Meeting Up With Old Acquaintances – Sydney

Breakfast in a box is fine for a short term stay, but people in a box is quite out of the question. We had had it with this windowless room by this point, so Ron went to see if we could change rooms. They were quite gracious with the request, most likely since after the first, more rooms were vacant. We moved to a larger room with a bay window and a welcoming bathroom. The shower area was without barriers, the shower head sprays with a rain shower flow, giving the feeling of being caught in a spring rain.

We passed up the breakfast in the box once settled into our new space and walked to Hyde Park with its outdoor café. Ron chose the waffles, a treat we do not find often in Hungary. I had eggs, but the waitress got the order wrong and had to correct it. Later, she confused our second coffee order and had to correct that too. We were feeling a little sorry for her mistakes since she was young and cheery otherwise. We attributed it to accent differences creating misunderstandings.

We wandered in a different direction for a change and came across this elevated fountain that almost covered half of a city block. Underneath the fountain, where glass panels, where I spotted some movement. Peering through the glass, I realized that underneath was a swimming pool. As it turned out, this was the YMCA. The combination of the pools and the fountain was an ingenious use of space.

At the other end of this complex sits St. Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, which was open, so we wandered through. In one niche, there was a black virgin and child similar to the ones we have seen in South Africa and in Poland. I am curious as to whether it is for the Aboriginal people or has some other rationale. What I found most interesting was that they had a full blown gift shop. Many churches have gift areas, but this was like a regular store sized shop. We were scooted out after we were there for twenty minutes because a wedding was going to begin shortly.

Walking through a part of the botanical gardens, much of it was closed for reconstruction, we found our way to Museum of New South Wales. Much of the works were modern pieces, but they did have a good sized collection of Aboriginal art, so we spent most of our time viewing it. They also had an exhibit of modern Aboriginal work such as photography. After an hour and half, I was again on sensory overload and decided to wait outside why Ron breezed through the European collection.

As I was sitting on the steps outside, an older man and his wife were entering the museum. The man had on an Obama T-shirt. Since Ron has worn his habitually and has received wonderfully warm comments from others, I decided to comment to this O supporter with a greeting. He looked at me, grunted “Yea, hi!” and walked on. So much for that.

A little over a year ago, we had an Australian couple stay at our B and B. Ron and Fred were a fun couple and Fred loved puns. Each time he was around the apartment, he flowed with puns and other good humor. His other love was antiquing and had written a number of articles for antique magazines in Australia. His goal was to do some research while here to collect enough data to get a couple of articles written. Ron was quiet, good natured, and a bear of a man. Ron had left us his business card told us to send him a note if we ever came to Australia. Before we left Hungary, I had written to him. He e-mailed that he would be in Melbourne for Christmas, so perhaps we could meet then. He did impart some very sad news. Fred had passed away this previous March. Shortly after they returned from Europe, Fred was diagnosed with cancer. His illness was short, but for Ron, the recovery is a long process. They had been together for over eleven years.

When Ron was in Melbourne, he tried leaving messages at our hotel without success, so tried again in Sydney, where he lives. He gave us directions to his house, which involved an hour long bus ride into the suburbs, and then a two block walk from there. He and Sandy, his dog were waiting for us. Ron lives in one of the narrow English style homes we have been seeing all over the city and outer areas. I had been so curious about what they looked like inside, it was an opportunity to fulfill my curiosity.

You enter into the living room, a smallish square room that when fully furnished for comfortable living leaves little room to move around in. He toured us through the next room, the kitchen. Barely enough room for two people if they stood side by side, but convenient for the short reach from the fridge to the stove or sink. This is not a kitchen for gourmet cooks. Following this is the bedroom, again a smallish square room that accommodates the purpose with little room left over for any creativity. From the bedroom, you go out to the porch and the backyard or little square patch. Ron being a gardener, has the porch and little patch covered with plants of all kinds. He showed us his collection of some rare plants that he has proudly nurtured success fully. Sandy, his dog gave us lots of loving and welcoming filling our doggie fix. We talked about Fred and our sorrows for both of them, including how much we had enjoyed Fred’s humor.

Ron decided we would go out to eat and suggested a Vietnamese restaurant. He picked up his friend Alfonso on the way. Alfonso was a former partner of Ron’s and is an archaeologist by training, but works for the city. He is originally from Brazil, but emigrated here when he was sixteen years old. We ordered a number of dishes to share, but not one of them was memorable. We thought most of them were dry, not providing enough juice to moisten the white rice served with them. In spite of my thoughts, our hosts had other beliefs; obviously others did too, since every table was full when we left.

We took an after dinner stroll, getting a gelato on the way. Ron fell in step with me, while my Ron kept pace with Alphonso, each pair having a pleasant conversation. Afterward, Ron drove Alphonso home and then dropped us off close to the hotel, which we were grateful for allowing us to avoid an hour long bus ride. It was so much shorter in the car.

Back at the hotel, we had one of their micro-brewery beers sitting outside enjoying the summer breezes and warmth, and then went up to our room to enjoy our new room, bed, and shower.