June 17, 2006
I have been in Sydney, Australia now for about 2 weeks, though this was the first weekend I could see anything. A colleague asked me a week ago what I thought of the city. At that point I had only seen my mediocre hotel (Sheraton Four Points at Darling Harbor), our offices in Rosebery, and a customer’s office in North Ryde. Based on that I felt it wasn’t a very livable city…meaning not somewhere I would really want to stay for a long time. Also the first week I was here it was absolutely miserable: raining, windy, ugly. Yesterday was my first chance to see a bit more of the area. Wow!!!
Started off with a walk to The Rocks where life in Sydney began. There is a great little market there and being one of the oldest parts of town, plenty of little alleyways with interesting shops. I expected to stick around that area for an hour, but my entire morning disappeared. Also from the Rocks, you get the classic view of the magnificent Sydney Opera House.
Next I would get a closer view of the Sydney icon when I took the city ferry to Manly, to the northeast. Sydney reminds me a lot of a mixture of Seattle and San Francisco. The ferry ride around the harbor provides many of the same views you get from Seattle to Bainbridge or Bremerton. Unlike last weekend, the weather now is wonderful. About 60 farenheit (I still think that way), blue skies, clear. Unfortunately because it doesn’t rain that often here, much of the grass is a bit brown and and the trees aren’t a vibrant green. If this place got a bit more rain each day like it does in Seattle, it could be perfect.
Manly is a great little seaside town with a surfer’s beach. It actually has two coasts, about 3 or 4 blocks from each other. On the southwest is Sydney Harbor and the ferries; on the east is Manly Beach. I wandered over to the seaside just to watch the surfers do their thing. The waters in front of the Corso at Manly is obviously a beach break. The combination of the huge numbers of beginners on their long soft boards and the amount of sand filling each wave makes that apparent. Seeing lots of 10 second attempts to stay on a board reminded me of my own experiences in western Costa Rica.
But if you walk down the path that hugs the beach, you hit another area where the more able surfers hang out. Its actually a bit of a climb over the bluff to see some amazing action. There the waves come in and keep hitting different sets of reefs and rocks, recreating the wave several times. And with each break, another bank of surfers hang out. So from a single vantage point, you can watch one group after another take there chances while trying to avoid the sharp rocks on the edge. And interestingly, each group adopts a different style. The first was more about speed. The waves start out very fast with not a lot of curl to ride up on. Then they die off and are reborn as a nice classic wave, a place to try out the tricks, riding up and down. As you go further round the bend others take advantage of their particular aspects of the wave. Usually when I have watched surfers in different spots, there is a single break and a single style. If there are different breaks like in Santa Cruz, CA, they aren’t usually as connected as they are here at Manly.
In addition to watching the surfers, I got a fantastic view of the sunset.