21 December 2009

Ultimo, not Instant

We wanted to go to the beach on Friday, but it rained. We had appointments at the Apple Store on Saturday (my iPod gave up the ghost, and it looks like my iBook's about to make a trend of it). I ended up getting an iPod Touch to replace my iPod-- I'm thrilled with it so far, not only because I've been without my podcasts for over a week now. I've already loaded the VeganYumYum app! It's awesome!

And then we thought maybe we'd get to the beach on Sunday, but an ominous gray blanket of clouds changed those plans. We felt like getting out of the house, so we decided to risk a walking tour. The City of Sydney Pyrmont/Ultimo tour starts at Pyrmont Bridge, and on the way there, Craig and I caught some of those spectacular moments of weirdness that bubble over in Western cities.

Someone made an odd sort of holiday feast for the pigeons.

Allow me to draw your attention to the "Coconut Polo" and the " 'Chicken' Croissant." What the hell is a Polo? And no, that is not chicken, and no, you do not put chicken on a croissant! Further, a word of advice: never ever put in your mouth a thing that is called "Sprinkle Pork Floss." Just don't, okay? Trust me. I didn't, and my life is good.

Pyrmont and Ultimo used to be sort of industrial dockyards, where Sydney's woolstores and goodsyards would sort goods for export. So, the area was a major economic influence on the city until road and air freight became cheaper, obviating the shipyards. About 20 years ago, the area was derelict, but has since seen a major resurgence as tourism and real estate developers and media conglomerates have moved in.

Darling Island used to be an actual...island, but in the 1840's, they connected it to the mainland; ships were built and maintained there right up until the 1890's. In 2003, the area was under re-construction, and they found these enormous old iron boat propellors! They're probably from the 1860's-1880's.

Pyrmont Point Park used to have baths and a tidal pool, but they were demolished, and a park was put in. An art installation pays homage to the tides' former contribution to the park; these red ladders rise and fall with the tide. This park is amazing; it's sort of a two-level character. From this part, you get this really unique view of the Harbour Bridge, but from the upper level (called Giba Park), you get these amazing panoramic views of the city and the harbour.

In this neighbourhood, you can really see how Sydney is a city built on cliffs. It's a layered city, people making use of every level surface they can find.

This hotel reminded me of Atlanta.

Pyrmont was also a quarrying site; the yellow block sandstone from this area was used in several of Sydney's most glorious buildings, including Sydney University, the Art Gallery of NSW, and government buildings. Back when the quarries were in use, they created a lot of jobs, but also made Pyrmont a blasted-looking and treeless place. These days, it's a beautiful part of town, and the trees have even overtaken the sandstone cliffs.

How many lorikeets can you fit in your tree?

Though this walking tour included a lot of stuff that Craig and I already knew about (the ABC studios or Darling Harbour), it also showed us a lot of really small precious jewels that I'm not sure we ever would have known about otherwise. It included a bit of city, a bit of cool old historical stuff, and some water's edge.

But I have to say, as great as this walking tour is, I'm beginning to understand that the walking tour of my dreams is a bitter impossibility. Because though these tours often explain things you never wondered about in the first place, though these tours are often interesting in their strange details, all I want is a walking tour that will explain why there is a swordfish and fisherman sculpted into the side of this building on Broadway. I will probably never know; I must merely resign myself.

Oh! An update: Craig and I haven't had another go at screenprinting yet – and we won't until we get home from our Christmas adventures in Thailand and Cambodia – but when we do, we're thinking about printing this design for our mailbox. What do you think of it? You want one?

Lastly: Craig's really gotten into breadmaking lately; he's been baking all sorts of strange breads. Today, from our diminutive little oven, came his very first baguettes. Aren't they beautiful? Isn't he? The baguettes taste good, too-- anyone who visits gets fresh bread and fresh cinnamon rolls.

And, of course, your very own guided walking tours around one of the weirdest cities on the planet. Do you know about the bats?

1 comment:

  1. In case you're curious, Nija bought me an excellent guidebook to bread-baking, Peter Reinhart's The Breadmaker's Apprentice, as an early birthday present. These baguettes are made from the "French Bread" recipe and I used a ratio of 3:7 hard whole wheat to soft white flour, with an overnight cold fermentation. Also, yes, I've totally been working out, thanks for noticing!