Ok. This is the last blog entry about our trip to Australia. Everyone is probably as tired of reading about it by now as I am of writing about it.
Early Saturday morning we set out for Sydney. We had one full day and a half day on Sunday since we didn't leave for home till 4 pm. Sandy picked out a different hotel in the CBD. This time we stayed at the Marriott right across from Hyde Park. A good central location so we could easily walk to landmarks and attractions. And stores.
It took us two hours to drive to our hotel. From Blackheath to Sydney was freeway and easy. Then once we reached the city the freeway ended and the highway continued on city streets. The required level of detail was not shown on my preprinted maps that I had made from Google. But the highways were clearly signed. And fortunately the rental car came with a detailed street atlas of Sydney. Sandy did an excellent job of navigating for us and we got right to our hotel with no problems. I still don't like driving in Sydney though. It was kind of fun everywhere else in Australia, but the traffic lanes on all the streets within the city are just too narrow. Fortunately traffic was light early on a Saturday morning. I didn't have any trouble.
The Marriott where we stayed had exceptional service. We just drove up to the front, took out our bags, said "This is our rental car - it needs to be returned" and left. They took care of everything. And through the day and a half we were there, whenever we had a question or problem there was someone there instantly to help. We were able to check into our two rooms even at 10 am in the morning (although they probably weren't too crowded on the weekend). And they let us have late checkout. Sandy was so impressed that she was going to make a travel blog entry to recommend them.
But now we had our priorities. As soon as we dropped off our luggage, we walked to the Pitt Street Mall. Sandy had seen a Nine West store on our first visit to Sydney. But because she wasn't feeling well our second day, she didn't actually make it to the shoe store. So now we made a beeline there and she found two pairs of shoes that she really liked. Now she was a happy girl.
We also went back to the Victoria Building, the largest mall in central Sydney. As the name inplies, it is in a large rennovated Victorian Building. The inside is done in totally Victorian style. It is six floors - four above ground and two basements. And it is connected underground via a link (lined with shops) to another huge shopping center across the street. And that one opens onto Pitt Street Mall on the other side. Shopping center after shopping center. I felt just like back home in Singapore.
Well, finally even our intrepid group was shopped out. After a quick lunch we headed down to Circular Quay. It was a beautiful day. There was a perfectly clear and blue sky. Even better than when we were in town the previous weekend. Sandy signed us up for a harbor cruise and it was fun. We got to see the Harbor Bridge and Opera House from a different angle from the water. And we got to see more of Port Jackson, which is actually quite large and complicated. Your ticket is a day pass, so you can get off at any stop, wander around, and then just get on the next boat. That would be a fun way to spend a day, as there are some interesting places like the main zoo or Manley Beach. But we just took the ride all around the harbor. We did get off at a different spot - Darling Harbor. This is the next inlet on the other side of the CBD. The Sydney Aquarium is there, as well as a tourist-type Australian animals attraction. And the whole bay is lined with restaurants. There is a walkway so we strolled all the way around. Along with about a million other people. The buskers were out in force too. We saw one big crowd and when we went over recognized the same guy we had seen at Circular Quay the weekend before. I guess it's a steady job.
We liked the Darling Harbor area so we walked back there in the evening. We had dinner in a restaurant on the water. It was very pretty with everything lit up. There are lots of hotels there as well, so it would be a good place to stay when visiting Sydney.
Sunday was our day to fly home, but we didn't leave till late afternoon. It got light quite early in Sydney at this time of year - about 5:30 am. I was ambitious and was up early and out at 6 am for a walk. I walked along Circular Quay, the Opera House and out to Mrs. Maquerie's Point. The crowds were all gone and only me and the street cleaners were out. After a while walkers and runners started to show up. The interesting thing I noticed was that their ages started in mid-thirties and went up through late sixties. I guess all the younger folks were sleeping in after partying late Saturday night, while older folks were up bright and early.
The sky was completely clear and the morning light was awesome. I will confess that a lot of the pictures I used in the first Sydney post were actually taken on this walk when the light was much better! Hey, artistic license.
When I got back to the hotel at 9 am Sandy and Shannon were ready to go, so we walked around the Botanical Gardens and back to Mrs. Macqureie's Point. Sandy got to sit in Mrs. Macquerie's Chair. We stopped by the Rocks Market one last time. Then it was back to the hotel to pack up, off to the airport, and finally home to Singapore.
We all liked Australia. In February, when Shannon is doing her interim trip with a school group, she is signed up to visit Perth and Western Australia. Sandy and I are going to go to Western Australia at the same time, although independently. And that side of Australia is two thousand miles closer, so the flight should be a lot shorter!