Leaving the Observatory museum, I headed down the hill and through the Argyle Cut to the Rocks. There, I did a bit of wandering. The Argyle Stores are much more posh and upscale than when I was there before (and, to me, seemed less fun). But a bit farther along, I found plenty of more fun, less posh shops. Hmmm. I may have to buy another t-shirt. But as I shopped, I suddenly became acutely aware of hunger. Time to look for lunch.
I turned in at the charming, old (1844) Orient Hotel. The grill was advertising a special of Australian beef, which sounded like a great option. I entered a bright, spacious room of tall windows, white table clothes, crystal, silver, and great service. A pianist was playing. Perfect. The menu offered many appealing dishes that utilized Australian ingredients: king prawns with macadamia nuts, wild barramundi with quenelles of bush tomatoes, and red curry of Balmain bugs. Wow. However, after a bit of an internal debate, I went with my first choice—the beef. Good choice. A lovely steak arrived piled high with sautéed onions, with tomatoes, zucchini, and au gratin potatoes. Lovely. And a final nice touch was the chocolate that came with my coffee
Then I was off again, hiking through the Rocks, around Circular Quay, to the Opera House, and then up into the Botanic Gardens. The birds were abundant today, and they always delight me. The gardens are extensive and glorious, and so consumed a fair bit of time. Noteworthy (other than the general beauty) was the Choragic Monument of Lysicrates. This 148-year monument is a copy of one built in Athens in 334 b.c., and the splendid Greek confection looked quite comfortable surrounded by palm trees. Another delight was coming across a “bird man” feeding his large fan club—dozens of white cockatoos, Australian mynahs, and ibises, plus, of course, pigeons and sea gulls.
About 5:00, I started to make my way across town (it has gotten more built up and more crowded) to Chinatown (which has expanded considerably), to meet Brian by 6:00 p.m. We strolled around looking for a likely spot, finally settling on a Chinese restaurant Brian had heard about. Kung pao lamb and stir-fried prawns with garlic sauce were a good choice.
Chinatown was selected both for the reliably good food and for its proximity to the Central Station, so it was only a short walk to where we could catch the train back out to the suburbs. One final fun adventure (or at least the sort of thing I always enjoy): we headed for Wooly’s for grocery shopping. (Wooly’s is short for Woolworth’s, which in Australia is a grocery store chain unrelated to F. W. Woolworth in the U.S.). I always enjoy a good grocery store, and here, the fun was in both seeing things I remembered from previous trips and checking out the unfamiliar. Couldn’t help but notice that the lamb section was much larger than it would be in any mainline grocery store I know back home.
Then back to the house and to the waiting Mardi. Tea and conversation filled the rest of the evening. Lovely day.
And because it’s always fun to learn a bit more about a specific location, here’s a video of the Orient Hotel, where I enjoyed lunch and a bit of history today.