Sydney Trip Report (Mar 15-25)

Mar 27th, 2007, 01:35 PM
  #1  
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Join Date: Aug 2006
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Sydney Trip Report (Mar 15-25)

I had a wonderful time in Sydney and this was the best trip of my life. I loved Australia and I can't wait to go back. Thanks to all the Fodorites who gave tips and planning advice. This is my first extensive report and I hope it helps anyone going to Sydney area.

Day 1 (Thurs-Sat)

The journey to Sydney went more smoothly than expected. We left Baltimore for L.A. via Phoenix on Thursday @ 3pm. Both flights were on time & we landed in L.A. around 8pm. Since we flew SWA, we had to pick up our checked bags & go from terminal 1 to terminal 4. If anyone has flown through LAX, you know this can be a hassle esp if your walking between terminals. (Didn't see any shuttles & LAX was quite confusing to us)

After waiting to pick up the bags, we eventually realized the belt had stopped and we were the only ones still standing there minus a very large bag. So the unthinkable just occurred, our bag was lost! I kept my cool walking into the baggage claim office. My partner did all the talking with the SWA rep. She was like, oh this happens all the time. It probably didn't make the connection in Phoenix, it should arrive on the next flight. According to them, this happens all the time. At the same, another rep was being really mean to another customer who surprising had his SWA ID in hand which I guess didn't really matter to her. So we filled out the proper paper work and they would call if the bag came in that evening but we had a flight at 11:45! At this point, we're upset and make the trek over to Qantas with what bags we have minus the important big bag.

Arriving at T4 was like night and day. There were four Qantas reps greeting you as your walking inside directing you where to go. The rep at the counter was pleasant to talk with and we picked up our tickets. We were able to get the seats we requested. By this time, it was 9:30 & we needed to be boarding by 11. We tried to call the baggage office but nobody answered so we had to walk back over there. What do you know, we were able to call the 800 and get a supervisor on the phone as were walking into T1. In the end, the bag was still sitting in Baltimore and they took our hotel info & promised to have it on the next Qantas flight. By this time it was time to go through security & board the plane. By the time we walked back to T4 , our 3 hours we thought we were going to have to get some food was all gone.

Boarding was smooth and very quickly. I've never flown on a 747, it was huge! We obtained seats in row 70 where there were only 2 seats together. There was so much room and space. Taking off, the noise of the plane was really loud and I thought we would never get off the runway. Leaving SYD in daylight, I was able to note how the runway ended just secs when the plane lifted off the ground! I guess there is no room for error in flying a 747. The crew were nice & the food was amazingly enjoyable. The flight went by so fast thanks to the endless amount of movies and TV programs to watch. It's amazing to watch how dirty a bathroom can get after 14 hours.

Landing in SYD was great. I enjoyed Sydney airport alot because it's spacious & has free Internet terminals. The line for Immigration didn't take too long but it was very warm in the room with a few fans blowing around. Heading for customs, I first realized that nobody knew the definition of forming a line and it was perfectly okay to just cut in front. So we walked around the people who cut in front of us with dirty stares. We realized that the line to declare food was much shorter, at least 35 min than the other line. I had read this online and we ended up declaring the food from the flight so we could just go through the one line. I guess they don't believe people who say they have nothing because they were searching and running their bags thru X-ray machines. We were through in less than 60 seconds!

Before leaving the airport for our hotel, we headed to the tourist info center to purchase Sydney Explorer passes because they include a free Cityrail to/from airport. Two 5 day passes cost only A$290 and it was well worth every penny esp the convenience of having just 1 pass to use. Just doing the 3 cruises & the 2 explorer buses once pays for the 5 day pass alone but we used the explorer buses more than once, I really loved those buses and thought they were always on time. The driver's are great as well, they gave great advice and tips. The 15%-20% savings on museums and such was a big saving as well. *Tip = Using it from the airport doesn't activate it and we didn't start using it until Monday when we knew the crowds would be low during the week so we could make the most of the 5 days. Also you don't have to use it 5 days in a row, you can skip a day if you like.

