[Doug posted this before I had finished it . . . so here is the complete entry.]
We started our day at a Starbucks to try to catch up on some e-mails and calls home. We had not intended to be there very long, but it began to rain, and then it poured, and we were glad to be inside nice and dry. The rain lasted at least 30 minutes, so we enjoyed some coffee and computer time.
We then went to the Marriott Hotel where the ship’s shuttle bus drops you off and picks you up again. It is close to the circular quay. We ended up looking in their gift shop and buying a few more things! They also had a fast Internet connection (for free) so we ended up making an extra call or two before heading out to get a quick bite to eat.
We ended up across the street at Pie Face, where they sell all kinds of meat pies (a true Australian dish.) We both got chicken curry pies and took them across the street to the park to eat them. The sun had come out by now and the day was glorious. Since it was a Saturday, there were lots of people walking around this area.
We had just a few hours to finish exploring Sydney before we had to board the ship. We went to an area called The Rocks which is next to Circular Quay and between it and our ship in Darling Harbor. This area is an important place in Australia’s history since it was the place that Governor Phillip and the 11 ships of the First Fleet arrived in 1788 to lay the foundations for Australia’s white settlement ( a penal colony.) Today it is a lively place with lots of restaurants and shops, many of which are housed in the Georgian and Victorian buildings that line the narrow streets. And because it was Saturday, craft shops were set up along the streets, so we wound our way around the narrow streets enjoying the great variety of goods being sold – a really fun way to spend the afternoon.
We walked back to meet our shuttle bus to take us back to the ship and it took us along the Quay. The sun was shining in just a perfect way for me to get this picture (one of about 100 now!) of the Sydney Opera House. Here you can see more clearly all the individual tiles making up the roof.
We met up with Barb, our tablemate and friend from the 2010 cruise who had just finished climbing the Sydney Bridge. It is such a popular thing to do, you have to book it in advance to get a time slot. And it costs a lot to climb it. You do it in a small group of about 8, but it takes an hour just to prepare you before you start up. We were so proud of Barb and she was so happy to have done it. Here is the picture they took of her at the top. You have to wear their special suit and you can’t take anything loose, including your camera . . . don’t want things falling down from the top onto the cars below! It really is a big deal and great experience . . . and I was happy to have lived it through Barb!
The “sail away” party was great as we headed out of Sydney Harbor going under the bridge. On deck, we all cheered when the Captain cleared it! And here is a picture of the people who had just climbed to the top and were waving good-bye to us. It puts it in perspective a bit better.
It was hard to leave this great and fun city, and even after we went to dinner, we could see it on the horizon for a long time. But I couldn’t end this without that final picture of the bridge and Opera House!
After dinner we ended our night by going to the ship’s entertainment to hear Simeon Wood, a flautist. He played a variety of instruments similar to the flute, like a pan flute, etc. He was amazingly good. We didn’t know what to expect and we were pleasantly surprised.