Tuesday, January 13, 2009

January 13, 2009, Sydney Region, Australia

“We’re not hobbits. It’s nice to get out of the shire.”

Australia’s awesome. Maybe it’s just the contrast with gnarly New Zealand, but everything seems vibrant, big, brash, ambitious. Sydney’s a beautiful city with a lovely harbor, excellent beaches, an extensive, coordinated public transportation system with bus, trains, light rail, ferries, and monorail and millions of young people (every exchange student in the world?).

We missed New Year’s Eve but we got opening night of the Sydney Festival. Not only were there fireworks, but the downtown streets and parks were transformed into a free performing arts festival with an estimated quarter of a million people in the streets, listening to live music and learning “The Sydney”, a specially commissioned dance via huge video screens.

After five days in Sydney we picked up a campervan (small motor home) and headed out to the Blue Mountains, big eucalyptus forests covering long ridges, vast limestone caves and deep, deep canyons. We’ve reached the Hunter Valley, a big wine region. There are 90 wineries here. Impressive estates, they must be competing for architecture and landscape design prizes along with Wine Spectator ratings.


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