It was very easy to take Cityrail on a Sat morning to Circular Quay, there were no connections to make. We stayed at the Marriott Harbour Circular Quay. It's a nice hotel, only 1 block from the Quay. Our room wasn't available when we arrived around 10:30 but we were given access to the early arrivals lounge on floor 6. Here you have a bathroom with shower, TV, a PC with Internet connection, and a room with a commercial size coffee maker along with a fridge with bottles of water. There is a few sofas and snacks as well. We left our bags with the bell boy who would later deliver them to our room when available. We went off to walk around and get some lunch. We came back around 1pm and our room was ready. We were on floor 19 with a great view of the opera house and Farm Cove! It was a lovely room, took some pictures to post on trip advisor.

The first 3 days in Sydney, the weather was very HOT & humid. I believe it was around 90F with 100% humidity one day. It was hard at times to get the weather because it's barely talked about on the news for more than a minute. News is mostly spent on sports and 2/3 of the channels in our hotel room was sports channels.

We were tired and figured we stay close to the Quay for our first day. We visited the rocks market and it was too hot and crowded. We decided to return the next Sat before leaving for home. This was a mistake we would later regret as one vendor would sell off something we thought about buying but thought we would find something similar elsewhere. The whole area was crowded with people on the weekend, it would be worse on Sunday for the Bridge Festival. We ended up going to bed fairly early, around 8pm. I don't think we had dinner!
bluestructure is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 01:36 PM
  #2  
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Day 2 - (Sunday)

Woke up early to hit the gym before touring the Opera House @ 10am. We never had breakfast anywhere our entire stay, just had protein bars and such. The tour was wonderful and was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. The 1 hour goes by very fast and I enjoyed the guide as well, I believe his name was Bruce? I was able to get some great pictures from inside though please note you can't take pictures in some of the halls. Your guide will let you know when its okay to take pictures.

Afterwards, we out away from the crowds for the Bridge Fest. There were roads closures so we were able to walk up George St (in middle to be exact) up to the Queen Victoria Building to have lunch (somewhere in food court, forgot the name) and take pictures. We also looked around the Strand Arcade, another beautiful building.

Leaving the QVB, we walked over and through Hyde Park. This is a beautiful park which reminded me of Forsyth in Savannah. Walking up Macquarie St, we past the Hyde Park Barracks, The Mint, and Sydney Hospital. We eventually found ourselves in the Botanical Gardens. The sights, sounds, and smells I can still remember. I remember being surrounded by Cockatoos and standing at the Wollemi Pine watching a young aussie girl jump up and down when seeing it for the first time and explaining to her father about the significance of the Wollemi. The Bats were very interesting to see, with hundreds hanging right above you. They were noisy little buggers.

The point where Mrs. Macquarie's Chair lies is the best view and spot to take pictures of both the bridge and Opera House. There were lots of families out having picnics and watching the water spectacles in the harbour. Sunday was the first and only day we saw any police while in Australia besides the airport. There were lots of police, N.S.W. finest out walking around, in groups of 4-7 all day long as part of the festival. They looked professional and ready for anything but they looked really bored. Crime doesn't seem to be an issue there which was noticeable & appreciated to us coming from the U.S.A.

Does anyone know the name of the stone formations off Macquarie St near Albert St?? We discovered it coming off the footpath from the Opera House. One day passing by it on the explorer bus, the driver mentioned it and regarded it as Sydney's Stonehenge.

With the crowds, we decided not to do the bridge walk. It was too hot to go stand in the crowds to get across to North Sydney and plus we had already walked a few kilometers that day. We decided to hang out and enjoy the festival near the rock's. I was able to pick up a gold dollar, a souvenir coin from the Sydney Morning Herald booth.

The bridge was lit up in beautiful colors at night and we walked around trying to find a place to eat. Keep in mind, there were lots of people. Doyle's seemed inviting because of the views and I read the name somewhere. The wait seemed minimal which also lured us inside. We enjoyed it but it reminded us of Phillip's in Baltimore. It definitely lacked presentation for the price paid. The name & location is the only thing this place has going for it at the harbour. No regrets eating there, the food was good. I just wonder how the Doyle's in Watson's Bay fares.
bluestructure is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 01:38 PM
  #3  
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Day 3 - (Monday)

We took our first Harbour Cruise at 1030a, it was very lovely since I wasn't tired of boats yet. It was still muggy out and cloudy but enjoyable being out on the water for an hour tour. These Harbour cruises are less crowded during the week than what we saw over the weekend. They also leave on time, I mean within seconds as do most ferries so be sure you arrive early. Keep in mind that if your walking around taking pictures to make sure your camera strap is around your neck. You never know with boats and waves!

