I had a check list of things I wanted to squeeze into my extremely short visit, things that held good memories for me, things I had enjoyed with my husband and my son. I thought the best way to get around the city would be by Hop on Hop off bus so jumped aboard and paid my $50AU for a day long ticket. This turned out to be a big mistake. Why? Because it started to rain and the downstairs part of the bus was crammed to bursting with people fogging up the windows, hence no view. The only option was to go upstairs - but there is no roof! So there I sat miserable and cold with my umbrella up and rain dripping everywhere. Added to this the bus made lengthy stops at some of the bus stops and that, together with a lot of road works hold ups made for a slow and unpleasant trip.
HANDY HINT : Do not take the Sydney Hop on Hop off bus on a rainy day, it will be full downstairs and there is no roof upstairs. You would be better to get a day pass for the train and go from destination to destination. At least the bus commentary was good, although, due to roadworks, we didn't follow the normal route so the commentary didn't fit some of what we saw.
|Above and below right: The Rocks|
My first stop was at The Rocks, a beautiful part of Sydney and a place held dear by my late husband. On his many business trips to Sydney he stayed there and he and I stayed there together on a couple of occasions. It was also at The Rocks that we celebrated our eldest son's 30th birthday. The Rocks was first settled by convicts in 1788 and although having had a colourful past is now gentrified, charming and character filled. Australias oldest pub, Fortune of War (1828) is located there too. Fortunately the rain eased and I enjoyed strolling the familiar, timeless heritage streets, picking and poking around the Sunday market, a great place to buy some good quality Australian arts and crafts.
I took the complete circuit on the bus and then decided it would be better to walk the streets from my Darling Harbour hotel. Darling Harbour is a great spot, packed as it is with restaurants, bars, shops and with a safe sheltered boat harbour, the starting point for many harbour cruises. There are also a number of attractions there - Sea Life Aquarium, Madame Tussauds and Wild Life Sydney Zoo. It is an easy walk up to the central city from the harbour. I love walking so spent several hours enjoying a close up and personal look at Sydney.
|Part of the GPO in Martin Place|
|Queen Victoria Building with the Town Hall tower on the right.|
The Queen Victoria Building or QVB, what can I say? It is exquisite with it's sumptuous interior of stained glass, heritage tiling and chandeliers. I walked around and up and down several times not wanting to leave. If I'd had a companion I would have had high tea at a cafe purely so I could linger.
Then back down the hill to visit the Chinese Garden of Friendship, which is stunning and will be the subject of my next post.
|Darling Harbour - not a bad view from my hotel room|
Complimentary bubbles in my room overlooking the glorious Darling Harbour rounded out my day and left me longing for more time in Sydney. I am determined to go back, for longer next time. There are numerous museums and art galleries I wish I'd had time to see. I would've loved to have had time to spend at the National Maritime Museum, since I work at New Zealand's. And I'd love to see Sydney, once again, in the sun.
It was interesting to note that the Sydney newspapers were full of exactly the same things New Zealand's are....the cost of housing, the housing shortage, population growth, immigration etc. These topics are not unique to New Zealand, despite what many may think, or Sydney, or anywhere, they are universal problems. The population of Sydney is projected to be 8 million by 2050...the population of the whole of New Zealand won't even reach that!