My Favorite Things (Part 2): Bondi Beach and the Coastal Walk

Some of my fondest childhood memories are of days spent on the beaches of Portugal.  And probably because of that, just hearing the surf and being able to stick my toes in the water makes me feel like I’ve REALLY escaped.

On Tuesday I escaped to Bondi Beach, which just happens to be Australia’s most famous beach.

Bondi Beach

The temperature was relatively cool (77 degrees), and just perfect for a stroll along the Coastal Walk.

Coastal Walk path

natural pools by the side of the ocean

Meandering along the natural rock formations…

rocks on the coastal walk

interesting rock along the coastal walk

The walk follows the bluffs taking you high up over the ocean.  The sights are spectacular at every turn! 

Ring rock

The bird’s eye vantage point (and a good zoom lens) offers great views of the surfers below.

surfers off of the coastal walk in Australia

surfers having fun

Not to mention a bathing beauty or two!

woman sitting on a rock near the ocean

At Tamarama Beach I turned back because I was getting hungry.  The views on the way back to Bondi Beach were just as spectacular of course!

Bondi beach coastal walk

Although it was mid-afternoon and I was famished when I got back to Bondi Beach, I had to stick my toes in the sand and water before getting lunch…

Selfie portrait in the sand

(Not to mention that it was fun to get some close-up shots of the surfers.)

surfer riding the wave2

surfer riding the wave

(And yes, the water is that turquoise and clear!)

Lunch was fried calamari  (rings just a little smaller than the O-shaped rock I saw on the Coastal Walk!) which I ate at a picnic table on the beach.  I couldn’t take a picture of my food since flocks of hungry seagulls were eyeing me greedily and I needed to be vigilant.

Even so, this Australian White Ibis swooped in over my shoulder and made off with my last calamari ring!  

Calamari Thief


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My Favorite Things – Walking Across the Sydney Harbor Bridge

On my first afternoon in Sydney, Australia, we made our way to the Sydney Opera House.

The view is majestic all around and I couldn’t help noticing the climbers across the bay atop the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

Sydney Harbor Bridge

So I announced to my husband that I, too, was going to climb the Sydney Bridge in the next days.  However, upon doing a bit of research online, I discovered that the Sydney Harbor Bridge Climb was not only a bit out of my price range (think $150 starting cost), but also not as simple as I had imagined.  Each climber is outfitted in a bridge suit and tethered to the bridge.  No cameras are allowed and all jewelry, hair clips and other loose clothing must be left behind since the winds can be quite extreme.  Given that standing anywhere near the edge of our 30th floor balcony in our apartment in Sydney makes my knees go weak, I came to the realization that a climb like this was NOT something I’d enjoy.  Fortunately, the less daring adventurers like me have the more palatable option of walking across the bridge on the lower level…even better, this walk is FREE.

On Monday after walking my husband to work (did I mention that he’s a guest conductor with the Australian Ballet for a month of performances at the Sydney Opera House?)…

My husband on his way to work at the Sydney Opera House

I climbed the grand staircase of the Opera House for a closer look.

View from the grand staircase at the Sydney Opera House

An interesting view of the Sydney Opera House

Roofs of the Sydney Opera House

There isn’t an uninteresting angle here, and the reflections from the Opera House windows are pretty neat, too!

Reflection of the Sydney Harbor from the Sydney Opera House

Although I could have spent more time photographing, I decided it was time to make my way around the harbor to the bridge…

Sydney Harbor

And so I did.

Another view of the Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House from across the quay

Finding the staircase which leads up to the Sydney Harbor Bridge in The Rocks neighborhood wasn’t hard, and up I went.

Stairway up to Sydney Harbor Bridge

Walkers on the Sydney Harbor Bridge

As I started my walk, the bridge climbers were just starting theirs…

Two climbers ascending the staircase on the Sydney Harbor Bridge

And another group was on their way back down.

Groups of climbers atop Sydney Harbor Bridge

Speaking of, even from my vantage point on the lower level of the bridge, it felt like a LONG way down!

A long way down

And I had to hold on to the railings every time I stopped to take photos (but as you can see, I didn’t let this hold me back.)

