On my last full day in Australia before the cruise, I ferried may way back to Circular Quay and then wandered the streets of Sydney by the bay. Highlights included:
Aboriginal Musicians were set up on the wharf, playing the didgeridoo, dancing and selling hand-painted boomerangs.
I wandered over to the Opera House and had a beer in the Opera Bar. The wait staff were very nice there! I didn’t do the tour. If I had been with someone who was interested I would have, and I’m sure would have enjoyed it, but by myself it wasn’t at the top of the list. Beautiful place though, and I took lots of pictures of it on land and by ferry.
I stopped at several art galleries, which carry mostly aboriginal art – very interesting and even mesmerizing to just stand and stare at some of these pieces. One style is lots of tiny dots that form a larger pattern; another is small petal-like swatches of paint that form patterns. (I wasn’t supposed to take pictures, but I wanted to remember and share the style of the work found here.)
I spotted Fortune of War, Sydney’s Oldest Pub and decided to stop in for some Fish & Chips and a beer. Apparently it’s Australia’s version of a “Good Ole Boys” club, because the only female in the pub was behind the bar, and – though she did make eye contact several times – she never acknowledged me or attempted to serve me. I got the message loud and clear and headed down the street to The Rocks Café where I had some lovely Fish & Chips and a Pure Blonde beer (very light, and only 1.7 carbs)!
I don’t know what this place is. It was in the middle of a cluster of buildings containing businesses. Very interesting little space where i imagine people may go to have a quiet lunch.
There are so many interesting little vignettes throughout Sydney. Here is a courtyard where I enjoyed a glass of Shiraz.
After Shiraz I made a stop at a Gelato shop (Salted Caramel, please!) and then headed back around to the wharf, where I listened to music performed by Pete Raven. Such a beautiful voice! I was really surprised at the sound quality here.
Next I headed to the Overseas Passenger Terminal, where tomorrow I will board the Celebrity Solstice! I dropped in at the Cruise Bar and had a (very pricey) margarita.
I have come to the realization that the cost of living in Sydney is much higher than in Nashville, TN. I could have looked that up ahead of time, but…I am the consummate “seat of the pants” traveler!
Now back across the bay to Manly by ferry for my final night at the Curly Surf Shack! I will be sad about leaving – it is such a serene space!
Now that I’ve written it all down, I realize I’ve had quite a bit to drink today! No wonder I was so tired when I got back to the shack!
My day started with getting up at 4:00 a.m. for an 8:15 a.m. flight from Hawaii to Sydney. Of course I awoke at 3:30, just because. I was up extra early because I was concerned about my ability to get out of the building.
The day before, I almost lost a cab as I waited for the elevator. I would push the button, the button would light up and then turn off. I would push the button again. Same thing. I would hold the button to keep the light on. I would listen as the elevator buzzed by my floor. I finally called the owner of the unit and they called the building management. Fortunately, the cabbie who was waiting for me had been to this building before and new the game. He waited. How nice!
Thankfully, the elevator problem from the day before had been fixed. So – off to the airport! The shuttle arrived at the airport at the promised 6:15 a.m. I flew JetStar, which is an Australian airline. I had not been able to check in online because I purchased my ticket from a third party, but that didn’t matter. I had two bags to be checked, so I had to stand in line anyway.
The line was outrageously long – but – it moved very quickly! According to the website, you had to be through security by 7:00 a.m. for this flight, which seemed impossible, but I made it! The other thing I hadn’t done online was pay for my checked luggage. When I got to the counter, the Jetstar representative told me she would give me the online price ($70) for checking my bags because the standard price would have been over $300! Yikes! So I got lucky!
I’m going to make the rest of the flight story a bit shorter by providing bulleted points:
Flight was just under 10 hours (looooooong).
Each seat had a monitor at the back of the headrest for watching videos. $10 gets you all access pass to movies, TV shows and music. I watched I’ll See You In My Dreams and the Amy Winehouse movie.
Two hot meals were served – I had remembered to purchase those online. Food was not bad.
A can of coke costs $3.50.
