February 25, 2012 – Sydney, Australia
Sydney is maybe the favorite place we have ever had the good fortune to visit. We were here for the first time a year and a half ago for 4 days before a cruise and we thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a city of some 4 or 5 million people, meaning that about one out four Australians live in Sydney. The harbor here is considered to be one of the best natural harbors in the world, and the water plays prominently in every aspect of life here – from the location of one’s home to recreation and certainly transportation. Ferries are as common as buses.
We left the ship as early as we could, walked to Darling Harbour, which is a former commercial wharf redone as a tourist attraction for shopping and eating. We rode the monorail around the harbour, walked through a huge market bazaar, and found a double-decker bus stop. We enjoyed these buses on a prior trip, many places now have them, and they are absolutely the best way to get an overview of a city. You buy a ticket which is good for 24 hours and you “hop on – hop off” at any of 35 stops, or you can just stay on the bus and get the overview in about 90 minutes.
We abandoned the bus, did some shopping and headed back to the ship. In the evening we went with some shipboard friends out for dinner – a real treat on a cruise, since the ship leaves port normally at 5 or 6 in the evening, and this time we are staying for two days. We went to an area call “The Rocks” which is the area that the “first fleet” arrived in the late 1700s – the first shipment of convicts from England. Some Aussies blame that event on us, since we threw the British out, preventing them from shipping any more convicts to penal colonies on our shores. We walked the area, found an Italian restaurant with outside seating and had a lovely dinner on shore instead of in the Lido.