cruise trip day 05: sydney embarkation

First things first, drop by the post office to send a couple of packages. The lady at the counter said I’m a good friend for sending timtams to my friends, especially considering the postage is three times the cost of the contents.

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Packed up, stored our suitcases at the hotel and took the train to the fish market for brunch. I ordered marron, dreadfully expensive and it’s only by obsessively watching masterchef and MKR did I know about them. Live, they look like dark lobsters. Cooked, they turn orange like all crustaceans and have a delicate lobster-like flavour. I also ordered steamed pippies and raw scampi. The scampi was really great, sweet with the taste of the sea.

Too much to expect mum to roll her suitcase to the cruise terminal so we took a taxi. Dropped our bags but decided not to board just yet. Time for one final gelato. I found the best flavour so far, salted coconut with mango salsa. Had another blood orange sorbet too.

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The Star looked nice with the opera house in the background. How wonderful to have a cruise terminal in the heart of the city. We have an inside cabin, #5585, mid-ship port side. It’s pretty much like other inside cabins on other ships. We’re impressed with the amount of space between the twin beds, the large shower and lots of space to hang stuff in the bathroom. As suspected, the itineray has changed because only one azipod is working. Burnie, Milford Sound and Napier will be missed. We get US$500 OBC and 25% future cruise credit.

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As per my usual routine, I went exploring around the ship. Nicely decorated, pretty without being gaudy. There’s a coffee bar in the atrium underneath the stage which people will like. The photo gallery is full of computers vs shelves for hardcopy photos. The gift shop is closed, but is the biggest I’ve come across so far. I pondered drinks packages but dismissed them because everyone in the same cabin must buy the same package and I can’t drink enough for two people. To use up some of the OBC, I made reservations at the speciality restaurants.

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One of my favourite places on cruise ships is deck 7 and on the Star it’s one of the best. Lots of space, very wide with lounge chairs.

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Dinner was at one of the MDRs, the Versailles at the stern. We’re already liking the freestyle dining, none of the first seating / second seating crap. I had steak frites and mum had prawns. For dessert the chocolate lava cake had unfortunately turned into plain chocolate cake although the milk chocolate mousse was good. I had a glass of malbec. Overall, first impressions of the food are good.

Watched the ship leave port at 7pm. Sailed past the opera house, inner bays, Manly. The bridgeclimbers on the harbour bridge gave us a cheer as we went past.

cruise trip day 04: sydney

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More leisurely wake up, left hotel at 10am. Destination was train and light rail to fish market. Forecast is 37-38ºC today and the sun was relentless. Good news is beautiful blue skies and a beautiful harbour.

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We had looked into going to a restaurant and getting a seafood platter yesterday but timing / location wasn’t right. This was way way way better. Around A$100 (vs around A$170-200 for restaurants) and we could pick what we want. We had lobster: one half tail grilled, the other half tail lightly battered, plus grilled prawns and grilled octopus; seafood salad, a dozen pacific oyster, cooked balmain bug and fresh sea urchin. I especially wanted the bug since it’s regional specific and I hadn’t had it for a long time. It tasted a little tough, but I could taste the sea and the brown meat was great. The lobster were both overcooked, tasted nice. The grilled prawn and grilled baby octopus were really nice. I bought the oyster and bugs from the second store on the right which was was less crowded, must remember to go back there next time. Hopefully next time is not almost 10 years later, I was last in sydney in 2007. Mum bought white peaches for dessert, we just stood in the shade eating them, it was sweet and fresh.

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Took the light rail to darling harbour, mainly shopping and walking around. More beautiful scenery around pyrmont bridge.

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I walked around while mum rested. All the way to the end of the pier near the maritime museum. There was a navy cutter, HMAS Vampire and a submarine HMAS Onslow. A lighthouse and several other ships too. Entrance was per ship, I think, no one challenged me as I walked around and other people were exploring too.

Bus to circular quay because we wanted gelato again. Very crowded at Gelato Messina. I was greedy and got 2 scoops: salted caramel and blood orange. Mum was even greedier and got 3 scoops: chocolate fondant, passionfruit, raspberry. She gave more than half of the raspberry to me, hahaha.