We decided to hop back on a ferry and head out to Manly for lunch afterwards. We arrived around 1230p, it was a very easy walk to the beach. I loved Manly, it was a very quaint beach town. I prefer Manly over Bondi. I believe we had lunch at Zinc Cafe? It was across from beach with great reviews. We went looking for a pizza place not on the beach that was suppose to have good pizza but it wasn't open for lunch. I saw a Ribs & Rumps place and I felt gravity almost pulling me inside.... too bad we never made it back out for dinner. After lunch, we walked up/down the beach taking in the views. We then walked down The Corso which we totally missed after we left the ferry. We stopped at Coles, the supermarket and picked up snacks, etc. We then decided to head back since it was 4p and we wanted to change before our Bridge Climb @ 6p. While waiting for the ferry we enjoyed some Gelatissimo. It was REALLY good! There is another location at the Quay and in Haymarket!

The ferry to Manly seemed very slow, around 30 min. We could have used the 15 min JetCat as part of our passes but those only operate in the early am or eve/pm hours. So we're excited about the Bridge Climb and totally under estimated how long we would be there. We ate a snack on the way and figured dinner afterwards. Well, we arrived at 6pm and didn't leave until 9:50pm.

Okay, so the climb! It was very exciting because this was the actual anniversary. Later on, we would receive an official coin and certificate commemorating the 75th anniversary. First thing we did was fill out forms and take a breathalizer test. We changed into the gear they provided and since it was muggy and a chance of rain, they wanted us to take off our clothes because they wanted us to wear rain gear as well. Our climb leader the totally awesome. Her name was Maria and she was so full of energy and motivation. She had a great attitude all around. After meeting everyone in the group, we got our gear on and went through some preclimbing. There were 12 people total, 6 couples. It was exciting to meet everyone. 2 couples were from Sydney, 1 from Perth, 1 from Darwin, 1 from UK, & us from the USA. It was dark by the time we headed out the door around 730p and it was raining very heavy! It was a very interesting climb but it made it even more adventurous. The hard part really was climbing just under the roadway, the cars/trucks can be intimidating. Going back down on the other side your just under the train tracks and I so happen was just inches under it when a train came through, It scared the crap out of me. Anyways, the climb up/down the arch was the easy part and the rain seemed to stop when we reached the top for the pictures. Maria was nice enough to take alot of pictures just to get one we liked. I highly recommend the climb, it was a great experience.

So after leaving close to 10p, it was suggested we stop by Pancakes on the Rocks since it was open 24 hrs and had various kinds of foods. We were really hungry so we stopped in, it wasn't too busy but a younger crowd. Everyone went crazy when the Dixie Chicks came on. It was okay for a late dinner, it's basically your typical diner food. They have a LONG way to go on their pancakes though, I personally can make better pancakes and I believe IHOP can as well. So we went and see what the hoopla was about, I'll give it a C. Btw, they are opening a new location at Darling Harbour in May.
bluestructure is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 01:49 PM
  #4  
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Btw, Southwest did have my bag flown to Sydney on the next Qantas flight and paid to have it delivered to my hotel (Qantas earlier said they don't deliver bags). I had all my stuff in less than 24 hrs of arriving so kudos for them. The mystery still looms as to who was to blame, TSA or a SWA employee. In the end, it all worked out.
bluestructure is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 02:45 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 47
Thanks for the info Blue. My partner and I are going to Sydney for 6 days next week and this information will come in handy. I like the part about checking food in through customs. We don't plan on any tours or museums, just soaking in local culture. I'm sure we'll enjoy it and hope to experience a different part of the world other than Chicago.
ALANP is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 03:52 PM
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Day 4 (Tuesday)

After the gym, we decide to hop on the Bondi Explorer bus first thing in the morning. In my opinion, I prefer this bus over the red Sydney Explorer because it shows you lots of neat areas outside the city. A few times, the driver would stop at non-marked stops and let passengers off to take pictures for 5 min whenever we came to a scenic overlook or what not. We rode the bus up to Watson's Bay and spend some time walking around. It was a clear day and much cooler than the previous days. The views at Gap Bluff were amazing looking out towards North Head. The waves crashing ashore below was just awesome. I immediately thought of the Amalfi coast.

