Six Weeks Down Under

Mar 18th, 2017, 12:34 AM
  #121  
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
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I've been following along yes and look forward to reading about Sydney. Sounds like you two had another great trip, complete with successful houseswapping!
What great reporting!
glover is offline  
Mar 26th, 2017, 11:45 AM
  #122  
 
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Last Days: Our Week In Sydney

Our tenth floor apartment was wonderfully situated in the CBD, a block from Hyde Park and near numerous public transportation connections, both bus and rail. (Thanks again, margo for scouting it out for us.) And it was right next door to Normcore, a very good coffee shop in a caffeine-crazed town. And the apartment was modern. And minimal. Very, very minimal - particularly in regard to the kitchen amenities. There was no toaster. There was no coffee maker (although there was Normcore downstairs and the affront of a jar of instant coffee left in a pantry by some previous unfortunate). There was neither fruit knife nor bread knife - in fact, there were no sharp knives at all lest we fall into a state of caffeine-deprived depression and end it all. The walls were as bare as the cupboards. The bathroom had one small towel rack, no hooks, no trashcan and no soap dish in the shower. Perhaps worst of all was the lack of blackout shades on the constantly-lit floor to ceiling window overlooking an interior ventilation shaft; we slept with masks. There was little usable storage. We really wanted to unpack after living out of our suitcases during our week on the road. The sole large closet adjacent to the bed was largely occupied by a washer/dryer, cleaning supplies, an ironing board and spare bedding. There was only one small section in which to hang clothing. Fortunately, the barren kitchen cupboards came in handy: I stored my clothing in one. That said, the wifi was good and the bed was comfortable, which made up for most of the other deficits.

The Sydney weather forecast was for three nice days followed by several iffy ones. We decided to make the best of our time. We headed out to a nearby newstand to buy $20AUD Opal Cards. These cards are required for most Sydney public transportation. That afternoon, we took a long bus ride to (and a longer walk within) Centennial Park where the Taste of Sydney food festival was being held. Taste of Sydney had a number of stands by leading Sydney restaurants as well as free samples by various vendors. We spent a couple hours redeeming coupons for small plates, tasting wines and trying free food samples. Ironically, the best taste at the taste fest turned out to be a free chat from an Indian stand. As dusk approached, the ever-increasing crowd threatened to make the event impassable. We left the immense Centennial Park via another exit and took a bus from the nearby Paddington neighborhood back to near our apartment. (Thank you, Google Map ap - we couldn't have done it without you!) Admission to the Taste of Sydeny was $30 and tastings were additional.

Over the next three days we visited (in no particular order) the Museum of Contemperary Art (where we met up for an enjoyable lunch with Fodorites Bokhara2, margo_oz, schnauzer & a TA friend), Saint Mary's cathedral, the beautiful Queen Victoria Building, Circular Quay, the splendid Opera House and the fabulous Art Gallery of New South Wales. The Art Gallery of New South Wales was particularly impressive and is not to be missed; it has a superb collection of aboriginal art, which both of us had become enamored of during our Australian travels. It also has a good international collection. On Sunday, our second full day in Sydney, we took advantage of the discounted fares to take a ferry from Circular Quay to Watson's Bay, where we had a good lunch at Doyles on the Wharf (cash only) and then spent a couple hours meandering. Then we took a ferry back to Circular Quay and then other ferries out to and back from Manly. Ferries are the best way to see Sydney in our opinion. The entire city seems to face the long and convoluted Sydney Harbour. And the Sunday discounts make the ferries a bargain. One pays either by Opal Card or by purchase of a ticket for a trip.

On day three, we headed to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I skipped on the $200+AUD Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb and opted instead for the Sydney Harbour Bridge Pylon/Museum ($10AUD with the senior concession). The harbor views were spectacular, although the one of Circular Quay was marred by an immense cruise ship docked on one side. The Museum itself was fascinating, detailing the genesis and construction of the Bridge. Afterwards we descended to the Rocks neighborhood and walked through streets lined with some of Sydney's oldest buildings, as well as art galleries and Aboriginal craft shops.

