Sydney – The Rocks
Sydney –The Rocks
We started our journey by getting up at 4:15 to catch our 6:40 flight. After a 4 ½ hour trip to San Francisco, CA, we had a layover of several hours. On the way to SFO, we had breakfast at the Atlanta International Airport, at Paschal’s. Greg had the Sunrise Special – two eggs, a slice of toast, home fries, and two strips of bacon – and MaryJo had the house Specialty, Chicken Hash – chicken hash, grits, a slice of toast, and scrambled egg- both with coffee for about $17 before tip. That’s quite a bargain for an airport meal and it was tasty! There is a civil rights history to Paschal’s which adds to its atmosphere.
Our meal at SFO was considerably more expensive, but we are at the airport. Harbor Village Kitchen offered us a Dim Sum Sampler ($11), potstickers ($7.50), two bowls of hot and sour soup ($10), and hot tea ($2). for $35. Two Tsingtao beers added $8. Delicious! There are, of course, many types of food, including American fare. The choice is yours.
A 14 hour flight was the next step of our journey. Qantas provided us with as many comforts as possible. We flew economy. Upon boarding, we were given a “goodie bag” containing snacks and bottled water. On our seats were a blanket, pillow, and headphones. Another gift bag held a sleeping mask, pair of socks, toothpaste with tooth brush, and lanyard. Entertainment was choices of radio, TV shows, movies, CD collections, and flight map. Two meals were served, along with a snack. Both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages were included in the cost of the flight. Since our flight was at night, the meals were dinner and breakfast. Dinner was a choice of salmon or chicken. Offthetrails chose chicken, and it was very tasty. It came with potato, vegetable, small salad, dinner roll, and a tiny desert. Breakfast choices were cold continental breakfast, or hot spinach frittata. We chose the frittata, which came with juice, yogurt, fruit compote, blueberry muffin, and choice of beverage. It was also delicious. Be advised that seats were nine across and we found it cramped. Otherwise, we enjoyed it.
Next stop, Sydney!
Hello to Angel, Beau, Tepes and Don!
Welcome to Australia! We’re here! The trip took us two days. Traveling is not for the faint hearted. We reached our hotel, the Russell Hotel B&B, in The Rocks area of Sydney about 9:00 am on Monday. The Russell Hotel is a historic hotel, built in the 1880’s. It’s full of charm and character, including a rooftop garden, high ceilings, and beautiful wood trim. By good fortune, our suite was ready! It’s a lovely suite, full of nice touches. There is a pull out couch in the sitting room, making this a very good choice for a family with young children or a teenager. Warm terry cloth robes, an electric kettle with tea and coffee, fresh flowers, breakfast included, and a nice view make us glad we chose the Russell. There are four floors, the steps are narrow and steep, and there is no elevator. Our room is $235 A per night, or about $175 USA. It’s in the center of The Rocks, making it very convenient to the sights and activities. We don’t need a rental car, nor will we have parking fees, since we can walk to everything. Our suggestions to the hotel are to add in room refrigerator and microwave, table for the kettle and coffee, and ice. http://www.therussell.com.au/
After freshening up, we did an exploratory tour of our neighborhood. We found some treasures! We discovered the Suez Canal, a very narrow alley that was the preying ground of the Push. They were the 1880’s gang that robbed and killed. The men were known for their high heels and pointy boots. The women, for their colorful hats. We are only about a block from Sydney Harbor, and were treated to views of Sydney Opera House. By another good fortune, The Rocks Market was open, since today is a holiday. We were able to hear a guitarist while we window browsed the clothing, soap, art, jewelry, and dozens of other goods. We also discovered a charming little bookstore, Ariel. We saw the statue of Capt. Bligh, of “Mutiny on the Bounty” fame. Cadman’s Cottage, the oldest building in Sydney (1816) offered information on the early British history. Cadman was a convict, who was sent here for stealing a horse. For lunch, we visited the oldest pub that has been in the same building, The Lord Nelson. It’s also a brewery. We sampled the beer, and MaryJo enjoyed a bowl of pumpkin soup ($11 US) while Greg devoured the beef pie with mushy peas and mash with gravy. (mashed potatoes, $10.50) Our total bill, before tip was about $34 US dollars. It was a little more expensive than we anticipated, and other restaurants seemed comparable. If you choose to stay in The Rocks, there is a price for location, location, location. http://www.lordnelsonbrewery.com/
