left me cold. Am I simplistic to prefer narrative and melody? On second thoughts, don't answer that.

Sadly the journey home brought me back to earth with a bump - first, my travelcard got swallowed by the ticket machine, and I've been waiting in all today for it to be returned to me (it's a weekly pass, and too expensive to let go); and second we were treated to more performance art from a former squaddie who'd wet himself, who bellowed "Waltzing Matilda" all the way from Darling Harbour to Chiswick. I was feeling sorry for him, too, until he weighed in about "the Muslims", at which point I just wanted him to get off. I felt right at home - just like being on the 149 through Dalston!

Now I've got my travelcard back Sydney is my lobster; tomorrow I think I'll head on out to Manly, or the Bondi clifftop walk if it's not too hot. More soon, folks...

1 comment:

  1. I soooooo envy you. I just loved Sydney - it is the water that dominates. Hope you are doing a round the harbour ferry trip - I thought really worth it - going right out to The Heads. And keep the blog coming - I now check all the time to see if there is something new!