Transition Day

Trip Start Nov 06, 2003
Trip End Jan 24, 2004

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Monday, January 19, 2004

Compared with my family I'm an early riser. For most of the trip, I've used this solitary time to write, research the road ahead and listen to the quiet breathing of the girls.

The last days of the trip, my innate impatience to get going turns me into an early morning grump. Yes, the view across western Sydney is lovely from our balcony and yes I can smell and hear the city, but come on people, wake up! Chop chop! I while away the time doing quick excursions in the Pyrmont neighbourhood behind the hotel. There's an IBM satellite office right across the street where I burn photos to CD to free up more space for pictures, and just up the road are some decent pastry shops and cafes.

Emma is oblivious to my mounting level of frustration, except noticing I'm more spastic than normal. She sleeps in, ambles through a shower, dawdles through breakfast, and seems quite content to laze around the pool and read for most of the day.

I finally lose it on Monday. Only our fourth day in the city and we're already repeating ourselves going back down to Cockle Bay and Paddy's Market, which is closed, damn it. I revert back to an adolescent state and quietly fume back to the hotel for a "nap" while they enjoy an outback show at the aboriginal centre.

When I meet back up with them, we all talk about my spaz, and it's agreed that 1) if Emma doesn't want to get up early, we can leave her sleeping in the hotel; 2) everyone will make an attempt to do more things; and 3) I'll settle down.

Refocused and refreshed with a swim, we take the ferry to Circular Quay, have a great quick meal then hop on a new route to Cremorne to take a third try at Shakespeare on the Beach in Balmoral. This is our first trip (ignoring Manly) to the more residential North Shore. The ferry swings out of sight of the harbour and glides down a quiet inlet of houses and greenery. You'd never know you were in a city of 4 million.

I have no real concept of the distance between Cremorne and Balmoral, so it's a good thing we hop on the waiting bus. It climbs up a long hill of posh residences and 10 minutes later discards us in Mosman with a good walk still ahead of us. This is a pleasant neighbourhood shopping district. As we're walking along window shopping, an advert for the Shakespeare production jumps out at me: Friday, Saturday, Sunday only!

It's a sign of how well things are sorted things out that we all start laughing. The long walk back to the ferry is one of my favourite nights of the trip. The sun works its warm way out of the sky and fruit bats begin their crepuscular flights towards the horizon. Dusk gathers, and the lovely brick houses down the hill sparkle their stained glass windows at us. It is quite dark by the time we reach the parklands near sea level. From out of the trees the loud and eerie calls of the Kookaburra, sounding for all the world like monkeys in some African jungle, coax us into the park along a walkway set far above the ground. In the muffled light of nautical twilight we peer up into the gum trees.

The ride back to Circular Quay is magical. We're almost alone on the bow of one of the newer cat ferries, and we stealth along on dark waters, occasionally stopping at a wharf stop, lit and silent in the night. When we turn out of the inlet, the lights of the city beckon us across the harbour to bed.

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