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Steph, cousin and hostess extraordinaire, has been showing us bits and pieces of this glorious city that we might not have spent time in on our own. As much as I love exploring places on my own, it is always possible to miss the gem in front of my face because as a first time visitor, I lack context. Steph and Scott, the cousins we are meeting through them, and my friend Marianne, have provided so much rich context for which I am so thankful. Yesterday, Scott and I talked a bit about how we connected- his meeting David’s folks when he was a high school exchange student, David getting in touch with him as his interest in family grew just before his death, Cheshire meeting Scott when he was traveling in NYC, our meeting at Rita’s wedding, and the larger faceboook family group.  Serendipity played no small part, small pieces of a moving puzzle that needed some magic to connect. And then, here we are!

Friday morning, Steph took us to Centennial Park. A city park a few kilometers from the city center.  Reminding me of Central and Prospect Parks, it is well used and quite beautiful.  Julia, who was at first fearful of all the birds, enjoyed the duck pond with many more varieties of fowl than the name suggests.

From Wikipedia: The Centennial Park, with 470 acres, is the largest of the three parks that make up the Centennial Parklands. Centennial Park comprises 2.2 square kilometres (0.85 sq mi) of open space and lightly wooded grounds located within the City of Randwick. It was originally swamp land, known as Lachlan Swamps. Centennial Park is one of Australia’s most famous parks and  and is a grand park in the Victorian style featuring formal gardens, ponds, grand avenues, statues, historic buildings and sporting fields.

 

At times, it seemed that at every turn there was a lovely water view of the city.  If there are other cities on waterways with harbors and beaches like Sydney, I do not know them.  I love the possibility of water and views along so much waterway.

 

During walks and drives, I enjoyed seeing the home buildings of Sydney.  My favorites were the older, small cottages and the city row houses.  From all reports, Sydney is a very expensive city to live in.  Houses have porches and deep overhanging roofs, and so many have a view or a glimpse of water.

 

24 hours at Sydney Opera House.  The “short” tour of the Sydney Opera House in the late afternoon was 90 minutes and just right for us.  A little history, architect, engineering and personalities made for good stories. We toured three of the venues including the concert hall and opera house and satisfied this theater geek.  I did wish there was something in the concert hall for us to hear.  The entire space is made of wood—floor, walls, ceiling and even the bones of the chairs— for acoustical clarity and purity. 

After the tour, we had a quick dinner in the half outside, half inside cafe on the side and under the performance spaces.  I was reminded of the caves at the base of Uluru. Those caves were for teaching and ritual, we were only eating, but I imagined our nachos and my beer as the ritual before holy performance.

We snagged two of the last tickets to a dancers concert by Bangarra Dance Theater. An impressive performance which kept Julia mesmerized on Friday evening. Then we were back on Saturday morning to see a kids musical by Wild Creatures.

 

The sun set during our tour, offering brilliant views.

 

More views and dinner fore the evening performance.

 

Saturday afternoon was spent in the Australian Museum.  It is an old museum and gave Julia the chance to indulge in some dinosaur love.  I enjoyed some of the old layout of rooms and the display cases of some of their oldest treasures.  We both enjoyed the short films about Aussie animals, particularly one about the Crown of Thorns Starfish which is particularly invasive and threatening to the health of the great coral reef.  We saw one in the Acquarium on our very first Sydney excursion.  So often on this journey, we see and learn about things in great circles, experiencing, learning and then later deepening both.  So many times, I try to set Julia’s experiences like this, but in Australia the circles seeem to just happen without my maneuvering them.