It was still quite dark when we sailed around the dogleg and into Sydney Harbor. The bridge was outlined in lights and Luna Park was visible on the far side.
As it got lighter, more of the city appeared.
Not being completely an idiot (and besides – other than Singapore or Hong Kong – I know very few hotels where you can check in well before noon…) I elected to leave the ship in a gradual manner. Specifically that meant having a lovely omelet at Blu, then wandering in to the Tuscan Gill where fine coffee was not available but the sludge and pastries were ok. More than that, there were friends with whom to sit and chat. As it turns out, we found yet another couple who were also transferring to the Radiance on the morrow. We also discussed a further couple who had said they were doing the same, but in three days.
Well, unless they get to Brisbane on their own – I don’t think they will board the ship other than on the 24th? Specifically they had mentioned three days in a hotel. No one had a cabin number – so we shall see.
Walking off a bit after 0900 I was surprised at the number of people still on ship and the Taxi line was unbelievable. Not really having a clue about Sydney – I could see the bridge and knew the name of my hotel’s street – all of about 400 meters away. Now, as I found out later, Sydney is built on a sandstone spine. The bridge leaves one end of it headed toward the other side of this harbor portion. Note the words “spine” “bridge” and the mention by a lovely local about going up to the left instead of the right so I wouldn’t have to do stairs.
Now, doesn’t think bit of ignorance sound a bit familiar? If you can hike directly, including the Argyle Stairs (the Duke, not the sweater or sock pattern) it is not more than four long blocks. However, if you are in possession of a rolling suitcase, a duffle full of knitting mags (+snorkel gear and shoes= heavy) plus the backpack full of electronics it turned out to be a bit daunting. Skipping the two flights, I wound through some small alleys before being confronted with two small flights of stairs. Doing the one at a time and hoping the wheelie would decide that a jaunt back down the hill was in order (now how exactly would I describe that to Rimowa when asking for repairs?). I managed the first short flight.
Lovely young man coming around the corner saw me struggling and proceeded to help like the cases weighted nothing. Across the street and up a couple of steps, we were in the Pub below the hotel. Wave, G’day and he was off. Inside the pub, an early 20s from Berlin who is doing a six month exchange training was more than happy to haul my stuff up to the second floor. Checked in and headed out.
Through a complicated interaction (her husband and mine work together on at least one project/board/investment/whatever) Jennifer and I spent most of the rest of the day exploring just the Rocks and downtown area of Sydney. The Jacaranda were in bloom (and now I have a name for the trees with purple flowers), saw park of the harbor, downtown area, Art Musuem, old Customs house, Botanical gardens and generally had a good time. Even after she made me get a hat. I hate wearing hats, but have to admit it did help.
Oh, and yes, we did a tour of the opera house. I think it is mandatory for any visitor to Sydney. While the outside is unique, it is the interior structures – especially those of the theaters (where naturally you can’t take photos) which make it a venue where the acoustics, structure, materials and baffling mean theater, opera, individual performances with out requiring mikes and amps.
Evening met a number who are going to be on the cruise in the morning at a pub next to Wharf 4 called City Extra (whose menu is printed old fashioned news paper fashion).
Back to the hotel and crash early. Tomorrow bridge climb and ship boarding.