Sunday, April 22, 2012

Somewhere Over the Rainbow (Part 1)

Somewhere Over the Rainbow by 'Iz' Kamakawiwo'Ole

Taronga Zoo, NSW, Cities, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Taronga Zoo
The view of Sydney Harbour from Taronga Zoo
       That's the closest image of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge that could capture the memory of my last evening in that fabulous city Down Under. 
       I had just caught the ferry at Mosman Bay in the nick of time, waved my new found friend Hamidah McGrath goodbye, and held my tears as the barge slowly moved away from the wharf.
       It had rained earlier that evening in the middle of the tour of the North Shore area which Hamidah had planned for me. Prior to that, we were on the free tour bus which arrived on the dot at the stand around the corner from her hill side apartment.
Mosman 8.JPG
The conservation area shop fronts on Military Road, just around the corner from the bus station,_New_South_Wales
Contemporary home in Mosman  
Balmoral Beach
     The view up and down the posh harbour side suburb was splendid. We were on the bus for two complete rounds - the first for the magnificent view of the beaches on the right and the second to admire the breath-taking mansions perched precariously along the slopes on the left. In spite of the taciturn bus driver's chilly reception, we took in the sights with relish.   

A gun emplacement at Middle Head Fort
Another gun emplacement at Bradley's Head
      After the bus ride, Hamidah drove me around scenic side roads, stopping at a few popular destinations with stunning views of the harbour. It was then that it started to rain cats and dogs. By the time we dropped by her friend Mona's waterfront home, just a few houses away from the wharf at the end of the slope, the rain had petered out, forming tiny rivulets on our faces and surging streams on the sides of the street.   

216 Raglan Street, Mosman, NSW 2088
A view of Balmoral and Manly beaches from
a waterfront residence in Mosman Bay 

Waterfront properties next to Circular Quay

View of the Bridge from the ferry to Taronga Zoo

Hamidah McGrath with her adorable LeRoy

View of the Harbour from Hamidah's balcony 

View of the Bridge & Opera House through the rain drops
on the ferry's windows


      An Impulse Visit

       It was exactly two months ago when I landed in Sydney. It was a last minute decision, hence the late check-in and, as a consequence, my baggage was put on the next flight. I was told that it would arrive between early and late afternoon. I was given AUD100 and a zip lock bag filled with toiletries and a white t-shirt as consolation. 
       After purchasing a local phone card, I sat down at the coffee joint nearest to the exit and sent a text message to my local contact. Since it was Tuesday morning, I decided not to bother him. I told him that I've bought a ticket for the hop-on hop-off bus to kill time until my duffel bag arrives.     
       With a sling bag which was weighted down with a net book (yes, I've yet to acquire an iPad), a small cosmetic pouch and travel documents on one shoulder, and a shopping bag filled with sandals, sneakers, heels AND the squashed zip lock bag on the other hand, I took the train to King's Cross Station. 
King's Cross is known for its neon signs and billboards,
apart from its notoriety as Oz's red light district.
       I had to walk to and fro in my two inch boots, ankle length denim dress and matching 'hijab' to look for Highfield Hotel at Pott's Point. One look at the seedy accommodation which I had booked on line, I reasoned that it was best to confine 'boho chic' to fashion statement. The risque lingerie shops, strip clubs and "girlie" bars along neighbouring Darlinghurst Road confirmed my uneasiness about the area.
One of the stops of the hop-on hop-off bus
is opposite the El Alamein Fountain.
I did wonder if it get its name from a Mid Eastern patron.
       The first time I was in Sydney way back in 1996-97, I had received adequate funding as a paper presenter. I had just been inducted into the Oz communication conference circuit then. The AIMCR conference was at the Sydney Convention Centre and I chose a boutique hotel along the monorail route. Now that I'm a retired academic on a budget, I figured that a B&B or a youth hostel would suit me fine. Plus, the high exchange rate at the end of February had considerably weakened the ringgit's purchasing power. 
       Next: Free walking Tour, ferry to Manly

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