I have planned a nautical excursion for today – the ferry to Manly, a beach resort thirty minutes away by boat. We hoof it through the Botanical Garden once more, our destination this time the Circular Quay (formerly the Semicircular Quay). The Opera House looms, or rather billows. Tourists out here on Bennelong Point are photo-crazed, taking all manner of douchy snapshots. They’re at the goddamn Sydney Opera House and now they have proof that both they and Australia exist concurrently. Go home, assholes. By the time we locate the correct ferry terminal (there are five), we’re a bit out of sorts. I am, at least. There’s a ‘fast’ ferry and a ‘slow’ ferry. After several moments of brittle confusion, we settle on the fast ferry. Ali feels a little woozy. I step out on foredeck to snap some photos of my own of the Harbour in its glory. From this vantage, its reputation as ‘World’s Most Beautiful Harbor’ is a sorry understatement. The breeze is bellowing, lifting my shirt to reveal my abdomen. Woe betide those within sight thereof.
Once in Manly, we reconnoiter like squirrels for food. This entails a long stroll along the Manly’s esplanade, laboring under the misapprehension that a restaurant lay in that general direction. Kids are diving off the docks. Sunbathers and families are enjoying the calm, clear water. We pass this woman, this young American woman, who is Face-timing or Skyping with someone to whom she complains about her defective tonsil and her ineffectual karma. We giggle and keep walking. She’s still at it on our return trip having found no restaurant. Karma’s a bitch.
At noon, the cafés open their doors and we walk right in. Ordering a meal in the Land of No Worries always involves guesswork and inquiry. Following lunch-induced mood stabilization, we amble off to the ocean side. Only half a kilometer of terra firmaseparates the ocean from Manly harborside. Manly beach is a grand plagewith a promenade of stately Norfolk pines and bounteous surf. Not Ali’s cup of sand. We start our oceanside hike to Shelly Beach by sucking on Golden Gaytime popsicles. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity since Monkey Mia. At the halfway point, we turn back, tired and hot, just holding the sticks. Back at Simpson’s, cooled off, and rested, we go for dinner at the blandest Italian restaurant in the Southern Hemisphere.