We had two days to explore Sydney before the Sydney Retreat. What a great city! To me, Sydney is a wonderful mix many of my favorite cities - New York City, Boston, Paris, London... I loved the old stately buildings mixed in with the shiny new ones. I loved the beautiful parks and churches, the buskers (street musicians), the outdoor cafes, the fancy shop displays, the pie and kebab shops on every corner, the kids in their school uniforms roving the city starting at about 3pm, plus the friendliness and helpfulness of every person we met. I loved hearing the accents and seeing shops and products that took me back to England where I used to live (Woolworths, Cadbury's, McVitties biscuits, muesli...)
April, Alia, Ashton and I stayed at a good hotel right in the center of it all and walked all over that beautiful city thanks to a great free walking tour (check out the I'm Free tours - one of the best tours ever and we used the free map like crazy as we did a lot of wandering on our own and visited most of the recommended free attractions- I love free stuff so much). We explored the Rocks (the oldest area of the city), Australia Square, Martin Place, Pitt Street Mall, Town Hall, the botanical gardens, the Art Museum of New South Wales, the currency museum, St Mary's and St Andrew's cathedrals, and Hyde Park plus we walked across the beautiful Harbor Bridge and explored the fabulous Sydney Opera House. We were busy - and happy - so happy.
In that collage above, you'll see the word "Eternity." Here's the story. In the early 1900's, the word "Eternity" started appearing all over the city of Sydney - written in chalk on sidewalks, buildings, you name it, always in the same handwriting. They'd clean off the writing and then the next morning, it would be everywhere again. Officials finally found out who'd been doing all this writing. An illiterate alcoholic petty criminal became interested in religion. He was sitting in a church service when the minister started talking about the concept of eternity. This man was taken with the beauty of the word and the concepts it represented and when the minister suggested the word should be written on the hearts and minds of every person, this convict took it upon himself to write "Eternity" all over the place. The word became very important to the resident of Sydney and is now found here and there in the city plus it's been emblazoned on the Harbor Bridge during their big harbor fireworks display for New Years and was featured in the 2000 Olympics opening ceremonies in Sydney. I love the concept of eternity and the idea that one person, no matter how humble and broken, can really make a difference.
Here's an overview in photos:
|taking the train into the city from the airport|
|at the old Mint with Alia (April's daughter) and Ashton|
|"The Strand" - the oldest mall in Sydney|
|The "golden bucket" tower - landmark you can see from almost everywhere|
|Pitt Street Mall|
|The Harbor Bridge|
|The Opera House - SO exciting to come around a corner and see it in person!|
|view of the city|
|Ashton's favorite food in Australia were the meat pies. With a "Pie Face" shop on every corner in Sydney, he was in heaven!|
|Here's Alia with a girl in her school uniform. They wear full-on school uniforms - matching hats, dresses, socks, shoes, everything. Made Ashton complain less about his school uniforms!|
Here I am blogging (or trying to blog - bad internet connection) on the rooftop of our hotel while Alia and Ashton had a nice little swim.
This picture in the Art Gallery of New South Wales totally reminded me of the gorgeous Gold Coast beaches were we'd just been. So beautifully painted.
|Ashton presenting the Sydney Opera house as we headed up to walk the bridge|
|walking across the harbor bridge just before sunset - amazing views, perfect weather, great times|
After our walk across the bridge, Ashton and I sat down on a bench to watch the opera house light up on one side of the harbor while the sun set behind the bridge on the other side of the harbor. We enjoyed some great take-out Thai food and Ashton turned on a perfect song on my phone - "Good Life" by OneRepublic. It was so beautiful - a crystal moment. As we sat there smiling and tried to get I said I wished Jared could be there with us and Ashton sighed and said, "I'm going to bring a girl here some day and do this same thing. Maybe I'll even propose here." Clearly the magic had sunk in.
We tried to get some decent photos (none of mine worked out so the one above is one from Wikipedia that looks just how it looked as we sat there together) but I really can't capture the feeling of being with my wonderful boy in such a wonderful place after days of enjoying so many exciting adventures together and building memories that will last forever.