Sydney – The Rocks, Chapter 1
We are in jetlag mode, so we napped for awhile this afternoon, but managed to rouse ourselves long enough to stop at The Fortunate Soldier, have dinner, and see the Vivid Lights Festival. The Fortune of War is the other oldest pub in Sydney. It has been in business the longest, but is in a different building because of a fire. The bar was used in a scene from the miniseries “A Town Like Alice.” MaryJo had a ½ pint of Australian Golden Ale and Greg had a full pint for $10.10 A, or about $8 USA. Walking down George Street, just a few steps away, we discovered a pub with the intriguing name of Phillip’s Foote, where you can grill your own food. Various steaks, lamb, chicken and fish were offered. Greg choose filet mignon, and MaryJo picked the kabobs, both marinated in a chili sauce. Build your own salad and bread or roll accompanies the meat. The food was wonderful, and cooked to perfection, of course. $28.50 A, or about $22 USA, was the price for each. Two glasses of Merlot, for a reasonable$11 A or about $8.50 USA completed the meal. http://www.fortuneofwar.com.au/ The Vivid Light Festival near the Visitor Passenger Terminal and Cadman’s Cottage was fantastic and unique! Neon light displays in the garden, changing light shows on the wall, and varying lights on the Sydney Opera House brought out visitors and locals to gaze in wonder. Our first day in Australia has been wonderful!
Our second day began with a nice continental breakfast in the dining room. Cereal, yogurt, fruit, juice, and sautéed mushrooms with toast, and coffee were offered. We hiked to Sydney Bridge and walked to the center and back. The views are amazing! It’s something we recommend to anyone visiting! The water of Sydney Harbor is so far below! We gained a new perspective of sites we have seen at ground level. And it’s free! http://www.sydneyharbourbridge.info/
Following that experience was another that’s not to be missed. We toured Sydney Opera House on the Essentials tour. Our guide, Steve, took us behind the scenes, showing us places most people don’t ever see. We were treated to a rehearsal by the Sydney Symphony and a new Australian play, “When the Rain Stops Falling.” We learned the controversial history of the Opera House. The roof is not smooth nor white, but tiled and a cream color. We walked all over the two buildings – the concert/playhouse and the ballet and symphony hall. The cost was $35 An each, or about $27 USA. http://www.sydneyoperahouse.com/
Kangaroo and Emu pizza! That was lunch. After all the activity and education, we were ready for lunch. Another hike took us to the Australian Hotel on Cumberland Street, and the combination pizza, which was a real treat. Both meats were tender and flavorful, although we liked the kangaroo better. We sat outside and enjoyed people watching and the beautiful weather. A glass of Australian beer completed the meal. The total was $39 A before tip, or about $29 USA. http://australianheritagehotel.com/
The Taronga Zoo was next on our list. We chose the guided harbor tour to go to the zoo, and learned more about the harbor. We purchased the combination ferry/zoo tickets for $48 A each, or about $36 USA. Russell Crowe has a home on harbor side. Ft. Dennison, built on a small island in the harbor, was built to punish the prisoners who lived in Sydney. Shark Beach does have sharks, but people swim there anyway, because attacks are rare. The tour took half an hour, but there is a quick 15 minute ferry ride directly to the zoo, too. Once we reached the zoo, we rode the cable car to the top, and worked our way down the hill. The zoo was fun! We saw many of Australia’s venomous snakes. Eleven of the world’s fifteen most poisonous snakes live in Australia. One is the Fierce Snake, the most venomous. Other animals at the zoo live in Wild Australia, Africa, and Asia as well as other areas. There are African Elephants, ghost bats, a Komodo Dragon, kookaburras, platypus, and many, many more. The Taronga Zoo is recommended by us! http://www.taronga.org.au/taronga-zoo.aspx
Once we returned, we discovered a treasure – Aborigine musicians were playing at the quay! There is a haunting quality about the didgeridoo!
