Our First Weekend

The next day was a Saturday, and we were able to tour the city with Barak and Na'ama. The first stop was Darling Harbour, the very heart of the city. Let me tell you, I've never seen a city where the heart of the city looks quite this good. My favorite before Sydney was San-Francisco, but Sydney beats ol' Frisco hands down.

There is plenty to do around the harbour, and we started off by visiting the Sydney Aquarium.

Here we found Nemo,

saw some interesting creatures,

saw some swimmers you wouldn't want to swim beside,

and took some awesome pictures.

(Not an easy feat, considering this was done using a digital camera with horrendous shutter delay.)

Amidst all this, Barak managed to surprise us, as always, by finding a small crab running around on the floor, after evidently having escaped from his aquarium and heading for freedom. Though this incident was summarily taken care of, we did make sure, after it, that whenever a sign said that something like this

was supposed to be somewhere, that it was actually there. At times, this took us quite a bit of searching, as the buggers like to hide well.

That night, we saw an open-air concert starring a person whose voice did not resemble Freddie Mercury's one iota, but who posed for the cameras in the same clothing and stance as in some of Mercury's better known photographs.

If there was anything worse than his singing, it was his dialog. This, mainly, consisted of two words: "Hello? Sydney?" as though he was still wondering where he got up this morning. Occasionally, there came a "You look so sexy tonight, Sydney!" which came as something of a surprise to the crowd, whose average age was roughly fifty.

The experience was so ridiculous, that days later we were beginning conversations by one person saying "Hello?" and the other replying "Sydney!", and regarding this we even wrote a short song:

Darling Harbour, late one night, was just the place to see.
Performing on a floating stage was one strange wannabe.
His clothes and repertoire were those of Freddie Mercury.
But all he said was just "Hello?" and we replied "Sydney!"

Yes, we had a great time with this ludicrous performance, and for all expecting to see a spectacle, there were wonderful fireworks at the end.

The next day, Sunday, we started on a long line of museums that we would be visiting throughout our stay in the city. In particular, we started with the Powerhouse Museum, which is more or less the way you expect a museum to be, albeit a little more interactive. Other museums were not so. The Museum of Sydney (officially named "Museum of Sydney on the site of first Government House"), I believe, takes the trophy regarding being not what you expect a museum to be.

You see, when you come to a museum, you expect all the exhibits to be arranged in glass cases for the world to see. In this museum, the only thing in a glass case for the world to see is - well - you! (See the picture below, taken from the official site of the museum, for some explanation regarding this last sentence.)

The actual exhibits, on the other hand, are either passively hidden from view (and must be sought and found by the visitor's own devices) or they are actively trying to avoid being seen (and must be forced into view with diligence). Just to make matters worse, the museum contains several art works that can entirely escape the visitor's gaze, by carefully disguising themselves as the storage places for other exhibits. The whole thing is like a nice academic/philosophical Gedankenexperiment that has gone terribly awry when somebody vandalized it by trying to implement it in practice.

The icing on the cake is that the museum itself, like its exhibits, makes itself notoriously difficult to be found, which is probably why news of this postmodernism-unleashed has not reached too many people already. We were pretty lucky with it, because we had Na'ama as a native personal guide, but it's very easy to imagine how, without her, we would have come out of there thinking: "Hey! The roughly 10% of the exhibits that we did manage to find were rather nice. I wonder where they hid the other 90..."

But all that lay in the future at this point, as the only museum we visited that Sunday was the Powerhouse museum. After it, Barak and Na'ama decided to show us the rest of the CBD (central business district - a common acronym in Australia) from the high vantage point of the city's small but pretty monorail.

We waited for the monorail for several minutes. Then one came up and stopped at the station. The doors opened, but the compartment was already overcrowded and there was no room for us. Orit tried to work her way in anyway. This proved to be a mistake, because by the time she realized that we would not be able to follow (nor want to), it was too late to back out. With a buzz, the transparent plastic doors closed, separating Orit from us. She tried to knock on the doors, but to no avail. I did the one logical thing a person can do when his wife is taken away from him like that: I waved goodbye.

Na'ama, Barak and I got on the next monorail train, and started to see the city. I remember trying to get some explanations from Na'ama, but this did not work at all, because Na'ama and I were, by then, trying to calm Barak, who was all worked up at the thought that we had lost Orit forever. This lasted up until the monorail reached its first station, where Orit joined our compartment again. She got off from the first monorail at the first chance she got and rejoined our group when the following train - our train - had arrived.

This, incidentally, proved to be a useful precursor to a much later event in the trip. However, for this I must make a short digression, and remind everyone of all the American movies in which kids ride in those big, yellow school-buses. Whenever this scene is shown from the perspective of the kids, almost invariably the bus driver is portrayed as a psychotic maniac. Up until that day in Australia, I thought that this was some form of poetic license, and certainly something confined to the American continent. Certainly, not something that laid-back Australia would have imported along with the coffee.

Nevertheless, one day, Orit and I found ourselves waiting in the familiar bus-stop that is along the main street of Cremorne (Military Road), just a ten-minute walk away from the home of Barak and Na'ama, looking for a bus that would take us into the city. A bus came, and I stepped into it in order to ask the driver whether his would be a good bus to board for this purpose. The conversation that ensued went something along the following lines:

"Hello, does this bus reach Wynyard station? Excuse me, that's my wife you just closed the door on. Do you mind letting her on the bus? I said, excuse me, that's my wife banging on the doors there from the outside, so do you mind stopping the bus to either let her in or me out?"
"Can't you read? This is a number six bus."
"I can read the number six, I'm just not from here and have no idea what it means."
"It means I am a school bus. But don't worry, I won't take you all the way to Wynyard station. I'll drop you off in the next one."

Whew... freaky business.

Going back to our first Sunday, though, after being reunited with the love of my life, we continued to celebrate by shopping in Paddy's Market, which is the most central of Sydney's many bargain markets/flee markets, after which we lunched in the nearby Chinatown in an authentic, Chinese Yum-Cha place. (The gory details regarding this particular meal are best left unsaid, but if you're really interested, several ominous hints regarding it are dropped on the main page of the Novice Interface.)

Finally, when evening came we capped the day by a visit to Amos and Marcia,

who were at the time, as the pictures demonstrate, under extreme sleep deprivation, and also some heavy denial regarding this little stranger (a.k.a. Yonatan):

Just to give you an idea of the extent of their denial. We told them that on Monday, the next day, we were planning to go whale watching. Amos said that they might be joining with Yonatan. Sure. Right.

In the next page, the one regarding our whale watching experiences, you will hear much about my doom-saying habits, especially in regards to whale watching, but even the rest of the gang knew that whale-watching does not go with day-old babies.

I wonder what they would have thought, if they knew how the next day would actually turn up? At the time we left them, the dazed parents were discussing the possibilities of taking up golf lessons...