Our day in Sydney started with a walk around the harbour, a first glimpse of the opera house, and breakfast in the Rocks.

After some brekky, we set out for the botanical gardens.  The warm Sydney sun was a welcome reprieve from the gray and rainy Melbourne days we’d been having, and we wandering in the gardens for hours admiring the local plant and wildlife.

(ribbon cacti)

(infamous Sydney flying foxes (aka bats))

(yes, I made them do this pose.  But they seem happy about it, right?)

(giant frond at the fernery)

(white cockatoo)

After our leisurely walk, it was time to explore the opera house up close.  Jordna, with his inquisitive mind not shackles by the bounds of lawyerly reason, asked it we could walk around the front.  I assume, and said, no.  Turns out, even lawyers are wrong from time to time.  We walked around the exterior, in and out of the nocks and crannies.

Our architectural desires satisfied, it was time for a more basic desire: food!

We lunched at the cafes just outside the opera house, with a view of it in the background and the sun in our faces.

(black heron, sunning its wings on the opera house docks)

After lunch, it was time to tick the third box.  Every time I’ve been to Sydney (now three times) I’ve (1) see the opera house from Circular Quay and up close (2) walked around the botanical gardens and (3) taken the ferry to Manly.

(We also usually wander through the vendor stalls at the street bonanza that is the Rocks Markets.  Turns out the market is only a weekend thing, so Leah & Jordan missed out on the shopping.  And, I kept myself from buying a really expensive necklace from his one jeweler I’ve had my eye on.  I was really working up the gumption to buy this time.  You’re welcome, Steve.)

Manly is perhaps my favorite thing about Sydney.  Quintessentially, the ferry to Manly offers sweeping views of the opera house you simply cannot find on the harbor docks, and shows the vast size of the Sydney Cove inlet.

Plus, it’s a big boat, and its fun.

But mostly, I love the town of Manly and how close but far away it is from the busy city life of Sydney.  A 20-minute ferry ride from the heart of the Sydney CBD, Manly feels like a sleepy California surf town.  Last time we were there, with Wes, we stumbled on a Friday night street festival and enjoyed just sitting, eating and listening to local music.  This time, we spent a Thursday afternoon wandering up and down the esplanade, stopping to sit on a bench a watch the surfers bob up and down in the water and the moms with strollers and workout gear walk by.

(Jordan, palling around)

After sunset, we headed back to the CBD to catch the opera house by night.  With a few hours before our return flight home, we posted up at a bar on the harbour and drank the evening away, watching the waves glistening in the moonlight and the Sydneysiders wander by.