I didn’t want to go back to the hotel so I went to The Bear again and ordered fish and chips. There was a theater nearby showing—of all things—Jersey Boys. The Bear was packed with people my age having a bite to eat and drink before the early show. There were couples, and groups of bedazzled girlfriends, and older women with their even-older elderly mothers.
When reluctantly returned to the hotel there was a message from Heidi—written on a piece of paper. Her phone had gone dead or she’d been without wireless or GPS or some such thing.
I had just missed her. I trod back to The Bear to get wireless but didn’t want to wait in line to buy anything so I stood just close enough to the entrance to get the signal. The waiter walked by, waved and grinned.
I called Heidi using Facebook messenger, and by luck she was also getting wireless somewhere.
“Aw, Annie! I can’t believe what happened with your passport! And then me not acknowledging any of it for four days! I can’t believe you’ve been in Sydney for two days already!”
She was at work and would be staying nearby with her second cousin that night. We made a plan to meet up at Auntie Margaret’s the following evening.
I consulted my paper map and saw I was actually in Chinatown and there was something that looked like a huge outdoor market a few blocks west of The Bear. I found it; the outdoor market was closed but it being early evening the whole area was heaving with crowds of shoppers visiting the stores. I had nothing to prove to anyone by staying out late so returned to the hotel, had a cup of tea, and watched TV.
I was horrified but laughed out loud as I watched the Australian men’s swim team gift Prince Harry with a pair of budgie smugglers on their visit to Bondi Beach.
Budgie smuggler = Australia-speak for Speedo. Prince Harry took it well. I wonder how his grandmother would have reacted if she’d been gifted a bullet bra on her first trip to Aus in 1954.
Sorry but now you’ll have to picture budgie smugglers for the rest of your day.
The next morning I breakfasted at The Bear on a giant omelet and hash browns, then set off for the RBG. I was determined to return to the gift shop there and do some damage.
But first, the Art Gallery of New South Wales. From the outside it looks like most such places—ponderous and intimidating.
But the galleries really took advantage of Australia’s natural light, which was abundant even on a cloudy day.
I decided to have a decent coffee in the café, which was lovely and bright and surrounded by gardens. There, I registered Heidi and me to win a luxury cruise to Singapore worth $11,000 Australian dollars. I’m sure we’ll be informed of our big win any day now.
The first art work I visited was a most famous painting of Sydney Harbor by Brett Whiteley, the late husband of Wendy Whiteley, whose hidden garden near Auntie Margaret’s I had enjoyed a few weeks back. This canvas must have been 12 feet by six, and the blue was so deep and rich that no photo can capture it.
I loved this little landscape with wallabies.
And this Buddha, with some sort of mod video installation in the background.
There was lots of Aboriginal art. These, as I understand it, are funeral totems.
These woven basket-type things to keep the sun and heat off of food and babies.
This contemporary painting depicted police surveillance of the Aboriginal community, the feeling of living under siege, and a chase which did not end well.
I whizzed through the RBG and hit the gift shop. I bought the greeting card version of this print and later, once I was home, the poster. When my friend Farhad saw this he exclaimed, “P&O! That’s the ship my parents took from India to London in 1950!”
These were the glory days of travel, at least for people who could afford it.