Monday, March 31, 2014

Inland Sydney

Sydney's Central Business District or CBD has some lovely architecture, open spaces and blue skies. We are going to start at the Royal Botanical Garden. We spent a good bit of one afternoon there, but we didn't do justice to it. There is just so much loveliness there. We were there in the middle of summer so things were in bloom, green and shady.

I won't remember all the names of the places I'm going to show you, but that is the herb garden above.

And yes, that is a lily pond.

With lots of birds around. The water, shady trees, and handouts from people attract them. There are lots of benches to sit and enjoy the vistas.

This is a relic from somewhere else that is in the garden. I think it came from Greece, given the names.

Did I say water? There were lakes with islands in them.

From the garden, you can walk out to Macquarie Point which looks out over the harbor. You can actually sit in the Botanical Garden and look at the harbor as the garden is adjacent to it. Macquarie Point has a rock chair that was built for Mrs. Macquarie by her husband, who was the Governor at the time. She liked to sit there and look at the water so after she died, he commissioned the rock chair. But what intrigued me were these overhanging rocks with fantastical shapes on the way to the chair.

Across Circular Quay from the Opera House and the Botanical Garden are these row houses which used to house stores and storerooms in the old days. This is a historical part of Sydney that has been well-preserved. I really enjoyed this all across Australia and New Zealand. Of course, their buildings are not that old, but they are intact and in good shape. China is very modern in most places. You don't see the mix of the old and new side-by-side except in a few places.

The Overseas Passenger Terminal is also there in Circular Quay. One day there was a cruise ship that blocked our view. We saw lots of passengers coming to board the ship, dragging their suitcases behind them. Cars cannot come onto the quay itself as it is pedestrian only. So they have to get dropped off, or get off the train and then walk to the terminal to board the ship.

This is a view of Circular Quay and the CBD (see the cruise ship for reference) from the bridge.

You can see the row houses down there slightly right of center.

We also walked by this memorial on our way to the museum. In China, there are monuments to the people's heroes. In other countries they are memorials to people who laid down their lives for their country. Different words, same thought.

This is the street we came out on after walking past the memorial in its park. We were headed to the museum to see the history of Australia. The museum turned out to be a little small but had a lot of interesting galleries on aboriginal art and history. From outside the museum you can see the tower. It actually is pretty close by.

One of the buildings we walked by a lot was the Victoria building. It used to be a market. We caught our bus down to the CBD from just outside. It is a lovely building from the outside so we decided to walk through it one day instead of walking by it. Wow! It was decorated in red and gold for Chinese New Year. Bu tlook at the architecture.

There are a couple of long galleries like this lined with shops. But the interior is just gorgeous and so well preserved.

Our hotel was near another section of the harbor called Darling Harbor and this is looking out over one side of Darling Harbor. We found a lovely pizza place here. I wish I could have carried the pizza place around with me because it was so wonderful to eat a good pizza. I miss pizza a lot. Pizza here is too sweet and not salty enough. It just doesn't hit the spot. The tomato sauce just isn't right. So I relished the pizza I got from that pizza place. I would have eaten it every night had I been allowed to.

This is looking out over the other side of Darling Harbor. Darling Harbor is an area of hotels, restaurants and shops. But there are places to hang out and sit and look at boats, people and the water. You get street musicians and acrobats and other performers there also. It reminds me a lot of the plazzas in Italy and the plazas in Europe and Latin America where people hang out and relax.

I leave you with one last shot of the tower. We didn't go up the tower because it was very similar to the Skytree in Tokyo and the N. Seoul Tower in Seoul - and we went up both of them. There was a lot to see in Sydney at ground level and we just didn't feel the need to go up. But we enjoyed looking at it from all angles. It helped anchor us as we walked around.

Next stop will be Manly before we head inland to Uluru or Ayers Rock.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Sydney Harbor and the Bridge

Sydney Harbor is just absolutely beautiful. The water is a deep, deep blue and I find it very relaxing to sit and look at the water.

We walked to the edge of the water right under the bridge and then we walked back to the point where you can climb up to the deck of the bridge. There is a pedestrian walkway across the bridge and we walked over and back, taking photos along the way. There is also an elevator that goes up to the top of one of the pylons where there is a museum and you can also put on a harness and go on the Bridge Climb. This guided walk and climb takes you onto the catwalks that are used for maintenance. We chose not to do either of these things.