Later that week, we attended the Opera ("La Traviata"). Tickets were reasonable by American prices and the inside of the Opera House is every bit as spectacular as the exterior. The performance of "La Traviata" was superb. We spent part of another day riding ferries to close-in suburbs. On day five, we met up with Our Sydney Greeter, Liz, and per our request, took a long walk through modern sections of Sydney. She provided a fascinating history of a city that seems to be continually rebuilding itself. We then boarded a ferry with her to go to Parramatta. As we traveled on the boat we heard more about the various neightborhoods. However, the best laid plans can run amok. Turns out the ferry couldn't go all the way to Parramatta due to low tide. We got off the ferry at Rydalmere and were bused to the ferry terminal in Parameter and then walked to the train station to go back to Sydney. The trains were packed as by now it was rush hour and it was quite a journey back to the city. Liz, our greeter was apologetic but we found it fascinating to inadvertently experience this slice of life in the Sydney suburbs. No worries!

Later that week we visited the beautiful Art Deco Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park (highly recommended) and the nearby "Thou Didst Fall" Memorial to Aborigines who had died in defense of Australia. The walk in front of the “Thou Didst Fall” Memorial had imbedded stone boomerang motif, a nice decorative touch. We also visited the Jewish Museum and the Australian Museum. Our last day was rainy on and off; we spent much of it inside the elaborately ornamental Queen Victoria Building.

We found the food in Sydney to be superb. In addition to Doyle's, we ate at a very good neighborhood Thai restaurant that was having their opening, Mahanakhon. We visited the excellent Ester twice, eating at the bar both times as we couldn’t get reservations. We went to the famed Chinese restaurant Golden Century where yestravel had planned to order a lobster until the prices were helpfully revealed by the server; the lobsters were huge and cost $300 AUD per kilo. Thanks to a recommendation by Bokharra, we had a great meal Breta. We also had coffee almost every day at Normcore (closed Sundays) and developed a fondness for both their baked goods and their helpful staff. On our last night, during the long walk back to our apartment from Ester, we stumbled onto Spice Alley, an alley converted into a series of Asian restaurants and food stands. Nothing could have been more representative of modern, cosmopolitan and diverse Sydney. We loved this city.
gottravel is offline  
Mar 26th, 2017, 01:14 PM
  #123  
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
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Seems like you covered a bit of ground in and around Sydney and were able to sample the highlights. You are so right that ferry hopping around the harbor is the best way to experience and appreciate the city.
tripplanner001 is online now  
Mar 26th, 2017, 02:04 PM
  #124  
 
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Thanks for your great report guys !

Here's a question...if you had to choose one city between either Sydney or Melbourne, which would it be ?
There's been a long running rivalry between the two forever. My impression is that Melbourne is ahead at the moment, but I'd like to know which you prefer....
sartoric is offline  
Mar 26th, 2017, 02:05 PM
  #125  
 
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And we loved you two, too!
Bokhara2 is offline  
Mar 26th, 2017, 02:34 PM
  #126  
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Thanks for sticking with us! Hard to believe we've been home a week.

TP - Yes, "sample the highlights" is a good description. It was unfortunate that we had such rainy weather or we might have seen more. We found it hard to plan since the rain would come in downpours and then stop only to start a few hours later or not at all. One day we were out and about and it rained with the wind blowing so badly that we got drenched even with umbrellas and raincoats. I can't count how many times my umbrella inverted. Another day we were in Darlington and walked thru the rain & wind to Paddington. It was also chilly so we decided to hang it up and return to the apt and start packing. We get to the apt and of course, the rain & wind stop.

sartoric -- Based on the comments we had heard we thought Sydney might be more like LA with Melbourne being more SF like. While I see the similarities in those comparson, we're not huge fans of LA, but we did love Sydney. Honestly I have to land on the fence, we liked them both! Sydney is more scenic I think and Melbourne has more culture. We ate well in both cities. Of course visiting for a week and living somewhere is so different. I would love to return to either.

