Day 324 of Traveling the World, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. December 21, 2018.

Some sights (and sounds) from around Sydney over the past few days…first off, the Great Synagogue of Sydney is in the center of the city, across from Hyde Park. The first two photos were taken there, one of the outside foyer and one of an unusual “boomerang” design on a contemporary yarmulke for sale in the small gift shop. Sadly, photos were not allowed inside…and they were very strict about that! We took a tour and got to see the beautiful interior and in particular, the ceiling bedecked with gold stars. If you google images of the Great Synagogue, you will see the magnificent blue ceiling. As the gold leaf on them deteriorated, it was deemed that only women were able to do the fine work of hand painting the stars. So a giant scaffold was erected, and like Michelangelo, the women laid on their backs for the restoration work. The synagogue is conservative…the tour guide was very serious and intense. When we told her we would include the synagogue on our blog and offered her a card with our website address, she is the only person over the course of a year to decline, saying she didn’t look at websites.

Following the synagogue photos are some from the downtown Westfield Plaza mall. The owners bought the downtown buildings and spent $1 billion to restore and convert them into a shopping center! We loved the restaurant called Bao Down Baby and actually did bow to each other! We also loved the elves running to work outside the mall. We took a photo of the sign advertising brekkie, as it is what everyone here calls the morning meal.

Then we took a great tour around the city with a company called I’m Free. No signing up…just show up at the appointed time, take the 3-hour tour, and pay whatever you wish at the conclusion. We encountered this in several cities in the UK last year, as well….a genius way to make money. About 100 people arrived for the tour, and we divided into three groups with a guide each. We walked through the town and heard about the Hilton bombing in 1978; went through the underground tunnels; saw the Rum Hospital (built from revenue from licenses to sell liquor when the British Parliament refused funds to construct one because they had spent all the money they intended to on this “prison colony”); visited Martin Place, where a hostage incident in 2014 ended with two hostages dead in a chocolate cafe; and about 15 other sites around the downtown. So interesting! Two other photos of note: on Angel Place is an art installation, Forgotten Songs, with the hanging birdcages. Each is equipped with recordings of birds that used to dwell in the city but whose numbers have declined with urbanization. Their species’ names are inscribed in bricks on the street below. And in Australia Place is the art installation of the statue of a man reading a newspaper. Its creator is John Seward Johnson, grandson of the founder of Johnson & Johnson. He has created bronze statues of ordinary people doing ordinary things all over the world. We just loved it when a group of costumed friends jumped on the bench to be photographed with the statue!

Finally, there is a short video of three boys “busking” on the street, singing Christmas carols. Their voices sound like the Boys Choir we heard last week, but we don’t know if they were raising money for their choir or for themselves. Such talent, though. They might as well capitalize on their talent before their voices change, as they put in so much time rehearsing music.