Walked back to the hotel, around 10mins. I saw kangaskan again so spent around 20mins walking around the hotel adding to my pokedex. I’ve been trying to play pokemongo all day. Sydney has a good selection and most importantly kangaskhan which spawns at around the same rate as starters at home; definitely better than farfetch’d. I have 5 at the end of 2 days of sporadic hunting.

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After dumping our stuff and taking a rest, we headed out again for dinner. Bus to Haymarket, stop at Coles for more shopping and then dinner was at the legendary Harry’s Café de Wheels. I had planned for the branch at Wooloomooloo but was happy I found a more convenient branch at Haymarket. Harry’s is a stationary food truck that serves pies. More specifically the tiger which is beef pie with mash, mushy peas and gravy. Very Aussie, very British. Not fine dining but very iconic streetfood and a must-eat whilst in Sydney. As tasty as I remembered, and I’m glad mum liked it too.

Back at the hotel before 8pm. Shower, packing and watching cricket (Aus vs NZ ODI). I bought a bottle of wine at Coles for A$7, I was going for beer but even VB was around A$6 so a nice bottle of Jacob’s Creek classic pinot is a better choice.

Cruise starts tomorrow. We’re being ambitious and planning a return to the fish market for lunch then boarding. Let’s see.

cruise trip day 03: sydney

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Took the train to the suburbs to carriageworks farmers’ market. The first sign was we got off at redfern station and saw people carrying bags of produce and flowers. Mostly locals at the market, families with kids. Our brunch was egg & bacon roll for me and apple croissant for mum. Juice to wash it down. It’s really casual, sitting at picnic tables or upturned crates. Bought a loaf of bread for breakfast the next couple of days, but couldn’t buy much else even though the fruit and veg were tempting.

Train back to the city, got off at tourist central aka circular quay. First stop was gelato messina. I had pear & rhubarb gelato and mum had chocolate sorbet. I tried other flavours but they were too sweet; this one was fruity yet the richness of the gelato came through.

Walked a lot in the area. From circular quay to the rocks, there was a market there today. A little rest then towards the newly developed area of Barangaroo. It started to get really sunny and hot, forecast was 27ºC and it felt like over 30ºC under the direct sunlight. We only stopped at a little pub in the new district for a much needed drink. The nature reserve is more like a small park, it led back to underneath the harbour bridge via another route. So we did a whole loop around that area.

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Since it was such a sunny day, we decided to take a commuter boat to watsons bay. The catamaran was fast and I stood at the bow which got really windy. Great view of the opera house as we made our way from the wharfs.

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Watsons Bay pier was very crowded, as befit a sunny saturday. What I remember is a walk uphill to a viewpoint back towards the city but we didn’t do that this time. Walked around the immediate area around the wharf and stopped for fish, seafood and chips. The fish, hake I think, was good. The calamari a bit soft the the fried prawns unmemorable. Had half a dozen oysters too, very fresh.

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Stayed on the same side of the catamaran on the way back, to catch views of the north shore. The harbour bridge against the sun too. I don’t know how but we found legs to walk around to the opera house and the botanical gardens. Took a rest at a bench at the gardens and watched a cruise ship leave harbour; this will be us in two days.

Dinner was at westfield underneath the sydney tower. Mum remembered lots of eateries there but at 7.30pm on a saturday almost all had closed. Yes, closed. We found a mexican place that was still open and had prawn ceviche and lamb taco. I guess the lamb taco is a local adaptation; it was tasty.

On the way back to the hotel we stopped at coles for shopping. Tim tams for me and cereal bars for mum. Tired, lots of walking today.

cruise trip day 02: singapore to sydney

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The alarm was at 5.15am but I was so tired I didn’t wake up till almost 6am. I went downstairs to check out the breakfast and ate a sausage and some eggs very quickly. We checked out and grabbed a taxi to the airport. Everything was quick. There was a display of pokemons near the departure gate so I stopped to get pics. Haven’t had data in Singapore aside from wifi at the hotel so I’ve only managed to hunt in the room. When the gps drifts I can catch a stop and there were a few commons around. I don’t mind that it’s pidgeys and rattatas, as long as it shows the Singapore location tag.

