Sunday, August 3, 2008

One of the most beautiful cities in the World

Exactly 3 weeks after we landed here, we finally did our city sight seeing tour. This was organized by the ISS (International Student Services) of the UNSW, and conducted by Colourfultrips. The driver and guide was an affable, middle aged gentleman named Lee, with a nice sense of humour. We were also lucky with the weather; it turned out to be a fine, sunny day, after a particularly dull and depressing Friday.

Our first stop was at Mrs. Macquaries Chair. This is a bench carved out of the sandstone overlooking Sydney Harbour. On the way to the chair is Mrs. Macquaries Point, which offers stunning views of those two iconic Sydney structures - The Harbour Bridge, and Opera House. On this day, the view was picturesque indeed, with the sunlight glittering off the white exteriors of Opera House, framed against a clear blue sky, and lapped all around by the clean blue waters of Sydney Harbour. However, the wind was blowing strong, and the cold wind was making things a
tad uncomfortable. So we were not too unhappy to make our way back to the comfort of the air conditioned bus.

We then crossed the Harbour Bridge, and made our way across North Sydney to Manly Beach. North Syndey has its own CBD (Central Business District), which felt more relaxed than the city one across the bridge. This is where many
electronic and insurance companies have their offices.

We encountered bad traffic on the way to Manly (and on the way back too). If there is one thing that I do not like about Sydney, it has to be the amount of cars on the road. I am surprised why so many people would take their cars out given the difficult traffic and parking conditions, and given that the public transport system is quite efficient. But I guess I will learn along the way...

Manly Beach was given its name by Captain Arthur Phillip, who, when he made his way here, found the local aboriginal people to be in a manly, healthy condition. The beach is typical of Sydney's ocean facing beaches - clean green waters of the Pacific Ocean lapping against the golden sand with a backdrop of green trees. And with the ubiquitous wet suit clad surfers with their boards in the water. Today was just too fine a day for surfers, with hardly any waves for them to ride.

We then made our way to North Head. This is a part of the Marine Parks reserve, overlooking the northern entrance to Sydney Harbour. There is a nice walking track that offers sensational views across the Pacific Ocean, on the one side, and Sydney city, on the other. Walking along this track, it is easy to understand why Sydney is consistently voted as one of the most beautiful cities in the world.