Can you see the little people up there? I imagine the view would be fabulous from up there vs. on the deck, which is where I was. But I'd be too focused on not slipping that I wouldn't be able to look around!
We were also able to view the bridge from the Harbor and from the Opera House. Like the Opera House, the bridge is iconic. It is not a very long bridge and when you go over it in a car, it doesn't seem like much. It doesn't even look like much when you are on the deck of the bridge. But its curving lines with the strong. solid pylons on either end is just very graceful and sturdy at the same time.
This is a view of the bridge from the Opera House.

We didn't go to the North Shore of the harbor at all. Our only views were from the bridge and the ferry. But we did go to the North Shore by train to visit a friend in one of the northern suburbs.

Our harbor tour was a trip to Manly on the ferry. Manly is on a peninsula right on the Pacific Ocean. It is a very popular place for Sydney-siders to go on a nice weekend. Fortunately, we went on a weekday so it wasn't very crowded. I will get to Manly itself in another post. Today we will focus on the ride.

I told you the water was blue, didn't I? That is the opening to the open water outside the harbor.
That is the Sydney Tower in the center.
You get to look at the bridge and the Opera House from far away and then you get closer and closer and closer. It is really a beautiful way to see Sydney in a hurry.
I hope you enjoyed this 3-min tour of the harbor. Next time it will be Sydney away from the water.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

It has been a while

Why do I feel as if I have been saying this again and again? Probably because I have. But this is a travel story, not something boring about my fiber doings, although I will sneak in some of that at the end.

There is so much to write about that I have been overwhelmed as to where to start. But as with all things, the best place to start is just to start with something. So today, I am going to show you the Sydney Opera House from many different angles. I could write this as a story but then you'd see the Opera House over and over again. Today, if you don't want to see it or read about it, you can just skip it and I will not talk about it again.

I have always loved the Sydney Opera House. It is so iconic, so unique and such a graceful building. On our first day in Sydney, we took a tour of the Opera House. You can't photograph many parts of the Opera House for privacy reasons. There are multiple shows a day and there are people getting ready for the shows in the various theaters. Privacy laws say that you can't photograph them because they haven't given consent. There isn't anonymity in numbers as there are usually only one or two people and it isn't a public place like a park. In a way, I understand it but I didn't like not being able to take pictures.
The concrete ribs that hold up the roof have their own beauty as do the tiles on the roof which alternate between shiny and matte. The red theater - one of the smaller ones- had no one working in it so I could take photos. The Opera House rents out this theater and some of the others to both groups (theater, music, etc.) and to private citizens. You could have your reception, your kid's birthday party, a bar/bat mitzvah in this theater.

One of my disappointments was that we couldn't see the theater on the left in the above photo. It is one of the two main ones. There was a singer rehearsing in there who refused to let visitors through as it disturbed her. But, as a consolation, we were able to go through the backstage and were able to see the huge space underneath, where trucks can drive in with sets and music instruments and the like. We saw boxes labeled with the name of symphony orchestras. And we saw the sets for Carmen which was one of the operas that were being staged. In fact, it was the one that night so we saw pieces downstairs and then saw it being raised on a giant elevator to the actual stage when we were up in the theater. Very cool. The theaters don't have wings to store sets and other pieces so there is a lot of movement up and down. There is a giant turntable so they can have sets back-to-back and rotate them into position as needed.

The bottom photo shows the steps leading up. The first time I was in Sydney, I ran up the steps. i also ran up to the Harbor Bridge and ran across this. That was 20 years ago. This time, I just walked sedately up the steps and also across the bridge. Times and bodies change.
Approaching the Opera House from the Circular Quay side.
We left from the other side and went to the Royal Botanical Garden so this is the view from that side.

On our last day in Sydney, we took the ferry to Manly to see the harbor and see the beaches there. On the way back on the ferry, you get fabulous views of the Opera House from the water with the Sydney skyline behind it.
On another day, we went both under and on the Harbor Bridge. What you see below is the view of the Opera House from underneath the Bridge - on the other side of Circular Quay.
And this is the Opera House from the Bridge itself. One of the things that is amazing about a sunny day in Sydney is how blue the sky and the water is. Coming from a Shanghai winter, it was spectacular. We saw a lot of amazing colored water on this vacation and you'll see that as I post the photos.
I leave you with another view from under the Bridge - one that maybe tries to show it as a ship in sail, which is what it is supposed to be, conceptually.
There is a backstage tour at 7:30 am which I may want to take at some point in the future. That is before anyone is working so it might be possible to take pictures then. But we weren't really motivated to get up and get there at 7:30 given we were on holiday AND coming from China which is 3 hours behind Sydney. Mornings were tough for the first few days.

