If my posts sound like I hadn’t been having a great time in Australia so far, you have probably got the right impression. I was beginning to despair that I was never going to feel better. Toilet visits were up to one an hour. I hoped desperately that a day of convalescing would get me in shape enough to look around Sydney before I had to move on again to Brisbane. I stocked up on supplies: coffee, orange juice, yoghurt, bread and cheese, plus some baby wipes. I watched “District 9”, a violent film about prawn-racism. It was pretty good but the protagnoist Wikus turning slowly into mutant seafood was unsettling. I fell asleep. I woke up again. I watched a few episodes of “The Thick of It” but it just depressed me. I fell asleep. I woke up. I had a terrible pizza on Victoria Street, the backpacking district. The chances of being well enough to visit the Sydney Fish Market to watch the wholesale auction at 7am the next morning were rapidly dissipating.
I woke up at 11am. What joy! I felt semi-human again. It was utter jubilation to be feeling a bit better! I didn’t even need the loo.
Mentally energised – Saturday, 2 days to discover what Sydney was all about. I set to it.
I walked down the McElhone Stairs to Woolloomooloo. I had my new favourite album by Miike Snow on my iPod. The day was warm, about 20 degrees and breezy. Much nicer than Adelaide. I walked past the famous “Harry’s Cafe De Wheels”. This outdoor eatery is famed for its “Tiger” pie floater – a meat pie sitting on a little mound of mushy peas. Essentially Australia’s main culinary contribution. I stil wasn’t feeling well enough for that.
Walking past moored naval destroyers at the Sydney base I skirted the very fine Sydney botanical gardens. I passed a swimming pool set directly into the harbour wall which was bustling with activities. Rounding “Mrs Macquarie’s Chair” you are faced with that most famous of city vistas: the Sydney Harbour, bridge and opera-house. It’s one of those views that you can’t “get” until you see it in real life. What a vista. The skyscraper backdrop, clear blue sky, gardens and the kitschy Luna Park funfair add to the spectacle. Sydney is a world-class city like London, Paris or New York and it seemd the hype was justified.
I walked round to get to the Opera House which is covered in a reflective finish which makes it glint impressively. I had a coffee – well, several, as they kept knocking over in the wind and going all over my jeans.
Sydney has a vibrant restaurant scene and I was inspired by the excellent Sydney food blog Grab your fork to check out some fine examples of Sydney cuisine. Australia has no rich food culture to draw from so your main choices when dining is a genre called “Modern Australian”. This is a kind of updated, sanitised version of the Pan-asian/European “fusion” cuisine that was popular in the 90s until people realised it was totally stupid.
The other option is Asian food in Australia. This is fantastic and sometimes totally authentic. You have multiple options for top-notch Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese and Balinese food. Australians eat out 3-4 times a week on average so there are huge numbers of restaurants. Japanese food seemed like a particularly good option with the plethora of top-notch fresh seafood available. Kabuki Shoroku was tipped as a particularly good one.
Arriving for my reservation I was pleased to see only Japanese faces. I ordered the sushi and sashimi followed by wagyu beef. The wagyu came raw, to be cooked at the table on a hot rock. The sushi chef was on fire, his knife technique was amazing. The sashimi was tuna, salmon or ocean trout and angel fish. It was served with some unagi (eel) which had been briefly seared on a tiny portable barbecue. I wished I knew the Japanese to get him to keep bringing me sushi like he was doing with the diners next to me. The sushi was excellent quality and the wagyu beef was a nice bit of theatre.
Returning home, I was finally sure that this trip was looking up!