The plane was almost full, with many familys (with small babies). Watched Ghostbusters and Looper, napped a bit, ate everything they gave me including half of Mum’s pasta. Ghostbusters was funny and there were a couple of places where I must have laughed out loud, something not to do on a quiet plane. Looper was interesting and the sort of film I like too.

The plane landed at 8pm. We could use the e-passport lane so we were out really quickly. Took a long time for the luggage to come out though. It was around 9.15pm already. Had a little something to eat at the airport then took the train to our hotel. A closed gate and construction meant a longer walk than intended, it was around 10mins instead of 5mins. Our room is quite nice and we got settled. MKR is on, yay!!! I’m also set up electronically and tested the Three simcard I bought.

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And I’m already seeing kangaskhan on my nearby list. It’s almost midnight so too late to run out, from what I’ve read it’s everywhere so I’m not worried. Hopefully I’ll get it tomorrow.

walking in the sun at parramatta

Woke up late, very nice day. The plan today is to visit Parramatta, another one that the “what to do in Sydney” guides said to visit. There are several ways to get there, and the most picturesque is by rivercat from circular quay. I got there at 11.40am and the next ferry left at 12.30pm, so plenty of time to walk around the area.

The boatride was nice. Took about 50 mins up the river.

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Parramatta was disappointing though. It got really hot — later I found out it was 30°C — and in parts there was no shade. According to the official tourist info book there is a Harris Park Heritage walking trail. I followed it, along a highway, stopping at a historical hut which was closed, and the rest of the trail was a footpath along the river. Nothing much worth photographing.

To top it all, I missed the 2.30pm ferry and the next one was at 4pm. I wasn’t gonna hang around for over an hour. So I walked back into town and got a train back. Quite dehydrated by the time I got back to Sydney Terminal station, and needed the isotonic drink quick.

Debated whether to go to gpo or foodcourt for dinner. Ended up at the foodcourt again, and most stalls were putting their food up for sale. Easy choice then, got some roast lamb, roast turkey, pumpkin and roasted veg. Plus a selection of fresh juices.

Have to go to bed early tonight. Flight’s at 8.50am tomorrow.

newtown, new town

My day ended early today, so there was time to explore and walk around. It’s great that sunset isn’t till late. I was reading about other areas of Sydney to explore and after reading about the “hundreds” of restaurants in the King Street Newtown area, it was easy to make the decision to visit. There are a few buses that go to Newtown from town, and it was easy to hop on one. I keep having to remember that Sydney is a small city because in no time at all I was there.

I don’t know what exactly I expected but it was … interesting. Mostly old buildings and small shops. The hundreds of restaurants are mainly cafés and Thai / Indian / deli places. It wasn’t even 5pm so too early to have dinner. Walked up and down, window shopping at the smattering of gift shops. I guess the nearest equivalent is that this is the Sydney equivalent of Mission, down to the second hand furniture shops, small record shops and places selling incense. Only it isn’t as cool as the Mission.

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There were a couple of potentially interesting places to eat but I finally decided on a deli kind of place. The reason was one of their specials is grilled halloumi and chicken schnitzel salad. Love love love halloumi. I also had a carrot, beetroot and celery juice and took away a slice of orange & poppy seed cake for later. Bus ride back to hotel was quick too.

Spent the rest of the night reading.

beach and sun

One meeting at 10am, then I was done. Still had some shopping to do — to get UV protective swimsuits for my niece; and sherlock’s advice was to go out to Bondi Junction. The Westin’s location was perfect for the train, a short walk to Martin’s Place station and 3 stops to Bondi Junction.

Walked around the high street, had lunch of pastrami bagel and iced tea (what, no diet coke?). Managed to find the swimsuits at various shops. Not surprisingly the best choice was at the last shop, after I’d already bought a couple of suits already. The cheapest purchase was at Target and the best selection was at the Cancer Society shop.