I think I may do this for the Harbor Bridge also as I have the same variety of photos from different angles. I hope you enjoyed this sort of photo gallery rather than as someone tagging along with us on our travels.

I've been making progress on my Tour de Fleece project from last year. I think I want to finish it before the Tour this year.
This is a spindle I just finished. It was getting heavy and I don't enjoy spinning with a heavy spindle. I took this shot to show the colors that are layered underneath the orange. This is a ply-on-the-fly project - which was the technique I was learning last year. So I am getting a chain ply.

This is what I have left to spin. You can see the spindle I just started. There is going to be a lot of orange before I get to the yellow. The fiber has two large sections of purple and orange with the other colors forming a transition between the two. I wonder what I can make with this that won't look like a clown collar.

Ideas are welcome and will be appreciated.

Thank you for being patient. I will try to post at least a couple of times in short order before things catch up with me and I go back into hibernation from blogging.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Breaking a long silence

I am sorry I have been absent without leave for a while. We went on vacation to Australia and New Zealand over the Chinese New Year festival. Internet access was spotty so I couldn't post while I was traveling. Then, when I came back, life was so busy that I didn't even upload the photos till today. So now I can start to slowly blog about that trip as well as the previous one to Korea and Japan that I started and stopped.
Today's post is all about fiber. There is fiber in the holiday also but today's post is about my fibery activities.
While we were traveling, I knit this beauty up. It is a pattern called Bonsai and I both loved knitting it and love wearing it. I found the perfect beads in my stash. They have the colors of the yarn - which is my Fiber Optic Blackberry to Raspberry gradient. I wasn't able to use all the raspberry part as I needed to stop the repeats before I did the edging - so had to estimate how much I needed for that and the picot bind-off. In hindsight, I could have done one more repeat of the body pattern. Oh well. At least some of the raspberry is visible.
After I came back, I have been spinning. I had started a Briar Rose Cormo in reds on a spindle but it was going too slowly so I also started it on the Hansen. I finished spinning the second single on Friday.
I then plied it over the weekend. Since we are in an apartment and a cleaning lady comes twice a week, I am afraid to leave things lying around during the week. Plying is especially dangerous because there are two fine threads stretched out across part of a room. Therefore, there was a marathon plying session and I finished it on Sunday, or so I thought. After I was done with the first bobbin, I went to get the cops fhat I had spun on the spindle and.... what did I find?
More fluff! The Hansen was occupied with the second single going through the orifice and so I didn't feel like breaking that just to spin this bit. Out came the spindle. I did two cops and estimated how much bigger one had to be given what was on the bobbin. I was so close. I had a tiny bit of the second cop left and plied that on itself from the inside and the outside. I lost a bit to snarls as it was freshly spun but it was so tiny that it doesn't matter.
Here is the plying before that little bit went on. It has some lovely color changes. I am thinking of making Adrift with it. There is a lot of yardage. I don't know exactly how much yet as I haven't wound it off into a skein but that giant Hansen bobbin is full and it is a nice light fingering-laceweight. I am unfortunately still not consistent enough to get the same weight all the way across. One day....
I had started another shawl while traveling but it didn't speak to me. I have decided to frog it and I am going to start a shawl with these yarns from a kit. They are Strickwear Merging Colors yarns - 100% merino. I don't like the scarf pattern that came with the kit but I love the yarns and colors.
I want to make Echolaria, a cross between Laminaria and Echo Flowers. It is a large shawl which is why I chose it. There is 8 oz of laceweight in that photo and I want to use all of it. I haven't started yet. I have wound the first skein and will start this week.
That is all for now. I have new projects planned for the Hansen and the spindle, but nothing in the works yet.
Travel photos coming soon, I promise! You can see them on flickr if you can't wait. My name is the same as on Ravefry. I'd rather not post it here.
Thank you for your patience!