Sydney – as ever – lived up to all expectations. We woke to watch us turn in front of the Harbour Bridge and reverse into our berth at Circular Quay. We Face Timed with our younger grandson at 7 am our time (8pm yesterday in London) before skipping a ship’s breakfast in favour of one in The Rocks where we sat for about 45 minutes watching the market set up. The market was excellent. It’s very upmarket and full of nice things and between the stalls and a couple of the roadside galleries there’s some good and remarkably affordable art.
We bought a cot mobile for our, as yet, unborn, granddaughter and Jan bought some perfume. We dropped the shopping back at the ship where we had a coffee looking over the Opera House before setting out for a walk around the Opera House and into the park and to the National Gallery of New South Wales which was excellent and – on this by now very hot day – air conditioned. We had a cold beer in the pleasant bar overlooking the dockyards and spent about an hour looking at the European and Australian art from the 19th and early 20th Century. For the second time in a few months (because work brought me here a couple of months ago and I met up with Christine, an artist friend, who showed me it) I saw what is frequently reported as being Australia’s favourite painting. It’s certainly one of mine and Jan loved it too:
We then walked across town to Darling Harbour and got the ferry back to Circular Quay, primarily to be able to photograph the QM2 under the Bridge. Back at Circular Quay we successfully hunted for a bottle shop and bought more wine for dinner (despite the $US20 corkage charge, we save about $10 – $US15 a night bringing our own wine. So today, for example, we got bottles of an Australian Sauvignon Blanc for about the equivalent of $US12 each and the wine is equivalent quality to those on the Cunard Wine list at about $US48 including the 15% service charge). We also bought some wine for David, one of our table companions, who has reserved the Captain’s Table (for 12) for his birthday party on March 1. He doesn’t drink very much and asked me if I’d choose some affordable wine. We – and Nick and Geraldine – our other dinner companions, will pay for it as a birthday present for David.
Before dinner, Jan and I went to listen to the Sydney Youth Orchestra who played a selection of famous pieces. They were very young but very talented and their final piece – fulfilling a caricature perhaps – was a surprisingly beautiful arrangement of Waltzing Matilda. And then, after dinner, we watched as we slipped away from Sydney on a beautiful still and warm night. We’re so pleased that after our journey around New Zealand we shall be back here soon.