Round The World In 28 Days

franandaj

I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
Joined
Nov 15, 2009
Sounds like a pretty easy day from there! I wouldn't have wanted beet roots on my or in my burger either!
 

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Sounds like a pretty easy day from there! I wouldn't have wanted beet roots on my or in my burger either!
It was.

I don't like beetroots in any way, shape or form. Graham did seem to enjoy his burger with beetroot.

Corinna
 

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
Day 3

We had an early start this morning, but I was awake about 10 minutes before the alarm was due to go off ‪at 6:00 AM. We got up and ready and I used the spare time to reorganise the luggage. We headed out ‪around 6:30. We had to go to the local youth hostel, which is around a quarter of a mile from our hotel. On the way, we walked past some beautiful buildings and saw an ibis.









The reason why we were up so insanely early was that we had a full day tour booked. Graham had thought that we had to be at the central youth hostel for 7:00. The meeting time was actually ‪7:10 and the bus was slightly late. We got on there soon enough. We had to stop a few more times to pick up people and then we left Sydney. It was a lovely surprise that we were driving over the Harbour Bridge. Our driver was very informative and told us a lot about what we were seeing and the history and culture of Australia.

Our first stop was Featherdale Wildlife Park. This was something I had been really excited about. I had researched tours to the Blue Mountains extensively and out of the countless possible options, I ended up with a shortlist of 5. All of them were slightly different, but all included Featherdale Wildlife Park. Graham then booked one of them and I would have been happy with any of them. Featherdale Wildlife Park only has animals on display that are native to Australia. You can feed wallabies and kangaroos and they offer a koala encounter. We had just short of two hours to spend at Featherdale Wildlife Park and that was absolutely perfect. We hit a slight snag when we entered the park. They were selling kangaroo food near the entrance, which consisted of cups of cut grass. We had not got around to getting some cash at that point. I checked at the nearby ticket window if there was an ATM in the park. Unfortunately there was not, but you could purchase vouchers for kangaroo food there with credit card. So we bought three vouchers, which set me back 5 Australian Dollars.



Once we had our food, we headed into the park. We did not have long to wait until we came across the first wallabies. They were very cute and quite happy to eat out of your hand and be stroked. When we came out, we say some huge pelicans and a range of other Australian birds. We then got to a bigger enclosure with more wallabies and some grey kangaroos. We spent a while in there feeding the various animals. One of the wallabies held on to my hand so that I could not move. I did get plenty of wallaby love though in exchange.





When my new friend decided to let go, I fed one of the grey kangaroos and then we pushed on. The koalas were calling me. They were nearby. They have something called a koala encounter, which is really a glorified photo opportunity. The cost of this was 20 Australian Dollars, which included either a 6 x 9 photo or two 6 x 4 photos. You also get a digital download. On top of that, the photographer will take some photos with your own camera or phone. When we got there, I went to pay and I was asked which photo option I wanted. I chose the one bigger photo. Then I had a very brief wait, as there was a family in front of me.

Soon it was my turn. I was told where to stand and where I could touch the koala. Just as I got myself into position, the koala got a little restless so I was asked to step aside while the keeper checked what was the matter and then I was able to come back. The photographer took the professional photo first and then took a bunch of photos with my iPhone. I actually like the photos that he took with the iPhone better. I then stepped over to the desk to collect my photo. While I was doing this, they swapped out the koalas.







We had a look around the rest of the park and saw all kinds of interesting animals. One of the highlights for me was the Tasmanian devil. They are not pretty animals, but fascinating all the same. We came to another wallaby enclosure and spent a bit of time feeding them. We then came past an aviary full of budgies. This somehow felt very weird. I had to remind myself that they are native to Australia. Soon afterwards, we came to the exit. I still had about a cup of food left. We still had time so we headed back to the first wallaby enclosure that we had been to as this was just around the corner. I managed to feed some wallabies, but they were no longer as keen as they had been earlier. I am sure they were getting pretty full at that stage. I tipped out the rest of the grass when it was time to leave.







We both used the bathroom and washed our hands. We had a quick look at the gift shop and I bought a bottle of water for Graham and a bottle of raspberry Schweppes for myself. They we headed back to our bus. We were each given a little koala toy as we came back. We spoke with our guide for a bit and then got on the bus. Everybody arrived on time and we were off to our next destination.
 

