Sydney Archives

December 31, 2006

In A Land Down Under


I am now in Sydney, Australia, having arrived just after 8 a.m. on New Year's Eve. I've now visited six continents in 2006 (and will do the same in the first three months of 2007, by the way). I don't know if I'll ever make it to Antarctica, though.

I love this country and this city: everything feels entirely comfortable. I checked in at my hotel early and my room wasn't quite ready, so I had a couple of hours to wander around downtown before settling in. The Westin, where I am staying the next three nights, is an upscale hotel in the center of the business district, just a few blocks up from Circular Quay (which is the main ferry terminal in Sydney, located right in between the city's two most famous landmarks: the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House). In fact, I can see a slice of the Harbour Bridge from my room!

There's Something About Liz


I saw The Queen this afternoon at a cinema right next to Circular Quay and the Opera House. It's a captivating film featuring a brilliant performance by Helen Mirren, who is already being tipped for Oscar honors. Don't miss this movie.

January 1, 2007

Another Circle Around The Sun


I made it down to the harborside last night to see the two fireworks shows--one at 9 p.m. for the little kids and the big one at midnight. I managed to make my way to the east side of Circular Quay after navigating a sea of humanity (think The Who concert, Cincinnati, 1979) for a spectacular view of the Harbour Bridge pyrotechnics. It's the 75th anniversary of the bridge, thus the diamond-shaped lights in the middle of the structure.

I am 14 hours ahead of the East Coast U.S. time zone, so this was my earliest New Year's celebration ever!

Song Of The Day #1

A bit obvious, perhaps: "New Year's Day" by U2 on the War album.

U2 - War - New Year's Day

January 2, 2007

A Hollywood Classic


After dropping off my passport and visa paperwork at the Indian Consulate in the morning, I took the bus over to the Paddington neighborhood to see The African Queen, the John Huston-directed 1951 classic starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn. I had never seen it before, and it was far better to watch the film on the big screen. One of the art cinemas in town had a restored color print. Besides, while there are a bunch of films playing back home I am still eager to see, there's precious little else playing in the movie theaters here that looks worthwhile. The Queen--which I watched Sunday--was one exception and Babel--which I surely will catch one of these days--is another.

Song Of The Day #2

Okay, this song may be another obvious choice, given where I am right now, but it's an interesting acoustic take on "Down Under" by the lead singer of Men At Work.

Colin Hay - Man @ Work - Down Under (Acoustic Version)

Figaro, Figaro


Rather than just looking at the landmark Opera House here in Sydney, I decided to see something IN the building, and so I attend the opening night of the summer season, catching The Marriage Of Figaro. The Mozart opera is something of a sequel to The Barber Of Seville, which I saw at The Met a few weeks back. Both productions were impressive, though the Sydney opera couldn't compete with the star power and manic energy of the New York production. It may be that Rossini's Figaro is a more interesting character, too. Both shows were impressive, but the Barber was more fun.

January 3, 2007

Life In The Antipodes

The modernity of a city like Sydney can lead one to forget just how remote this continent is from the rest of the world. For example, I have yet to be able to find an International Herald Tribune anywhere in Sydney, even though it's widely available throughout Europe and Asia, for instance. I had no luck finding American newspapers in South Africa six months ago, either, so maybe it's a south of the equator thing?

Song Of The Day #3

Keeping with the Australian theme, here's my favorite song about a woman lying naked on the floor.

Natalie Imbruglia - Left of the Middle - Torn

January 8, 2007

Back In Sydney


Arrived in Sydney on the overnight train just after 7 this morning and checked into my hotel, which is adjacent to the rail station.

This trip was much better than the one a few days before, as I had the compartment to myself. I watched Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest on my portable DVD player and slept well in spite of all the creaking and croaking of the train car as it made its way south.

Song Of The Day #8

This is a Sydney-themed piece: the great anti-war song "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda" about an Australian soldier going to fight for the British Empire at Gallipoli in World War I. This cover is by The Pogues.

Pogues - Rum Sodomy & the Lash [Expanded] - The Band Played Waltzing Matilda

The Passport Shuffle

I picked up my passport today at the Indian Consulate downtown and then brought it over to the Vietnamese Consulate in Darling Harbor. (I am getting tourist visas to both countries.) The Vietnamese office was a far more pleasant experience: a shorter wait for service, a shorter interval for processing my visa, and it's less expensive, too. In fact, I'd have paid $70 in either the U.S. or Australia for the visa, but that turns out to be at least 20% cheaper here due to the exchange rate. Plus because I handled it myself, I avoided doubling the cost by using an expediter, which I would have had to do back home.

My Reading List


I've been working my way through Volume I of Gene Wolfe's The Book Of The New Sun, a highly regarded science fantasy tale I picked up last week here in Sydney. Like the best of the genre, it's very provocative and creates a detailed world of its own.

January 9, 2007

Song Of The Day #9

Boston's "More Than A Feeling." I heard it on the radio Sunday morning while driving back to Brisbane and it brought back memories of junior high school. A great song.

Boston - Boston - More Than a Feeling

Tennis Today


I am heading out to the Olympic park here in Sydney for the Medibank International, a combined ATP/WTA tournament that serves as a tune-up for the Australian Open, which begins next week in Melbourne. When I was here last in 1998, the Sydney event--historically known as the New South Wales Open--was then called the adidas International and was still played at White City, one of the classic venues of the sport, close to the center of town.

I am looking forward to seeing the Olympic facility used for the 2000 Sydney Games. Top seed Rafael Nadal is playing in one of the featured matches of the day in the tennis stadium, as are James Blake, Amelie Mauresmo, and Kim Clijsters.

