||[Jan. 18th, 2009|06:54 pm]
Yuri's Prague buddy, Ann, whom he met when they both taught ESL in that city in 96/97, having escaped the bitter cold of Sarajevo, where she is currently teaching ESL, and having flown in to Sydney after a day's delay in Belgrade then a cancellation, then a connection in Singapore, is staying with us in Balmain. That's about all I can do in the 19th century style. From now on, fewer commas.
We took her out for brunch yesterday (Cafe Berlin) and dinner last night (Bistro Bruno). It was her birthday in one of the airports en-route, which is thoroughly miserable, so we celebrated last night instead. She saw Kath and Kim's first three episodes before we all crashed.
Today was a truly exhausting day of walking everywhere. We wanted to take in the Aquarium and either the Rocks or the Botanical Gardens. The decision on what to do first was made for us in the following way. First, I went into the newsagent down from Cafe Berlin to get a travel pass. Then into the cafe for a takeaway coffee. While it was being made, the bus came and went. So we decided to walk down to the Darling St wharf and catch the first ferry. If it went to Darling Harbour, it would be Aquarium first. If it went back to Circular Quay, it was the Rocks or the Botanical Gardens first.
It went to Circular Quay. We did the Rocks. The market was on with all its stalls full of knick knacks and Stuff Nobody Really Needs. Still, it's fun to look at it all, and we almost always end up with some random "necessity" like sculpted aussie animal pewter wine stoppers. We exited the market by way of the terrace above (Nurse's Walk? I forget.*) and looked for lunch, which I wanted to have in the Hero of Waterloo pub if possible. It was possible. We were three of about seven customers in the pub (it was only 11:30) as we drank a couple of beers and chowed down. Their food looked better.
Now we wanted to get to the Aquarium, and I thought I knew how to get there on foot. That turned out to be a longer walk than I had initially guessed. It's further from The Rocks than than from Circular Quay - considerably more interesting than walking along George St, too. We walked along at the top of a rock cut above Hickson Road, past housing commission terraces, past a backpacker taking a dump in a alcove where he thought he wouldn't be seen (only I saw him), down a long staircase down to water level on Hickson Road, past a taxi driver taking a piss against a tree (also hoping not to be noticed), past a huge cruise ship with tourists clumping close by, past the King St Wharf through a thickening crowd, finally (after a quick bathroom break) into the queue for the horribly crowded Sydney Aquarium. That was at least a few kilometers, and it wasn't over yet. Are your feet going out in sympathy? All three of us were sore, and we still had the dugongs to visit. Ann was a bit claustrophobic in the underwater tunnels, but the dugongs were irresistable. They were dropping these trays of lettuce or cabbage leaves, all standing up like sea grass, and the dugongs were grazing on them with mouths that seemed to work like belt sanders. A benign shark or two and some other fish shared the tank with them.
There were impossibly many small children and prams (too many of the extra wide SUV type) - we really shouldn't have gone until later. Even if you go during the week you might run into a school group, but these are fewer. Go during the week. But go.
Now we're back in the house. I saw the end of the one day cricket match. yuriverse and Ann are cooking us dinner of tuna steaks and salad.
* Gloucester Walk, according to Google Maps.