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
It was time to head for the Blue Mountains proper. Our guide explained a bit about the Blue Mountains and why they have this name. The essential oils from the eucalyptus trees that are very common there turn the haze that is so common in this area blue. Unfortunately we got stuck in traffic heading for our next destination. There had been a bad accident on this road earlier in the morning and our guide had hoped that this would have been cleared by the time we got there, but one of the lanes was still closed and this created quite a tailback. Still, we made steady progress and soon we arrived in the town of Leura, where we would have some free time for lunch. As we drove down the main street, our guide made some recommendations for lunch. When we got to our parking spot, we were told when we needed to be back and then we were let loose.

Most people seemed to head to the restaurant that was right around the corner from where the bus was parked and there was quite a line. So we decided to push on. I was not overly thrilled wit Leura. Essentially the town consisted of restaurants, cafes and some rather strange shops. It was a typical tourist trap. We soon game up to a deli that our guide had recommended and that did not seem too busy. So we went inside. We were shown to a table by the window and given the menu. We both had some water and I ordered a cappuccino. I was in dire need of a coffee. We both chose the same food. We both had the soup of the day. I am still not sure what it was. I think it probably was butternut squash. Whatever it was, it was very tasty and it came with some delicious bread. For our main course, we had chosen the open-faced steak sandwich. With hindsight, we should have shared. We both got two sandwiches, which each consisted of a huge hunk of bread and a full steak. It also came with a huge side salad. The food was very nice, but the highlight was something else. When we had been shown to our table, I had hoped that we would have a view towards the mountain. That was not the case. The window looked out over a grassy area with a lot of trees and some houses in the distance. It was a pleasant view, but nothing special. That is until some visitors moved in. Suddenly there were a couple of white birds in the tree right in front of the window. Having a closer look, we realised that they were actually cockatoos. They were soon joined by a fairly large flock. I was absolutely spellbound. I know that they are considered to be pest birds in Australia much like pigeons over here, but being able to see what for me are exotic birds so close was a real treat.











With the distraction of the cockatoos, we had taken longer over lunch than we had realised. When I checked my watch, I realised that we needed to make tracks. We went to pay and then walked the short distance back to the bus. Graham wanted to take some quick photos ad told me that he would catch up with me. We got back to the bus with a few minutes to spare and everybody arrived at around the same time. On the way to our next destination, we drove through Katoomba and from what little we saw, I actually preferred this to Leura. I was amused though when I spotted an Aldi in the middle of the Blue Mountains.



Our next destination was Scenic World. This is another tourist trap, but one with a certain amount of charm. The core of Scenic World is three attractions: Skyway, Cableway and Scenic Railway. We started at the East Skyway station that is at the opposite end from the visitor centre. We were given our wristbands and then took the Skyway over to the visitor centre where our guide would meet us again. We did not have to wait long until the Skyway arrived at our loading station. Skyway is suspended 270 meters above the valley and the journey is about half a mile. The gondola has floor to ceiling windows. They were also advertising a glass floor, but this was not immediately obvious when we got on. We went to stand in the middle of the gondola and when we got on, this looked like frosted glass. However, shortly after we left the station, this turned see-through providing some fascinating views. In general the views from the Skyway were stunning. We got our first look at the Three Sisters and a bunch of other features.







Our guide met us near the exit from the Skyway. We had a little time until we needed to be at the entrance to our next attraction. He gave us an overview on where everything is and where we would find the bus later. People used the short downtime to have a quick look around the gift shop and to use the bathroom. We just stayed near the entrance to our next attraction. Once everybody was back, we headed to the Scenic Cableway. This descends about a third of a mile to the bottom of the Jamison valley. This was actually quite a bit steeper than I had anticipated, but again there were beautiful views on the way down.





Our next destination was the boardwalk. The Jamison valley is actually a temperate rainforest and a boardwalk leads through this and also links the valley stations of the Scenic Cableway and the Scenic Railway. There are a number of circular walks that branch off from the boardwalk and they vary in terms of distance and difficulty. We just stuck to the boardwalk, but stopped frequently so that our guide could share information about the fauna and flora and also about the history of the place. It was interesting, but the boardwalk was quite narrow and with people coming the other way, it did not really lend itself to stopping and listening. As we walked further along the boardwalk, we came across evidence of more recent history. This part of the Blue Mountains is rich in coal and in the second half of the 19th century, coal mining started there. Ultimately it turned out not to be financially viable. The access was difficult and the mines also proved to be pretty unstable with cave-ins a constant threat. You can still see the entrance to the mine and a ventilation shaft as well as some artifacts. The main thing that is left over is the train track that is now used for the Scenic Railway, but was originally used to transport coal. The Blue Mountains are now a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site and therefore there is no chance that commercial mining would start again in this area.