Bokhara - awwww-that's sweet!
yestravel is offline  
Mar 26th, 2017, 03:24 PM
  #127  
 
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I hear you about the rain. During our first visit to Sydney, we also experienced rain about 50% of the time. It gave me a reason to go back, and I hope it will for you too. Even after 3 visits, I find that the city continues to tug at me. I will make sure to check out the Art Gallery of NSW next time; haven't been yet even though I do enjoy aboriginal art. The National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne also has a good collection.
tripplanner001 is online now  
Mar 26th, 2017, 05:30 PM
  #128  
 
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wonderful trip report -- thank you, yestravel!
GinnyJo is offline  
Mar 27th, 2017, 12:56 PM
  #129  
 
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Was looking forward to reading this part! Sounds like you had some great experiences and really enjoyed Sydney. Thanks for all your great reporting as usual, yes. I plan to make good use of it when we get to Australia - in just a week!
Sorry you're back in Trump land, but at least you can unpack. You said "I" skipped the bridge walk. Does that mean gotravel did it?
glover is offline  
Mar 27th, 2017, 01:07 PM
  #130  
 
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I can't answer that, Glover - but just wanted to make sure you know you can do a Bridge Climb http://www.bridgeclimb.com/, which is a fantastic, if expensive, experience - or simply walk across the bridge, for nothing. <$20 if you want to climb the southern pylon.
Bokhara2 is offline  
Mar 27th, 2017, 01:13 PM
  #131  
 
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Great report, yestravel. Well done, glad you enjoyed such a variety of cities and landscapes!


Oh, haven't been to the Southern Highlands all times of year, but would suspect the leaves (other than oaks and maple transplants in developed areas) never turn, as they do in the US.
CounterClifton is offline  
Mar 27th, 2017, 01:48 PM
  #132  
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Thanks everyone! Appreciate you reading along and commenting.

glover - GT did the Pylon climb http://www.pylonlookout.com.au/Visitor_frs.htm. He thought the museum and history very interesting and I actually regretted not going. I don't like heights & my knee was bothering me now & then so I skipped.
http://www.pylonlookout.com.au He paid a concession fare (senior) of AUD$10, so its a real bargain.
Neither of us were interested in the bridge climb. There is a half one for less $. I'm sure the views are fabulous. While GT went on the pylon I stood and watched and chatted with the guard who had some interesting insights. It was different than I thought it would be and lots of seniors - actually probably more "seniors" than others.

I think you'll enjoy Sydney - lots to see & do. As everywhere, wonderful people and food.
yestravel is offline  
Mar 28th, 2017, 08:59 PM
  #133  
 
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Naughty sartoric asking yes travel to pick.
Interestingly I always thoughtSydney was like SF because of being built around the water.
Good answer yestravel!!!
It was lovely to meet you
northie is offline  
Mar 29th, 2017, 04:42 AM
  #134  
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And a truly honest answer. Enjoyed our time in both cities. I think Melbourne also had a SF feel because of the weather. It was summer, but it didn't feel like it as it was cool, with a wind blowing. Where we went we saw lots of edgy looking 20-30 somethings. It also had a tighter feel to the city. Sydney was more open feeling & when it wasnt raining we had warm, sunny weather.
Great to meet you & our husband, northie. And nice that you got us into another part of town.
yestravel is offline  
Mar 29th, 2017, 05:14 AM
  #135  
 
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I agree with yestravel on Sydney feeling like L.A., although easier to get around; the ferry system in Sydney is awesome. I can also appreciate the comparison between Melbourne and SF, although I was reminded of Chicago with its more business-like environment, the arts, and the café culture.
tripplanner001 is online now  
Mar 29th, 2017, 05:31 AM
  #136  
 
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I second YT's fence-sitting. I liked both cities and would find it hard to pick a favorite between the two.
gottravel is offline  
Mar 29th, 2017, 05:43 AM
  #137  
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"Business-like" environment is the perfect word. I was trying to think of a descriptor.
yestravel is offline  
Mar 29th, 2017, 01:23 PM
  #138  
 
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Hard to nail down the perfect comparison between the two Australian cities and any two in the US, I think. Would have to be more a bit of this and a bit of that (with a dollop of the UK thrown in).
CounterClifton is offline  
Mar 29th, 2017, 04:03 PM
  #139  
 
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Too true CC .
northie is offline  
Mar 29th, 2017, 04:30 PM
  #140  
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It was interesting in that this is the first country we have visited that we saw resemblances to the US. Throughout the trip we kept saying, "This sort of reminds me of..."
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