Trip Start Aug 15, 2008
90Trip End Aug 14, 2009
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Again bad weather followed us around the world - we must have displeased one of the Gods !
We had some lovely sunny days, though & most of the time it was quite warm, but we did have heavy rain & strong winds (not surprising as Sydney has 3 times the rainfall of London).
Sydney is very cosmopolitan, having accepted immigrants from all over the world (although we didn't see many Africans in Sydney). There are so many Chinese working in the city, the hotel & retail industries would collapse without them.
We took the very fast RiverCat catamaran right up the river, past the Olympic Village, to Parramatta. This used to be a rough town populated by lager louts but it's cleaned up its act & is now just boring.
A "Push-Me Pull-You" ferry (it has two sharp ends & travels both backwards & forwards) goes up past the mouth of Sydney Harbour to Manley, a smart residential area which has some lovely walks around the rocky coast (of course they have surfing beaches as well).
We found a cosy little Thai restaurant in the University area; the food was all freshly cooked & you could BYO (bring you own) wine, very nice.
In town we did all the tourist stuff. The museum in Hyde Park Barracks told the fascinating history of the convicts that were shipped to Australia from 1788 to 1840. Previously, convicts had been shipped to American (not many people know that) but it was stopped after the War of Independence when the American settlers threw the British out.
In the early 1800's, Governor Macquarie used the talents of the convicts, especially architect Frances Greenway, to create many fine buildings & the road system of what is modern-day Sydney. Many of the convicts who were transported were skilled artisans, the stupid ones just got hanged.
We enjoyed the Botanical Gardens which are 105 years old, they were originally the Governor's back garden but he donated the land to the city, so the city paid for the upkeep & he still had its use, crafty bugger.
He got upset about the bats (Flying Foxes) that roosted in the trees. They are a pest & kill the rare trees, they are not endangered but the Park Rangers aren't allowed to chase them away because they are protected by "do-gooders".
Sydney is famed for its diverse restaurants, we did our best to sample most types of food (with wine). We discovered Korean food in the bustling, vibrant China Town district. If you choose the BBQ you're served with raw meat which you cook on a table top Barbie. Your meal comes with 8 little dishes of spicy dead things - no, there wasn't dog on the menu (?)
Darling Harbour used to be a run-down dockland area until 21 years ago when it was transformed into a waterfront tourist trap. There is glitzy Cockle Bay Wharf, with its flashy cafes & restaurants & the overrated Harbourside Centre. We also found a cafe, The Pontoon, which served cheap food & beer.
Circular Quay, the city's transport hub, was one of our favourite places; it also had its glitzy restaurants on the waterfront terrace leading to the Opera House, but near the wharfs was "City Extra" restaurant, where you could watch the world go by as you sipped coffee. There were always street entertainers there, mainly aboriginals playing hot, swinging Didgeridoos to backing tapes.
On our last day we went up the Sydney Tower to the observation platform where you can see over all of Sydney, the trouble is there are so many other tall buildings around, you only get fleeting glimpses of the other landmarks between them.