Rocking The Rocks

The Rocks is one of the historic places in Sydney. One of the sites where the first settlers lived. One of areas I haven’t been to and was dying to see after I read its history.

One fine day, I ventured on my own to the city for a walk through the cobbled and touristy steps of this side of Sydney near Circular Quay. Alighting from the train station, I was so excited to find my way to Gloucester Street. Amidst the sea of people lining up at the wharf, I was so giddy walking towards the Museum of Contemporary Art and beyond.

The MCA

The MCA

Nurses Walk was the first area I stumbled upon and I got lost with the nooks and crannies of what I refer to as a walk through time. It was getting lost in a good sense because I could go around and around the area looking at old structures (turn of the century houses and pubs), climbing stairs and getting into an archeological find without thinking that my companion might not be enjoying this DIY walking tour.

Nurses Walk houses small cafes and stores. It pays homage to the nurses that served the country and the world during the war. A small bench and a commemorative plate describe the area.

Nurses Walk

Nurses Walk

As I was finding my way towards Susannah Place, I took a peek of what looked like an excavation at Cumberland. At the ground floor of YHA hotel is the Big Dig, a discovery of authentic remnants of late 18 century houses of local laborers with some of household tools on display. It was good know that they preserved the site and built the hotel on top of it. Think of an old bahay na bato with open space at the ground floor. I can’t describe how excited I was upon seeing the place. I felt like I discovered it by myself. Maybe because I used to dream of becoming an archeologist when I was in grade school.

The Big Dig

The Big Dig and its study center

A few more walks and climbs, I finally saw what I was searching for – row of houses that witnessed the development of the city for centuries. Susannah Place is just one of those actual houses preserved to tell the stories of the working class years ago. It is some sort of a living museum since some of which are still resided by locals until now. The museum was closed that hour but it didn’t stop me from walking up and down the small street.

Susannah Place

Susannah Place

After I satiated myself of the old world, I turned by attention to the open spaces and engineering grandeur. I walked through the Argyle Cut which was an under ground tunnel turned parking lot made possible by carving the large stone that used to face the harbour. I marvelled at the sight in Dawes Point Park where riders and tourists abound for some picturesque views. I contemplated of having lunch out in the sun while people  watching.

I managed to find myself at the foot of the Harbour Bridge. That’s what you get if you don’t tell manong cleaner that you’re a bit lost.

Since it was summer, people were having lunch out in the sun – at the First Fleet Park where a big anchor monument awaits, at the Rocks Market or any open spaces where one can sit and have a quiet lunch with the pigeons.

The Rocks Market

The Rocks Market (without the stalls that day)

I ended having calamari and chips at a nearby air-conditioned food court after hours of walking and changing from flats to fit-flops. I must say, having a historical tour all by myself is not so bad. I will definitely do this again.

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My combo lunch

 

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Getting There

(source: http://www.therocks.com/getting-here.aspx)

On foot: The Rocks is an easy, 15-minute downhill stroll from Town Hall station, 10-minutes from Wynyard station and a two-minute walk from Circular Quay. The main entry point to The Rocks is via George Street. If you’re walking from Darling Harbour, you can take Hickson Road via Walsh Bay, or Kent and Argyle streets through Millers Point.

By train : Take the train to Circular Quay, head in the direction of Sydney Harbour Bridge, and you’re only a stroll away. If you’re coming from Wynyard station, walk north down George Street towards the harbour and you’ll be here in 10 minutes.

By Ferry : Take a ride to Circular Quay and it is s short walk from there.

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Stopping at Flagstaff

When I first got hold of a historical walking tour guidebook of Hongkong back in 2010, I told myself that the sites should be included in the HK trip that time. There was Western Market, the old trams, Murray House and a museum. Not just another museum but a museum of teaware itself. Teaware–what?

For a tea drinker like me, plus the fact I love nostalgia, the said museum is a heaven on this part of a tea drinking country. I love anything that is connected with tea even though as of late, my love for the beans trumps the leaves. I remember fondly when I first saw a tea plantation in Boseong, South Korea. I literally hugged them!

Back to Flagstaff, the museum is located inside Hongkong Park. It was built in the early 1800s and served as residence of the Commander of the British Armed Forces. According to http://www.discoverhongkong.com,

“Flagstaff House was converted into the Museum of Tea Ware in 1984 with a new wing, the K.S. Lo Gallery, added in 1995. Alongside its exhibitions, the museum holds regular demonstrations, tea gatherings and lecture programmes to promote ceramic art and China’s enduring tea drinking culture.”

House Tea

It is free of admission. One can gawk at the various teawares – history and all–as well as the varieties of tea that can be consumed and how to prepare them. It was such a delight to read on  the preparation of a powder tea – you can either mix it with hot water or brush it in a small bowl. Who would have thought there are many ways to serve this beverage? A short AVP showed a traditional way to prepping and drinking tea. Tea ceremony!

For some actual tea drinking, there is a teahouse located near the museum.  For kiddie fun, you can play with teasets and all in a small room inside the museum. Prior to the exit, an interactive survey has been set to determine the type of tea one uses and its benefits to one’s health. I was pretty familiar with the most of it but my sister just realized she has been drinking the wrong tea afterall. Better get those oolong for weight loss!

Old and older.

Old and older.

As I stepped out of the museum, my love for tea was reignited. I ended buying a box of Taiwanese oolong (milk!) tea in the nearest Vanquard store.

