Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sydney – Thursday, Fri & Sat, May 29, 30, & 31

We have been in the crowds in Sydney the last few days!  We know that we have seen over a million people just today!  Sydney is a large city in itself, but right now one of the happenings is a “Vivid Sydney” celebration. At night there are light shows in two different areas – Darling Harbour and Circular Quay (pronounced key). These are laser light programs shining on the buildings and on the famous Opera House. People are everywhere!  There is of course the Rotary convention, but that 20,000 people is just a drop in the bucket! 

Back to Thursday which now seems like a long time ago!  – First thing we needed to do was figure out transportation.  Our accommodations are 2 blocks from a ferry stop, or so we thought!!!  However at the end of April they shut down the ferry wharf for updating repairs!!  Oops! This plan is not going to work! The next best way to ‘get there’ is by bus.  We are no more than 1 ½ blocks from the bus stops which go in all directions.  We figured out how to read the bus info and we began riding!  Our first ride to Olympic Park, the site of the Rotary convention cost us a ticket, but after we registered Thurs (1:00) all we need to do is show our Rotary name tag and all public transportation on buses, ferries, light rail & trains in and around Sydney is totally free.  This is saving a barrel of money!! 
The Admiral Collingwood - Our Home In Sydney
We arrived by bus at Olympic Park, which of course is a HUGE area and we were not sure about which stop to disembark, but our guess was right.  We arrived before registration was officially open, and they were still putting up signs, but we made it to the right location, spotting several friends along the way.  One was a couple we will be visiting later in NZ. With a crowd of 20,000 people you never know if and when you will see who you want to see.    

After we registered we took the train down town the Town Hall Station.  We walked around the Old Town Hall (under repair), stepped inside a cathedral, and then strolled around in The Victoria Building, which is a shopping center of the VERY exclusive stores.  The building is beautiful both inside and out, so it is definitely worth a stroll.  While we were inside there was a short rain shower (we had no umbrellas with us), but by the time we went outside again, it had stopped raining. 

St Anthony Cathedral

Queen Victoria Building - QVB

Inside the QVB

Anyone for some Sweets


We walked around a lot that afternoon, until it was time to go to Central Station to meet our new friends, our hosts in Wangaretta several weeks ago.  They are big fans of Australia Rules Football (Footy as they call it).  Tonight is a huge game, and so they have come to Sydney early to attend the game (they normally just attend games in Melbourne).  He ordered two extra tickets for Cal & I.  What a night! Australia Rules Football (this is not soccer) is a fast moving game with lots of scoring.  Most games the scores are in the 60’s to 80’s, but at Thursday night’s game between Sydney and Geelong the score was 148 – 38.  Geelong is actually ranked very high, but Sydney won this game big-time!  It was an enjoyable evening as our friends were for Sydney, the winners. It was late until we arrived back at the B&B.  Normally that would not have been so bad, but we needed to be up by 5:30 the next morning.  It would be a short night!

At The Sydney Cricket Grounds - Australian Rules football

Final Score - 100 Point Victory (6 points per goal)

Friday was the day for our 4x4 excursion to the Blue Mountains. The 3 Iowa couples who have been together had booked a day excursion in a 4x4 with a driver/guide named Paul.  We had a wonderful day. Paul was very knowledgeable about plant/trees, flowers, birds and animals.  He wanted to leave early so we would be ahead to the tour buses.  When we arrived at a Wildlife Park, to see native animals we were the first vehicle there.  When we left the parking lot was full of buses, etc.  We saw cute little Koala’s again (we were so lucky to find them in the wild the other week – not many Aussie have seen that).  I did not go to where the snakes were located, but I guess that the world’s top 10 poisonous snakes all live in Australia.  We did some off-roading on rough gravel back roads, and he took us to the scenic spots, some of these are tourist spots and others were less traveled.  For lunch he had private reservations at a spot where we were overlooking mountain ranges.  It was a beautiful location that hosted weddings and wedding receptions. We had a delightful meal of fish & chips (fries), salad, and apple pie.   After lunch Paul showed us how to correctly throw a boomerang so that it returns to you.  Earlier on this trip we had learned about boomerangs and how they were used as a weapon in hunting animals.  They were thrown so that it would break/damage the legs of the animals they were hunting giving the hunter time to capture the animal and kill it. It was never meant as a toy! 


Koala with Friends

Little Fairy Penguins - Same one we saw on Phillip Island


Our Road

One Laned Bridge

Australian Parrot

Crimson Rosella Parrot

The Blue Mountains

Banksia Shrub

Banksia Fruit

Isolated Rock Formation near the Three Sisters

The Three Sisters

By the time we returned to Sydney it was dark (almost 6:00pm).  Paul dropped us where he had picked us up in the morning which was located near Darling Harbour.  This gave us the opportunity able to see the 6:00 light show at Darling Harbour. This light show is using water fountains shooting water up in the harbor and laser light designs displayed on the water mist. Of course this is all set to music. The shows are every hour, on the hour, for about 12 minutes. People! People!

Darling Harbour Laser Light Sho

Light Show on The Opera House

Circular Quay with Harbour Bridge
People are watching from everywhere, even from office buildings.  After the show we grabbed dinner at a Chinese restaurant in China Town before going to Circular Quay (pronounced Key) to see the other light show. This light show is different in that it is laser show shining on sides of tall buildings around the harbor, including the Opera House clam shell designed roof.  This was lovely too, but you could hardly move due to the amount of people out on a Friday night!!! It was great, but we were so glad to get back on the bus and return to the B&B, dead tired!  No writing a blog that night!!!                                                                    
Saturday – We slept in for a little while this morning, but then we were out exploring again.  This time we went by bus to Darling Harbour and from there a ferry to Circular Key where we began walking in the oldest part of town around the harbor area.  Every Saturday there is an outdoor market in this area - some booths are under permanent canopies. It was extremely interesting to see all the items they had for sale, especially the unique Australian made items. This was also a good area to find lunch.

Sydney Harbour Bridge
Sydney Skyline

Lunch at the Rocks

The Rocks - Sydney

An Old Warehouse at The Rocks

The Harbour with The Opera House

The Rocks - More Warehouses

The Sydney Opera House

By late afternoon we decided to catch a ferry to Manly Beach.  I guess Manly Beach is the top attraction in all of Australia.  We had been there before (1996) in the early morning, and it was such a lovely experience, rising sun, lovely surf, and a wonderful place to have breakfast.  WELL, tonight was TOTALLY different!!  We thought by late afternoon the crowds would be gone from ‘a day at the beach’, but what we did not know is that this weekend it is the “Manly Food and Wine Fest”!!!! OH MY!! People! People everywhere!!!  Like I said, we saw a million people today!!  Maybe more!  However we did have delicious items for our evening meal, all from street vendors.  Even some wine from a Mt Pleasant Winery!  We hope to return to Manly Beach some morning before we leave, when we hope it will be peaceful.
Opera House from the Ferry going to Manley Beach

Mt Pleasant Wine at Manley Beach Wine Tasting

Wine and Lamb Ribs - Don't You Wish You Were Here

Leaving Manley Beach

Sydney Harbour bridge
Before returning to the B & B tonight, we saw the light shows at both locations again.  One while on the ferry in Circular Quay and we waited in Darling Harbour for that one to start.  We are tired tonight, but I had to take time to write this blog, or I will forget what all we have done.  Cal will post it in the morning.

Tomorrow are the Opening Ceremonies for the Rotary Convention. We have ticket for the 1st seating at 11:30 am, after which there is an Aussie BBQ.  At this point I do not know what we will do afterwards.  There are still several things we want to be sure and do while in Sydney.