The good life

The last two weeks were spent sleeping on hard ground, secluded in nature with the only evening light coming from the moon or a travel-sized flashlight. Since it was another overcast, rainy day (New South Wales' winters are nothing like the sunny, comfortable winters of Queensland) Mom & I relished in the luxury of the Marriott and watched the Davis Cup in our pajamas while we ate breakfast in bed.
In the daylight the park seemed even more prestigious. The Possums & homeless man from the night before had vanished, but we discovered more & different features as we strolled away from the hotel. The paths were lined with massive trees (I wish I knew their names). Branches, vines and roots, all stretched vertically by gravity & time, created an artistic look and made the tree seem like it was straight from the pages of Sleepy Hollow. Close to our hotel was a gold-plated building that resembled a large mausoleum with a lengthy reflecting pool -- reminiscent of the Washington Monument's -- commemorating the ANZAC a.k.a. Australian & New Zealand Armed Corps. Further along people were playing chess with life-size pieces on a board painted on the park's concrete. Newspaper stands were open. Towards the end of the park was my favorite landmark: the picturesque Archibald Fountain with the monstrous gothic church of St. Mary across the street. Unfortunately the only plaque described Mr. Archibald, not the fountain, but it was clearly a tribute Greek mythology with Apollo/his lyre atop and Diana/her bow/a deer, Theseus slaying the Minotaur, and possibly Aristaeus in the main basin.

In the art gallery we observed some Reubens, Rodins, Cezannes, as well as local artists. The Gardens -- although not in full bloom -- were quite spacious and well-groomed. The Queen Mum would be proud.

A hopping, quirky market on old cobblestone roads gave the experience unique appeal. There were so many intriguing or entertaining stands I wanted to buy a souvenir for everyone! Mom & I agreed on our two favorite shops. The first was devoted to hand-made bowls and plates. The friendly, retired couple shaped and smoothed regional Burl wood. So you could see the grain and rings within the wood but, in stark opposition, the edges were untouched and spiky. The second stand was owned by another crafty gentleman who hand-made all the products. At first glance I thought he was selling ordinary logs -- rough bark on the outside and various colors/types of tree limbs. Upon closer inspection the wood had been chiseled away on the inside. When flipped upside down, the logs became pop-out, puzzles that looked like a Puzz3-D skyscraper. The Desert Myall block was my favorite because it had constrasting very dark and light wood... I was seriously one second away from throwing down the money!

That evening Mom & I walked to this more residential but quaint area of Sydney. We were perplexed that the praised restaurant we planned to dine at was closed on a Friday night. Amidst all the busy restaurants and pubs we found a quiet Italian cafe that left us stuffed... but why stop with the luxury? Before we called it a night, Mom & I splurged at a Darlinghurst patisserie.