So we jumped back on the bus and headed down to Bondi. We spent probably 90 minutes here, we had lunch at Gabby's. It was here that we noticed that we had to ask for the check from now on or it would never come. No place really seems to rush anyone out the door to get the next paying customer in as they do here in USA. Also, we were really unsure about the tipping in OZ. I've read in many places that you don't have to but it's custom to tip 10% if the service was great. Since we always tip at home regardless, we still gave a pretty good tip anywhere we ate. A few times we were given a strange look for tipping. Anyways, Bondi was neat....way crowded and less trees than Manly. We were going to come back to swim but got mixed up in other things so bringing the beach stuff was pointless.

We rode the rest of the Bondi route and exited off at the Art Gallery of NSW. We went inside for about an hour to cool off and mark it off the list. We quickly realized there was more to do in Sydney than we had planned. I enjoyed the gallery and took a few pictures of some favorite pieces. *Note, some things were off limits to cameras.

Afterwards, we moved down to the Australian Museum which I really enjoyed. It was very quiet and only a handful of others in the place. They are doing construction and there were some noise starting up as we were leaving. They are putting in a new exhibit. I loved the animals and all the bones. The Indigenous Australia exhibit was really informational. I enjoyed this museum more than all of the ones we visited.

We stopped in St. Mary's cathedral for a few minutes on the way back to the hotel. What a beautiful cathedral inside and out.

After going back to the hotel to change, we head off to the rocks for dinner. We enjoyed our dinner and drinks at Caminetto's, we had a nice table outside. It rained while eating dinner but stayed dry. I loved the service and it was one of our favorite dining experiences in Sydney.

After dinner, the rain stopped and we decided to take our evening harbour cruise at 830p. It was nice, the route was pretty much the same as the morning but included Darling Harbour. The lights were beautiful and there were alot of lightning strikes. The boat kept speeding up and slow down. At times the commentary kept cutting in/out and starting over. We didn't care because we heard it before. Pulling into Circular Quay area, it was clearly something was wrong because the ferry was driving crazy back to the wharf and Cher's "Believe" was blaring instead of the commentary. The ferry slammed into the wharf and everyone basically ran off. Something was definitely wrong with the operator's of that ferry. The last 10 minutes turned into a party boat.

Day 5 (Wednesday)

This was one of my favorite days because we went to Taronga Zoo first thing in the morning. This is at the top of my favorite zoos because the grounds and animals were all just wonderful. You have the option of paying to take the cable car up to the main gate from the ferry dock or ride the bus. Our first stop was the Koalas. They were very active in the morning. They were running and jumping around like you've never seen. I watched them and took pictures until I realized there were more animals to see. I won't go into much details but I enjoyed the scenic views as a background to some of the enclosures. I enjoyed seeing and petting the kangaroos in the walk in enclosure, having my picture taken with the baby joey was great. Don't forget to go watch the Platypus! We ended up leaving the zoo a little after 12pm. We found ourselves at the Quay and noticed the next ferry to Homebush Bay was in 15 min so decided to go for it. We picked up lunch there at one of the wharfs.

Olympic Park was amazing! We were able to take the ferry down (50 min) and catch the local bus from there to Olympic Park station which is in the middle of everything. We weren't able to take CityRail because we couldn't go that far with our Sydney Explorer pass but we were able to take ferry/bus which was really easy. We were basically the only ones and had the whole park to ourselves. It was getting cloudy to rain again when we arrived around 230p. We went to the information center and picked up a self guided walking map for free and for tips on what to see/do. We were going to rent bikes for an hour but it was getting cloudy. We spent an hour walking around the grounds seeing the cauldron which was relocated outside Telstra stadium. It is now a fountain with water coming out instead of fire. All of the facilities were amazing and I could just imagine the Olympics taking place there. I highly recommend going up to the 17th floor observation level on top of the Novotel hotel. I was able to get great views of the whole area including Sydney. We saw some kind of Industrial park nearby a few km awhile with a big flame coming out the top of a smoke stack. It was on the side where the stadium/cauldron is located and it kinda looked like an Olympic flame which was cool. It was worth the trip down even if we spent 2 hours there. We were back on the ferry around 530p, this time instead of just us 2, two tour buses dropped off their loads from the Blue Mtns to catch the ferry the rest of the way back into Sydney.

