Sydney 11/07

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What a beautiful, livable and astounding city!

Wayne & Craig & the Sydney Opera House

For the second consecutive year Craig got a full week off at high school during Thanksgiving, so off we were for 9 days in Australia and New Zealand. I was last in Sydney in April 2001 with Ben and enjoyed it so much that I vowed to return. I found the same enthusiasm to return following this trip. Sydney is a vibrant city of over 4 million people sporting everything from the arts to fine dining and great beaches, all backed by a southern California like temperate climate. I found the people to be both down-to-earth and exceedingly friendly.

Sunday November 18th

We arrived from LA around 11am after connecting through Auckland on Air New Zealand. The "lay flat" seats in business class allowed us to arrive well rested after the long flights. We bought Sydney Passes at the travel kiosk in the airport and headed for the Sydney Harbour Marriott, where we checked in early. The hotel is ideally located just a block from Circular Quay, Sydney's major hub of land and water transportation.

Sydney Harbour from the Taronga Zoo

Our room had a nice view of the Harbour Bridge (first picture above). It was an easy walk to Campbell's Cove on the west side of the Harbour (located at the bottom right of the first picture above) where we set up a tripod to take the large picture, top of page left with the Opera House behind us. That's the same spot where Ben and I did a picture in 2001. We then strolled through Circular Quay (pronounced "key"), grabbing a gelato along the way, to the Sydney Opera House (second picture above), where we did the 3:30pm "essential" tour. We still had plenty of energy left, so we set out east from the Opera House (third picture above) walking through the Royal Botanic Gardens skirting Farm Cove (fourth picture above and first picture below) for about 2 kilometers, arriving at Mrs. Macquaries Point as the sun set (second picture below). Heading back, we cut through the center of the botanic gardens to Bridge Street and then on to our hotel. After a snack at the hotel lounge, we walked over to the Rocks area as they were closing down the Sunday street fair and ate dinner at Pancakes.

Monday November 19th

The weather looked perfect for a "beach day" in Sydney, so after buying an Aussie hat at Strand Hatters, we caught the Bondi Express bus to Bronti Beach where we began the 3 kilometer beachfront cliffs walk north through the Sculpture by the Sea (third picture above) to Bondi Beach (fourth picture above). We ate lunch across from the beach at the Hog's Breath Cafe and then strolled the length of the beach from south to north. Yes, Bondi really is a topless beach (first picture below) and the mood is very laid back. Before catching the 333 bus back to Circular Quay, Craig and I posed for the second picture below.

After a quick stop at the hotel mid-afternoon, we caught the Jetcat northwest to Manly Beach (moto: "seven miles from Sydney, a thousand miles from care"). Things were lively there with the pedestrian Corso (third picture above) crowded with people. Craig bought his Aussie hat at a store there. We then did another long beachfront walk from Manly to Shelly Beach (fourth picture above). Heading back, we saw a lot of beach activity like the kayak surfing groups shown in the first picture below. After a nice sunset view from the Jetcat's upper deck (second picture below), we grabbed snacks at the hotel lounge and got ready for our all-day adventure out of town on Tuesday in Featherdale Park and the Blue Mountains.

Wednesday November 21st

Our Tuesday trip through the Blue Mountains on top of our prior days in Sydney were so incredible that it seemed anything else would be anticlimactic, and to some degree that's what happened. Wednesday morning we took the Taronga ferry to the "zoo with a view" (third and fourth pictures above and large picture top of page right). The Taronga Zoo is okay, but pales in comparison to Featherdale Park. Returning on the 2pm ferry, we did a quick turnaround at the hotel and grabbed the subway up to Sydney Tower where we took in the views (first picture below) and did the OzTrek ride. That evening we found a great restaurant in the Rocks called Zia Pina where we had a couple of exotic pizzas (e.g. egg, bacon & cheese) for dinner. On our walk back from the Rocks we could see lightning in the distance over the brightly lit Opera House (second picture below).

Thanksgiving Day, November 22nd

It was foggy and rain was threatening on Thanksgiving morning as we headed west on the 10:45am ferry to Watson's Bay, home of the iconic Doyles on the Beach restaurant (third picture above). We had to kill some time before they opened, so we did a short walk in both directions along the beach. Around noon we were seated at a great table by the window and enjoyed a not-so-traditional Thanksgiving meal of John Dory, garlic bread and chips. We took the 1:45pm ferry back and after a quick turnaround at Circular Quay we were on the 2:15pm ferry east to Darling Harbour. Walking almost the full length of Darling Harbour we arrived at the Powerhouse Museum, which was unimpressive, and then back to the Sydney Aquarium, which was okay, before hopping on the 5:35pm ferry back, providing some great, albeit overcast, views looking under the Harbour Bridge toward the Opera House (fourth picture above). Dinner was a return to Pancakes in the Rocks. Thursday night we did some packing in preparation for our flight on Friday morning to Auckland.

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