There was time, so I took the bus down to the beach, trying to find the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition. Couldn’t find it — I guess it’s along the coastal walk which was a bit far away. It was nice to walk on the beach, people watch and take pictures. This was taken at the side, the main beach was pretty crowded and I was glad to find a corner with fewer sunbathers.

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As this was Bondi, there were surfers galore. No wonder this is one of the most famous beaches in the world, look at that blue sky and the water. Picture has been resized but not photoshopped.

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Took the bus all the way back to town. Yeah, I kinda wasted the return journey on the train, but it was nicer by bus. It was supposed to be an express but it stopped everywhere. The people behind me needed to get to Circular Quay by 4pm but they realised with the non!express service they won’t make it.

Dumped the backpack in the room and went out walking around for the last hour or so that shops are open. Oh yeah, shops close at 6pm. Initially the purpose was to look for some beer but I ended up buying some souvenirs instead. Turned out that I could have bought the beer at the Coles around the corner. Hmm.

Didn’t have food left in the fridge so I went downstairs to the gpo for dinner. I was hesitant to eat at the posh steak or seafood restaurant and was happy to find that there were more casual choices — there were counters where people could order pizza or seafood or bar food. So I had some oysters and grilled dory and chips. A nice glass of shiraz/cab and it all came to something cheaper than one of the steaks at Prime. Much preferable anyway.

Need to get up early tomorrow. 9.30am flight means I need to leave the hotel by 7.30am.

day out in sydney

I reserved a rental car yesterday and I had to drag myself out of bed when the alarm rang. I tried to cancel online but wasn’t allowed to (duh, cos I said pickup at 10am and I tried to cancel at 10.15am). By then I was more awake so I walked over to the Hertz office and got the car.

Debated whether to have lunch at the fish market or elsewhere. Decided to go to Harry’s instead, since I have the car. Ordered the famous Tiger — beef pie, mash, peas and gravy. Was hungry so I got a plain hot dog as well. I prefer the peas more than the mash, should have gotten pie and peas with extra peas. Anyway, it was as delicious as I remembered it; sitting on the wood beams overlooking the Finger Wharf.

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The main purpose of getting the car was to drive out to Rose Bay and then further to Watsons Bay. Note to self: instead of wasting 20 minutes trying to find a parking space at the bottom of Watsons Bay, drive back up and park at the highest point. It’s an extra 10 minutes walking along the coast, it’s pretty and there are plenty of free spaces.

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Beautiful beautiful day, blue skies, clear seas and the cliffs were as spectacular as I remember. There was also an impressive view back into the harbour, of the city and the bridge.

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It was around 2pm when I left, so I attempted to go to Bondi. Attempted. Not that Bondi had disappeared or anything, there was so much traffic and it was impossible to find a parking space. So I drove along the beach, then left.

There was still time to go to the fish market, which was what I did. Parking was AUD2 for under 1 hour, increasing to AUD5 for each half hour after — obviously they want people to park and go. That made the decision easy for me, I bought a dozen Manning River oysters, a cold platter of lobster and prawns, and a spinner crab. Ate the oysters by the bay with a light beer (well, driving and all) and took the rest with me.

Returned the car at 5pm, and was back in my room by 5.30pm. Could have kept the car to drive around at night and returned it before work tomorrow, but couldn’t be bothered. Nicer to relax in the room. Plus I had laundry to do. Dinner of assorted fresh seafood was good — the crab was sweeter than even the lobster and the prawns were the sweetest.

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australia 2005

2016 note: didn’t write up the trip at the time and the pics were only found and uploaded in 2013. What I remember is we went to Sydney, then Brisbane and the Gold Coast to Surfers Paradise.

Rented a car, visited a night safari. I have a hard rock café surfers paradise polo shirt as souvenir.

2 dinners

So you’ve been living outta your suitcase for almost 3 weeks in hotel rooms. what do you do for food? Usually lunch at food courts around the office, but what about dinner?