My ankles have not been that swollen since the late stages of my pregnancy, 33 years ago!
Once off the plane, I stopped at the Foreign Exchange desk, and then needed to make my way to my Airbnb location. The property owners had given me some instructions:
Take the Train to the wharf at Circular Quay (pronounced “Key”)
Take the Ferry to Manly
Take the 136 bus to North Curl Curl. Tell the driver to let you off at the top of our road.
Sounded easy enough. First to find the train ticketing station. I got directions from three different people before I found it. The ticket agent then informed me the train no longer goes to Circular Quay. You must get off at Central Station and take a bus to Circular Quay. Okay. Navigate luggage through turnstile…then to elevator to get to platform.
I get off the train at Central Station. There are billions of people, and no signs to tell me where to get a bus, so again, I start asking around. I ask directions several times, and after going in the wrong direction, down hill for quite a way, I learn I will need to go back up the hill. Have I mentioned I’m dragging some very heavy bags behind me? (I really did try to pack light, but…I’ll be on a cruise for 13 days! I need me some fun clothes!)
Finally at the bus stand per instructions from the man at the information office, and I watch two buses drive by that say Circular Quay. I get up and move to the next bus stand, where the Circular Quay buses are actually stopping. Good news – it’s a free bus since the trains have been shut down beyond Central Station (I don’t know why and was too tired to care.)
Getting on the bus was challenging with luggage, but a nice transport agent helped me get settled, which was really nice. A couple stops later, the bus driver called out a passenger, accusing him of boarding from the back of the bus. He then continued to vent and swear for the remainder of the drive to CQ (he was not happy about the free bus situation). Once at CQ, the driver pulled off at the top of the hill, mumbling something about how it would take 20 minutes to drive down to the Quay because of all the other buses.
Off the bus, and it was all downhill to the Quay (thank goodness), and then I crossed the street and headed to the closest ticketing location, Wharf 3. Ticketing office was closed. Sign says you must purchase ticket at Wharf 4. Drag bags to Wharf 4. Where do I board? Wharf 3. Of course. Back at Wharf 3 and hear the announcement that the gates will close in one minute. Now fast-walking/dragging bags through turnstile and then to ferry. Made it!
Once on the ferry I was able to breath a bit. I bought a cold bottle of water from the ferry café. The man behind the counter said, “$3.00.” I held a handful of coins out to the man behind the counter and said, “I don’t know. Just take what you need.” The man was very kind. He gave me a lesson in Australian coins and then a warning.
“Don’t ever do that at the markets! They’ll take all your money!”
“I know. I’m just tired and I knew you would do the right thing.”
“Okay, but just don’t do that again!”
“I won’t. Thank you.”
I had wedged my bags between some seats inside the ferry and I wasn’t interested in moving them again, so I popped outside for just a minute to grab a couple photos and then back to my seat inside. I’ll get more photos on another trip.
Once off the ferry, I just had to locate the correct stand for bus 136, which wasn’t difficult, but when I gave the driver instructions on where I needed to be dropped off, he looked at me like I was crazy. I obviously hadn’t relayed the information using the correct words. I hadn’t yet boarded the bus, so I stepped back from the door, saying “I’ll catch you on your next run.” Then I found a cab.
This cabbie was a very nice Australian man. He said I was lucky to have caught him because most cabbies are from India and they don’t know the area as well. As I was explaining where I needed to go, he asked all the right questions, then gave me a little guided tour as we traveled from one area of the city to the next. Once at my destination, he unloaded my bags from the cab and, as the street and sidewalk were very steep, made sure to place them on “the flat” in front of the garage. He then asked me if I was all set before heading off.
So at 7:30 p.m. I finally arrived at my destination, the Curly Surf Shack! (By the way, doing the math on the departure and arrival times doesn’t work because I crossed the international date line, so I actually left on Friday and arrived on Saturday!)
I got to meet the property owners and one of their sons (the other was in bed) and their dog Snoopy. And, OMG – the shack is super cute! Totally worth the extra trip to not be in the city with thousands of people milling around at all hours!