We went past the entrance to the Scenic Railway to check out an overlook first. The view from there was quite something. Then we backtracked to the Scenic railway. When we got there, a train arrived. Unfortunately there were too many people there so we had to wait for the next train. There were some information signs in the area and the view was pretty spectacular, too. So this was not a problem. The train was what I had been looking forward to the most, but it turned out to be my least favourite element. It was very cramped and this combined with the very steep angle, this made the ride very uncomfortable. A large part of the track also goes through a tunnel so there is very little to see. I am glad that I did it once, but I do not feel the need to repeat the experience.




















When we arrived back at the top, we had some free time. We used the bathroom and then headed for one of the paths that started near the visitor centre. The first part was paved, but it soon started to get quite steep and uneven. So we turned back. On the way back up, we saw the Skyway crossing the valley and we stayed around for a bit to try to get a decent photo.









We had a look around the gift shop, but did not buy anything. We then headed up towards the cafe, as there was a lookout on the terrace. This provided some nice views. I also saw the track of a coaster they started to build in 1984, but that was never opened. It was kind of strange having a roller coaster track in the middle of nowhere. After this, we headed outside and went to the bus park. Our guide was there and we got on. A short while later, we drove to the front of the visitor centre to pick up the rest of the group. Again, everybody was on time.





 

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
We had one more stop to make. We headed to the Echo Point look out. The look out itself is on two levels, but the path leading to Giants Staircase and ultimately Honeymoon Bridge also starts there. Honeymoon Bridge leads to the first of the Three Sisters. The staircase leading down to this is very steep and neither of us fancied this. Graham staid at the top level of the look out, but I decided to check out the bottom level from where I was able to take photos without having people in the way.
























Near where the bus had dropped us off was a visitor centre with an aboriginal show, a shop with aboriginal gifts and some bars and restaurants. We had missed the show, as we would have had to go there first if we had wanted to see this. We were not bothered about this. I did however want to check out the shop. I was not overly impressed by the selection and I seriously doubted how authentic most of the things were. They just looked like mass produced goods. I did have a good look at the opal jewellery, but that was well out of my budget. We both used the bathroom and then we headed back to the bus.

Everybody was on time again and we soon made our way back towards Sydney. Our guide gave us a bit of an idea how the relations between the aboriginal people and the European settlers have changed over the years and then he gave us a chance to just relax. We both fell asleep. Unfortunately as we were getting closer to our final destination, we hit another traffic jam. Things were only moving very slowly. Our guide was in touch with his boss, who in turn was in touch with the operator of the riverboat that would take us back to Sydney. We were reassured that they were aware of the situation and would be waiting for us. With this out of the way, our guide told us a bit about the Olympic park, which is near whereas would catch the boat from. One bit of information that I found really interesting was that the transformed the Olympic Village into studio apartments after the event. The feeling was that nobody would want to live like this, but all the apartments were snapped up very quickly and now they are building more.

When we got to the boat dock, we were given boarding passes for the boat and then said goodbye to our guide. We headed over to the boat. This was a modern catamaran. We found some nice seats by a window. We were not the last people on board by any stretch. It looked like there at least a couple of busses still stuck in traffic when we got there. Eventually we were on our way. Unfortunately by the time we left, it was dark. There was not a great deal to see until we entered Sydney harbour. Graham had a bit of a nap and I tried to get the free Wi-Fi work with limited success. Soon we arrived at Sydney Harbour. Unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the boat for getting a photo of the opera house. I was hoping I might get lucky from the dock at Circular Quay, but there were buildings in the way.





Our original plan had been to get dinner at Circular Quay. I was quite fancying Chinese food. However, after my limited success with getting online, I was essentially flying blind. I had expected that there would be quite a good selection of restaurants. The only food outlet we did see was Hungry Jack's, which is Burger King to most of us. Needless to say, that was not exactly what we had been looking for. I would have been quite happy to have a wander around the area to explore a little in the hope that we would find somewhere suitable to eat. Graham however was done. He would have been quite happy to go out for dinner if we had a specific destination to go to, but was not keen at all on the "let's see what we find approach”. So we headed to the Circular Quay train station and back to the hotel.

