This is my third trip to Sydney and I never tire of visiting Circular Quay and The Rocks. If you only had four hours to spend here, this is certainly where you’d want to do it. Many of the iconic sights Sydney has to offer can be found in this compact area. It is here that you can visit the Sydney Opera House, The Sydney Harbor Bridge, The Rocks, and the bustling central business district all on foot.
I could sit at Circular Quay (pronounced “key”) for hours and just watch the profound diversity of people walking by and the green and yellow ferries scurrying about the harbor taking people to ports of call such as Manly, Balmain, Cockatoo Island, and Paramatta. And if that wasn’t enough there’s the stunning backdrop of the opera house, the harbor bridge, and the skyscrapers of downtown all within view without leaving your bench or coffee house. Today there was a HUGE cruise ship, the Arcadia, docked at Circular Quay that seemed to change the scale of everything.
It was sort of early in the morning and well before most tourists are out and about. It turns out that this is a wonderful time to explore the back alleyways of the area known as “The Rocks,” the oldest section of Sydney dating from the late 1700’s to early 1800’s. It’s called The Rocks because of the large limestone building blocks used to build most of the structures. There are numerous historical markers and based on what I can tell, it must have been a tough and bawdy place in its time, especially when there were a lot of sailors in port. These days it’s bawdy in the late afternoon when the old pubs overflow with tourists or if there is a game of footy on the telly. But it’s not too tough though.
From The Rocks I strolled up George Street which if there is a “main street” it would be this one. It’s always bustling with people with obviously very important places to go. Before long I was in Chinatown after a quick stop at the Queen Victoria Building. In Chinatown I found a little hole in the wall place that sold Vietnamese pork rolls. The name is deceiving since it is really a sandwich on wonderful French bread (the only parting gift the French left behind when they controlled Vietnam). It was only $3.95 and is an entire meal. I absolutely love them, and this one was as good as any I had in Vietnam. With my prize in hand I walked over to the old Haymarket, found a table and savored every last bite.
It was then I realized how dangerously close it was to nap time. I took a bus back home.