Sydney

Sydney Travel Blog

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View from Mrs Macquarie's Chair

We landed in Sydney after a long day on board: First a twelve-hour flight to Kuala Lumpur, a break of three hours to change planes, then eight hours to Sydney. That second flight was even prolonged due to a necessary detour around cyclone “Ingrid” which was sitting outside the coast near Darwin – I actually saw her in the distance, I think. Thanks to this cyclone, and the stream of wet air it drew from the Pacific despite the long distance, we got rather lousy weather for most of our stay in Sydney. That was a bit of bad luck.

We landed in the early evening. This was my first long-distance trip over several time zones, hence I had no idea how I’d cope. The timing turned out to be perfect to minimize jet lag.

Circular Quay
I cannot sleep at all in a seat, so I’ll be down and out after the flight anyway. Arriving in the evening allows, after a light dinner and a beer or two as nightcap, going to bed immediately and then getting up at a normal morning hour. The first day was a bit of a blur, but then I was done with the problem. I’d never book a flight that lands early in the morning!

We had a hotel smack in the centre of the city, close to Wynyard Station, so we did more or less everything on foot. On the first day we took it easy and spent as much time as possible outside in fresh air, walking through the centre, along Circular Quay, the Opera House, the harbour, and round the Royal Botanic Gardens.

Opera House
I remember hordes of Flying Foxes hanging out in the trees, and a very naughty cockatoo that landed on my hat!

Of course we did what all tourists do: a boat cruise in the harbour. Sydney has the most amazing cityscape. The most iconic views that everyone knows involve the harbour bridge and the opera house. But the harbour forms many small bays and peninsulas, perspective and views change all the time.

On foot, we mostly roamed the city centre, the harbour promenades, Circular Quay and The Rocks, and Darling Harbour.

Remembering my childhood dreams and interests, Taronga Zoo was high on my wish list. We intended to spend the whole day there.

Harbour cruise
But St Peter, or cyclone Ingrid, were against us: It was pouring “cats and dogs” all day long. The advantage was fewer visitors, but the strain on our perseverance was hard, so we did not stay as long as planned. We came over by ferry from Circular Quay, and took the little cable car to the top entrance in order to meander through the zoo in downhill direction. Since we can see lions, bears and zebras in every European zoo, too, we focused on the Australian animals. This was the first time I saw live koalas, echidnas and many other marsupials that European zoos do not have.

We also explored the underwater world round Australia’s shores at the Aquarium in Darling Harbour.

All by myself I rode a special kind of public transport that sadly does not exist any more: the Monorail.

The naughty cockatoo in the botanical gardens
The monorail line was built in the 1980s, with the high hope to install a fast and reliable transport system around Darling Harbour. This did not work too well, though, because the monorail was not well connected with the rest of the public transport network and because it required different tickets. Through the years it became just a tourist attraction, hardly used by locals. Thus it was demolished and is now a thing of the past.

Being a tourist, I regret its disappearance. I did the ride and thoroughly enjoyed it. The trains run at the level of the first floor of the houses. From this height I got a different view into the streets than that of a pedestrian on the ground, and the overview over Darling Harbour.

The only museum that our limited time allowed to visit were Hyde Park Barracks, the former prison for convicts.

Harbour cruise
Built in 1818/19, the brick building is one of the oldest preserved buildings in Sydney. It is a museum now, which gives insight in the living conditions of the convicts. I went to see it by myself F preferred an afternoon nap at the hotel - because I wanted to learn more about that so-called early history. I do not have any photos of the interior, but I do not remember whether it was because of a photo ban.

The first white Australians were either military or convicts. In the beginning, no one came here out of their own free will. The museum shows a cleaned-up version of what life in this cramped prison must have been like in reality. Those were hard times! A minor offence, like stealing a bread ort a piece of clothing, was enough to earn a sentence of several years in prison and forced labour in Australia – and that meant forever, because who could afford the voyage back to Old England when released from prison after seven or so years? This is how Britain solved its problem of overpopulation in those times.

Harbour cruise

I had done my homework in advance, and booked us tickets for two big evening events. We had tickets for the Opera House to see Carmen, in an excellent performance. The architecture is, I have to admit, far more spectacular from the outside than from inside. I was impressed by the practical thinking of the management: By every door into the hall they had large baskets with free cough drops for the audience to take along.

