Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Sydney in the rain

Sydney is all about the outdoors: climbing the Bridge, cruising the harbor, wandering the neighborhoods, hanging at cafes. So what do you do when it's pouring buckets?

You abandon your plans (shopping in Double Bay) and head indoors.

I opted for the Sydney Explorer, one of those hop-on hop-off buses. It's not the cheapest way to get around (about $30 US) but it's door-to-door serviced to attactions, indoor and outdoor.

First on my agenda: A tour of the Sydney Opera House. Lest you be dismayed by the slow progress at the Miami Performing Arts Center, it's worth noting that the Sydney Opera House was finished 10 years late and $100 million over budget...and that was back in the 1960s. Inside and out, the place is spectacular.

Next, the Art Museum of New South Wales. One of the great things about Sydney's art museums is that most are free, and better yet, we're in the heat of the Sydney Biennale, a contemporary art fair spanning more than a dozen venues through Aug. 27. The theme is Zones of Contact, which covers representations from the highly personal (a collection of family album photos) to the geopolitcal (a world map made from stacks of fabric.) If that's all too esoteric, the museum's permanent collection includes Aboriginal art as well as Australian and European masters (Pissaro, Van Gogh, Gainsborough.)

Next on my tour: The Museum of Australia. This is a natural history and anthropology museum. Think the Smithsonian...only the skeletons are kangaroos and wombats, which is pretty cool. And the section on the history of indigeous peoples is enlightening, ranging from artwork to the history of racial inequities that occurred here.

By now the sun was out....hooray... and it was on to Loo, or Woolloomooloo, the Soho-like district where Russell Crowe keeps his $14 million (about $10 million US) apartment in an old wharf. One of the chief attractions here is Harry's Cafe de Wheels, a pie stand (that's beef and chicken pies) and hot doggery.

I resisted. I'm having dinner at Rockpool, the firmament of culinary diety Neil Perry. Wouldn't want to spoil my appetite.


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