One of the first things I do is to go to the supermarket or anywhere else I can get groceries, even if it’s only a 7-11. What I tend to get, drinks, snacks, fruit, sometimes yogurt. I empty the minibar fridge and fill it up with my stuff.

Back to dinner. I’ve bought whole roast chickens and bread and made sandwiches. I’ve bought take-out food boxes from food courts. Once in a while I’ll eat out, but hardly ever in proper restaurants.

Last night my colleagues took me out to dinner at Café Sydney, it was a rather upmarket place but the location was just strange. It’s at the perimeter of the top floor of a 5 storey building, and apart from the restaurant itself, the rest of the building has been stripped and is basically a construction site — concrete, wires, pipes are all in plain view. The open area around the balconey looked down to the site. Very interesting.

We shared starters — cooked bugs, mezze plate, polenta. For main course I had barrimunda fillet. Dessert was ice cream with rhubarb compote. 2 glasses of Pinot Noir for me. The bill probably came to something like AUD100 per person.

Today I walked the 20 minutes from the office to Harry’s Café de Wheels, a 24-hour pie cart at the side of the road next to Finger Wharf. Small menu, eat around the cart. Speciality were pies, British style, served with mash and mushy peas and gravy. The mash and peas were piled on top of the pie and a hole in the middle contained the gravy. yums. AUD4.80 a pop.

20 times price difference. Both really special and delicious. Such is the goodness of food.

go south, little one

NSW bank holiday today, so I have an unexpected day off. Still had the car. But even as I woke up I didn’t really know where I should go.

Went north yesterday, and I’ve been west to the Blue Mountains before. So it leaves south. So I drove down to the south coast, without much idea of where exactly I’d end up, and with no proper map either :)!

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Beautiful day, few cars, perfect for driving. By lunch time I ended up in Wollongong. The sounds of the ocean from the waves coming into the city beach could be heard from the car park. Very fine sand dunes and a strong surf. Very impressive. A bit further up is the harbour, with a beautiful lightbouse and small boat shelter. Had fish and chips again, this restaurant not as nice as the one at Port Stephens, a much longer wait and batter that was too thick. Congregation of seagulls outside by the tables again. Lots of people got swamped. And during one of the flybys, one of them snatched a calamari ring from my fingertips without me realising! Got a bit paranoid after that and finished eating very quickly.

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About half an hour from Wollongong was Kiama, a quaint-ish small seaside town. Most famous for the Blowhole, a gap in the rocks where waves crash up. The tide wasn’t so strong so the jet wasn’t that high, but the views along the coast were fabulous as usual.

Drove up to the lookout point at Saddlepoint Mountain, only 10 minutes away. By that time the sun was hiding behind clouds and it was getting dark, so it was a kinda wasted trip. It was really deserted up there, a bit eerie.

Weather changed dramatically on the drive back, for a whole hour or may be even more it rained very hard, the road didn’t have lights, there were lots of cars and I was in a hurry. Man I needed all the adrenalin and experience I could muster on that drive back to Sydney.

dolphins ahead

met up with sherlock and gf again, drove up to Port Stephens, or to be more precise, Nelson Bay. 2.5 hours from Sydney, mostly on a good long stretch of motorway. Got there round about lunch time, had some very fresh fish and chips.

We joined the Imagine, a 18m catamaran. I chose it over the other boats was cos the others looked like ferries and had too many people on board. Imagine can hold 60, I think we were about 30. Seating on the foredeck, with steel grid that opens down, so we could see the water surface.

It was very very windy out in the open sea, I was glad I took my sweatshirt. Tea was provided, that helped. Most people huddled on the deck but once the boat got going, I went and sat at the port side &ldquot;balcony&rdquot; (for want of the proper terminology), the bit that sticks out and feels closer to the sea. I was getting cold and considering going back inside when we spotted out first dolphin. At first it was just a couple of fins, but we got excited. The skipper turned the boat slowly toward the dolphins.

