The caretaker at The Lord Nelson, Ken, is Sydney born and bread. We are very fortunate to have breakfast next to him at the hotel during most of our stay. He is a huge asset to this place, a one man chamber of commerce for all of Sydney, actually. Today will be hot and humid. Ken suggests that today is the day to go to Manly Beach. He’s not the first person to suggest Manly over other beaches. Opal card in hand, sunblock, water, hats, we are ready.
Taking the harbor ferry is, again, blissful. Seeing this opera house and thrill that we were at the top of that harbor bridge, and the sun is fully blessing Sydney today, it is a great day to be here! The Manly ferry is huge, and we go to the second floor for the nonstop 40 minute ride.
The ferry doors open right onto beachy shops on a wide pedestrian street that ends at a stunning beach. Barry and I think the beach isn’t unlike La Jolla, with its promenade along the beach and the shops are sort of like Santa Monica’s 4th Ave, only Manly is much sweeter. On the way down the Main Street to the beach we pass a donut shop that makes me come to an abrupt halt. Doughnut Time is 1940s cute, with an adorable clock logo that says something like “anytime is the right time for donuts”. These doughnuts are huge and the fillings and toppings aren’t like anything I’ve seen, even on Portland’s sinful Voodoo donuts. We are too full to try one, BUT I looked them up online, and they have other shops in Sydney. I will make one of you mine, my prettys!
The beautiful little children all around are conspicuously pale. Generally, they are slathered with sunblock, wear hats and often have rash guard type suits on. (I worked briefly with an Aussie when I was at Poway Unified District office. I remember her telling me the rule for kids in Australian schools, “No hat, no play”. She said they were really careful about skin cancer with the kids in the schools.)
On a weekday at this beach, I see mommies and little kids, school groups, young adults and ladies of my age and generous proportions who are comfortable in suits that reveal more than I would dare. Hey, it’s all good, no worries. After a little beach walking, I convince Barry that we should rent an umbrella and lounge chairs. Ah, this is the life! My mind drifts from conscious to unconscious while listening to surf, gulls, children playing in the water. Time is suspended.
We are crisping up, even under the umbrella after a couple of hours. I wipe the sandy drool from the corner of my mouth, must have dozed off. Time to move from the sand. A seafood restaurant a block away offers a devine appetizer sampler plate, and with a crisp Hunter Valley Australian Sauvignon Blanc, we are as happy as clams (or oysters, in this case). Our Morton Bay bugs look like small lobsters and are yummy, oysters are creamy and briney, prawns are good and the salmon served two ways (one with caviar, wrapped around asparagus and the other in a packet of CREAM CHEESE) are amazing. I have to admit that the US dollar is strong right now and we are feasting without breaking the budget. This adds another tick up on my ever present grin.
That evening we try out the Australian, the pub where the man who shot the child molester got away with murder and Paul Hogan’s favorite pub. We have to order the coat of arms pizza. The Aussie coat of arms has a kangaroo and an emu on it. Our new buddy, Ken, told us that they are on the national emblem because neither are physically able to step backward. Australia will always move forward, inspired, isn’t it? Actually, they may be great as symbols for Australia, but they don’t taste so good on pizza.