Side view of Sydney Harbor Bridge

Far above the Sydney Opera House

Sydney Opera House as seen from Sydney Harbor Bridge

Sydney Harbor as seen from Sydney Bridge

At the highest part of the bridge, in a show of support for Paris during the recent unfolding of tragic events, the French flag has been flying along with the Australian flag.  (The Opera House has also been bathed in red, white and blue lights at night.)

French flag over the Sydney Harbor Bridge

As I stopped to reflect and pay my respect, I imagine that the climbers standing high above me near the flag were doing the same.

Sydney Harbor bridge walkers as seen from below


Filed under My Favorite Things, photography, travel, travel photography

From My Sketchbook – Week 41

Greetings from Down Under!  Yes, that’s right – this week I’m writing from Sydney, Australia where I’m happily keeping my husband company as he embarks on a month-long guest conducting project with the Australian Ballet at the Sydney Opera House.  This trip represents a bunch of firsts for me:

The first time I ever flew over 20 hours to get somewhere

The first time I’ve been in Australia


The first time I’ve ever crossed an international date line 

(As I write this post, it’s Monday, November 16th in the evening, but for you all it’s still Sunday, November 15th. Nyah, nyah!)

There’s lots of fun things to get used to here.  For a start, the Aussie coins are “backwards” with the $2, and $1 coins being smaller than the rather large 20¢ and 50¢ coins; cars drive on the “wrong side” of the road with the driver steering from what we’d think of as the passenger’s side in the States; and, it’s spring now with summer just around the corner.

Although I didn’t suffer jet lag too badly, I found the 20+ hours of flying time to get here quite hard.  I wish I could say that I happily spent the time sketching.  My initial intentions were excellent, and I did this sketch of a woman making her selection at the Hudson News counter in the airport at JFK just before we boarded our first flight:

quick sketch of middle aged woman perusing an airport bookstore

But, once aboard, all I really wanted to do was lose myself in sleep.  Which was more or less what I did!

We’ve been  very fortunate in that our accommodations in Sydney have turned out to be stellar (here’s just a few of the views from our 30th floor apartment)…

Photo of the skyscrapers near our 30th floor apartment in Sydney

our balcony in Sydney

the street below

The entire apartment gets great light, so drawing at the dining room table works well.  Yesterday’s sketches were done with my bamboo quill pen dipped in India ink.

illustrating in Sydney

Today I got back to sketching in my sketchbook with my Aquash refillable pen.  I was enjoying a croissant in the outdoor patio at a French cafe in The Rocks district of the city when I noticed these two ladies enjoying a cup of coffee and dessert.

Two women at a cafe in Sydney

Since I have quite a bit of alone time on my hands this week, I’m hoping to find some more cafes for fun people watching!  Stay tuned…


Filed under art, illustration, Influences, inspiration, New work, pen and ink, Pen Sketch, practicing drawing, Quick Sketch, sketchbook, travel, Weekly Sketch Project

Friday’s Thought – An Architect’s Perspective

Woolworth building in the fall

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”

(Frank Lloyd Wright)

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From My Sketchbook – Week 40

I’ve been putting the finishing touches on the Joana Miranda Studio 2016 calendar (look for a posting and link-to-buy on my blog just before Thanksgiving) and although I have the calendar images uploaded and ready to send to the printer, there’s one illustration that I’m still not 100% happy about.  Because I have the luxury of a few free days this week before we depart for Australia, I’m planning to redo that one illustration.

My recent sketches, therefore, have been studies for the illustration.  As you can see, it’s a 3/4 face angle which just happens to be one of the hardest face angles to draw simply and well.

Two three quarter head sketches

So I might just resort to doing a profile view instead!

Girl Smelling Roses quick sketch


Filed under Aquash pen, art, drawing, drawing faces, illustration, ink sketches, New work, pen and ink, practicing drawing, Quick Sketch, sketchbook, Weekly Sketch Project

Friday’s Thought – On Staying Young

Jane's Carousel horse

“If you carry your childhood with you, you never become older.”

(Tom Stoppard)


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My Favorite Things – The Colors of Fall in Central Park

I don’t think the fall colors are quite yet at their peak in the park, but we’re probably getting close!  You be the judge…

The lake in Central Park in the fall

tree turning colors in Central Park

San Remo towers through the fall foliage

fall colors reflected in the lake in Central Park

Fall colors along Central Park South

orange tree in the fall

fall colors against a blue sky

Ah, I do so love fall!


Filed under My Favorite Things, nature, New York, photography