Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Had a couple of days in Sydney to start with. It really looks pretty modern, but then the oldest house in town is from the early 19th century. It's also well spread out; there is a high rise business centre, but beyond that you'd be hard pressed to find buildings higher than 3 or 4 floor. Most residential areas near the city centre have two story terraced houses (with large balconies, unlike the British ones); I suppose those 'Neighbours' - style bungalows are further out of town (I saw them in Adelaide). Around the harbour, where in the past were warehouses, I suppose, much new building has taken place with new flats, and new terraced houses improving on the older theme - modern Aussie mass building seems to be more advanced than British mass building - but perhaps I saw a particularly good variety?

The opera house is of course stunning; much more like upturned boats than the Scottish Parliament, which is also supposed to have them. The famous Harbour bridge is actually quite small, with only one arch, as opposed to some of those we have seen in Vietnam - but then it does not need to span much.

The place names in Oz are interesting; Nithsdale street, Glenelg, Hyde Park, Pyrmont (with, inevitably, a baths), Macquarie street (a Macquarie was one of the first governors of Sydney, who brought some order into this convict place). Sometimes the Aussie versions of British words economise a little on letters, using only one where two should have been.

Had a wonderful crab at the Golden Century restaurant in Sussex street on the first evening, on the recommendation of my friend Leila, a violist from Sydney, who studied in Adelaide and is now in Canada. It's a highly popular restaurant in Chinatown, with queues at the entrance. I was introduced to the crab face to face before he or she met their end....and then I realised that I had never eaten crab before, so I needed some help and instructions. This crab was with shallots and ginger. There was none of that delicate grated ginger about it - a ginger root had been chopped in pieces and cooked. Quite chewy!

The second day I walked a total of 21 kms, all over Sydney, from the fish market to way out Paddington on the other side (and that's only the central districts)... ending up with dinner in Zaafran's at Harbourside, a highly recommended, and recommendable Indian restaurant. The owner also works in Singapore. Had some interesting concoction of deepfriend spinach leaves with potatos and chickpeas smothered in three kinds of sauces to start with, and then some kind of aubergine tartlets - and yes, I should have written the names down before they took the menu away....

The following morning it was chucking it down! I had meant to go for a run, but could not quite get out of bed and then the deluge was a further sign! The good news about it is that the drought in Oz may be coming to an end - much more rain is forecast. The drought has been quite severe over several years, and Sydney is planning to build a desalination plant, whose output will cover 15% of the town's water consumption. There is a fair amount of public uproar about it, most of it from the people in whose neighbourhood the thing will be planted, but also on the grounds of environmental issues, since it will use much energy, and also because it may run even when there is enough water in the reservoirs. At the moment the Sydney reservoirs are 50% full, in Darwin they are 90% full, but in Brisbane only 18%. Of course, there isn't a national grid for water....


Little Miss Moi said...

Dear violainvilnius. Regarding Zaafran - I haven't eaten there but the owners also own a restaurant in North Strathfield (read: the suburbs) called Ahbi's, where I have indulged a few times on the deep fried spinach leaves with the three sauces. I have tried to explain this to many people over the years, and have failed to do so effectively. But they are mighty yum.