This is a really great city built around multi-fingered waterways and bays. Sydney Harbor is smaller than I expected. It seems like a large river. But the city has waterfront spaces everywhere you look, more than other “water” cities we’ve visited. The downtown is generally flat so it’s very easy to walk around.
I came off the ship with a whopper of a cold that kept getting worse so on Saturday we took a day off from sightseeing to check out a local clinic where I was able to see a doctor and get a prescription. I spent the rest of the day in bed while Will walked around “The Rocks”, the port area near our hotel, taking pictures for me. Each day now I’ve felt better.
Sunday we took it easy and took the ferry from Circular Quay to the Taronga Zoo. It’s built on the side of a hill on the north side of the harbor. We took a cable car up to the top of the hill so we could work our way down. Good plan but you still have to walk up if you don’t want to miss anything! The views of the city from the zoo may be more impressive than the animals but they have two baby elephants which were really cute. More Koala too. Just before we were ready to leave the heavens opened and it just poured. Being good Seattlites, we donned our waterproof jackets and put up our umbrellas while most everyone else got soaked. We stood under trees with the crowds sharing our umbrellas until it let up and we could walk back to the ferry. You can imagine how quickly the zoo emptied out. The ferry line was pretty long. A native said since it doesn’t rain very often here they never expect it or prepare.
Monday morning we took a really great tour through the Opera House. During the original design competition, this design plan for the Opera House almost missed being considered and then they couldn’t figure out how to build it. It was supposed to take 3 years to build but instead took over 10. And it was significantly over budget so they started a national lottery to pay for it and paid it off in 2 years, I think. The tiles on the outside get cleaned when it rains and the water (no gutters) drains, is filtered and sent back in to the sea. We got to sit in each of the large venues, the symphony/concert hall and the large theater where the ballet was setting up for a performance, and two small theaters – not a bad seat in any of them. The show that night was sold out. Next time we’ll have to plan ahead.
We took a hop on/off bus around to see more of the city than we can walk. We quickly realized that we’d need a lot more time to see it all but we soldiered on and hopped off to sample the “world famous” meat pies at Harry’s Café on Wheels in Woolloomooloo – that’s a mouthful. And they were too, with dollops of mashed potatoes and smashed peas and gravy on top. Tastes just like you’d expect.
After a short stroll along a coast walk in the Royal Botanic Garden, we hopped back on the bus and went to the Sydney Aquarium. They have two areas where you walk through glass tubes under the water to see sharks, stingrays, manatees, huge turtles, and colorful fish, fish, fish. They also have a huge salt water crocodile you would not want to meet up with.
Today we took the hop on/off bus out to the eastern beaches and walked along the coast between Bondi and Bronte. Between the large sandy beaches, the rock coast is worn away by the wind and sea in really unique and craggy ways, smoothed so the strata of the rock shows up in rainbow patterns, cave like, with some rocks sticking out in ledges.
After lunch in a beach café, we caught the bus and headed back to town where we walked through Hyde Park (looks like it sounds – very English, sort of a Central Park for Sydney) and walked through the major shopping areas. Took a tea break at the Queen Victoria Market, which is an old market, up-dated and up-scaled. Five floors with Victorian molding and iron work that looks brand new and over 200 stores.
But we have no time to shop yet. We are off to Brisbane tomorrow!