We were tired and decided to have the buffet at the Marriott hotel. For $49 (Mon-Thurs), it was really a steal. It was a step up over any buffet we've been too. The seafood was great and they have some hot foods as well thou the made to order pasta/stir fry was great. Of course the desserts were nice.

Day 6 (Thursday)

Today was the first clear day with blue skies and abundant sunshine. We slept in after being on the go everyday. After gym, we headed to the Powerhouse Museum. The main reason for going was to see the Great Wall exhibit but unfortunately I was too late and it has now moved on to Melbourne. We decided to go in anyways to check it out. We picked up lunch at the cafe. We probably spent about 2 hours there. I enjoyed seeing the Strasburg clock model and watching it operate about 6 min before the hour. Seeing Dick Smiths helicopter was pretty neat as well as some of the planes and engines. Before leaving, we sat down and surfed the Internet and checked email on one of the PC terminals on the lower level in the computers & connections exhibit area.

Afterwards we walked through Chinatown & ended up going back a few hours later for dinner at Golden Century after some suggestions. I do recommend making reservations if you go there, there was a line when we were leaving. The food was okay, enjoyed the service and atmosphere. This was probably the cheapest dinner we had in Sydney ($A80) and biggest portions.

We left there and headed to Star City Casino just to check it out. It was amazing how it reminded me of a Las Vegas casino. I loved how there were smoking sections and non-smoking areas. We just hung out about an hour for something to do after dinner. We caught the last ferry out of Pyrmont Bay to the Quay and called it a night since we were going to the Blue Mtns the next day early.
bluestructure is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 03:57 PM
  #7  
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Join Date: Aug 2006
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Your welcome AlanP, I would definitely look into some type of commuter pass because ferries & CityRail can be expensive. You'll definitely have to get out to some of the suburbs & even the Mtns. I'm still working on the last couple days including the return trip
bluestructure is offline  
Mar 27th, 2007, 05:23 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 71
Truly enjoying your trip report! We are heading to Australia the end of April. The beginning and end of our trip will be in Sydney. You are providing great information. The second part of our trip we are staying at Quay Grand Suites. I am now thinking of the Marriot at the front end. Again, thanks for the report. i look forward to reading the conclusion.
raerose is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 01:30 AM
  #9  
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Day 7 (Friday)

We decided to head out to the Blue Mountains on our own rather than be stuck on some tour bus going by their schedule. Also, Friday seemed to have the best weather with sunny and clear skies forecast. I've read that you want to go out there on a clear day. We bought the Blue Mtns Explorer combo pass at Central station which includes R/T on CityRail from Central-Katoomba & an all day pass on the Blue Mtns Explorer which is similar to the 2 explorer buses in Sydney/Bondi. Buying this pass for $42.20 saves you $13 which would cost $55 if you purchase the R/T train ticket and decide to ride the explorer bus when you get out there. Let me tell you, you don't want to be walking when you get out there, save your energy for the trails.

We woke up early so we would make sure we're at Central by 7am. We weren't using our Sydney pass today, instead saving the 5th day for Saturday. We decided to walk to Central which was directly down Pitt St. With nobody out and about around 630a, it was about a 25 min walk. The first train to Katoomba leaves at 7:25am and arrives a little after 9am. The train was full at times with commuters and school children going between stops along the way but once past Parramatta, the train felt fairly empty.

The closer we got to Katoomba, the less you could see from the train. I was getting very worried but we put off going out there for a nice day but it was so foggy and getting much worse. To my delight, the fog finally disappeared and it was very clear when arrived in Katoomba but you could see the valley was filled with fog. Here is a reminder for those of you that go first in the morning. When you exit the train station, at the top of the stairs there is an explorer information office where you must trade in your ticket you received at Central to get your map/guide book and your actually pass to get on/off the bus. Make sure you keep the CityRail pass though for your journey home. You don't want to waste any time arriving because the first bus arrives around 9:30a with the 2nd bus an hour later. They will direct you to where the bus stop is located, just up the hill in front of a cafe.

Going on our own paid off tremendously. We rode the explorer and got off at Echo Point (most people exited at Scenic World). I highly recommend going to Echo Point first before tour buses arrive later on. I was able to get some great pictures of the fog slowly moving out of the valley. I knew then it was going to be a great day. The views were wonderful and later in the day you could see the blue haze over the valley. Echo Point has bathrooms and information/gift shops so don't think it's an isolated overlook or anything.

