Holidays and Other Excursions

Tag: Sydney

Auckland and Homeward

Thursday 31 March and Friday 1 April 2016

Our holiday is heading towards an end, but we have a long way to go yet in terms of mileage!

On the Thursday we took one of the gentler options this morning – a harbour tour which took us out past a lighthouse, Brown’s island; then along past the Rangitoto Island Scenic Reserve and then past Devonport which is on the opposite side of the harbour.  We then pass briefly under the Auckland Harbour bridge before returning to port.

Some of the photos seem to be wrongly dated 30 March 216 – which I do not understand as it was definitely the Thursday.  Tracking back dates to prove this has not been easy.  As ever the right sequence is justified by Jackie’s posts on Facebook which are of course incontrovertible.

Having returned to land we wander up into the shopping area.  It is really hot this afternoon.  Jackie had seen some shoes as we passed through Sydney airport and was rather hoping to track down the same brand in New Zealand – but we did not manage it.

Farewell dinner this evening and the entire party comes together for a final time.  Onward journies are complex.  Some remain in NZ to visit family.  Others will be with us to Sydney – but then will go to see family in Australia.  Others are stopping off in Dubai on the return journey, we, I think uniquely, are stopping in Bangkok.

A fine old evening – although some moving around to avoid sitting to close to Stevie as she is not liked by various people.  Perhaps not as good as the group in India but generally we have had a good time together.

The following morning (Friday)  we are all drifting through breakfast and then awaiting our separate departure times.  We are one of the last groups to depart so have some time in the lounge area of the hotel awaiting our taxi.

First flight is the hop over to Sydney once again.  And a meander between terminals for our flight to Bangkok.  Back in business class, so at least it is comfortable.

On a holiday of this length and with limited wifi accessing the pc in the UK and getting downloads of the various music programmes would seem a magical thing to do maybe 10 years ago; now it is almost second nature!



Saturday 19 to Monday 21 March

Sydney was the first point of landing by the British and is the world’s most magnificent harbour.  It is dominated by two iconic pieces of engineering and construction – the Harbour Bridge and the more recent Opera House.  Our time here is a little limited in relation to the size of the city and throughout this part of our journey the rain feels almost incessant.  Rain at this time of year in this part of Australia we discover is not uncommon as it often interferes with some open air performances which are planned for Autumn – so this might have been predicted.

We arrive in the late afternoon and the coach rapidly manages the journey into the City Centre to a Sofitel which is just walking distance to Circular Quay, which is where we head a little later to wander along and to take in the two iconic landmarks previously mentioned.  Walking back along the Quay we note a number of people eating at Searock where we eat as well; some excellent starters – chilli prawns and crab on tostada; simpler main courses – Wagyu beef burger for me and some salmon for Jackie.  Then back up the hill to the hotel.

The following day is not too bright but we decide to risk the two bus tours to see as much of the City as possible – first to Bondi which on a coldish day does not seem quite as welcoming as I am sure it does on a bright sunny day.  There are a few people in the surf but like the similar Melbourne suburbs seen previously it does look a little run down.  The bay itself is not large; somehow I had always imagined miles of sand but in reality there is probably a bigger beach at Bournemouth.  The return journey passes through some more attractive places, Rose Bay, Double Bay and Wooloomooloo (I hope I have spelt that correctly) where the old “Finger Wharves” have undergone much work and now appear to house a great selection of restaurants.  Once back in the City Centre we switch back to the other tour to see the city itself.  (we had used it briefly to get to the Bondi service from the hotel).  Our progress is slow due to the time spent waiting for buses at one point or another and towards the end of our journey we get a little wet as the rain arrives, so we retire to the hotel.

Here are photos of the bus tour.

It brightens briefly but by the time we head out for the evening cruise with Captain Cook Tours it is not looking so good and our trip round the harbour hardly allows any sights to be seen as the rain buckets down.  A good supply of wine does enable a cheerful evening to proceed and our table seems to lead the noise generating activities.  The Harbour Bridge looks severely distorted through the windows and others go to lengths to take photos of the Bridge.

Monday comes and there is little improvement in the weather as we wander back down to the Opera House for our formal tour of the building.  Designed in the late fifties built in the sixties it opened in 1973.  In some respects therefore it is noticeably not modern with a lack of lifts.  It also took much longer and cost a lot more than originally anticipated.  We are shown into the newer area that has been developed partially underneath the two original main auditoria as part of more recent developments and also into the two main halls.  These are separate structures from the external sails but throughout there is a harmony of design and careful thought to make the buildings as sympathetic to productions and to be associated with the external harbour.  Our tour guide is clearly keen on the building and the productions and makes a great impression on all of us.  The shape of the sails are derived from sections of a sphere and they are not cleaned; rainwater does the job and channels the water into built in drains which take the water down into the harbour.

Photographs for the visit are here

Lunch in the food court area is luckily under cover as the rain pours down only easing a little towards the end of the afternoon when we head out to go and find the area known as “The Rocks” which is past the end of Circular Quay.  This area has been restored from being extremely run down to an area of restaurants and shops on a some steeply inclined hills.  Although better visited at the weekend when there are also small markets there is clearly a vibrancy no doubt achieved by being immediately adjacent to the point at which the major liners dock when visiting the port and, due to their size, are unable to pass below the Harbour Bridge.  The approach to construction is very similar to Devon and Cornwall with steps up to front doors from the street with the next house being built further up or down the slope as appropriate.  And there is a German Oompah band playing outside “Munich” where the staff are suitably attired for a German bier Keller.

This evening we are due to meet Graham and Lorna in the Bar Blu on 36th floor of the Shangrila Hotel – their suggestion and this provides an absolutely stunning view over the City and of course of the harbour area.  We then go on to dinner at the Customs House on the fifth floor, under cover but with a feeling of the open air.  Again a great view of the Bridge and the best food of the holiday – another  chance for a Moreton Bay Bugs and then some salmon in a light tandoori sauce.

Photographs from the viewing point are here.

We are so late back to the hotel that the front door is locked and gaining entrance takes a couple of minutes.  A short night ensues.