A Local Takes on Touristy Sydney, Australia

For me, one of the best things about coming home after a long period away was feeling like a tourist. Suddenly, I wanted to do the touristy stuff listed in guidebooks. I managed to coax various family members into strolling the sights with me. Ultimately, some of my favourite moments were spent on, or in, the city’s landmarks including: the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the botanical gardens, the Pacific Ocean, and hotel lobbies. I absolutely love the Westin Sydney’s lobby — it’s a microcosm of everything that is good about the city: spacious and sunny thanks to the glorious high-ceiling atrium, with great food, wonderful service, beautiful traditional architecture married with modern touches (it’s part of the redeveloped former General Post Office in Martin Place) and a high tea fit for two mad hatters –or chatterers — like us Chetner girls.  Enjoy the views.

SYDNEY HARBOUR BRIDGE

If Bridgeclimb is too pricey, climb its sandstone pylon. Thirteen dollars, plus 200 steps, later and you’re treated to  270-degree views that span the North Shore, Sydney Opera House, Circular Quay and The Rocks — a historic precinct.

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Pool of the Park Hyatt in the foreground. This was taken on the pedestrian walkway leading up to the pylon.

Pool of the Park Hyatt in the foreground. This was taken on the pedestrian walkway leading up to the pylon.

THE ROCKS

My dad, sister, and I were led by the experts of The Rocks Walking Tours on a rainy Monday morning. That didn’t dampen our spirits, however. Over 90 minutes, we learned so many quirks about this 1788-established settlement — also the site of Sydney’s first Chinatown — that to this day, my dad continues to rave about it.

Fact: Had it not been for a green ban instigated by residents in the 70s, this precinct would’ve been demolished.

The Rocks in the foreground. This photo was taken from the Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney.

The Rocks in the foreground. This photo was taken from the Shangri-La Hotel, Sydney.

ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS

By the harbour, smack-bang in the middle of Sydney’s CBD, and a quick stroll from the Opera House rests Australia’s oldest botanical garden (it will be celebrating it’s 100th birthday in 2016). This bounty of natural beauty is a sensational spot to get some fresh air, traverse flourishing gardens, relax on the lawn, and just take in the city views. After getting some sun, I recommend hitting the city for a spot of high tea at the Westin in Martin Place…

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After so many years of popping in for after-work champagne and cocktail peanuts at the Westin, my sister and I opted for the Alice in Wonderland-inspired Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea. White-gloved service, Ruinart champagne, a bustling lobby bar, and much to catch up on… it was a wonderfully drawn-out day tinged with lots of nostalgia.

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Though I went school and university oh-so-close to this area, my return heralded my first-ever walk from famous Bondi Beach to Coogee. No wonder it’s the site of the annual Sculpture by the Sea exhibit. The oceanfront stroll is stunning! A good couple of hours were spent musing, photographing, and scribbling notes. It’s a must do, and I wonder why it took me so long to get there.

Start the walk with a swim and a beverage (champagne?) at Bondi Icebergs Club

Start the walk with a swim and a beverage (champagne, perhaps?) at Bondi Icebergs Club

A little way past Bronte Beach...

A little way past Bronte Beach…

The clifftop Waverly Cemetery has waterfront views.

The clifftop Waverly Cemetery has waterfront views.

SAMSUNG CSCTwenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did… so throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. ~Mark Twain

Overexposed Malibu, CA

Starting the New Year with the warm sun on my back, a glass full of bubbles, easy conversation, a school of dolphins gliding past the pier, and a twinkly ocean — being by the water is the perfect tonic for a day that’s usually filled with well-intentioned resolutions, unnecessary expectations, people nursing hangovers, and all the trappings associated with the turning of a digit.

It’s not easy to summarise Malibu. I think it’s more a state of mind, which probably explains the overexposed photos. Cheers to a sensational and memorable 2015!

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The Sun Sets in Tucson, Arizona

“I hold on to my adopted shore, chanting private vows: wherever I am, let me never forget to distinguish want from need. Let me be a good animal today. Let me dance in the waves of my private tide, the habits of survival and love.”
Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson: Essays from Now or Never

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Social Media: The Winogrand Effect

I read an interesting article in New York magazine by Jerry Saltz titled, “Photographing Through The Cracks: Garry Winogrand captured America as it split wide open.” It discusses an exhibition of the street photographer’s work currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

The last paragraph stood out because it made me think about the future of art; the formal study of photography; the role of curator; and social media’s role in propelling a new generation of self-taught photographers. Here’s the quote:

“The whole world is now filled with incredible images–especially on Instagram and other social networks–that owe something to Winogrand’s, documenting life, change, and all the rest. Yet the art world and museums are not. Instead they tend to show oversize, very still pictures or images that investigate formal properties and ideas of display and presentation. I love many of those pictures, but what’s happening online on social media deserves far more serious scrutiny than it’s getting. If the art world doesn’t admit more of this sort of deceptively casual-seeming work, the outside world will reject more so-called art photography than it already does. That’s a divide that we don’t need to reestablish and widen.”

Thoughts?

St. Isaac's Cathedral, photographed in July during a trip to St Petersburg (with a Nikon)

St. Isaac’s Cathedral, photographed in July during a trip to St Petersburg (on an angle with a Nikon and prime lens. I should add that my sister took amazing photos of the same cupola with an iPhone.).

Wanderlust — by Richard Avedon

Avedon was a poet and we didn’t know it?

Reading photographer Richard Avedon’s 1941 Scholastic Art & Writing award-winning poem Wanderlust on the back page of this month’s Harpers Bazaar was an apropos finale to a marathon magazine-reading session on an overcast Saturday in L.A.

WANDERLUST

You must not think because my glance is quick

To shift from this to that, from here to there,

Because I am most usually where

The way is strangest and the wonders thick,

Because when wind is wildest and the bay

Swoops madly upward and the gulls are few

And I am doing as I want to do,

Leaving the town to go my aimless way;

You must not think because I am the kind

Who always shunned security and such

As bother the responsible of mind

That I shall never total up to much;

I know my drifting will not prove a loss,

For mine is a rolling stone that has gathered moss.

Richard Avedon via npr.org

Richard Avedon via npr.org

Happy Birthday to a Legend ~ Ms Hepburn

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Happy Birthday to a Legend ~ Ms Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn, who was born on this date in 1929, won her best actress Oscar for the enchanting 1953’s “Roman Holiday,” starring opposite Gregory Peck. And here’s a photo from the film courtesy of AMC. (via Los Angeles Times)