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The Gardens of Sydney

While the U.S. braces for winter, it is spring Down Under. Host to the 2000 Olympic games, Sydney is the icon of Australia, with it's signature harbour landscape. One way to spend a spring weekend day is a visit to some of the many gardens within the city.

9:00 a.m. Start the busy day off by having a quiet breakfast in the courtyard of The Gumnut Tea Garden (28 Harrington Street, 61 2 9247 9591). At this little sandstone cottage in the middle of The Rocks, you can enjoy a modest gourmet breakfast along with a morning cup of tea or coffee.

10:00 a.m. Stop in at the Visitor Centre on the corner of Argyle and Playfair Streets before heading into the midst of The Rocks Market. For 15 years, this weekly crafts fair has established itself as the premier street market in the city, and you can be sure to find unique and exotic gifts to meet every taste. Over 150 vendors showcase goods made throughout the country, and street performers provide entertainment.

11:30 a.m. As you leave the market, be sure to stop for fresh buttered corn-on-the-cob. Then make your way to the Museum of Contemporary Art where there is currently a collection of incredible 3D art by sculptor James Angus. Admission is free, and there is a tour of the current exhibitions at 12p.

1:00 p.m. Circular Quay, situated between the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Opera House, is host to more street performers, including local aborigines playing didgeridoo. Then have a proper lunch at the Opera Bar specializing in nouveau cuisine, while watching the catamarans come in and out of the ferry terminal.

2:00 p.m. Take a leisurely stroll through the Royal Botanic Gardens, enjoying plants from around the world. The Succulent Garden is especially striking, showcasing plants in a variety of colors, shapes, and textures. While admission to the park is free, the Sydney Tropical Center, open until 4p, is well worth the separate $4.40 entrance fee. A stunning glass pyramid filled with exotic plants, the recently opened "Sex and Death" exhibit follows the lifecycle of orchids and carnivorous plants.

4:30 p.m. After walking through the heart of the city, step into China for a relaxed late-afternoon break at the Chinese Garden of Friendship, open until 6p. Start with a cup of tea at the teahouse, and then wander along serpentine pathways that lead through private courtyards and pavilions, around waterfalls and sculptures and carvings of mythological creatures. Admission is $6.

7:00 p.m. Wind up your day at the Sumac Restaurant and Bar (enjoying the best Middle Eastern food in the city while watching the setting sun through the city and over Darling Harbour. The "Moroccan Cigars", a tender rabbit dish with cinnamon almonds is not to be missed, and the Chicken Tagine is wonderful. However, be sure to save room for Turkish coffee ice cream.

Ted Beatie


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