This is the final installment of my Australia New Zealand travel notes. Click on any of the images to jump to my photo gallery for this trip.
Day 25 Nov 3, 2022, Hyatt Regency room 917, Sydney, Mac
Today the ship belatedly returned to Sydney; rough seas delayed our arrival. The previous night the ship rocked, rolled, and lunged; the shaking was severe enough to cancel an acrobat show in the Celebrity Theater. Modern cruise ships are quite stable, even in the worst of it, it wasn’t as bad as a typical day on a North Sea oil rig supply boat. The approach to Sydney Harbor was super scenic. I spent my remaining hours topside taking pictures as the ship approached the dock. I believe I got some keepers. We were held up from disembarking and stood in line for about forty minutes. Eventually, the gangplank opened and we left the ship for the last time.
“Cruising be like, you can’t wait to get on the boat, and you can’t wait to get off.”
We took the tram from the Quay to the QVB station and then pushed our carry-on luggage three blocks to the Hyatt Regency that overlooks Darling Harbor. I remain impressed by the smoothness of Sydney sidewalks. You couldn’t push bags through many American cities, especially shitholes like San Francisco and Detroit, without clogging your suitcase wheels with urine and feces. After checking in we walked down to Darling Harbor, had lunch, and then walked over to the Maritime Museum and back.
Sydney has by far the finest waterfront of any city I have ever seen. It totally blows away Toronto, San Francisco, London, San Diego, Vancouver, Seattle, and even cities like Athens and Istanbul, as one Aussie we met on the ship said, it was typical of the English to send their prisoners to the best country in the world. Australia may not be the best country but Sydney Harbor may well be the best harbor.
Day 26 Nov 4, 2022, Hyatt Regency room 917, Sydney, iPhone
I’m lying naked in bed cooling down after a shower. Mali is beside me having a nap. We spent the morning and the early afternoon walking around downtown Sydney. We started by paying a visit to a jewelry store in the Fullerton Hotel. Before boarding the ship for New Zealand Mali bought a necklace. It was being fitted while we cruised. She hoped to pick it up today but the fit was not quite right and they will need another day to fit it.
While Mali was in the jewelry store, I had a flat white in the lobby cafe. Then we started walking down Martin Place towards the Sydney Hospital. The one with Il Porcellino out front. I rubbed the pig’s nose. dropped a coin in the fountain, and then we walked through The Domain to the New South Wales Art Museum. We didn’t spend much time there. Lots of very young school kids in their neat little uniforms were visiting the museum and filling the halls with happy kid noise.
Then we walked through the Botanic Gardens towards the Sydney Opera House. Many groups of neatly uniformed, well-chaperoned school kids were touring the gardens. When we reached the harbor wall, we headed over to Mrs. Macquarie’s chair. This is a bench Mr. Macquarie allegedly carved into the rock so his wife could sit and watch the harbor. I suspect he was just getting her out of his hair.
Then we walked to the Opera House and picked up our tickets for tonight’s show. We’re going to see La Traviata. After picking up our tickets we had lunch at the Circular Quay and then took the city tram to the Sydney Tower. The tower was a huge disappointment! The Auckland tower was better, the CN Tower much better, and the Grand Canyon Sky Walk way, way better. After the tower, we walked back to the hotel. At six we will be heading out to the Opera House.
Day 27 Nov 5, 2022, Fullerton Hotel Lobby, Sydney, iPhone
I’m having a flat white in a lobby bar of the Fullerton Hotel while Mali gets her necklace adjusted.
Last night’s performance of La Traviata at the Opera House was more interesting than entertaining. The Sydney Opera House is spectacular on the outside but plain on the inside. The acoustics in the Joan Sutherland theater were excellent. You could hear every note and despite the unadorned ceilings, there were no echoes. The opera itself was reliably ridiculous but the music was excellent. The orchestra was first-rate and the lead singer was a bona fide diva. In one of the two intermissions, I snapped the Moon and Jupiter above one of the Sydney Opera House sails. I admire the discipline of opera but I am not a fan.
