Sydney

The morning yesterday started early. We left the Bundaberg marina by 7:30 and made our way to Hervey Bay where my plane left from. The locals said it was “about an hour” drive away. Well, it ended up being an hour and a half. Luckily, we left in plenty of time. Checking in I found that my luggage was overweight. I smiled pretty and got the agent to waive the fee. Well, I really didn’t do anything but look sad.

The flight was uneventful. It was on Quantas” low cost airline, JetStar. They’re coming to Hawaii in November to offer cheap fares to Australia. It should be great. The fare to Sydney was way less than Quantas.

Sydney is glorious. It’s cold, hilly, and pretty. No wonder people compare it to San Francisco. I spent the remainder of my day walking around, mostly lost and unable to figure out the subway system. I got better by the end of the day, but I still find it easiest to just ask someone where to go and what train or bus to take. It’s much easier. I had dinner with Marci and Steve. It was Steve’s birthday on this side of the dateline, but he said it wasn’t really his birthday. Birthday or not they took me out for a most delicious t-bone steak dinner at Prime. It’s the premier steakhouse in Sydney. Located in the Main Post Office building they decor was beautiful and the service excellent. My steak was really great. Steve and Marci were very happy too.

We had started the evening at their hotel in the concierge lounge of their floor. It really brought home to me the dichotomy between our two hotels. Mine is basic. Very basic. Theirs is fancy. Very fancy. I certainly wouldn’t stay where I am again, but it’s cheap. The main street a few paces away is a major thoroughfare with all kinds of things going on. At night it gets a bit seedier with prostitutes hawking their wares. In the daytime there are cute cafes. The next street over is quite swank. It’s just a few paces away too and completely different. At least I now have a good feeling for the city and can find a better place next time.

This morning I started with coffee and buying a 3 day Sydney Pass. It gives me access to a bunch of things including two different premium tour bus routes; all the ferries, including the harbor cruises; all buses and trains; and more. I immediately tried to use it on the subway, but it shut down for a power failure. So, I hopped a bus to Circular Quay(pronounced “key”????). From there I boarded the Sydney Explorer narrated bus tour. It’s a hop on hop off that runs every 20 minutes all day long. I pretty much did the whole 2 hour circuit to get a feel for the city.

Lunch was at the fish market. A huge place filled with fish stores, many of which cook lunch for you. I had 1/2 a lobster(called crayfish here), salad and chips(fries). It was great. I ate it outside. The door you go out leads to steps that go down to the tables. I went down them without any bother. However, many others were swooped down on by the small gulls they have here. We saw them in New Caledonia too. I saw some of them actually get things off of unsuspecting peoples’ plates. The crowd sitting around laughs every time someone heads down the steps.

After lunch I went back to Circular Quay to catch the 2 1/2 hour harbor cruise. If I had to do it again I’d choose the shorter highlight cruise. It was fun, but went a little far afield. The sun was out, but it was a bit cold standing in the wind. The Opera House is most impressive from the boat though. There are boats in every nook and cranny of the harbor too.

After the cruise I toured The Rocks section of Sydney. It’s the oldest part of the city. From there I walked over to the Aquarium. It was a bit expensive and very disappointing at the beginning, but redeemed itself by the end. It was worth the price of admission for just a couple of things. There was a juvenile Emperor Angelfish. It was something Susan and I were dying to see. I shot some video of it. I hope it turns out. The Great Barrier Reef section was also good. Tons of Nemos(clownfish) were evident. Also, especially good was the area where you walked through plexiglass tubes with sharks, rays and a huge loggerhead turtle overhead.

I had a disappointing early bird special dinner of mushroom and artichoke risotto. Bland and boring with the rice being a bit too al dente. At least it wasn’t too expensive.

That brings me to here, typing in an internet cafe. Just a couple of days left and then I’m home. Whoo hoo.

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