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And there they were, they started swimming closer and then they were swimming with the boat, under the boat, next to it, around it. From where I was sitting, I felt like they were right beneath me, every few minutes they’d jump up above the surface. Quite hard to photograph, especially with only my small camera. But it was still really special. I lucked out, I had the best seat in the house and I wasn’t budging.

All in all we saw 3 groups of dolphins, the final group ended with like 7-8 of them swimming in formation under me. By then my camera had run out of batteries so I just sat back and watched. It was unbelievable.

Once on our way back the wind eased up and I sat with my feet dangling over the edge, close to the surface. So what if my shoes got wet, it was fun fun fun.

The drive back was a bit tiring, had to really concentrate. But even after dropping them home I got back to the hotel by 9pm.

Funny thing is, I’m trying to type this up, I’m sitting at the desk and it feels like I’m still at sea. Rocking and rocking. Going off to bed now.

Sydney saturday

I booked a manual car, but they gave me an auto. Just as well, more comfortable. Still can’t believe how small the city is, it takes no time to go from one place to another.

Went to Haymarket to go to the market to pick up some souvenirs. Quite difficult to find a space, went round the block without getting a space. Of course, I didn’t know where to look for a space, not like the familiarity of London. Decided to go again one last time and then give up if no space. Lo and behold, a space turns up. No surprise.

Lunch at the fish market again. Unlike last week the sun was out full blast and it was really pleasant. Same menu, oysters, lobster and salad. If it’s nice why change. Had a light beer cos I’m driving. Quite crowded, had to share the outside table with a Korean? Taiwanese? family. At another table these 2 girls were being attacked by seagulls who were after their chips. The stupid birds get far too aggressive, have to constantly chase them away.

Drove back to the city to visit Paddington Market. Was lucky with parking this time, found a space on a side road off Oxford Street. Market is full of the usual jewelry, clothing, books, gifts and stuff. Didn’t buy anything, the most tempting stall was of refurbished wood mirrors and frames, really pretty. But of course too heavy to carry. Sigh.

Continued driving through to Rose Bay and Watson’s Bay and the Gap, the entrance to Sydney Harbour. Spectacular cliffs and beautiful scenery. You could tell you’re coming to something pretty when you see a lighthouse on your right and then the road curves down and you can see the cliffs. From one side of the bay there’s a nice walk to the other side, but I just parked at one end, walked a little bit around, drove to the other end and walked around too.

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The other side of the peninsular is a more sedate park and beach combination. A couple of restaurants, a pier, kids playing, a swimming area. Very pretty.

On my way back, stopped at Moore Park and Fox Studios. There was an exhibition there, but that’s the private entry.

relief

Late night shopping tonight. The streets don’t look so dead when I come out of the office. So much so I bought ice cream — fresh berries & panna cotta, 2 scoops.

Backtrack, had lunch with sherlock today, Japanese ramen that’s pretty authentic, for my not so sophisticated tastebuds, tastes like the ramen in Japan. Walked round a little bit after lunch and bought a couple of spare swatch straps for my new one.

Wasn’t too interested in shopping, never was. But was glad the eating places were open. Went to the food hall of David Jones and bought some quince paste, something I’ve only seen in Australia, and I think once at either Harrods or Selfridges. There are a few food counters there — grill, sushi, antipasti, noodles, oyster. I looked and I looked but none of them appealed. So where did I eat? The mmore common foodcourt next door at CentrePoint. Had a Florentine crepe — spinach & cheese. Took an apple & cinnamon crepe back to the hotel but only managed half. They have lime flavoured diet coke here, a new taste.

Friday tomorrow, what a relief.

rain, seafood, beach

Saturday was a dreary, miserable excuse of a day. Grey and drizzly. Didn’t go out till around 11am. Walked down George Street to Chinatown and the Paddy’s Market at Haymarket. Interesting, mostly clothes, bric-a-brac and a very nice fruit market at the back. So tempting. I wish I could buy more than the small bag of cherries and yogurt raison that I got. Also bought a couple of plastic bag holders, Aussie style.