All the walking has us tired! Plans for the Ghost Tour have been put off until tomorrow. We had supper at Jackson on George, but don’t recommend it. Our second day here is also wonderful!
We started off our day with a stroll through the Royal Botanical Gardens. It was a beautiful start! Although the day was cold and blustery, the gardens provided some protection, and we were able to see many of the gardens, including the Oriental Gardens, the Palm Grove Gardens, Begonia Gardens, and reflecting pools. Along the quay to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair, we could see a different view of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Mrs. Macquarie used to sit in a stone carved chair at the point and watch the ships coming into the harbor, so the chair and the point are named for her. The original name the Aborigines gave the area was yurong. Continuing on though the gardens, we saw the Navy Yard with some large ships. Although it is winter, we did see some flowers blooming! If it had been warmer, we would have picnicked, since an invitation at the gate asks visitors to walk on the grass, hug the trees, picnic, and enjoy the birds. Admission is free! http://www.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/welcome_to_bgt/royal_botanic_gardens
We were ready for something hot, so a stop at Guylians for a cup of dark chocolate was in order, It was rich and delicious, although the price of $7A, or $5. 25 USA seemed a bit excessive.
Feeling revived, we headed up to the bridge, to climb the Sydney Bridge Pylon. Admission is $9.50 A per person (about $7.25 USA), and there are 200 steps to the top. It sounds like a lot- and it is-but the steps are wide, it’s well lit, and there are rest stops. The views at the top of the Pylon are breathtaking! Far above Sydney Harbor, we could see for miles! A clear day helped to see these amazing views! It was very windy, so hang onto your hats, etc! A small gift shop is inside. Rest rooms and a drinking fountain help to make this a comfortable visit. We highly recommend this!
Lunch was next on our agenda, so we stopped again at the Australian Hotel for crocodile pizza. The meat was tender and the pizza was again delicious! The price for a large is $20 A or $15 USA. However, their large is what we in the USA consider medium. Two Australian beers, recommended by the bartender were very good, and about $4 USA.
On the way back to The Russell Hotel, we stopped at The Rocks Discovery Museum, just off Argyle Street on Playfair St. It’s small, but full of interesting information about the Aborigines, the early British settlers, and modern Australia. Admission is free, so that’s a plus! There is good shopping in the same galleria, stores selling everything from aboriginal art to clothing to baby goods to jewelry. http://www.therocks.com/?tenantid=100815&catid=100022
We then rested before the night’s festivities. The first event was dinner on the fifth floor of The Customs House. It’s the Sydney Café, and definitely fine dining. There is a beautiful view of the harbor and we were treated again to Vivid Lights, and the sunset! Outdoor seating is available. We chose rocket salad, a baby greens and parmesan cheese dish to start with. Instead of a full dinner, we opted for three appetizers. We had grilled scallops, Australian crayfish, and quail ravioli. They were all exquisite. Portions were quite small, though. A glass or wine completed the meal. Our bill before tip was $125.00 A or about $95.00 USA. Incidentally, tipping 10% is the norm. http://www.cafesydney.com/
Second, we joined in the Ghost Tour, led by Gary. We met at Cadman’s Cottage and wandered briskly (it was a cold night) through The Rocks learning about various ghosts in the area. All guests were participants in the stories. Greg was the undertaker’s assistant, calling out, “Bring out your dead!” MaryJo was able to be one of the Push, a vicious gang in the late 1800s. Elizabeth Cadman is one ghost. She cleans the cottage and is benign. At one site, we took pictures in the window of a haunted house, and you’ll see the picture below. Isn’t that something looking out the window? It was a fascinating tour, and we ended in the basement of modern condos, left in its original state because of the ghost of a young wife who still resides there. A buy one drink get one free coupon for the Harbor View Inn is given as part of the tour. It’s a quaint, historic building that was moved to its present location when the bridge was built. There was live music, too. The tour costs $34 A or about $26 USA per person, and the glass of wine we had was $7 A or about $ 5 USA. http://www.ghosttours.com.au/
Next, it was off to I.C.E. above “Bubbles” in the mall at Circular Quay. For $30 A per person, or about $23 USA, we had 30 minutes and a cocktail served in an ice glass in the Ice Bar. Everything is ice! The bar, the glasses, the tables, the seating, the sculptures! Reindeer skins covered the seats. Guests are provided with a hooded parka, gloves, and boots if necessary. It was a memorable experience! http://www.icebarsydney.com.au/
Finally, it was time to go back and rest up for the next day.
