Thursday, February 22, 2007

Greetings from Kissing Point

We are experiencing the quintessential Sydney lifestyle, staying in a waterfront home, with its own small beach, at Kissing Point. It belongs to Dennis and Carolyn, an old friend of Sally's from her days at the Brompton Hospital. To get into the city, we take the River Cat from a nearby wharf, and admire other wonderful waterfront homes and new developments rising along the river.

It's all very pleasant. On Tuesday, I borrowed a bike and set off for the Olympic Village, just two ferry stops away. It was hard not to compare the new community with our city waterfront developments and the future Olympic Village at Southeast False Creek. I've written a piece on what I found for the Vancouver Sun. But suffice it to say, if our Olympic Village turns out as well as Newington, 7 years after, we’ll be ok.

Yesterday, it was a day of sailing in areas that were as undeveloped as the day James Cook landed in Sydney Harbour. Tonight I'm passing up the chance to crew on Dennis' boat at the his yacht club’s twilight race, but we'll be there for the celebratory drinks, assuming he retains his title as twilight champion.

Tomorrow, we set off. We plan to take about 10 days driving up the coast and around Brisbane. We will then fly to Townsville, from where we will drive up to Cairns and Port Douglas. At least, that's the plan. Then we’ll head over to Adelaide and Melbourne.

As for Sydney, it has the vibrancy and sophistication of London and New York, but it is so much more beautiful. The city is still on a high from the 2000 Olympics, which was the catalyst for the purchase of the River Cat ferries that connect communities all along the river. Future ferries may be solar powered, like this vessel which cruises around the harbour.

Of course, not all is well. The city has been going through a drought...for the past 6 years, and is seriously examining major water recycling programs or desalination facilities in the future. In addition, notwithstanding the comprehensive ferry, train and bus transportation networks, traffic congestion is also a serious problem. And housing affordability is a major concern. Sydney prices are very comparable to Vancouver.

But all in all, this is a very exciting and livable place. Had we not spent a month here at Christmas 2004, we would be staying much longer. But we can't this time. There are too many other Australian places to see. And every extra day here could mean one less day in the Greek Islands or Prague!

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