November 27, 2018 – Sydney Australia
Day1: Sydney, spectacularly draped around its glorious harbour and beaches, has visual wow factor like few other cities.Scratch the surface and it only gets better. We are almost all on deck as we sail into Sydney Harbour for some of the best views of any port we have docked in.
Of course the most recognizable landmark in Sydney is the Opera House. Designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, this World Heritage–listed building is Australia’s most famous landmark. Visually referencing a yacht’s sails, it’s a soaring,commanding presence. The complex comprises five performance spaces for dance,concerts, opera and theatre. There is ongoing renovation work, scheduled to be completed in 2021, but we did not notice any of the work.
The ms Amsterdam is a small enough vessel that we are able to sail under the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge, unlike the massive Royal Caribbean ship, Explorer of the Seas which you will see in some of the pictures above.
Sydneysiders love their giant ‘coathanger’ (Harbour Bridge), which opened in 1932. The bestway to experience this majestic structure is on foot. Stairs climb up the bridge from both shores, leading to a footpath on the eastern side (the westernside is a bike path). Climb the southeastern pylon to the Pylon Lookout or ascend the arc on the popular but expensive BridgeClimb.
The harbour bridge is a spookily big object – moving around town you’ll catch sight of it in the corner of your eye, sometimes in the most surprising of places.Its enormous dimensions make it the biggest (if not the longest) steel arch bridge in the world. The two halves of chief engineer JJC Bradfield’s mighty arch were built outwards from each shore. In 1930, after seven years of merciless toil by 1400 workers,the two arches were only centimeters apart when 100km/h winds set them swaying.The coathanger hung tough and the arch was finally bolted together. Extensive load-testing preceded the bridge’s opening two years later. It is a sight to see.
We have been to Sydney a few times before, so we were not as excited about seeing the sights but rather happy to be meeting up with our friends Gary and Chris O. It was so good of them to pick us up at White Bay Cruise Terminal and take us out for a walk about of the city.
We parked the car near St Mary’s Cathedral and started off from there. Parking near downtown Sydney is expensive -$10.00 per hour. We were gone for 4hours, so yikes $40.00!
Our path took us around the Opera House, through Darling Harbour and into an area called “The Rocks”.
Sydney’s oldest colonial neighborhood, The Rocks is a warren of atmospheric sandstone warehouses, quiet courtyards, and cobbled alleys on the western side of Circular Quay. The birthplace of modern Sydney, this was where the First Fleet of British colonists and convicts stepped ashore in 1788. Enjoy spectacular views of Sydney Harbour Bridge looming over this historic district, and Sydney Opera House opposite. The oldest remaining building is 1816-founded Cadmans Cottage, beside the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), a handy starting point for a walk around the area’s 19th-century buildings, heritage pubs, cafes,shops, and galleries.
The Rocks was a destination because the last time we were in Sydney, we went to a beer festival there and had pizza at the Australian Hotel. Not just any pizza mind you but Karen loved a tandoori chicken pizza with mango chutney and mint yogurt dressing on top. We had to go back and try it again!
While it was good, they have changed the recipe and it was not as we remembered it. We actually liked the kangaroo meat pizza better and the local brew was excellent.
Some great sights on our walk back to the car but again, we were enjoying the company of our friends mostly.
A drive over to Manley Beach which is one of Sydney’s most famous surf spots just to re-acquaint ourselves. It is a huge sweep of golden sand backed by pretty pine trees. It’s actually three beaches in one—South Steyne, North Steyne, and surf-friendly Queenscliff, stretching almost two kilometres—and is the first of the city’s Northern Beaches which run from here up to Palm Beach.
The real destination was to the North Heads, a scenic spot on the cliff side from which to get great views of the city.
Luckily the weather was very cooperative today,although not as hot as Sydney can get at this time of year. Our next stop and the one we have really been looking forward to is to Gary and Chris’s house! They are such wonderful, warm people and both are excellent cooks, have great taste in wine and love to entertain. It was a fantastic evening! Thanks to our very good friends!
Day 2 – Oh dear, the weather has become very nasty. We are being pelted with sheets of rain and they are forecasting a month’s worth of rain in one day!
However, not to be deterred, Chris and Gary show up to take us first to an aboriginal art studio named Kate O Gallery where we were introduced to a large variety of original art that ranged in price from a few hundred dollars to over a million dollars! It really was spectacular!
Braving the rain, we went for lunch to an Israeli restaurant called Kepos & Co. with a very unique menu. The food and wine were exceptional and we really enjoyed the hummus made fresh at the table and warm bread baked in their wood fired oven.
As our time was winding down, we took Gary and Chris on board the ship for a tour (pre-arranged) as they have never yet sailed. It was a lovely way to finish our visit, showing them where we are living for our 82 day experience.
Sadly, we bid them farewell as we prepared to sail away from Australia and start our South Pacific journey back home. As the weather was not very favourable today,we experienced some rather rough seas…the worst we have had so far on our journey. It was interesting watching the small pilot boat navigate 20 – 30 foot swells. Our evening entertainment was also cancelled because of the motion of the ocean.