Tuesday, September 17

Spent the day in downtown Sydney, shopping and walking. I wandered through the flashy Darling Harbour area–lots of shops, restaurants, hotels, and things to do. I mostly just admired the bright openness of the place, but did stop at a shop that sells Akubras (makers of the hat I’m wearing in my picture on the cover of my book) to buy a small flourish of feathers for the hat band, the original ones having gotten torn out by a branch during my riding trip in the Victorian alps. I then headed for the Queen Victoria Building. The QVB is a gorgeous old edifice, with statues, mahogany banisters, sweeping stairways, stained glass windows, vaulting arches and general magnificence on all hands. Constructed in 1898, it has lived many lives but has now been restored to its original intention of housing artisans, shops, showrooms, trades people, and cafés.

Shopped along George Street and then over to Pitt Street and down to Circular Quay, passing through Macquarie Place and over to the Rocks. I wandered happily among the old buildings but found the area enough changed to wonder if places I’d been before would still be there. A few were, but much of it was new. (Historic buildings were still there, but many had new tenants.) I had hoped to find again the golden wattle perfume I had purchased previously, but while the shop was still there, it was going out of business, and they no longer had the scent I loved. Still, the old buildings and old streets of this oldest part of Sydney delighted me, even though some that was familiar had vanished.

As much as I was enjoying the Rocks, on the whole, I was not enjoying being in the city. I had spent too much time surrounded by natural beauty, and I began to feel like two days was too much time here. Even the concrete was disagreeing with me. Despite having walked or hiked for hours every day while in desert or forest, I was getting blisters from walking on sidewalks. So I turned my steps back into city center to find the NSW tourist office, where I booked a day tour out to the Blue Mountains for tomorrow–one final dose of the bush before I head for home! Then I figured I’d better tackle the last of my shopping endeavors, so headed to the handsome Strand Arcade, where I found the remaining gifts needed for folks back home.

Finally, after many hours of wandering, I headed back toward Chinatown and the Cambodian place I had discovered last night. Not sure when I’ll ever get Cambodian food again, so don’t want to miss another opportunity.
Good day. And tomorrow, back to the Blue Mountains.

[P.S. That would not in fact be my last taste of Cambodian food. A couple of years later, I actually made it to Cambodia–a very different but absolutely wonderful experience. Seeing Angkor Wat was another dream come true.]


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