Sydney – a vision of beauty
We arrived in Sydney and got a taxi to our hotel, Novotel Darling Harbour. Being a Silver Le Club Accor member we beat the queue waiting to check-in as we got priority check in. We made our way to the 9th floor and swiped our door lock to reveal a very nicely decked out room with the best view ever. Having never been to Sydney I was totally impressed with the view from the huge window overlooking the waters Cockle Bay in Darling Harbour. We had been told that the final night of our trip was the first night of an event in Sydney called Vivid and part of it is a water spectacular and fireworks, so had requested a harbour view room.
After unpacking it was off to the Concierge desk where we arranged a ticket for the Hop on/Hop off Explorer bus, not bad, for $40 for 48hrs. Offering 34 stops a circuit takes 90 minutes and whilst listening to the commentary you can visit Circular Quay, Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour, Queen Victoria Building and Town Hall, William St, Kings Cross, Power House Museum, The Star Casino, Maritime Museum, The Rock’s and much more. There is a second bus that leaves from Central Station which takes you to Chinatown, Paddington, Bondi, Rose Bay, Double Bay and more. A short walk down the street and we await our bus which will take me to all the wonderful sights I had been waiting all my life to see. I let out a bit of a gasp when we turned a corner near The Rocks and got my first glimpse of the astounding Sydney Harbour Bridge and just under the bridge in the distance a small hint of a sight of the Opera House. The Sydney Harbour, one of the most picturesque in the world and houses the Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
After a change of bus at Central Station we are on our way to Paddington. Here we walk the streets in search of the markets and realise we should have set our path for Paddy’s Markets which is not in Paddington. So after a stop at a boulangerie on the main street for what has to be the best sausage roll ever it’s back on the bus and on our way to the famous Bondi Beach. Bondi is a suburb with one of the most well-known beaches in the world where we enjoy the sights of the sea and sand at the beach, we stroll around, take in the atmosphere of the cafes, restaurants and shops all offering amazing views of the beach. We head to a small café for coffee and a snack and the realisation that “we are in Bondi”. After a walk along the main strip of Bondi, past the many surf shops and restaurants we spot an ice cream shop called Mövenpick, a gastronomy delight, Swiss ice cream. Forced to make the painful decision of choosing only one flavour we enjoy our ice creams as we wait for our bus ‘home’. Our drive back takes us through the elite suburbs of Rose Bay and Double Bay for a sight of ‘how the other half lives’.
When we arrive back at our hotel we find a nice surprise, a little welcome box of chocolates which tops off our first day and makes us feel welcomed. The hotel is ideally located with a walkway linking us to the Harbour side shopping centre which offers an array of shopping and dining experiences. We decide on seafood tonight and afterwards wander the Cockle Bay wharf area and explore what else to put on our list to see and do.
We awake next morning to a view of the most spectacular sunrise from our hotel window. After a leisurely breakfast we head back onto the bus to explore Sydney some more. We get off in the city and head to St Andrew’s church and step inside this ornate church and are in awe of the magnificent stained glass and the huge pipe organ. From here we take a look around the Town Hall and into the Queen Victoria Building where we stop for lunch. After lunch we head along until we come to Angel Street where we hear the ‘Forgotten Songs’ recordings from bird species that once sang in central Sydney before Europeans settled and gradually forced them away. We make our way back and explore Darling Harbour and Cockle Bay Wharf some more.
Next day we decide on a walk around The Rocks and then across the Sydney Harbour Bridge taking in the magnificent views. From here we walk down to Luna Park where we take the ferry from Milson’s Point over to Circular Quay to the Opera House for a guided tour we see areas the general public is restricted to including the backstage, delivery areas and viewing of some movie footage of the construction days. Following this long day we catch the ferry back to Darling Harbour. Following morning we head over to Madam Tussaud’s and have some fun ‘interacting’ with the many famous people there. We catch the little train over to Paddy’s Markets where we wander around and stop at the food hall for an authentic Chinese meal. After lunch we walk through Chinatown and onto the Chinese Gardens. Tonight we walk to the Capitol Theatre where we have tickets to the Lion King. Wow, what an amazing show, I can’t believe for all the years this show has been travelling around we have never seen it before. Afterwards we sample the delights of Harry’s Café de Wheel and walk it off on our way back to Darling Harbour.
Having a good bearing of way around now, next morning after a feed at Pancake’s on the Rock’s we walk over to the Power House Museum where we spend several hours. I am quite excited at the fashion section to find a display of the costumes from the movie Strictly Ballroom as Steve last night purchased tickets for us to see the show! How coincidental is that? There is so much to see here and one of the other amazing things was a lace area where there are ladies making lace the old fashion way. A quick bite to eat at the Power House Café and it’s on our way back to Cockle Bay Wharf and Sea Life. Again, we see a few hours pass as we are amused watching the fairy penguins and absorbed in all the sea creatures on display. Unfortunately the Dugong and Platypus were nowhere to be seen today. Tonight, it’s walk to the Lyric Theatre for the Strictly Ballroom musical. A great night for a fun musical of great music and dancing full of glitter, tulle and sequins. We are in our element as this show was very audience interactive.
It’s back on the ferry next day as we bought a day pass and spent the day travelling past Fort Dennison and Garden Island to Manley, then lunch at Doyle’s at Watson’s Bay and onto Taronga Zoo. We end up back at Circular Quay as tonight is the opening of Vivid and we await sundown so the light show can begin. Tonight we move from Circular Quay for vantage point of the Opera House sails all lit up and towards Milson’s Point to see the Harbour Bridge and all the ferries in lights. Across to Darling Harbour for the Aquatique water and light show with fireworks. We take the ferry once more back to Circular Quay for one last look of the sights all lit up and few more photos to add to the collection. What an awesome way to mark our last night in Sydney, the highlight of the trip, the Vivid event.
On the last day we have a little time to kill so we walk up to the QVB for a guided tour before lunch, a walk back to Darling Harbour and one last quick stop at the Carousel for a few more pictures and check out to fly home.
Sydney was an amazing experience, one I have no idea why it took me so long to experience and we found it very easy to get around on the transport and surprisingly not the expensive experience I was expecting. We will definitely be back.
Have you visited Sydney? What is your favourite area to stay?
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