Tuesday, March 14, 2017

sydney as london

I can hear the eyeballs rolling now.

Roy and Nancy have spent almost a month telling me I would fall in love with Sydney, just as they did on their first visit. It has not quite turned out that way. But I should explain.

We arrived in Sydney this morning -- following our 17-day cruise on the Radiance of the Seas. It would be more accurate to say we returned to Sydney because Sydney is where our stay in Australia began. Almost three weeks ago. But we then never ventured more than two blocks away from the airport before flying to Perth. That does not really count.

This morning, we sailed into Sydney in the dark -- with the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the opera house peeking through the gloom. It was gloom because the day was rainy and blustery. And it remained that way until evening.

That did not stop us. We dropped off our luggage in the apartment we will call home for three days and hopped on a hop-on hop-off bus. Because Sydney's traffic is so congested, it was more like a hop-on stay-parked bus.

Even that was not enough to interfere with us seeing some of Sydney's more interesting sights. We braved the rain to get off of the bus to take a closer look at the opera house.

I had my own agenda for the stop. I wanted to reconnoiter the complex because I will be coming back tomorrow night for a performance. But I will leave the details for tomorrow's piece.

Travelers often try to make more sense of new experiences by comparing them to things they know. "That Mona Lisa certainly looks like your Great Aunt Elsie, doesn't she?" That sort of thing.

I am not fond of experiencing life through the gauze of metaphor. But I do it myself. A lot.

Roy and Nancy loved Sydney on its own terms. It reminded me of London. A city I like, but it is certainly not a place I would extol for its beauty.

Sydney has some stunning architecture and engineering. The opera house and the harbor bridge are the most obvious examples. But Sydney wears its modernity with a heavy nod to the past. For every mammoth waterside construction site, there are reminders of Sydney's past. Just like London.

The rain, of course, helped the comparison. I have stacks of underexposed London photographs. Because of today's rain, I have similar underexposed Sydney photographs. For instance, of a British monarch adding his own bit of humor to the wet day.

Nancy was quick to defend Sydney's beauty. "But it looks marvelous in the sunlight." The problem with that argument is that a truly beautiful city looks splendid in both sun and rain. Venice, for instance.

I tried looking past the rain and the overcrowded streets to find some of the city's soul. And, I think I found an example. A well-dressed young woman swishing along with her matching umbrella.

I see the potential for a short story in that shot.

Let me point out, this is my first day here. I very well may fall in love with the place.

But being compared to London is no bad thing. After all, there is opera to be appreciated. Whether or not it rains.

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