“The best things about Sydney are free: the sunshine’s free, and the harbour’s free, and the beach is free.”

My second day in Sydney was gloomier than the first but an excellent opportunity to explore the city.

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The rain made everything very green, like this little bit on the way over to Circular Quay.
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Little urban park in downtown Sydney
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Sydney Harbour Bridge
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Part of the Sydney skyline from the harbour

First things first, I stopped at the Apple Store to get some help for my iPhone’s frequent and infuriating blue-screen-of-death/reboot cycles. It turns out that this is a hardware defect, and the phone had to be replaced. But my phone was still under warranty, so they handed me a new one on the spot, free of charge. The woman who helped me said it was the last international phone in stock, so Merry Christmas to me. Since this is the last country to which I’ll be going in the next six months that has an Apple Store, I was relieved to have the problem resolved so painlessly.

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Sydney Opera House
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Sydney Opera House
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Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
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Sydney Opera House
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Sydney Opera House

As I was setting up my new phone on the store’s WiFi, an older couple came in with a damaged phone – “I got tangled up in my thong and fell into the lake with the phone,” the gentleman said, to which the Genius Bar rep replied, “Who hasn’t gotten tangled in their thong?” I started to raise my hand to indicate I had not in fact ever gotten tangled in my thong and then remembered Australians call flip-flops “thongs.” Somehow that makes the story less funny.

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Sydney Harbour Bridge
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Part of the Sydney skyline from the harbour
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Sydney skyline from Circular Quay
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Slightly awkward selfie at the Opera House

Since the torrential downpour continued, I opted to use the point-and-shoot camera I brought along for just such a purpose to save the big camera from exposure. I have been spoiled with my big camera in recent years and was surprised by how different the experience of using a basic camera was. I should do this more often though – it’s good for technique. But some of these photos are a little soft – the depth of field in the point-and-shoot is nowhere near what I usually use. Which is a total copout – I was being lazy. I firmly believe you don’t need a big camera to get great photos – the best camera is the one you have and use regularly.

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The beginning of The Rocks
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Argyle stairs – Argyle street was cut into solid rock
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Argyle street
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This monument in The Rocks honors the original settlers

Aside: This title quote is probably seeming ironic about this point, where I’ve talked about two different devices I “can’t live without.” It’s funny and a bit sad how quickly we become attached to our technology and freak out utterly when something doesn’t work. But at the same time, one of the things I’ve weirdly enjoyed most about my time traveling in the last 5 months has been the simplification of “stuff.” I only have what I’ve brought with me, and compared to the contents of my one-bedroom apartment in DC or my 3-bedroom house in St. Louis, it’s a very small amount. So taken in the balance, freaking out about a couple of devices is not so bad. /aside

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This is “Biggles,” a “loved friend of The Rocks” who apparently died in 1994
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Customs House
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Royal Botanic Gardens, celebrating 200 years in 2016
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Royal Botanic Gardens
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Royal Botanic Gardens

But back to Sydney: I grabbed a flat white at a coffee shop (verdict: excellent) and walked down to Circular Quay. I took some more photos of the Harbour Bridge and Opera House. Then I walked through The Rocks and under the Harbour Bridge. From there I grabbed a passing hop-on/hop-off bus and took it around to the Customs House. Then I walked over to the Opera House and Royal Botanic Gardens where I picked up another hop-on/hop-off bus and rode it up to the Central Station where I picked up the Bondi Beach bus.

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Royal Botanic Gardens, celebrating 200 years in 2016
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Hyde Park – it used to be a horse-racing track so it maintains an oval-ish shape
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My view from the top deck with the undeniably tacky Union Jack umbrella I bought in London.
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St. Mary’s Cathedral

Once again, I tried to sit on the top deck and only made it about halfway. It turns out umbrellas were not made for high-speed vehicle use. But I got a couple of shots of the beach before ducking inside. It’s obvious on a clear day the views from east Sydney out across the harbour must be spectacular. Sadly, I have no proof of this and will have to go back sometime soon. Tune in tomorrow for the first of what will be many posts about my time in New Zealand, my next stop on this crazy adventure.

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William Street with the iconic Coca-cola sign
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Bondi Beach
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Bondi Beach

Title quote: Russell Crowe

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My view from the top deck with the undeniably tacky Union Jack umbrella I bought in London.

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