 

Hay, how I love the magic of using the pellet teas, the aroma of genmaicha, the bitter taste of green tea, the richness of oolong, the flowery scent of chamomile and the “best with scone” english breakfast. What is your favorite tea?

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Flagstaff House Museum of Tea Ware is located at 10 Cotton Tree Drive, (inside Hong Kong Park), Central, Hong Kong Island.

  • From MTR Admiralty Station, Exit C1. Then follow the signs up the escalator to Hong Kong Park. The museum is on the right side after the large arc and Lock Cha Tea House.
Source: http://www.discoverhongkong.com/eng/see-do/culture-heritage/museums/special-interests/flagstaff-house-museum-of-tea-ware.jsp#ixzz2coS95yvs
 

Taking Iloilo by Storm

Literally.

What is it with our vacations and rain? First was Baguio..Puerto Galera..Boracay (where our flight was cancelled!)..Bantayan (swimming under the rain, anyone?)..and now, Iloilo.

Shirl and I arrived in Iloilo at 6 AM…a good 10 hours before Rhiza boarded the plane to join us. We were greeted by strong winds upon stepping out of the plane.

But that didn’t discourage us to pursue the #1 in To-Do List — to visit Miag-ao Church. After taking a nap at Century 21 Hotel Lobby (nice hotel, btw) and a much-needed 30 mins doze off session, we proceeded to Molo Church and Plaza to visit the Church and take our ride to Miag-ao from the said place.

Molo Church has a gothic renaissance architecture but reminds you of a castle with its red roof. You might want to imagine Sleeping Beauty inside instead of the saints on each pillar.

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St. Anne Parish (Molo Church)
We had an idea that it would take us time before reaching the Unesco Heritage site…but we didn’t expect that we will be travelling an hour, passing 3 towns while rain was pouring non-stop and the waves were hitting the shores like there was no tomorrow. It was a bit of sight to behold (or gasp) – on our left was the sea, on our right were the mountains.After so many stops, we finally reached our destination. It made as sigh .. the sight floored us. Of course, we saw more than a dozen churches in our lives but with Miag-ao’s facade, color and structure – it did demand attention. We were not able to go inside the Church so we just strolled its perimeter, including the churchyard and occasionally posed for a photo-op under the drizzle.
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Miag-ao Church up front.
With the threat of incoming heavy rain, we proceeded to Guimbal Church that we passed before reaching Miag-ao. Sandstone, old style and small. One won’t miss it since the church seems to welcome you upon reaching the town (more welcoming than the municipal hall and the humongous gym).
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Sandstoned Guimbal Church
And the rain didn’t bother to wait for us to reach the city. It poured nonstop upon reaching the town of Oton. We managed to reach the city without looking like basang sisiw.Time to meet Rhiza! After the greet and chika, we travelled to Arevalo to get a taste of Breakthrough. It was a toss between Tatoy’s and Breakthrough and somehow, we did choose the latter. We had sisig, prawns, oyster (talaba, bala haw), chopseuy and crablets for dinner. Takaw tingin! We were almost done and Carlo was nowhere to be seen. He managed to join us after a few minutes (which was fast considering we travelled almost an hour to reach Breakthrough) and after getting shocked at how cheap our bill was…we went videoke at Nuova.I let the real singers sing. I was the pampagulo. No wonder it rained so hard that night. We had a blast singing (and listening for me) love songs, heartbreaking songs and songs for the sawi. It was a night-out! And this is just day 1.Day 2 could have started very early since we planned to leave for Guimaras. But with the incessant rains and strong winds, we ended up in SM Delgado and Marymart. We visited Jaro Church and its belfry, glimpsed at Nelly Garden and look at old estatwas in Museo Iloilo. Had a steaming hot batchoy at Ted’s and off we went to San Pedro to see Guimaras from a distance(good thing we didn’t force ourselves to hop to the next pumpboat, the waves were not so friendly). We strolled along Calle Real and tried to relive pre-war Iloilo with the old structures standing along the JM Basa Street. And we proceeded to the 3rd oldest parish in Arevalo. Villa in the town is also the older capitol of the province. The Church reminds you of old American churches in a 1930s village… or probably think of “The Village” or American Gothic painting.
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Calle Real in downtown Iloilo
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Shirl and Rhiz in La Villa del Arevalo
We revisited Molo church by this time, we know the route by heart).We were able to go inside the church this time. Indeed, if one needs ideas for a name of a girl – there were plenty to choose from the lady saints lining the pillars of the Church.

We went pasalubong shopping at the must-visit Panaderia de Molo for its famous Kastila sounding delicacies such as galletas and bañadas. After we had our tastebuds filled with sweet everythings, we took some baby steps to Biscocho House for the must-buy butterscotch. Yum yum.

At that point, we did look like tourists carrying bags of pasalubongs. 🙂 With aching feet and bad weather, we had dinner – room service.

I, on the other hand, had a night cap that lasted til 3 in the morning.

Sunny and rainy…that was our third day. Time to pack and leave the city of biscocho and talaba. While we raced ourselves to the airport, we ended up waiting for a good 45 minutes before boarding. We must be the 1% delayed flight 🙂

It was literally a wet trip. And we enjoyed every minute of it. The rain might have dampened our spirits a bit but it didn’t stop us to stroll the streets.

Our next stop? Hmm, probably, I have to start refilling my piggy bank again.