When we got back to the hotel, we hit another snag. When we touched the key card against the reader, the light turned red instead of green. I left Graham by the room and headed down to reception. We had two separate reservations as originally we were only going to have one night in Sydney. I did mention this when we checked in the previous day and was told it was no problem and we would have the same room for both nights. What we had not been told that we needed to check out that morning and check in again. The person who assisted me took care of this process and reprogrammed the key for us. I headed back upstairs and now the key worked. Graham stretched out on the bed, but I was still wide-awake. So decided that I was going to make the best of the free Wi-Fi. There was just one problem with this. It suddenly wanted to charge me from Wi-Fi. So back down I went. It turned out that my loyalty number was not attached to the second reservation and somehow they could not override the Internet charges. Fortunately I had brought my iPad down to show the message I was getting and the person who assisted me told me to log in by accepting the charge and he would then remove the charge from our account. That worked and he was as good as his word. I headed back up again and checked in online. After an hour or so I decided to read a couple of chapters in my book and then I was ready for bed, too.
 

Pinkocto

DIS Veteran
Joined
Jul 22, 2011
Glad your travel day continued to be smooth. Immigration sounded very smooth, excellent!

Your tour sounded fabulous! The animal park would have probably been the highlight for me. How amazing to get that close to the wallaby and koala, wow!!!

Too cool about the cockatoos outside during lunch. I understand why you were distracted.

The scenery was gorgeous as well. What a fantastic start to the vacation.
 

PrincessInOz

Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!
Joined
Feb 8, 2010
I had fancied a burger as well, but all the burgers that sounded good to me included beetroots in some way and I don’t like those.
Welcome to Australia. I think beetroot is a mandatory element in all the slop burgers here. :rotfl:




saw an ibis.
They are everywhere in Sydney. And the Sydneysiders consider them a bit of a pest.




I did get plenty of wallaby love though in exchange.
They have something called a koala encounter, which is really a glorified photo opportunity.
We then came past an aviary full of budgies.
Nice that the locals gave you some love.






town of Leura,
There's a town at Leura?????




It was a typical tourist trap.
Ah. Yes.





being able to see what for me are exotic birds so close was a real treat.
It's actually quite interesting to see you call the cockatoos exotic birds. They are relatively common for us.





we drove through Katoomba and from what little we saw, I actually preferred this to Leura. I was amused though when I spotted an Aldi in the middle of the Blue Mountains.
I'm actually surprised that the bus stopped in Leura and that's where you got lunch. There's a lot more option in Katoomba.





This is another tourist trap, but one with a certain amount of charm.
That pretty much describes every tourist attraction in Australia. :rotfl2:






a shop with aboriginal gifts and some bars and restaurants. We had missed the show, as we would have had to go there first if we had wanted to see this. We were not bothered about this. I did however want to check out the shop. I was not overly impressed by the selection and I seriously doubted how authentic most of the things were. They just looked like mass produced goods. I did have a good look at the opal jewellery, but that was well out of my budget.
If it's where I think it is, I'm not surprised.







Looks like you had a pretty full day!
 
  • tiggrbaby

    <font color=deeppink><marquee>We must work harder
    Joined
    Jun 26, 2004
    What a delightful visit to the zoo! Great shots of the mountains as well!
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Immigration sounded very smooth, excellent!
    That may well have been the best immigration experience we ever had.

    Your tour sounded fabulous!
    It was amazing.

    The animal park would have probably been the highlight for me. How amazing to get that close to the wallaby and koala, wow!!!
    It definitely was for me. As I got back on the bus, I did wonder if there will be anything else on that trip that I would enjoy as much.

    Too cool about the cockatoos outside during lunch.
    That was a real treat.

    The scenery was gorgeous as well.
    I am so glad that I got this opportunity.

    I think beetroot is a mandatory element in all the slop burgers here.
    I came to the same conclusion.

    They are everywhere in Sydney. And the Sydneysiders consider them a bit of a pest.
    We did see them everywhere and I can imagine that in numbers they can cause trouble, but they are such amazing birds.

    Nice that the locals gave you some love.
    I was definitely spoiled in that respect.

    There's a town at Leura?????
    Well, of a fashion.

    It's actually quite interesting to see you call the cockatoos exotic birds. They are relatively common for us.
    Here they are mainly in zoos with some people having them as pets.

    I'm actually surprised that the bus stopped in Leura and that's where you got lunch. There's a lot more option in Katoomba.
    From the little I saw of Katoomba, I would have preferred that option.

    If it's where I think it is, I'm not surprised.
    It is just before the Echo Point look out.

    Looks like you had a pretty full day!
    We did, but it was so worth it.

    What a delightful visit to the zoo!
    This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

    Great shots of the mountains as well!
    That area is so beautiful.

    Corinna
     

    franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    Sounds like a very log day. I'm not surprised you both fell asleep. The zoo would have been the highlight for me as well.

    I would imagine that the bus company gets some benefit by stopping in that smaller town.

