This is a view of the Circular Quay where most of our activity centered on this day, but that's going ahead of the story. Today saw one of the best and most fun filled days of our tour here in Australia. I didn't immediately go to sleep last night after coming from the internet rental here in the neighborhood of our hotel. After watching the TV, I closed all the lights and watched the scene from the window. We had one of the best deals having been billeted here in the center of Sydney's night life. You could meet some of the most colorful characters here! I spent some minutes looking out the window and thinking what other stories could each of them have if they ever had the chance.

The breakfast we ate this morning was free and I had a couple of steamed sliced tomatoes, scrambled eggs, a mix of ham & bacon, rice, some fruits, orange juice, and my mom's unfinished yoghurt. After going back to the room to brush our teeth we rushed out to the subway to catch the time of our bay cruise. We ran and ran through many streets while the rain drizzled on our heads and the biting cold wind blew constantly on our faces. Our poor Mom had a very hard time trying to catch up with us and inspite of all the panic that we did, we still missed the boat. Fortunately the cruise ship returns every hour to pick up more passengers so we hung around a small cafe right beside the dock. I took out my big journal and started drawing the view from where we sat. Time flew fast and I almost didn't have enough time to finish the details of the drawing when the boat returned.

We got down at the Circular Quay and started the first of a series of long walks towards the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Along the way we already took some spectacular views of the bridge and the Opera House in the distance. Though the rains stopped every once in a while, it would also start and pour hard down on us. We also stopped by a souvenir shop and bought some presents for Daddy. After some more walks and photo ops we encountered a fat tri-colored cat who was friendly enough to let itself be patted on the head. ore long walks toward the bridge, and another one up the view point in the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon Museum & Lookout. They did a brilliant job in their museum with their artifacts, stories of its construction, photographs of the workers, a documentary of the whole thing being constructed. More photo ops at the top and while we were busy taking pictures and enjoying the view, our mom sat back inside the make-shift benches and started massaging her sore legs.

It was nearly lunch when we got down from the bridge and started walking towards the Opera House. It was another long walkgoing around the roads we took and back to the other side where the landmark was located. We talked about the mixture of buildings nearby which were down in the style of turn of the century architecture, the Mod 50's or 60's, and modern style. About halfway towards the Opera House, our Mom was already complaining about all that walk that we took without long pauses. Our brother carried on, trying to encourage us that we could settle down easily when we get there. Ah phooey! I took the initiative to sit down on a bench near the place and started sketching a view of the bridge from the other side. I also could have done the Opera House if it didn't start raining again. Anyway, after the rains, we looked around and I sent another text message to my friend Xavier who's in Melbourne. Then we tarried along back to the harbor, I guess some of us wouldn't have complained if we knew where my brother wanted us to stop and take a short rest.

We waited for the boat after a some minutes of walking down the pier to the place where we originally got off. There were some street performers taking advantage of the holiday crowd (compared back home in the Philippines, Good Friday here in Sydney's happily busy with some establishments open for business). We boarded the boat that went around the bay and this time we got down to see the native animals in Taronga Zoo. Btw, the tour guide in charge of the cruise around the harbor told some interesting stories about the places that we passed including the top floor of a hotel that Russel Crowe purchased for $14M. Back to the zoo, the entrance fee was a hefty $23 but I guess it was all worth it since we all enjoyed our time there. After a quick lunch of sodas and sandwiches, we went around to look for the native animals of Australia, starting with the sleepy Koala bear, then the Tasmanian Devil with its unfinished bunny meal scattered around it while it took a snooze, the white dingo that wouldn't look our way, the night rodents, the chubby echidna that amused us with its innocent walk around its habitat, the small platypuses that just swam around, and the wallabies that let us pet it without worry. After all that our last stop, predictably enough, was the souvenir shop. I bought a panda stuff toy (made in the Philippines to boot!) and the others bought various gifts for Daddy and for my brother's "special someone." We took another boat ride that took us back to the Circular Quay activity center, bought a chocolate shake in McDonald's (I swear it's one of the best I've ever tasted!), picked up some maple leaves around the bus stop while my Mom and sis went to use the toilet and my brother figured out which bus to ride. This was around 6 pm and it was very good of my brother to suggest that we take the bus since we also enjoyed a lot of the views of the city (at least I did). The one thing I didn't appreciate about the bus ride was seeing the depressed neighborhoods with it's dilapidated apartments. Don't ask me why, I'm just here trying to heal and forget the reason. We went down after a while and walked to the next bus stop, we passed by, among others, the Starbucks café and I saw one guy that reminded me of one of the characters that I made. Hmmm... but there was a real interesting thing about that park beside the bus stop where we waited. It was the welcome presence of bats in a lighted tree right beside the road. They were big noisy bats that flew in and out the foliage of the tree that hung in. Thanks to the flood lights we could very much discern where they were. To the untrained ear they could have sounded like a flock of birds that wouldn't go to sleep.

We didn't wait long before the bus came, thoughts came one after the other while journey back home continued. We were pleasantly surprised to find out that the bus stop we were going off to was just across the hotel we were staying. We stopped by a DVD and CD shop on the way, which btw, had a X-Men 1.5 DVD. This DVD I read in a paper later on is part of the intended give-away package at the movie premiere next week. I'll get that DVD tomorrow along with the 3 Stooges if the budget allows for it. We stopped by the hotel to rest a bit before going out again to Bondi Beach. We walked halfway through the establishments before settling down to eat at a Thai restaurant that served excellent dishes. The rains poured down again obstructing the view of the full moon over the waters. But that didn't stop us from going down to the shore and taking some pictures and some sand. There was also a scary moment there when the downpour was particularly hard and we were seeking shelter behind a building next to the beach. There was a guy, his hood obstructed his face, sucking on his cigarette at the other end. Since the place was quite deserted, my Mom felt uneasy and so did I. My brother objected at first that we couldn't run through the rain and to just let the guy be. But after a while he also felt uneasy and he changed his mind. We ran through the rain and got some ice cream at my suggestion. Then we waited for the bus that would take us to the subway station near the hotel.

After arriving at the hotel and resting once more, me, my brother and sister decided to go out one last time to see the harbour bridge at night and this time from the other side. Our Mom didn't go with us this time, prefering to spend her time watching TV in her room. We took two subway trains (one station had a giant sized poster of X-Men 2 and we talked about the merits and demerits of the first movie and the actors). When we got to the place, we walked up a bit towards the bridge and just took a couple of shots. Then it's off to the subway once again to wait for the train that would take us back home. I dunno about the security of the trains and deserted places but after that incident at Bondi beach I just felt uneasy around lone strangers in the trains we took. Most especially if there aren't that much people in the carriage with us. I hope this goes away.

But all in all, I really liked Sydney and like what I told my sister earlier in the ferry boat coming from the zoo, "For me, Sydney is the new San Francisco." Indeed it was, if there ever was another place that I felt really at home far away from home, it would be this place with it's old charm, friendly, colorful, laid-back people and homey ambience.