Today we are checking out China Town and the Zoo. A few days ago, five lions escaped their enclosure: the cause according to Australian TV news was “fence issues.” Well Duh! Now, the escapee lions are media celebrities and even more people than usual are zoo bound.
Day 28 Nov 6, 2022, Hyatt Regency room 917, Sydney, Mac
We are just back from dinner at The Meat and Wine Company in Barangaroo. Love the name “Barangaroo.” The meat was OK but steak is steak as long as it’s not screwed up.
Sydney’s China Town was a working China Town. China Towns tend to be over-gaudy tourist traps or working-class ghettos. This one was more on the working-class side but definitely not a ghetto. Mali spent way too much time looking for slippers. Yeah, slippers. You cross oceans to piss away hours in China Town looking for something you can order on Amazon. Not my idea of a good time.
After China Town, we took the tram and then walked for two or three kilometers in Sussex Hills looking for a Persian Restaurant Mali spotted on hotel Wi-Fi. We eventually found the restaurant. It was oriented towards take-out but you could sit inside and eat provided you didn’t mind the take-out cartons. The food was very good; I’m a big fan of Persian cooking.
Then we rode the tram back to Circular Quay and took the ferry over to Taronga Zoo. The zoo is middle-of-the-road when it comes to animals but is first-rate when it comes to geography. It’s built on a hill and you enter at the top and work your way down to the ferry. I particularly enjoyed the giraffes posing in front of the Sydney Harbor and the city skyline.
Oh, the jailbreaking lions were not on display. Maybe the “fence issues” were not entirely resolved. After the zoo, we ferried back to Circular Quay and then walked through The Rocks, past Barangaroo, and down Kent Street back to our hotel. We’ve walked a lot in Sydney.
Today we rode the train and bus out to Bondi Beach. Sydney trains are first class. Bondi Beach is very popular the beaches and paths were overflowing with people. An outdoor sculpture exhibit was on at Bondi. I snapped more pictures than I should have.
Tomorrow, we fly back home. We’ve decided to take a cab to the airport. We’re tired of lugging our luggage.
Day 29 Nov 7, 2022, Sydney Airport Terminal 1, iPhone
I’m sitting at an Oliver Brown Coffee shop waiting to check in for our flight home. We came to the airport way too early. We have another eight hours to wait. Our early arrival was partly motivated by Mali’s desire to claim an Australian GST tax refund. She spent a lot of time collecting receipts and yesterday figured that we are eligible for a thousand AUD GST rebate. Neither one of us expects to collect but Mali set aside sufficient time to wage war with airport customs officers. I almost pity customs.
The other reason for our absurdly early arrival. We are tired of touring and lugging luggage. So much so that we took a cab to the airport. We traveled around Sydney entirely on foot and on public transport. Sydney has superb trams, trains, and ferries. It’s also a big city that you feel completely safe in. The contrast with American shithole cities couldn’t be starker. If I win the Powerball I’m moving to Australia. Australians have not bought into the woke bullshit to the same degree as Americans and Canadians. There are still only two genders here and every bathroom sign reiterates this reality with unambiguous “Male” and “Female” labels.
We are through the airport security theater for the last time on this trip. Mali’s New Zealand honey was confiscated and the Tourist Refund Scheme refunded nada. I see the “scheme” bit but not the “refund” part. My cynicism was on point as usual. Oh well, all those nice Australian services we used must be paid for and six hundred USD seems about right.
Also, our extra space seats didn’t come through. It’s going to be a long-packed flight.
Day 30 Nov 7, 2023 (cross dateline) LAX Airport, Los Angeles, iPhone
We just flew from Sydney: a 13-hour turbulence-ridden ride. We’re both tired and our Boise flight is delayed. I just checked the Internet security cameras at home. The house is still standing. I also turned on a few lights. Throughout this trip, I have been checking the cameras and randomly turning lights on and off. At best such impotent deceptions will notify potential thieves that they may end up on camera and make them consider trying a house without cameras.
Mali has indicated that her flight limit has been reached. We will be ground-bound for the rest of the year.
It’s not entirely great to be back.