Around the Dot

Sunday, July 1

Winter walk in the Rocks
Around the Dot by Guillaume
on 1.7.07

By a chilly Sunday afternoon, we went for a walk in the Rocks. The observatory is a nice point to observe indeed: the harbour, the bridge...

And the Rocks is always a lively place.

The Rocks in SydneyThe Rocks in SydneyThe Rocks in SydneyThe Rocks in Sydney

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Sunday, May 27

Rose Bay by the Sea
Around the Dot by Guillaume
on 27.5.07

Another perfect week-end weather - even just on that count, Sydney is an amazing place.

So for a change, we decided to ride the ferry. This time, to Rose Bay, one of the 2 main bays on the southern shore of the harbour between Sydney and the open sea (the other being Watson Bay where we shortly dropped by afterwards).

After a short ride amongst the many sailboats, the ferry entered Rose bay which with houses anchored to the shoreline and its marinas looks like a little h(e)aven.

We decided not to do much - we wanted to take it easy and there is not much to do anyway. Having said that, you can rent a kayak, sail with the sailing club and take a bath....that is, if you don't mind shallow brownish waters. We didn't try it and opted instead for a pad thai picnic on the tiny beach. There is a very decent Thai restaurant and take-away on what I'd called the main street, self-proclaimed so-called "The Best Thai".

Of course I brought back my fair share of picture as I found the "Bretagne in the summer" feel quite inspiring - anyone who has visited the north of Britany around Dinan and St-Malo should be able to see what I mean.

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Sunday, May 6

On the Parramatta River
Around the Dot by Guillaume
on 6.5.07

Sydney has to be discovered on the water and we took another direction this time, heading west on the river. We went as far as Parramatta, discovering the various aspects of the harbour, the gorgeous little coves filled with boats and the shores and islands covered by so many adorable houses. After the Olympic Park, the river starts to really get narrower, an impression made even more accute by the mangrove that develops on both sides.

Parramatta is based on an aborigenal phrase meaning "where the eels lie" but I'm not too sure if this stands true anymore because the arrival at Parramatta is a bit depressing: in the town, the river runs only in a cemented 2-meter wide bank flanked by a promenade along the local supermarket. The town itself is uninteresting apart from a few early-20th-century building (similar to other towns in the greater Sydney area). So we just stopped for a bite before heading back to Sydney - enjoying nice views of the river by night.

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Saturday, May 5

The Quay, the Opera & the Bridge
Around the Dot by Guillaume
on 5.5.07

Taking the ferry between Darling Harbour and Circular Quay is always a good reason to enjoy the architectural beauties of Sydney - its curves, its angles... and I often end up taking a few pictures! (too many, in fact)

And Raquel took that funny shot. Did you know Sydney had its own Statue of Liberty, right in the middle of the harbour? ;)

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Monday, April 9

Another Ferry Trip to Manly
Around the Dot by Guillaume
on 9.4.07

Raquel's parents are in town and this called for another scenic trip to Manly. With the beautiful weather and the sun setting down, I managed to take some gorgeous shots of the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the city skyline. Here you go!

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Sunday, April 8

A Walk in Sydney
Around the Dot by Guillaume
on 8.4.07

Last Sunday, I left our place in Chinatown for a nice walk along the water from nearby Darling Harbour to the Harbour Bridge and Circular Quay.

On the way I made a few stops to take pictures and play some guitar - with the magnificient silouhette of the Harbour Bridge in the background. The weather was so great, and quite representative of the blue skyes we often have had up to now.

Just for you, I put my itinerary on a Google Map with links to the picture so you can take a virtual tour in the city... before you can actually walk the walk yourself! As you'll see, there is a bit of everything - from a seagull to the ocean liner! Peppered by a monorail, high-rise buildings and wharfs.

As a sage would say: Enjoy the promenade!

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Sunday, March 18

Raining? Let’s go surfing!
Around the Dot by Guillaume
on 18.3.07

If you’re in Sydney and it’s a rainy day, don’t think twice. Book a surf lesson. No better and more fun way to spend the day – you’ll be wet anyway.

Actually, I had not planned this when I booked my surf lesson (online via which I highly recommend by the way). And I had no idea that the bright blue sky and the sun would soon be eclipsed by a heavy rain for the rest of the afternoon when we arrived at Bondi Beach for my surf lesson at 1.30pm this Saturday.

Anyway, it was awesome (dude!) and I had a great time – when poor Raquel, who had joined to watch and work on her suntan, had to find shelter in the arcades nearby and comfort in a guava smoothie.

Raquel and I had already surfed a bit in Hawaii 2 years ago and, thanks to the help of the great Leo from North Bondi surf school “Let’s Go Surfing”, I managed to stand on my board in a few waves. A couple more lessons and some regular practice and I’m confident I’ll reach my goal of knowing how to really surf by the time we go back to the northern hemisphere!

