Our first “intercontinental journey” from Australia is complete.  We spent the weekend in Sydney, catching up with Kristin.  Let me just say, wow.  Melbourne is a great place to live, and has its own skyscrapers and cultural draws.  But when it comes to the wow factor, Sydney wins hands down.

What’s remarkable is, having seen pictures of it a hundred times, having read about the controversy of its construction and “miraculous” architectural feat that is the Sydney Opera House, you really can’t appreciate its beauty without seeing it.  It is magnificently striking, an architectural masterpiece, and it dominates and highlights and defines the city. 

After reuniting with Kristin, we had dinner and drinks at wildfire across the harbour from the opera house. Saturday morning, after a leisurely brunch and stroll through the Rocks, we hopped on the ferry to Manly to spend a few hours at the beach.

Manly is a quintessential beach town, not unlike Huntington Beach.  The 2010 Manly surf contest was on this weekend, but the waves were pretty nondescript.  Nonetheless, we had a great time parked on the sand, watching the volleyballers and the occasional surfer who managed to catch a wave big enough to get up, and soaking up the sun.

Saturday afternoon it was back to the harbour, for a tour of the opera house, which only deepened our appreciation of the architectural wonder.  We then had a lovely dinner at Selah, at which I managed to talk Kristin into trying the only self-professed Aussie cuisine we’ve managed to identify — meat pie.  A very high-class meat pie though: wagyu beef, and a hint of sweet marmalade sauce.  It is my mission in life to boost Kristin’s blood-iron content by occasionally forcing stupendously good meat on her vegetarian ways – and by promising a “real Aussie” experience she obliged, and agreed that it was a very tasty meat pie!

Sunday morning, it was off to the Botanic Restaurant in the heart of the Botanic Gardens (which is, in the heart of the city).  What an idyllic setting for brunch….

(the view from our table, seriously)

…that was, until we noticed our neighbors just off the patio behind us…

Bats, in the middle of the city!  My dad would have loved it 🙂

We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering through the gardens, saying our adieus to Kristin, and languishing in the harbour with a glass of wine in the beaming sun and catching a last glimpse of the Sydney icon.

For the full pictures, check out our picasa album.