The Rocks

I didn't have much planned for Friday and I was catching up on Facebook when the housekeeping team arrived to clean the room.  I was really excited because the lady in charge was the one that vacuumed and the carpet actually looked quite clean when she was done.  They really were doing a bang-up job and the apartment was starting to smell all clean and wonderful.... Then, they swiped both the bathroom and kitchen floors with a mop and left.   I'm not sure what chemical they use to clean floors around here; but it basically smells like a giant squirt bottle of urine...  It was so bad that I had to get out of the apartment immediately!  I threw open both windows, grabbed my purse and left.

I decided to go past Circular Quay and see what "The Rocks" area was all about.  I headed down past the Museum of Contemporary Art and promptly got distracted by the Opera House....  It's funny, before I moved here I used to think that the sky was photo shopped in all the pictures I saw.  It always looked so incredibly blue and luminous and fake in a way.  It's not....  The sky really looks like a painting all the time (well, at least when the sun is out).  I think that's the key - when the sun comes out it lights this country up in a way that I have never seen before!

I realized that I had somehow stumbled onto a path that wandered right around the edge of the harbour so I followed it to a little park with palm trees and a great view of the bridge.

I followed the path and it led right under the bridge.  I have to admit, I was slightly underwhelmed by the bridge when I first saw it.  It's really not all that huge and I wasn't expecting it to look so small up against the city.  Well, it's definitely not small when you actually walk underneath it!  It is massive; and the iron work on it so incredibly beautiful!

The path ended after the bridge so I turned around and happened upon some stairs that led up to a little green space. It wasn't very pretty due to some construction that was happening on the bridge; but it was very interesting.  It was the sight of the officer's quarters and a lookout that were built at the very beginning of it all.  There were some of the original foundations left and there were several large plaques explaining the history and showing the original floor plans of the buildings. It's funny, it seems like such an important piece of history and there weren't really any signs or much really that was done to promote the place.  I was the only person there and I stayed for about 15 minutes - reading the signs and trying to imagine what the view must have been that long ago. The city was crawling with tourists and there was not a single other one there.  I took a photo of the view....

Seeing that little area really got me into a reflective state of mind.  I exited down to a different street that was just chock full of history.  Such an interesting dichotomy - the bridge to my left, modern and full of metal; and buildings to my right, so old and full of history and stone.

Up to this point I had been going at a pretty good clip as I was in need of some things.  I believe that sometimes the best way to explore is to leave your room hungry, thirsty and needing to use the toilet (which sounds rude to say; but is what they say here so...).  I think it puts you out of your comfort zone and will make you take turns that you may not have if you weren't so thirsty!

I walked for a bit and found George St. which seems to be the main drag through The Rocks (also the main drag further south through downtown - where Joe and I go to grocery shop etc..) and did something super touristy. I bought a handful of postcards - mostly just for nieces and nephews; but if you want a postcard from Sydney just let me know.

The Rocks is gorgeous; but I quickly found that you have to get off the main streets and start exploring all the little corridors and alleys.  My search for food, drink and facilities was getting a bit urgent so I started scoping for a good place to stop.  I have a difficult time choosing restaurants here - the staff have to seem welcoming and the people eating there need to seem middle of the road... neither weird and trashy or too uppity.  So, I passed up place after place not liking how touristy, dirty, highbrow or crowded they seemed.  I did stop in one place - it was an old old pub full of dark wood and old men sitting around drinking Guinness.  There was a sign in the door advertising a rooftop terrace bar with great views so I followed the arrows up these steps only to encounter 2 surly waitstaff who slammed a metal gate in my face.  They pointed at a door on the landing with a very very tiny "Under Construction" sign as the only way of warning visitors to turn back.  Nice....

Back on the street I ducked through a stone archway which led to a fabulous alley, a sandwich, some Portuguese beer (recommended by the flirty yet indecipherable Portuguese bartender) and the urge to pull out my notebook and start writing.  The alley was called the "Nurses Walk" and it led out into other little paths between buildings.  After eating, drinking and generally sorting myself out I headed back for the apartment. 

It's funny being here....  I forget so many times and in so many ways that I am actually living in this beautiful city.  I was walking out of The Rocks, coming out of alleys and shadows only to look up and see the very beginning of the bridge.  In a moment, I had left the old-timey, convict-history place in my head and I was suddenly thinking about progress and the building of this metal monster - of machines, cars  and a city coming alive to new inventions.  I slowly meandered back towards the Quay with my mind full of heavy historical thoughts and suddenly the Opera House and the glistening harbour slid into view from behind a building.  Incredible.  Breathtaking... Making me forget everything except just how beautiful this really is...

How lucky am I?

Although, the apartment still smelled awful when I got back and I had to rewash the floors - so I guess that evened everything out some..... : )
5 Responses
  1. Anonymous Says:

    Oh, I am so happy you wrote that about the blue sky. I've told people online that I felt the sky in Australia in photos I've seen is just soooooo blue and much prettier than what I see here...but part of me thought I was just going nuts and/or seeing it as being better just because I'm tiring on Boston...kind of like, the sky is bluer on the other side?? haha. Anyway, I'm happy to know I'm not the only one who saw the difference and that it is like that in real life. P.S. I purchased "In a Sunburned Country" and I am SO glad I did. I'm loving it!

  2. Sarah Stewart Says:

    How very lovely Mimi! Beautiful photo's and I so remember the sky and it's nice to here you talk of it. Andy and I climbed the bridge in 2005. It was really good, not too high and really not that steep, definitely worth considering. :) S

  3. Mimi and Joe Says:

    @ Phoebe - it is incredibly beautiful! I am so glad you are enjoying the book! How much longer till you leave? Just a couple months right?

    @ Sarah - I think I will end up doing the bridge climb with someone visiting or something... Joe isn't much for heights so I'll have to go with someone else :)

  4. Just Another Day in Sydney Says:

    Hi Mimi
    Glad you are enjoying Sydney - I am really enjoying reading about it through your eyes - makes me look at things afresh. Good news on the unit front - once you are settled in Neutral Bay let me know if you fancy a coffee.

  5. Mimi and Joe Says:

    @ Catriona - I would love to meet up and get a coffee with you! I'll definately post once we are settled and things have calmed downa bit - Thanks for the invite!

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