First thing we did was take the path that leads to the 3 sisters themselves. If you don't want to do much hiking, I believe most people with time can make the fairly easy walk to the 3 sisters. It was a great view from the ledge leading out to the base. There isn't much room out there but a small bench. I can say I was able to touch the sisters.

Afterwards, we headed to the giant staircase. Our plan was to walk down and then take Federal Pass a few km to Scenic World and ride back up. OMG, the staircase was a little harder than I had thought. At some places, it was really steep and it was almost like a ladder. I don't want to discourage anyone because this was definitely a challenge I welcomed. The views going down was amazing! I couldn't imagine going up the stairs, going down was difficult enough. When we reached the bottom, it was very quiet. The hike was fairly easy at the bottom but a little muddy in 1 or 2 places, nothing to worry about. Getting to point that runs under the sisters was cool, you could look up and see them or just a big rock really. Near the end we came upon Katoomba Falls which was beautiful and also seeing people for the first time since we left the top of the staircase. By this time I was drenched in sweat and knew I had to buy a shirt to change into at Scenic World.

We decided to ride the Scenic Railway with the very steep incline. It was $8 and worth every penny!! I wouldn't care for the other rides but this one I could ride over and over. We were the only ones on there and the only ones going up for that matter. It was so awesome, it went straight up! It was almost like we were standing up. It was all over with in about 60 seconds but the smiles on our faces were still there for a much longer time. When we arrived at the top around 1230pm, we noticed all the tour buses from the city had arrived. The line for the rides was out the door so we were glad to be going the opposite way.

For lunch, we walked the 5 minutes up the road from Scenic World to Katoomba Falls cafe. I highly recommend this place over the food you'll find back at "SW". The Explorer bus driver said it was the best so we decided to go check it out. He was right and it was probably the best cafe we visited while in OZ. The BLT was to die for as was their huge milk shakes. I think we were the only tourists in there at the time with a few locals. There is also an explorer bus stop there but we decided to walk back and see what else was at "SW".

We decided to ride the rest of the bus route around and see a little bit of the city before heading back to Sydney as we knew the train ride was 2 hours. Here is a piece of advice when riding the explorer bus. Just after stop 17 on cliff drive as you approach the first stop sign heading to stop 18 you'll find the best view of the valley. The driver stopped for a moment for pictures. It's best to be on the right hand side with window open and your camera ready. Btw, Richard was a great driver and keep those elbows inside or he'll stop the bus!

Also note that if you want to get off the bus in Leura you can catch the train back from that station rather go back to Katoomba. The train ride going back was about 30 min longer due to the train moving slower as we approached Central during the PM rush hour.

After going back to the hotel and change, we decided to go have a dinner at an cafe along the water. Portobello has the best seating in my opinion, right next to the water. We wanted something quick with a nice view, we couldn't have asked for anything better. The food was pretty good here but I had always wanted to have breakfast there. Afterwards we walked around the Quay/Rocks watching the sunset.

Day 8 (Saturday)

This was our last full day in Sydney. We went over to the Rocks Market to get souvenirs. I was able to buy some boomerangs, prints, wooden racing kangaroo's, etc... Alot of of things there was great and I prefer to have shopped for my things there over other places at the QVB or elsewhere.

We decided to have lunch at the Gumnut Tea Garden. The courtyard was lovely and the service was efficient. It was definitely a great decision. For the first time I was able to get a nice glass of iced tea complete with mint! Every other place I asked if they had iced tea I received the most strangest look. I really enjoyed their beef pie, it was great. Their breakfast menu looked nice so I would recommend this place for breakfast or lunch. It's nice to mix it in with a morning of shopping at the Rocks Market.

We strolled back over to the hotel. It was a nice for a run and we were trying to make the most of our last day. By 4pm we were getting dressed up for dinner, we had reservations at The Meat & Wine Company. We left early to stop by the Chinese Friendship Garden which was nearby. It's definitely worth the $6 admission. They only take cash and going later close to closing time you'll find hardly any other people. It was the perfect thing before dinner.