The Day's Matches


I took these shots at the Sydney Tennis Centre at the Olympic Park in the Homebush Bay section of Sydney. I had a great seat down low in the stadium for the feature matches and wandered the grounds extensively, spending a lot of time at the practice courts. It was a good day of tennis: Blake won handily, Mauresmo pulled through in three, Clijsters obliterated Aussie Nicole Pratt, then Nadal retired trailing 5-6 (on serve) in the first set of his match against up-and-coming Chris Guccione from Melbourne (who has a huge serve). Nadal strained a leg muscle and opted to rest if before the Aussie Open, which begins next week.


I stayed late to watch the Bryan brothers play doubles; I left after they won the first set, but apparently they lost in the match tiebreak to Clement/Llodra.


Surprises From Steve Jobs?


In just a few hours--I won't see this until Wednesday morning my time--Steve Jobs kicks off the MacWorld Expo with his keynote address, one of those now-classic deliveries in which he unveils all the new tech that Apple has been working on behind closed doors. Lots of speculation as to what we'll see this time around. Expectations are high, in part fueled by the promo banner above, which has been posted on Apple's own website the past week or so.

January 10, 2007

Apple Calling


So the iPhone arrives! Looks pretty sweet. And the other goodies are impressive as well.

Song Of The Day #10

The Dire Straits, "Sultans Of Swing," featuring some of Mark Knopfler's virtuoso work on the guitar.

Dire Straits - Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing

Cool Design


You can buy these "slimline" cans of Coke products all over Sydney. The design is striking, but it's something of a rip-off: these sell for about $2, whereas the "normal" cans go for about $1.50 and have and additional 75ml of soda, thus you are asked to pay more for less!

Steve's Spell


I watched the QuickTime stream of Steve Jobs' keynote address at the MacWorld Expo. It ran nearly two hours (though had the treat of a John Mayer mini-concert included at the end). There's no doubt this guy is the master of the format. His "reality distortion field" was in full effect and he had the audience eating out of the palm of his hand, cheering wildly as he demonstrated the features of the new iPhone.

A couple of minor surprises about his remarks, though. There was no introduction of iLife '07 or iWork '07, nor anything to say about the new Leopard version of OS X. In fact there wasn't much talk about the Mac at all!

On another front, Microsoft announed at the conference that Office for Mac 2008 will be released later this year as a univeral binary with all sorts of nifty new features. Hopefully the new version of Entourage will play nicer with Exchange.



I fnally got around to seeing Babel tonight. It's a long movie, but it is engaging. At first, it's not clear why the film is jumping around along four seemingly disparate storylines, but it all comes together. The film is well made and thought-provoking.

January 11, 2007

Song Of The Day #11

This is Peter Gabriel's 1990 re-recording of his own "Here Comes The Flood." It's a much better version than the original, which is a bit too over-produced for my tastes.

Peter Gabriel - Shaking the Tree - Sixteen Golden Greats - Here Comes the Flood (1990 Re-Recording Version)

A Really Big Screen Adventure


This morning, I walked over to Darling Harbor's IMAX theater to see The Mystery Of The Nile. As I am scheduled to be spend some time on the Nile myself just a few weeks from now, I thought this would be a good preparation for my visit to Egypt. The ads for the film are a bit misleading, as the film is much less about the historical aspects of Egyptian culture along the river (pyramids, tombs, etc.) than it is about an adventure-filled modern-day rafting trip from the source of the Blue Nile in Ethiopia down to the river's mouth in Alexandria. Still, the photography was stunning in the big film format.

Good To Go

I picked up my visa at the Vietnamese consulate this afternoon, so I am now all set with clearances for the remainder of my trip. The rest of the countries I am visiting either don't require Americans to obtain a visa or will issue one upon entry.

Temperature Check

According to my Dashboard widget, these are the temperatures for today here and at home (in Farenheit, of course):

Sydney, New South Wales:
low: 75°
high: 90°

Wallingford, Connecticut:
low: 24°
high: 36°

That's why I'm here!

January 12, 2007

Song Of The Day #12

The master lyricist among the singer-songwriters who came to prominence in the 1970s was Jackson Browne. Here is one of his earliest hits: "Doctor My Eyes."

Jackson Browne - Jackson Browne

Another Good Movie From Mexico


I saw Pan's Labyrinth this afternoon. This movie, like Babel and Children Of Men (the latter of which I have not yet seen), is a highly regarded recent release from a talented Mexican director. This film by Guillermo de Toro--who brought us Hellboy--featured Spanish dialogue (and subtitles in English) and was viusually very imaginitive. It's a thoughtful, creative fairy tale set against the grim realities of fascist Spain in 1944. I recommend it.

Bondi Blue


After the film, I headed over to Bondi Beach to take in the sights and have a quick dip in the Pacific Ocean. This beach is iconic in Australian culture.

If you remember the very first version of the iMac, introduced in 1998--the breakthrough machine that Steve Jobs used to turn Apple around, the one with the "hockey puck" mouse--its color was labeled "Bondi Blue" after the Sydney beach.

Sundown In Sydney


In my last night in the city, I took the "harbor lights cruise" which left Circular Quay at 8 p.m., just before the sun set to the west of the city. The 75-minute ride around the harbor showed off many of the neighborhoods all around the harbor and provided great views of the Opera House and Harbor Bridge, both of which were wonderfully illuminated. Mother Nature coöperated by providing an electrical storm to the west, which provided some atmospheric lightning that looked pretty cool above the lights of the city.

January 13, 2007

So Long, Sydney

Off to the airport and Melbourne!

Song Of The Day #13

An '80s classic: R.E.M.'s "Orange Crush."

R.E.M. - Green

About Sydney

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to As Far As You Know in the Sydney category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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