Our last day in Sydney for awhile! After being here a few days, we wanted a few articles of clothing washed, so Andrew, the Head Housekeeper, at The Russell, did a bag wash for us, as part of their service. We appreciated it.
It’s cold again, so we decided to go to the Sydney Fish Market and explore. We took the train, transferred to light rail and were there in a short time. Thank you to the kind agent who took the time to explain how to get there! The fare was $20.20 A, or about $15 USA. The Sydney Fish Market was remarkable! There were fish of every kind and size! The crabs were huge! Some vendors offered cooked fish to eat, so we bought some sushi and savored each bite. It was so fresh! And it only cost us $6.60 each or $13 A total, or about $9.75 USA. There are cooking lessons offered at the market, and we are considering that for our next trip to Sydney. A word of caution – only cash is accepted throughout the market. Once we returned to the train station, we took a quick look in The Railway Heritage Museum. Although quite small, it is full of train memorabilia, and worth a look, especially for railroad afficionados. http://www.sydneyfishmarket.com.au/
Once back in familiar territory, we stopped by The Fortune of War, the oldest pub, for an Aussie Meat Pie, only about $5 A or about $4 USA. They offer $10 lunches, which we think is a bargain in Sydney! With that eaten, we felt energetic enough to take the ferry over to Manly Beach, the most popular beach in Sydney. http://www.manlyaustralia.com.au/ In winter, it’s definitely off the trails. The ferry cost $12.80 each A or about $8.20 USA. We rented bikes from the Manly Bike Tours and had a very pleasant bike ride around the beach area. The rate is $43A or about $35 USA There were no swimmers, but plenty of surfers in the water. There were some very scenic areas. The young men from the bike tours were very friendly and helpful, and when we asked for a recommendation for a meal, we got the name “Mongers.” A great recommendation! Mongers is fish and chips in an unconventional way. Greg had calamari with salad, and MaryJo, baby octopus with salad. Both were flavorful and tender, and about 10.50 A or $7 USA. Thanks, Ryan, for a good meal. http://mongers.com.au/manly.html
We’ve had a wonderful time, done fun and exciting things and met good people. We love Sydney!
HINT: If you want to spend a couple of days in Sydney without spending lots of money, profit from our experience. Stay at the Russell Hotel B & B in a basic room, and get your breakfast. It’s $19 A value. Go to the IGA in the AMP Center and buy some groceries for meals. Bread, cheese, and fruit are good for either a lunch or supper picnic. The Fortune of War offers a $10 lunch. The first day, after breakfast, walk up to the Sydney Harbor Bridge and walk to the top of the Pylon. The cost is $9.50 a person. Then go to The Rocks Discovery Museum. It’s free. Picnic in the Royal Botanical gardens and wander around. It’s free. Watch the entertainers on the wharf at Circular Quay and look at the markers for Australian artists and writers. Walk to the Australian Hotel for pizza. The second day, wander around The Rocks and make some discoveries of your own. Have lunch at the Fortune of War. Take the ferry to Manly Beach for$12. 80 A and wander around, or take a swim if the weather is warm. Have supper at Mongers for about $14 A. The total cost for the two days for one is less than $350.