Leaving the gardens we notice the huge Greek festival going on right outside in the open green. Everyone looked like they were having a great time but nobody knew it was all about to be savagely interrupted by mother nature. We stopped in the Outback Centre to take a look around for about 20 minutes and buy a few gifts. All of a sudden, we noticed people running around and into the store. The wind had picked up and it was raining very hard that water had started to pool up. I immediately thought about the Greek festival and then how are we going to get to dinner.

Fortunately, the restaurant was only a 5 min walk but we were able run in 2 minutes. However, we were soaked head to toe. It took us 25 minutes to dry off in the bathroom and I had to change from the nice clothes I had on to a T shirt I just purchased. Now, our best experience dining out was here. We had the best table with a view reserved for us. The food was just sensational along with the staff. If we had went to The Meat & Wine Company earlier in the week, we felt that we would have returned one more time before leaving. We ordered many things and the bill was WAAY larger than anything we purchased at one time there. It was well worth it and what a great last night dinner in Sydney.

After dinner, we walked to Darling Harbour ferry stop for 1 more ferry ride into the Quay. We lucked out and arrived just a minute before the last ferry. It's strange how ferries run til 10/11pm during the week but stop around 7pm on weekends as far as service between Darling Harbour/Circular Quay. We almost hopped off at Luna Park but decided we were just too tired. We headed back to finish packing. Our last day was really enjoyable.

Day 9 (Last Day)

We were able to get an extra hour of sleep because Sydney moved their clocks back 1 hour on Sat night. We woke up around 6am to get ready to roll out. We able to get to the Circular Quay station around 7am, the train to the airport was arriving every 15 minutes. There was hardly anyone out at that time of morning. A young man boarded the train at the Museum stop. I believe he was heading home after a long night out. He could barely keep himself upright and he eventually just fell over passed out.

Sydney check in counters were a nightmare except for the Qantas ques where our flight was to check in. I'm glad we arrived 2.5 hrs early. The JAL lines were a complete mess, it looks like everyone arrived at the same time. Anyways, we were able to make it through security fairly easy. We noticed that nobody did much searching of anything and didn't see the traditional signs saying no liquids, etc. Now, I love to buy bottled water/soda to carry on the flight with me and maybe a cup of coffee. I usually buy these things after going through security because of the 3oz limit, etc. Well, I was really upset after spending money buying these things to have it thrown out. We found out that since our flight was leaving for the USA, they did another security check at the gate and searched everyone's bags throwing out liquids and such. It would have been nice if they did this back at the actual security check. Our flight ended up leaving over an hour late because of this. We were walking to the gate and were told to wait at the previous gate in a closed out section. Before you know, the entire flight was in this massive crowd at this waiting point. That is when a dozen security guards "tried" to get everyone in line to do a search and that seemed to have taken forever. If they did the search as people arrived it would have taken less time and less manpower. Let's just say that everyone was very annoyed by this.

So the flight was "OK", more turbulence going back so that kept me up. Let's just say I was falling over back at LAX. I'm still feeling the Jet lag which is strange because I don't remember anything after arriving in Sydney. I guess all the excitement over came me.

Well, it was a great trip. Looking forward to the next one for sure. It seemed like each day got better and better. I took over 800 pictures and hope to post them up on my webshots page and provide the link. What an amazing experience this was. Aussie's were very friendly and welcoming to us. If anyone has any specific Q's I'll be glad to answer them. I hope your trip to OZ is as memorable as ours were.
bluestructure is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 11:27 AM
  #10  
 
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love your report. we are going at Christmas so have picked up some great tips. looking forward to reading more....
Smeagol is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 04:56 PM
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What a great , comprehensive report bluestructure! Glad you liked our city. I must say I learned a few things myself from your report! You can rest assured that Doyle's at Watsons Bay has nothing going for it but name and location either!
Peteralan is offline  
Mar 28th, 2007, 07:45 PM
  #12  
 
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Thanks for taking the time to write a report from our city. I'm glad you enjoyed yourselves. I'm amazed at how much you fitted in!
margo_oz is offline  
Mar 29th, 2007, 08:35 AM
  #13  
 
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Thanks for a great report. You did a lot of interesting things. Thanks for the restaurant reviews, too. Your bridge climb sounds quite unique--driving rain in the dark and you still had a fabulous time--speaks well of the experience!
Sally in sunny Seattle
SnRSeattle is offline  
Mar 29th, 2007, 08:39 AM
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p.s. Isn't it interesting that you say that you loved Australia and can't wait to go back--that is how most of us visitors feel about that country, no matter how short or long our trip there. I don't feel that way about many of the places we have been. Usually when we get back from a long vacation we swear we are never getting back in an airplane again. When we got home from Australia, we WOULD have gotten right back on and flown the 14 hours again to be back. And started planning our next trip immediately! I hope you get back soon.
S-in-S again, still sunny
SnRSeattle is offline  
Mar 29th, 2007, 03:50 PM
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Hi Bluestructure,
That's a great JBR, thanks very much for all your detail. It's interesting to see our home through visitors' eyes, and I'm sure you've given lots of people coming here some insights which will be useful for them.