    It's too bad none of the gift shops had anything that tickled your fancy. Or it was out of your price range.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Sounds like a very log day.
    It was, but worth every minute.

    The zoo would have been the highlight for me as well.
    This is a really amazing place and well worth the effort of visiting from Sydney.

    I would imagine that the bus company gets some benefit by stopping in that smaller town.
    You may well be right about this. It just seemed a very odd choice.

    It's too bad none of the gift shops had anything that tickled your fancy. Or it was out of your price range.
    I did plenty of shopping the rest of the trip starting the following day.

    Corinna
     
  • dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Day 4

    I was awake at the crack of dawn this morning. Going on a cruise tends to do this for me. I checked if I could find a decent webcam for Sydney harbour and after a couple of unsuccessful attempts, I found one that was showing what I wanted to see. The Explorer of the Seas had just arrived in port. I updated my Facebook status with a screenshot and checked in on our Facebook group where people who were staying close to the port had posted a bunch of photos of the ship. Then I fell asleep again.



    When I was awake again, Graham was awake, too. It was still a little while until the alarm was due to go off, but we were both ready for the day. We got up and took turns having a shower. We then packed the last odds and ends and I attached the luggage tags to our suitcases. Then we headed downstairs to check out. The two separate reservations caused some confusion again, but this was soon enough sorted out and we were on our way. We walked the short distance to the station and took the train to Circular Quay. We just missed one train, but the next one was only a couple of minutes behind and we were soon on our way.

    When we got to Circular Quay, we got our first proper look at the Explorer of the Seas. I left the luggage with Graham and headed up to the opposite platform in order to get a decent photo. When I was back, we took the lift down to the street level and walked the short distance to the port.





    With so little time in Sydney, we always knew that we wanted to do some sightseeing on embarkation day. We were discussing at some point how this was best achieved. When I did some research, I found out that you can drop off the luggage as early as 8:00 AM. So we decided that we would get to the port, drop off the luggage and then do some sightseeing. Originally we had planned to get a taxi, but in the end we decided to just get the train. This worked out really well. It was a dry and mild day and the walk from Circular Quay to the Overseas Passenger Terminal was quite pleasant. There were a lot of people around though. Most people had just come off the ship and had the debarkation luggage tags on their belongings, but there were a few people as well who were dropping off their luggage. I finally did get a photo of the opera house. Unfortunately it was grey and overcast at that stage, but it became a lot brighter later.









    When we got to the porters, they checked that we did not have anything we needed in our luggage and then took it off us. They told us that it would be a while yet until check in would open and tried to direct us to a cafe by the port entrance. We thanked them, but we had other plans. So we headed off. I took some more photos of the opera house and then we went exploring. As we were leaving the port area, there was a helicopter flying overhead. We wondered what was going on. We found out later that US Vice President Mike Pence was in Sydney that day.





    I knew that George Street runs all the way to the hotel and most of what we wanted to see was on George Street or just off it. However, we must have taken a turn too early and ended up on Pitt Street. I did find an ATM so that solved one problem. We soon found a cross street that took us to George Street. Shortly after we got to George Street, I saw a beautiful historical building that had been converted to a shopping mall. I thought that this was the Queen Victoria Building, which was one of our destinations. However, I soon found out that it was not. We pushed on. My plan was to start with the furthest point of things I wanted to see and then make our way back towards the port stopping at the other points of interest. We did not get very far. Graham was hungry and wanted some breakfast. We did find a little cafe not far away and went in. They had an outside deck and we ended up sitting there. I was initially not too pleased about this turn of events. I had something else in mind for breakfast. However, I realised very quickly that I would not get very far until Graham had some breakfast. I was soon won around. The cafe we ended up at was a true gem. Graham had a latte and I had a cappuccino and I think this was the best coffee I ever tasted. The food did not disappoint either. Graham had the Breakfast Special, which consisted of scrambled eggs, grilled Roma tomatoes, bacon and toast plus a side of fresh fruit salad with yoghurt. I am not overly keen on traditional breakfast food and went with corn fritters topped with bacon, avocado and sour cream with a side of hash browns. This was a whole riot of flavours and may well be the best breakfast I ever had. All was forgiven.









    Once we had paid, we pushed on. As we walked down George Street, we quickly realised that it was smart to take the train rather than a taxi. The whole place was essentially a huge building site. They are currently building a light railway along George Street. We soon came across a lovely Victorian arcade. We decided to go in to check it out. It was really beautiful and well worth the detour. The shops inside were a mix of high-end chain shops and quirky specialty shops. The detour paid off for another reason as well. Once we walked out the other end, we came onto a pedestrianized area with loads of shops including a Pandora shop. I wanted the Sydney Opera House charm and the Southern Cross Kangaroo Charm. I managed to get both and also got a koala charm for good measure. The person helping me put them on for me. She spotted my Disney charms and offered to show me their selection of a Disney charms, but I was good and declined the kind offer.





