AES’EA – Slight Water Damage

The rain has passed! I’ve never been quite so happy to see a cloudy and not rainy sky. The day only got nicer as we went on, and this was certainly our best day in Sydney so far.

Breakfast once again started at Haven, the coffee/breakfast place next door. They offer the unique opportunity to customize your coffee along five axes: aroma, body, bitterness, sweetness, acidity. I got my same cappuccino, this time with increased aroma and body. For breakfast, I got a black sesame mochi waffle, topped with a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and a sesame toffee chip. It was… wonderful.

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I’ve literally never been disappointed by a breakfast that included ice cream

From there, we shipped off to Manly, a town across the water from Sydney. It was a medium length ferry ride away, one that reminded me strongly of the ride from San Francisco to San Rafael.

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The wharf wasn’t manly at all… I want my money back!

A wonderfully helpful tour booth attendant recommended a specific trail to walk around for the day, which was spectacularly pretty under the refreshing sunlight. We first walked across the strip to the opposite coast, containing the famous Manly beach.

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Hey there, Mr. Blue

I managed to get a bit of high quality Wifi, so of course the first thing I did was download all of the local Geocaches to see if I could get my first Australian find. We spent about thirty minutes looking for one near Manly beach, but had no luck. It’s possible that the storm that consumed the area for the past two days disrupted the cache, that my lack of data and continuous wifi service added some error to my GPS location, or that we were just missing it. Regardless, we moved on. We continued down the beach and onto a coastal trail towards the next beach, but found it roped off as large portions of the concrete had been broken during the storm. In order to continue, we had to walk up to the road and continue around the peninsula at that level. We walked by some really nice houses, some of which had serious water or structural damage. Southern Australia really wasn’t prepared for the storm they just got. Finally we were able to return to the beach level, just in time to get to our second beach, Shelly Beach.

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The sun was really out by this point. It’s starting to feel like a real vacation!

I directed us to the most scenic and coastal path, mostly so I could get a second shot at finding an Australian geocache. This one was unbelievably simple – I read the extra hint ahead of time to try to find it as quickly as possible, but I still saw it within fifteen seconds of walking within eyesight. After doing the standard song and dance of explaining to the various other hikers what the hell I was doing, we continued east into the Sydney Harbor National Park.

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Those tiny black dots in the middle right are all surfers

Along the way we picked up a fellow traveler who was heading in the same direction. Together, we trekked through some relatively gentle trails made quite difficult by fallen branches and mid-path streams. Finally, after a few hours of walking, we made it to North Head’s final lookout, just in time for sunset.

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Walking back towards town was a bit treacherous in the dark, but we very luckily ran into a taxi about a third of the way down, and split the fare for the rest of it. For dinner we went to 4 Pines Brewing Company, a super tasty local brewery. Their Monday promotion was a free pint of beer with any meal, which we gladly ordered.

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Ethan’s cider on left, my wheat beer on right

The beer was exceptionally light and refreshing. It had lemon and lime notes to it, a bit like a sprite without all of the sugar. For dinner I got a fresh Bouillabaisse. The bread and cheese could have been a bit more toasted, but the seafood combination was stellar and cooked to perfection. Together with the beer, it was a steal.

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Bouillabaisse – another dish I rarely find disappointing. So long as the contents are fresh, it’s hard to go wrong

For our final stop, we took advantage of the increasingly clear night to go see Vivid, Sydney’s light festival. The whole city is wallpapered with advertisements, so we were all anxious to go and seized our chance once we got off the ferry. Many buildings around the wharf (including the Opera House itself) were lit up with spectacular, ever shifting colors. Together with a local, unlabeled Shiraz, it was a surreal experience.

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That’s all for tonight! I have to go to sleep somewhat early, because we have a long day of hiking and touring ahead of us tomorrow!

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