The second performance was a musical. We had originally intended to see the Queen musical, “We Will Rock You”, but it was taken off the schedule earlier than expected. So we picked “Lion King” at the Capitol Theatre instead. Choreography, costumes and setting are, it seems, the same all over the world. Say what you want – this musical culture being highly commercialized, globalized, etcetera etcetera – it was a fantastic show with great music, great singers and actors, great stage effects.

Harbour cruise
We thoroughly enjoyed it.

On our last evening we took the ferry over to Manly, and once more enjoyed the panoramic views on Sydney Harbour.

We went for a walk on Manly beach, which was almost deserted except a few hardcore surfers. It was too chilly for bathing, but at least my feet have been dipped into the Pacific Ocean. This is the easternmost place on the globe that I have ever been to.

We had dinner at a small café by the beach promenade. I am not really a fan of fish dishes, but I like fish the way they serve it in Australia. Since they mostly have very large fish from the ocean, the usual serving is a grilled slice of fillet the size of a good steak. What I dislike most about fish isn’t the taste but the fishbones, those tiny ones that you feel between your teeth and that threaten to get stuck in your throat.

Harbour cruise
The bones of those big fish, however, are the size of a finger and if there is indeed one left inside, it is easy to spot, remove and avoid. I could learn to love fish dishes there… That night I tasted Barramundi for the first time. The side dishes they combined it with were a bit weird, though – potato mash and a sauce that involved horseradish and beetroot, and some green leafy vegetables, I forgot which kind. But the result was much tastier than it sounds…

Five days barely allowed scratching the surface of this fantastic city. I would very much like to return for a longer stay someday, several weeks if possible. With time for some side trips to other parts of the city. Walks on the beaches. A trip to the Blue Mountains. Time to see some of the museums, in particular Australian Museum and Maritime Museum. Time to explore deeper at a more relaxed pace. But that will remain a dream…

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View from Mrs Macquaries Chair
View from Mrs Macquarie's Chair
Circular Quay
Circular Quay
Opera House
Opera House
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
The naughty cockatoo in the botani…
The naughty cockatoo in the botan…
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Tiny fortress on an island in the …
Tiny fortress on an island in the…
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Harbour cruise
Opera House
Opera House
Opera House
Opera House
Opera House detail
Opera House detail
Opera House
Opera House
Circular Quay
Circular Quay
Victorian architecture among moder…
Victorian architecture among mode…
Opera House at night
Opera House at night
The Lunapark behind harbour bridge…
The Lunapark behind harbour bridg…
The Rocks and Harbour Bridge
The Rocks and Harbour Bridge
Circular Quay at night
Circular Quay at night
Opera house at night
Opera house at night
This is why I like glass facades
This is why I like glass facades
Reflections...
Reflections...
St Marys Cathedral
St Mary's Cathedral
St Marys Cathedral
St Mary's Cathedral
ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park
ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park
Sydney Tower
Sydney Tower
St James Church
St James Church
St James Church
St James Church
The monorail - RIP
The monorail - RIP
On board the monorail
On board the monorail
Streetview from the monorail
Streetview from the monorail
Streetview from the monorail
Streetview from the monorail
Darling Harbour seen from the mono…
Darling Harbour seen from the mon…
Darling Harbour seen from the mono…
Darling Harbour seen from the mon…
Harbour Bridge in evening light
Harbour Bridge in evening light
Government House
Government House
Koala at Taronga Zoo
Koala at Taronga Zoo
Zookeeper with a baby wombat at Ta…
Zookeeper with a baby wombat at T…
Sleeping wombat at Taronga Zoo
Sleeping wombat at Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo
Taronga Zoo
Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour
Darling Harbour Aquarium
Darling Harbour Aquarium
Saltie at the Aquarium, waiting fo…
Saltie at the Aquarium, waiting f…
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
Aquarium
Strange fish in the Aquarium
Strange fish in the Aquarium
Victorian Architecture
Victorian Architecture
Hyde Park Barracks
Hyde Park Barracks
Hyde Park Barracks
Hyde Park Barracks
On the ferry to Manly
On the ferry to Manly
On the ferry to Manly
On the ferry to Manly
Manly Beach after sunset
Manly Beach after sunset
Sydney
photo by: Sunflower300