Oh yeah, we ran into Peter, whom I met last night when Julian and I went over to the Oxford. Peter is from Manly, and was off to visit his brother after stopping at a bottle shop. A bottle shop does, in fact, sell bottles, but it's actually the alcoholic contents of the bottles that matters. Peter has been a tourguide, and our fortuitous meeting gave him the opportunity to point out the names of the coves and islands in Sydney Harbour and to note various historical facts and stories, information for which I was avid and grateful. It was a wonderful boat ride, past the stunningly expensive seaside apartments and homes that line the hills along the harbor.
Manly felt like many a seaside town I've seen, although the Sydney-Victorian architecture amid palm trees and the tall pines planted along the beach was distinct. I picked up a few key items at Manly Souvenir Gift Land and then we walked past a variety of restaurants until we came to the beach itself. Despite the overcast skies and early spring nip in the air, many surfers in wet suits were playing about in the waves, looking from a distance like aquatic creatures. We walked up the beach, then back, talk talk talking some more. We ate a snack of fish and chips, notably well made, then we returned to the ferry.
Before the next ferry departed there was time to stop at Chocolate by the Bald Man Max Brenner, a place that feels like Starbucks for Hot Chocolate with far fancier desserts. I had a fine cup of Equador Dark Chocolate with Orchid Flower Oil in a teardrop-shaped mug. By the time the ferry departed it had gotten dark, and the lights of Manly and, indeed, the whole harborside were blazing in dramatic beauty. We sailed back to Sydney Harbour, talking about more things, and bathing in the lights of the Harbour Bridge and Luna Park and the Sydney Opera House. We moved to the other end of the boat to view the nighttime Central Business District, where many skyscrapers glow in color. The ferryboat ride back was the sort of experience that, had it come at the end of the trip, would have brought a tear to the eye and a determined vow to return, by gum.
It was the perfect Sydney afternoon.
Tomorrow to Perth.