Colleen and Sasha at the Australian Pub.
Though the day started fairly lazy (conversation and coffee with Sasha and Ruth), we got rolling at about noon and the day did not disappoint. Sasha is a wonderful tour guide and is very proud of his city. We walked past Centennial Park along Anzac Parade passing the cricket and rugby fields, down Oxford Street, past Hyde Park on College and into the Domain where a number of concerts are held every summer. From there we entered into the beautiful Botanical Gardens. At this point we got caught in a downpour which had been threatening all day. As the saying goes, there is never any bad weather, just bad clothing and we were prepared. We pulled out our rain jackets and waited under a large Banyan tree for the worst of the rain to pass. Once it let up, we continued on our journey through the Botanical Gardens and came out the other side at Sydney Harbour. There we caught our first glimpse of Sydney Opera House. It is magnificent!! I can only imagine the number of concerts that have taken place in those auditoriums!! Of course the Sydney Harbour Bridge is right there as well, and we oohed and aahed and took some pictures. We could see people doing the bridge climb which is just at it sounds. Climbing to the top of the bridge. Not really my cup of tea though Richard thought if his knee was good he would have liked to make the attempt. We then made our way towards the Rocks along the Circular Quay skirting by the wharfs where cruise ships and ferries alike dock. The Rocks was one of the original areas of Sydney. It was established around 1790 and was home to convicts, sailors and prostitutes. All I have read on the area indicates that this has always be a rough, poor area of town. In the late 1960’s, early 70’s, Sydney council had decided to demolish the buildings and put up new highrises. This caused quite the stir in the area as it would displace a number of people still living there. After a number of protests, a new group was formed and it was decided that they would renovate the buildings while preserving the history of them. As a result, this area is now a thriving area of historical buildings, quaint gift shops, pubs and museums. After stopping at the Australian pub (yes, that is actually the name) for a couple of beers and a bag of crisps, it was time to head for home. As we had already walked about 8 miles we decided to catch a bus. It was getting close to supper time!!
Supper was wonderful!! We met up with Norman and his sister Christine (we have now determined that we are second cousins – their dad and my dad were first cousins) and went to a Lebanese restaurant within walking distance of Sasha and Ruth’s home. Having never had Lebanese food I was not sure what to expect. Though I have worried that I will not want to eat many “new” foods on this trip, I have found that I must try and experience all the cultures that I am exploring. This will include the food. As Australia is a melting pot of cultures, as is Canada, there are a number of food choices to be had. Hence, the Lebanese restaurant. I must say that the food was different from anything that I have tried before but the flavours were terrific!! We had a wonderful evening of food and fellowship and later back at Sasha and Ruth’s flat, Norman, Christine and I reminisced about childhoods, family and friendships. We lamented that our families never met until so much later in life. I feel sad that my dad and his siblings never knew their cousins. We are so happy that we have made these connections now and with promises of coming to Canada in the future to meet the rest of the family, we said goodbye to Christine and Norman close to midnight. Though I will see Norman a few more times, Christine will be heading back to Brisbane today to be with her family. I cannot even put into words how much I enjoyed meeting these people that are my FAMILY!