BTW - I think you were on the same Bridge Climb as my nephew, Tim & his partner, Lisa. It was my b'day gift to him last year and he booked it for that day without realizing it was the Bridge Anniversary, so they had a bonus
Bokhara is offline  
Mar 29th, 2007, 04:48 PM
  #16  
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Thanks, it truly was a great time. We stayed so busy and still wasn't able to cover everything in the area. I can't see how some people post intineries going all over the country in a week or so. 1 city such as sydney has so much to offer as I'm sure Melbourne, Perth, etc. does. I would love to go back again perhaps seeing Uluru or GBR.

I was pretty sick of being on a ferry by the end of the week. I was starting to see things move even when I wasn't on one. If you noticed, we did NOT go on the 3rd (afternoon) Harbour Cruise which was actually 2.5 hrs. I was totally cruised out after 2.

The hotel was great. The best thing it has going for it is location. It was an easy 5 min walk to Circular Quay and even closer for the Sydney Explorer buses. The early arrivals room is nice as is the gym/health club which is privately run. It's free & 24 hrs which is a plus. The only hotel which I thought was in a better location was the Sir Stamford on Macquarie St. It's about the same amount of time to the Quay but it's very close to the Gardens and easier access to the Opera House. It looked very elegant from the outside.

Bokhara, the bridge climb was great. What a great bday gift. I remember 2 couples received it as a bday gift, 1 as a V-day gift, the UK couple was actually celebrating a bday that day which must of been exciting for him.

Ummm, why do mens restrooms have NO individual urinals but 1 "common" area? I found it rather smelly and stepping up on a platform of sorts...well, I couldn't concentrate!
bluestructure is offline  
Apr 1st, 2007, 08:53 PM
  #17  
 
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Bluestructure - To your last question, I can only respond: (1) Platforms are often referred to as "viewing platforms". Perhaps this was a case in point. Or not.
(2) It is important to keep one's balance at all times. Was your concentration disturbed by the "stepping" or the "viewing"? If the former, perhaps less of the latter would have assisted.

(3) Had you been here a week or so earlier, you could have borrowed a frock from Mardi Gras participants and used the "Ladies' Loo", where the only problem is that one has to queue 4 blocks to get inside one.
(4) We put blinkers on our horses to avoid distractions in unfamiliar situations. Send me your address & I'll see if there's a spare one in the stable for your next visit.

Bokhara is offline  
Apr 6th, 2007, 05:40 PM
  #18  
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Oh your hilarious!

They seemed very rickety to me but it was something to talk about when I got back to work for sure.

FYI: I'm feeling better now, It has taken me almost 10 days to feeling back to normal. The first week I was feeling dizzy & nausea. I kept feeling like I was on a moving boat. I was also up late at night & had to call in to work a couple days because I was too tired. I even fell asleep at work one day. My sleep cycle was all off for sure.

I would definitely do it all over again!
bluestructure is offline  
Apr 6th, 2007, 11:45 PM
  #19  
 
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Bokhara, how come you are an expert on this matter? bluestructure, funnily enough I was thinking of you yesterday and about this aspect when I was using a urinal at the Royal Easter Show ! On the way home I checked out one at one of our older train stations and the urinals were lovely white enamel and quite seperate and private! LOL! That is something you missed out on!
Peteralan is offline  
Apr 7th, 2007, 04:12 AM
  #20  
 
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Which, Peteralan? The Platforms, Horse blinkers or Mardi gras frocks?
Of the urinals ...all I can say is, I bow to your experience. And, BTW ... was that you I saw disappearing into the "Vanessa the Undresser" tent in Sideshow alley .. or was it the "Headless albino"? xoxo
Bokhara is offline  

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