Lunch was at the fish market, a short light rail ride away. Ticket was a bit expensive though, $5.20 return for just 3 stops. I had half a grilled lobster with chips and salad ($16.50), a dozen Australia rock oysters ($12). Pretty crowded, and even though it was raining people were sitting outside under the scant cover of not-large-enough umbrellas. After lunch and walking around the fish stalls I had a kinda brainwave. Seafood for lunch, why not seafood for dinner. Bought a bluewater crab (cooked) and 1/2 kilo tiger prawns.

Same train back to Haymarket and it was still raining. Walked a few blocks to Woolworths supermarket, yogurt, strawberries and some biscuits for the girls in the office, before heading back to the hotel. So nice in the room I didn’t want to go out. But relented and went out to Darling Harbour, walked round for an hour or so in the rain. Took the monorail back to the hotel and had the crab. Monorail was expensive too, $3 per ride.

Sunday my friend sherlock and gf picked me up from the hotel and we drove to Cronulla for lunch at a deli kinda place. Reminds me of small cafés behind Harrods. Sandwiches, salads, soups and stuff. One whole display cabinet full of desserts, brownies, cheesecakes, lemon pie. Too much food lately, so I just had pumpkin soup and a little bit of pasta salad. The bread that came with the soup was good.

Was full. Luckily the day was fine. Walked along the beach after lunch. The longest beach in the area, I read somewhere. Real sand. Surfers. Beautiful. After Cronulla we drove to Bondi. More sand. More waves. More beauty, even saw the sunset. For the first time in weeks, I’m not feeling the pollution and I can breath easier.

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Back into the city for a drink and Thai dinner. Yes, at the back of my mind I was missing mm, but it was nice to have company for a day. Occasionally one needs the some human contact.

sydney 1

I’m used to both short and long flights. The 3-4 hours to Singapore is easy, eat up whatever meal they serve, watch a film and it’s there. For long haul flights I have my own routine as well, eat, sleep, wake up when the lights come back on. My point is, I know where I stand on flights.

Now, 7 hours between Singapore is so neither here nor there. I can’t go on short haul mode cos I’ll get fidgety, and I can’t get into long haul routine cos there’s not enough time. I ended up eating a very small dinner, watching a film, sleeping for a little bit then watched another film. The end result is when i checked into the hotel at 10.30am I’d had very little sleep and was very tired. So when the hotel said the room wasn’t gonna be ready for 2 hours I got very annoyed very quickly. And that’s after my travel agent had requested early check-in. I told them that 12.30 is not early check-in.

Anyhow they managed to find me a room — originally I was on the 25/f which is an executive floor, they got me 19/f standard but gave me access to the executive lounge. The rooms are no different so I just took it. Unpacked, had a shower and a nap. Boy did I need that nap.

When I ventured out it was still lunchtime and there were so many people around. Had a kebab at a food court, then walked from the CBD to the Rocks, Harbour Bridge, Opera House and the Botanical gardens. Walk walk walk. By the time I left the park it was nearly 5, now I’m too tired to go out and eat. So tired.

More tomorrow, my feet hurt and I want to crawl into bed, even though it’s not even 6pm.

1999 sydney

It was an auspicious time to visit Sydney, a year before the Olympics construction at the site was on-going, Olympic fever gripped the city like nothing before. We also visted during the week of Mardi Gras but alas never saw any part of that.

Cliché though it must be, a visit to the Opera House and Harbour Bridge are a must. Both are truly spectacular pieces of architecture. The Bridgewalk where visitors donned special clothing and walked up to midway point of the top of the bridge was one of the most popular attractions, one which we passed on though. Visited both Bondi and Manly beaches, ate at the fish market, took the monorail round the CBD and Darling Harbour, walked around the shops at The Rock, went up to the top of Centrepoint. All very touristy behaviour. Hee.

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Sydney Harbour Bridge at sunset. Double wow.

Drove out to the Blue Mountains and to a wildlife park to see the koalas and the kangaroos. Neat. To Hunter Valley to visit the vineyards. Bought a couple of bottles of verdelho and sampled their cabernets and shiraz.

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