We went to church on Sunday night. In our earlier trip into town we noticed an Anglican church that had a 6pm service. It also had a really cheesy banner with a lion that said, "Fear the Maker." It's the sort of thing that if we saw on a church back home, we'd definitely not try it as it screams fundamentalist church. However, I thought to myself that I shouldn't make assumptions based on American culture. I also told myself, it's at 6pm, so we can sleep in. At home we go to church at 5pm, so going back to waking up early on Sunday seemed much harsher than any fundamentalist message we might have to sit through.
I'm very glad we did not make assumptions and tried it. It was delightful. It seems that at this church the have two services in the morning that are traditional Anglican high church services, but the 6pm service was an interesting mix of liturgy, Hillsong type praise music, and laid back emergent style community and preaching. There were about 20 people there and it was in a spare room, not the main church building, set up with tables, chairs, and couches. A nice woman named June invited us to "slouch on the couch." Don't mind if I do. The people were very friendly and welcoming, seemed to be all singles, and were a mix of young singles and what looked like older singles (either through divorce or widows). The pastor was young, probably our age, and just like at Emmaus Way, people could interrupt him, crack jokes, etc. Turns out his brother lives in Lancaster County (married an American), and he had been to a good bit of the East Coast. We talked to a few others that had been to various parts of the States, too, as well as got some good sight-seeing advice for while we are here. They had coffee/tea and snacks and even had a light dinner afterward we were invited to, but couldn't keep our eyes open long enough to attend. They are having a potluck (or bring a plate, as they called it) next week, so we'll see if I can whip something up. I just thought I was off the hook for potlucks while we were gone. It was just nice to read the same Bible we knew, sing songs, pray, and have people that are genuinely glad you are there. The service was really good and just what we needed. They even had communion that week and were kind enough to let us know that we didn't have to be Anglican to take it.
We got back home, ate some soup, and I feel asleep. I went to bed at 6:30pm the first night, and made it to 9:30 that night. I'm shooting for at least that late tonight, but my eyelids are drooping, and it's only 8pm. Daniel went for a walk along the beach, and saw both some great stars and the city lights of Sydney.
We saw the city up close today for the first time. We can walk to a train stop from the apartment, so we just rode in. It was easy and the trains come often, so that was nice. We got off right at Circular Quay (pronounced "key"--yeah, I don't see that, either). Straight ahead was the Customs House, which now houses a library. They were supposed to have self guided walking tour brochures there, so we went in. A very helpful librarian helped us find where they had hidden them. We sat on the steps there and ate our packed lunch and then set off on the Colony tour, but not before getting this pic of Daniel in front of the Customs House.
We sort of got immediately distracted, because when we turned around away from the Customs House, we caught sight of the Harbor Bridge and Opera House. So, Daniel did one of his famous long-armed camera shots to get both of us in.
Here's another one of me "holding up" the Opera House. We did that with the Arch in Paris, too. I guess maybe that's our "Oscar wave" picture.
We went inside the Opera House to the box office to buy tickets for a ballet competition. This was both because I really, really wanted to see something at the Opera House, preferably dance, and a frugal move. They let you walk all around the outside of the OH for free, but if you want to see the concert hall and the like, you have to pay $35 a person for the tour. However, if you go to one of the events, obviously you get to see the hall because you are sitting in it. I decided before we left we should just buy tickets to something $35 to see and then we get to see the inside of the house and some sort of performance. We did even better, as they had some $25 seats to this particular event. So, we get to see a ballet competition and the inside of the house for $10 cheaper than the tour!
While there, I used the restroom, and noticed this oddity. Only at the Opera House would they back light the toilet paper. I felt this was a bit much to highlight the half ply. Let's say we take the money we spent on lighting, and buy two ply.
After the Opera House, we got back on track with our Colony tour. It took us to a lot of the older buildings that the first settlers/convicts built. They really just built right on top of the rocky coast, making for lots of hills that reminded me of San Francisco or Lisbon. There's lots of great old ironwork everywhere, too. You couldn't go too far without a view of the water, either, so it was very pretty. It rained briefly, but just enough to get a lovely double rainbow over the Opera House, but you can't really tell in the picture I took. Like a lot of cities, the old historic areas have interesting architecture preserved, but are now occupied by trendy shops and restaurants. I felt like Bob and Inga on their volksmarches, today. That tour took us all over the city in all sorts of little nooks and crannies and down places I'm sure tourists don't normally go. It was a fun way to introduce us to the city. One other oddity we saw that the tour pointed out. What do you think this lovely cast iron structure is?
Is it a telephone booth or a lovely bus stop? Nope. It's a urinal. Apparently they used to have these all over the city in colonial times, but now there's just the one left.
Well, I'm sure there was more to report, but I"m so exhausted I can't keep my eyes open. I'll beat this jet lag at some point, but not tonight.