    Graham found us the way back onto George Street and in short order; we walked past the Queen Victoria Building, the Town Hall and St. Andrew's Cathedral. I knew that unfortunately the Town Hall and St. Andrew's Cathedral are closed on a Saturday, but the Queen Victoria Building was something I really wanted to see. However, this would have to wait until later. For now something else was calling me.





     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    We headed further down George Street. This part felt decidedly low rent and even a little seedy. However, we soon turned off into Chinatown and that was very nice. I realised very quickly that we had made a mistake the previous evening. We could get off the boat at Circular Quay or Darling Harbour. We should have got off at Darling Harbour and eaten at Chinatown. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. That day we walked through Chinatown and through a big square with outdoor gym equipment and shortly afterwards, we arrived at our destination, the Chinese Garden of Friendship.

    I had seen this on @PrincessInOz 's trip report and knew straightaway that I wanted to see this if I ever made it to Sydney. The admission is only 6 Australian Dollars per person. I went up to ticket window to pay and caused some confusion. I wanted to break up the $50 note that I had got out of the ATM earlier as I needed small notes for Mystery Islands. I handed over the cash and was told that they don’t accept this. I looked a bit bewildered and then I realised that I had handed the lady at the ticket note a 50 Dirham note that I had in my wallet rather than the $50 note. They are both brown. This was soon corrected and we were provided with instructions were everything was. We went right at the entrance and explored the garden in a counterclockwise direction.

    The garden is not very big, but there is still plenty to see. There are a number of water features including some that have koi carp in them. There are beautiful trees, bridges, rocks and a number of buildings. From certain parts of the garden, you can see nearby skyscrapers, but this does not change the fact that this is a little haven of peace. Most of the larger buildings are near the entrance so we had a look at those first before following a meandering path up to the Clear View Pavilion at the highest point of the garden. This was the only place where it felt pretty busy. We stayed around for a bit to get the chance to take some photos that were not overrun with people. Once we achieved this, we slowly made our way down the path on the opposite side. We stopped for a while in the Reading Brook Pavilion where we had a great view over all the water features and the nearby waterfall.

















    Once we had enjoyed this view for a while, we headed back down to the entrance level. We had a look at another koi pond and then walked over to the Water Pavilion of Lotus Fragrance. We found a couple of seats just by the railing and enjoyed the peace and the beautiful views. After about half an hour, we completed out tour of the garden. We came past the Dragon Wall, which is a beautiful piece of art with the two dragons. By then, we were in need of some refreshment. There is a teahouse and this was where I had planned to get some breakfast. We were still stuffed, but we both were thirsty and we decided to get some tea. I had some Jasmine tea and Graham had black tea with lychee and they were both lovely and refreshing. I did have food envy when I placed the order as they had some beautiful dim sum including my favourite, roast pork buns. Graham had found a table in the courtyard, which is a beautiful serene space. We enjoyed our tea and then it was time to make tracks.






































    We retraced our steps. Our next destination was the Queen Victoria Building. As soon as we entered this, I could smell a Lush shop. I could not see it anywhere, but the smell is very characteristic. We went up to the top floor to admire the architecture and I wanted to see the two special clocks they have there. I had a look at some of the quirkier shops and then we decided to see if we could figure out where the Lush shop was. This was on the lower ground floor and gave us an excuse to try one of the old-fashioned elevators. I did have a quick look at Lush, but did not buy anything. We then left. The plan had been to head back to the port at that stage. Originally we had planned to check out Hyde Park, but this seemed to be too far from where else we wanted to go this morning when we had checked this out earlier on. We ended up in Pitt Street again. Suddenly Graham recognized a landmark from the previous day and realised that we were actually quite close to Hyde Park. So we decided to make the small detour.











    There was reason why we wanted to check out Hyde Park. Graham had read somewhere that there was a fountain with dolphins in Hyde Park. This sounded good to me. He was not a 100% sure so I Googled “dolphin fountain Sydney” and it came up with hits for the Archibald Fountain in Hyde Park. Well, it is a beautiful fountain, but there are most certainly no dolphins. I have found out since that there are two drinking fountains in that general area that used to have dolphin taps, but the taps have long since removed. Still, I am glad that we made the effort as Hyde Park is beautiful and I did like the fountain even without the dolphins.







