We Come to the Land Down Under (but do not, under any circumstances, eat a Vegemite sandwich)

Being pretty much done with snow and rain, we were glad to see that upon our arrival in Sydney the sun had at last made an appearance. Such luck that we happened to be staying in Bondi Beach which is about a 15 minute drive from downtown Sydney. The area had a nice beach-town vibe to it and the beach itself was well tended with shimmering white sand and water that reflected a vast array of greens and blues. We discovered that there was a lovely walk that takes you across the sandstone cliffs over to the next two beaches. This was where on our third day in Sydney, having nothing in particular to do, we bought a loaf of bread, some brie, and salami, and had a little picnic and read for most of the day. Such a difficult life! We were interrupted a couple of times, once by a group of rowdy Asian teenagers who were singing and dancing while one of them played a zither (seriously – a zither!). The other time was when we simply had to stop to watch what I assume was a little girl’s birthday party, though it was a pretty sad party since it was just her, what appeared to be her sister, her parents, and a woman dressed in a long, pink princess dress and fairy wings playing a guitar and singing. Fantastic.

We went into the city on two occasions and found it to be most enjoyable. Sydney seems to be a very clean city, at least what we saw of it. It has a wonderful park called The Domain which holds the art gallery, the botanical gardens, and the opera house. We visited the art gallery first. The first floor was fairly typical – paintings from the 18th and 19th century. Altogether not a bad little collection. In the middle of one of the rooms a woman was giving an art lesson on drawing faces to a group of about 25 adolescent boys. She kept instructing them not to look at each others’ papers. Right. I personally did look at everyone’s papers as I walked by and although I’m no art critic, I can say without hesitation that all of them sucked. That lady had her work cut out for her. We had to leave the gallery after that floor because as we descended into the depths, we found that all of the rest of the exhibits were postmodern, and not only does postmodern art make me want to retch, it also pisses me of. Here’s an example. There are several doors standing on a platform. In the middle of them is a rotating metal arm that is pointed on one end. Each door has a cutout in it so that the metal arm swings through it unmolested as it goes around in a circle. The plaque on the wall talked about the artist’s penchant for “exploring metaphors of myth and psychology.” The particular piece we were seeing was “full of pain and eroticism.” I did not not detect any irony in this plaque, which made me sad and angry. While we stormed out of the gallery, we noticed that the gallery’s walls weren’t just being repainted as we had thought previously, they were being constantly painted and repainted in white and black as an exhibition. Puh…lease.

The botanical garden was incredibly impressive. Not only was it massive, but they had different areas all over the park that included plants from just about everywhere. One of the highlights was looking up in the trees and suddenly seeing hundreds of bats (Flying Foxes) flying in and perching in the branches. I freaking love bats, so I could have stood there all day watching them, but – the herb garden was calling.

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