Wednesday: today's visit to DiBella coffee roasters helped me unravel a great mystery and cultural hiccup that's been plaguing me all week: Australian coffee. By and large, Australians don't drink brewed coffee like Americans do. They're all about coffee in particular forms -- espressos, cappuccinos, lattes. The coffee's expensive, about Aus $3.50, and this American has been craving a good, old fashioned cup of joe. Oddly enough, our host explained that the new frontier in Australian coffee culture is the ceramic-filter, slow drip method: precisely the way we make our coffee at home. I confess that I often pour the boiling water over the grounds too quickly, and it was interesting to hear about the finer points of the brewing technique. I also enjoyed learning about the way DiBella uses direct trade from coffee farmers to source their beans. Direct trade appears to have a lot of merits, with benefits for both farmers and bean-buyers. I definitely want to learn more about it.
In the afternoon we went to Sydney Trains to learn how the city's public transportation system operates. It's amazing infrastructure--it works well and is easy to use, despite many logistical complexities--and it was neat to see the inner-workings.
We followed that with a tour of the Sydney Opera House, a stunning story with an interesting story. It was designed by a Danish architect who submitted the design to a competition without evening seeing the harbor. He drew inspiration from the seaside Danish castle that was the setting for another great work: Hamlet. It was a challenge to build the opera house's shell-like wings, and the architect ended up using a spherical design so that the shells could be pre-fabbed. I'd seen pictures of the opera house for years, and the real thing did not disappoint!