     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    We then headed back to the port. We had done plenty of walking that day, seen what we came to see and I was ready to get on the ship. We had timed this perfectly. When we got to the port, our check in window was just about to open. In Sydney they do check in by deck with each deck having a certain check in window. We entered the line and were able to walk straight into the terminal building. They had tables with bottled water set up and we both took a bottle. They checked our paperwork. Then we were directed to another line. That line initially did not move at all. After about 10 minutes or so, about half of the people in that line were released and sent upstairs. We were in the second wave. We took the escalator upstairs and were welcomed by a member of staff from the port agent. She checked our SetSail passes and we were directed to an empty line when she saw that we were Platinum Crown and Anchor Society members. When we had walked through to the end, we were directed straight to a check in desk. I could get used to this. Check in was smooth and then we were directed to the customs line. We had been told at various stages that that line was long and slow moving so Graham quickly used the bathroom before we headed in that direction. Before we entered the customs area, we were intercepted and handed departure forms. That was a new concept for me that you had to fill in a form for wanting to leave he country. There were chairs in the area and we sat down while I filled the forms out. As we came back to join the line, a member of staff checked our departure forms and our SetSail passes and again we were directed to an empty line. There were maybe a handful of people ahead of us that were already at the customs desks and it was not long until we got called forward. The customs official collected our departure forms, checked the passports and wished us a good trip. We then cleared security and headed for the ship. For us the whole process was painless. A lot of other people were not so lucky and it took them 90 minutes to 2 hours from entering the terminal to getting on the ship.

    When we stepped onto the Promenade deck, we had our SeaPass card swiped and then we headed over to the photographers to get our embarkation photos taken care of. They had two backdrops set up on the Promenade deck, which was very unusual. It did however work well. We then headed inside and got the first impression of the ship. Although Explorer of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas are very similar, Explorer does not have quite the wow factor when you first step on the ship. It is just a little more understated. It is still a very nice ship though and we really loved it. We went up on deck to the Royal Promenade and walked across to get to our cabin.






    As we had got on the ship later than usual, our cabin was ready. So we dropped off our hand luggage, picked up the souvenir cups that are needed for the Coca Cola Freestyle machines and then went up to the Windjammer buffet for some lunch. It turned out that the Freestyle machines in the Windjammer did not work. So instead I headed to the bar to try out our drinks package. I had a Chardonnay and Graham had a Samuel Adams beer. Both went down nicely. Graham had topside of beef, pork and mushroom casserole and potatoes for his lunch and was not overly impressed. I had pork and mushroom casserole with chips and enjoyed it. I was brave and had some chocolate roulade and lemon roulade for dessert. The desserts were every bit as bad as I remembered.

    After lunch we headed back to the cabin. On the way, I filled my souvenir cup with Peach Fanta from the Freestyle machines outside the Cafe Promenade. Graham had a bit of a nap and I had a blog to do for our company Facebook page. I typed this up and then I went in search of a signal on my phone. I had decided to pay for mobile data for the day rather than having to find Wi-Fi. I started on deck 11, which is the pool deck. As I had no luck, I went up to deck 12 and all the way forward so that i was completely out in the open. I still had no joy. I did however get some nice views of the opera house. I decided to head down to deck 4 to see if I could get reception on the helipad. In the lift between deck 5 and 4, I suddenly had perfect reception. So I found myself a seat on deck 4 and posted my blog before heading back to the cabin. We just relaxed until it was time for the muster drill.



    At some stage during our downtime, our stateroom host came to introduce himself. He was called Jose and was from Spain. He was very nice. He was also a bit over punctual. He knocked a good 10 minutes before the muster drill started to ask us to head in that direction. We complied, but it always feels to me that doing it this way sucks out the last ounce of value out of this exercise. We initially overshot. We are so conditioned to head down to deck 4 for the muster drill that we headed that way on autopilot. We were intercepted halfway between deck 5 and 4 and sent back. Our muster station was actually the Star Lounge on deck 5. This is a decent sized venue, but they had four muster stations in there and there was simply not enough room. The furniture in there is quite bulky and there is very little standing room. Graham headed for the bar stools, which were empty, but was moved on. We were eventually asked to move to the stage area. Fortunately the whole process did not take too long. I was glad when I was out of there.