Afterwards, we headed for a nice warm lunch at the Hog’s Breath Café where they accept wet tourists and American Express cards ;)

So, a bit more about the surf lesson… The wetsuit and the sunscreen are provided. And after a few stretching exercises and a “drag your board 500 meters” warm-up, you’re quickly introduced to the key techniques to paddle, catch a wave and stand on the board. You also get an explanation on how waves and rips work and you learn to observe the water to know where to go. After spending enough time in the water to catch a few waves, you’re back to the beach for a few more details, notably on the surf etiquette (who’s getting which wave, where to circulate and take wave). The breaks are actually well deserved as standing in the water fighting the currents and paddling is excruciating.

Most importantly, you end up catching waves on your own and having a lot of fun.

And by a rainy day, there is a relaxing bonus: walking back with your board, you get a foot massage thanks to the sand on the shoreline being softly moulded by the raindrops.

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Sunday, March 11

Another Day In Maroubra
Around the Dot by Guillaume
on 11.3.07

Reading on Maroubra BeachWe discovered Maroubra last week-end and decided to go back this Sunday. This is arguably our favourite beach so far. Even if it is a tad further than the other eastern beaches it is definitely worthwhile because it is the most quiet (the street is far from the promenade and the strand is wide and large). There are less (no!) shop and animation but if that’s what you’re looking for, just head to Bondi. :)

The waves during the summer are powerful but not too dangerous so you’re sure to have fun in the water (2 lifeguards areas make this real safe). It looked like the swell was actually great for surf beginners. It made me crave for my first lessons which I’m gonna book this week. I wonder whether I could find some after work sessions around 6pm just before dusk.

Anyway Maroubra is great and I’m sure we’ll see more of it as Raquel is going to start giving English classes at the French High School located there very soon. Damn, French people know how to spot a great spot! Location, location, location!

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Saturday, March 10

Koala Park
Around the Dot by Raquel
on 10.3.07

It took us more than an hour to get to the Koala Park near Pennant Hill, but it was totally worth the long journey!

We arrived just in time to watch the koalas being fed (think lots of eucalyptus leaves) and were given the opportunity to pet them too. Funnily, the koala on duty that day was named Froggy! And while munching on some leaves… she didn’t seem to bother that much!

It was a really strange thing to pet (and actually see for the first time) such an exotic animal and you can’t help but think these are truly teddy bears.

Well, Koala Park isn’t just about koalas. There are plenty of other typical Australian animals as well. A lot of kangaroos in particular, some of which you can feed and pet too – of course, they’re really more cuddly if you give them some special kangaroo snacks first!

We had fun watching the little penguins too, getting fed fish almost as big as them that they swallow in one bite. And we make friends with a very sympathetic parrot who kept saying hello and asking how we were doing for a while.
Koala Park is rather small and there were very few people during our visit, which made it all the more enjoyable. Besides, I don’t know that many “zoos” where you can play and pet with the animals. So, I highly recommend it if you’re around Sydney!

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Wednesday, February 21

Big Ships: Queen Elizabeth & Mary 2 Meet In Sydney Harbour
Around the Dot by Guillaume
on 21.2.07

Reading on Maroubra BeachIt was all on the news this last couple of days and Peter, our “cicerone” in Sydney (we both shared a flat for 3 months at UCLA), invited us to join him and his girlfriend to the harbour tonight.

So we decided to see what the fuss was all about and we walked through the botanic garden to observe the Queen Mary 2 from far. We arrived just in time to hear it blow its horn 3 times to salute its “sister” (btw, it’s hard to call a boat a “she” and not an “it”). The Queen Elizabeth 2 cruising to Circular Quay responded with 3 blows as it crossed the pier of Garden Island.

We then followed the incredible flow of people going to CQ, crossing on our way the not less incredible flow of people going in the other direction.

I managed to take a few picture of the Queen Elizabeth 2 as it passed the Opera House and we arrived on the quay to see it moor at the pier. Even though it is a smaller ship than the QM2, it still looked impressive with the terminal and the Harbour Bridge as background.

From there we decided to take a higher vantage point and we found a great secret spot (the street above the train station bridge). This was perfect to catch the fireworks.

A final detour by the terminal to catch a glimpse from close and we headed down to Chinatown to end the evening in front of a noodle bowl.

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Monday, February 12

Ferry To Manly
Around the Dot by Guillaume
on 12.2.07

The legend, as told by our Lonely Planet guide, is that Manly was named so by its European discoverers because of the attributes (that’s my interpretation) of the locals they found there. Well, I don’t know if this is still true – although a pick from the promenade at nudist Lady Bay opposite the bay might give you an indication.

Today, Manly is a great place with shops and life around Le Corso – as well as the two beaches that this street connects: south west at the ferry pier is a small quiet harbour beach and east is the main reason to come here: a wide beach with impressive waves and nice promenade – very typical, I’d say, of Sydney. We didn’t take a swim this time because the weather was so-so but we’ll be back.
More than the beach, what I liked was taking the ferry to go there. It was really nice to finally be on the water as Sydney is an invitation to the sea. Embarking at Circular Quay, the ferry takes you through the bay, offering amazing views of the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the city. The ride is really smooth until you reach the ocean swell but even then it is just enough to provide kids (and grown-ups) with good fun. The way back gave us another perspective with a different lighting. I couldn’t help to take picture after picture.

Manly is definitely a must do for the Sydney visitor. It’ll take you half a day and you don’t need a car. You’ll be on water with great view of the city and highlight. What more to ask?

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