Day 1,784 of Traveling the World | Sydney, Australia | December 25, 2022

Merry Christmas, Everyone! We are so happy to be spending our holiday in Sydney, Australia, one of our very favorite cities in the world. We have been walking around everywhere, attending the opera (Carmen), as well as the Town Hall Christmas Concert. We are staying at the Hilton in the middle of the shopping district, just down the street from Town Hall and across the street from the old, famous shopping center, the Queen Victoria Building. We already posted our time at the opera and in the suburb of Paddington. Today we are including a few places in Chinatown, a walk through Hyde Park, and scenes around the city.

Sydney is very vibrant, very crowded. The streets have been jammed, much like our experience in Manhattan. Everyone is friendly and it is a very easy city for visitors. When we were at this hotel in 2018, George Street, just outside the doors, was torn up and under construction, but all of that has been completed and a light rail system is now in place. The stop is right outside the hotel. So for most everywhere we want to go, light rail works well. The city also has a good bus system and, strangely enough, a regular train system that helps us get around town. In addition, as Sydney is a port town, ferries are also available to travel to many places. So needless to say, we have no need of a car while we are in town, and it is easy to see something new every day. The key to it all is what they call an Opal card, which you can refill with additional money at any time. It is utilized by all the transportation systems. You just tap on and off without fumbling for change. It works flawlessly and makes all of our planning here so simple.

A good place to start – with a choir! Sydney Town Hall Christmas Concert – choir, organist, orchestra, narrator – and looming over all, the pipe organ.
One of the many Christmas trees in downtown Sydney, this one in Martin Place.
Also admiring the Christmas tree…(we liked it, we liked it!)
A caroling choir outside the Queen Victoria Building.
Two reindeer filled with Christmas balls.
This is the Exchange Building in Darling Square. Locals call it the “Bamboo Basket” or simply “The Steamer,” as it resembles a bamboo steamer basket found in Chinese restaurants.
An interesting building we passed by in the suburb of Glebe. (Since publishing, our friend Fred has identified this building as The UTS Dr. Chau Chuk Wing Building, aka Frank Gehry’s Paper Bag.)
Hyde Park, on Christmas Day.
Archibald Memorial Fountain – and it looks like the four structures above it are lurking, waiting to invade!
Theseus conquering the Minotaur, one of the three sculptures in the fountain.
Water, Fire, and Earth sculpture in Hyde Park.
Yininmadyemi Thou Didst Let Fall, another sculpture in Hyde Park. Unveiled in 2015, it is by Aboriginal artist Tony Albert. It depicts shells, a symbol of conflict, with some still standing and some fallen, acknowledging the service of aboriginal people in war.
We heard about the Emperor’s Cream Puffs. The bakery that makes them has a walk-in restaurant/bakery next door, but these are so popular that they have a dedicated walk-up window and machine operated by a full-time worker, who sells them as they come off the machine. Each puff is about the size of a golf ball….
…inside, the Bavarian cream filling is scaldingly hot, as each one has just come out of the oven, already filled. Yummy!
This is a gozleme – a Turkish stuffed turnover. The cost is about $8-10. (They are also free at our breakfast buffet, but these are much better.) They are usually filled with shredded spinach, cheese, vegetables, and meat, if you wish. The dough is folded over the stuffing of your choice, then crimped around the edges, ready to be heated on the grill for several minutes on both sides. It is somewhat like an inverted pizza, but without tomato sauce. Lemon is squeezed over it all, and it the most delicious thing your mouth has savored in a long, long time.
The Chinese Garden of Friendship – an oasis in the middle of Chinatown/downtown Sydney. The limestone rocks that resembled animals were chosen specifically so they could protect the mountain!
This looks like a framed piece of art, but it is a window looking out onto one of the many pagodas.
Guarding the entrance to the garden is this lion (or shi) statue.
Another gorgeous, calming scene in the garden.
The waterfall. We liked the purple flowering shrub, as well.
An ibis – they were everywhere in the garden. In fact, they are everywhere in Sydney – parks and lawns included. They play the same role as pigeons in the US, as they forage for food and people feed them every so often.
Iguanas were also prolific in the garden – we nearly stepped on one’s tail, so we learned to look before every step (we didn’t want those sharp claws in or near us!). They look like mini-dinosaurs.
Our friend Liliana, from Adelaide, who recently moved to Sydney seeking fortune and fame. She works in the Hilton in the morning and sings, dances, hosts, and serves at the Broadway Diner by night (which has terrific burgers). She was quite good, and very expressive. We would hire her if we were producing a show!
Every time we are in Sydney, dating back to 2005, we have encountered Hare Krishna members marching, singing, clapping, and playing drums. They even provided the words to their chant on the sign, but people familiar with the score of “Hair” already know the words!
The Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge, last week, as our cruise ship sailed into the harbor.
Luna Park, on the “other side” of the Harbor Bridge in Sydney, to the north.
The Queen Victoria Building Shopping Center (QVB, to locals) opened in July 1898. Who said malls are a modern invention? It has three stories and takes up an entire city block. The basement extends under streets to other parts of the downtown.
A true product of its times, it was designed with lots of pretty stained glass (but NOT with the escalators you see in front!).
There is a beautiful dome in the very middle of the QVB, and the Christmas tree extends three stories.
We liked this dessert name. It happens to be the name of a German “singing” duo who won a Grammy in 1990 and then had to give it back because they didn’t sing. There is no connection, of course – just a cute name.
Typical Australian gift items – painted boomerangs and an emu egg.
Yes, they also sell didgeridoos – traditional aboriginal wood instruments.
Just having breakfast, tea, and juice on a typical morning…
One of the greatest surprised reactions, ever, to a lorikeet landing on this woman’s table while she was having a pizza lunch.
Another, more colorful, lorikeet on an empty table next to us. They were flying all around the outdoor patio. Gorgeous colors, no?

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