Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sensational Sydney

There is a very good reason why tourists flock to Australia.  It's bloody sensational!!!!

Roger and Craig had to go to Sydney for a meeting, and I got to tag along.  Business and pleasure - what better place than to spend 3 days in Australia's most cosmopolitan city?  We stayed in Darling Harbour where there is a wonderful mix of fashion, business, and boats.  Men in Armani suits were as plentiful as backpackers sporting dreads, and the boats...the yachts....and the sparkling harbour were all there waiting for us.  We had come to the right place.

Our first night out at the wharf that is packed with restaurants, bars and shops
Two giant prawns -- memories of finding apples in a shop in Ethiopia and considering it a major coup seem very far away
Darling Harbour at night -- picture perfect
While Roger and Craig were at their meeting, I grabbed a city map and headed out.
The Queen Victoria Building, built in 1898, is stunning and is home to exclusive boutiques (and an excellent chocolate shop!)
It started to rain as I approached the Hyde Park Barracks, so decided to check it out.

Built almost 200 years ago, it initially housed convicts and men sent from Britain.  Over ensuing years, it became temporary housing for orphans sent during the Irish potato famine, and for women who were needed to be servants and wives to a country that had too many men.  Britain sent over 166,000 people between 1788 to 1868 with other countries sending their criminals as well.  Sydney was not a safe place in those days.
The barracks is now a World Heritage Site
Items from the girls' dorm including a rat-chewed Bible 
One of the dorms
I then went walking through Hyde Park, peaked inside St. Mary's Cathedral, and through the Botanical Gardens.
Love this sign by the Botanical Gardens where you are encouraged to walk on the grass and to hug the trees!
Two older gentlemen playing chess in the park

Fountain in Hyde Park
St. Mary's Cathedral
Later in the afternoon, Roger and I headed to the National Maritime Museum to check out the exhibit, and some of the ships that we were allowed to troop through.
The submarine and destroyer we were able to tour
A replica of The Endeavour - one of Captain Cook's famous ships
It is hard to imagine how sailors on submarine coped with claustrophobia, the noise and ever present danger
The gallery had beautiful displays of other maritime exhibits
A huge Sikorsky helicopter used for rescue missions hangs from the rafters
Can't imagine being on the water and going 317 mph
The next day we bought a Hop On Hop Off ferry ticket that enabled us to visit sites on the water.  First stop was Circular Quay - home to the Sydney Opera House, Museum of Contemporary Art, and The Rocks - the oldest part of Sydney and a trendy area of shops, pubs and cafes.
A moving statue with artist standing on the shoulder outside the Museum of Contemporary Art
The famous Sydney Harbour Bridge
Circular Quay reminded us of the Granville Street Market in Vancouver
The iconic Sydney Opera House -- until we got up close, we didn't realize it was made of tiles
 Views of the Opera House from the water.
After walking around the We then hopped back on and headed towards Watson's Bay where we were going to have lunch.
One of the beautiful beaches along the coast -- there is shark netting (held by the pilings) to protect the swimmers.
A view of Sydney with the Tower from the water
The famous Doyle's Cafe has been serving fabulous seafood since 1885
As good as it looks
The tenders for all the anchored boats in Watson's Bay line the boardwalk
Great sign!
Watson's Bay with Sydney in the background
On the other side of the bay -- the Tasman Sea
There were literally hundreds of boats and sailboats on the water on our way back to Darling Harbour.  However, one sailboat in the midst of a race, had a very close call with our ferry.
When we got back to Darling Harbour, we headed up Market Street to the Sydney Tower Eye to get a bird's eye view of everything we had seen on the ground and from the water.
You can see the Harbour Bridge to your left, and the Opera House peaking out between the tall buildings
The venerable Queen Victoria building
Fort Denison in the middle of the harbour
In the shadows, the Hyde Park Barracks and to the right, St. Mary's Cathedral
St. Mary's Cathedral
We were back in our hotel room packing to head home in the morning when we heard fireworks.  Not sure if there was a special occasion, but we had a great view of a firework display in the harbour and it was a fitting end to our Sydney visit.
We were sort of getting used to Australia's high prices on most things, but Sydney gave us a few sticker shocks.  We stayed at the Four Points Sheraton which is very nice and in a great location, but by no means anything close to some of the really expensive hotels in the area.

However, we were shocked that Craig was charged $65 for parking his rental car for less than 2 hours, and I had to take a picture of our room service menu where a "gourmet hot dog" cost $27 (we didn't order from room service!).
There was also a busker down by the wharf with a sign "Free Hugs", so I gave him one but then I saw the basket and felt compelled to give him some money.  Guess not much in life is really free.

We headed back to The Alice with great memories of a new city that did not disappoint.
Such a beautiful, seaside city --- and all those white dots are boats of every size!
Tasman Sea glimmers below
Getting closer to Alice Springs the earth gets very red
I was looking for kangaroos, but sadly haven't seen one yet.

On the schedule this week --- a didgeridoo concert!  We've been in Australia about two weeks and are loving everything about it.  Except Vegemite.  Not sure if we will ever get on that bandwagon!

"If you never did you should.  These things are fun and fun is good."
                                                                                                           Dr. Seuss

1 comment:

Madalene said...

Lovely pictures.. I didn't like the vegemite either, but we brought some home.. Sidney is a great place to visit. We were at a
big casino close to the bridge one
night and saw the fire works, it was beautiful.........
Have a Happy Easter, will be glad to go home April 11th. Have a Happy Birthday Heather..
Good to hear from you Roger, when you phoned.
Mom K.