    We waited on the Royal Promenade until the crowds had dispersed and then Graham headed to the helipad and I quickly went back to the cabin to get my iPhone and my camera. Our luggage had arrived so I took this in. Then I headed to the helipad, too. It was dark again, but it was lovely to see the city all lit up and sailing out past the illuminated opera house is something a bit special. I took a bunch of photos. I updated my Facebook status and our company Facebook page. Once we were out in the shipping channel, I went back to our cabin. I got unpacked, as I wanted to send my gowns for pressing. I realised very quickly that I had not enough coat hangers as I had brought pretty much only dresses for this trip. So I went in search of our stateroom host to request some more. I did hang up as many dresses as I could and put everything else away. I was just getting changed when Graham arrived. He put some trousers on and then we went to dinner.





















    Dinner that night was at Izumi, which is on deck 14 aft. We stopped at the backdrop on deck 5 on the way. Once we had our photos done, we went up to Izumi. We had two fantastic meals at Izumi on Navigator of the Seas in November so I was very much looking forward to this meal. It did not disappoint. We both had a glass of white wine and nibbled on the free Edamame beans. Graham chose the spicy shrimp roll and I had the surf and turf roll. We were debating on whether or not to have dessert. Graham decided to try the Izumi sampler, which consisted of red bean cake, matcha ice cream, fruit salad and green tea mochi. I had the assorted mochi, which consisted of peach, strawberry and green tea mochi. I did enjoy them, but I have to admit that I did wish that I had gone with the sampler. Oh well, I know better next time.





    We had every intention doing the other backdrops on the way back, but the photographers had a break then and we had no wish to hang around. Instead we headed back to the cabin. We both read for a short while and then had an early night.
     

    rndmr2

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    May 3, 2009
    Nice embarkation day!

    Glad you were able to see some more of Sydney before getting on the ship and then had a smooth check in process.

    Love your dress, beautiful color!
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Glad you were able to see some more of Sydney before getting on the ship and then had a smooth check in process.
    I was very glad that everything worked like clockwork. Sydney is such a beautiful city and it would have been a shame to not at least get a taste.

    Love your dress, beautiful color!
    The colour was beautiful, but unfortunately it fell apart almost straightaway.

    Corinna
     

    Pinkocto

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2011
    Embarkation day :cool1:


    Well done getting up early and making the most of the day. Glad breakfast was so good to soften the change of plans. It looks delicious.

    What a treasure to find that beautiful Victorian arcade. Also glad you found some new Pandora charms.

    The oriental garden reminds me of a movie. What a lovely tranquil place.

    So exciting to start the cruise!!! Strange that your stateroom host ushered you out to the drill.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    What a treasure to find that beautiful Victorian arcade.
    We were both pretty happy about this find. There is some really beautiful Victorian architecture in Sydney.

    The oriental garden reminds me of a movie. What a lovely tranquil place.
    It really is. I can't wait to see some gardens in China.

    Strange that your stateroom host ushered you out to the drill.
    This was the second time this happened.

    Corinna
     

    franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    Nice that you were able to get to the port so easily and drop off your luggage.

    We found out later that US Vice President Mike Pence was in Sydney that day.
    Too bad they didn't keep him. Ooops! Did I say that?

    I had handed the lady at the ticket note a 50 Dirham note that I had in my wallet rather than the $50 note.
    I don't even know what this means.

    I did have a quick look at Lush, but did not buy anything.
    I know you've mentioned this store before, but I'm not sure I've ever seen one here in the US.

    When we got to the port, our check in window was just about to open.
    Sounds like good timing and you got a lot of nice things done during the day.

    Graham had topside of beef, pork and mushroom casserole and potatoes for his lunch and was not overly impressed. I had pork and mushroom casserole with chips and enjoyed it.
    I think this is another thing that is lost in Translation...

    I was brave and had some chocolate roulade and lemon roulade for dessert. The desserts were every bit as bad as I remembered.
    I'm sorry that the desserts weren't good.

    I went in search of a signal on my phone. I had decided to pay for mobile data for the day rather than having to find Wi-Fi. I started on deck 11, which is the pool deck. As I had no luck, I went up to deck 12 and all the way forward so that i was completely out in the open. I still had no joy. I did however get some nice views of the opera house. I decided to head down to deck 4 to see if I could get reception on the helipad. In the lift between deck 5 and 4, I suddenly had perfect reception. So I found myself a seat on deck 4 and posted my blog before heading back to the cabin.
    That's odd that there was such a difference in reception on the different decks.

    He knocked a good 10 minutes before the muster drill started to ask us to head in that direction.
    This would have annoyed me. But then again we are usually already on our way by this time because we like to get a good spot to leave early with the scooter and all.

    So I went in search of our stateroom host to request some more. I
    I didn't know you could do that!

    Graham chose the spicy shrimp roll and I had the surf and turf roll.
    So are these like regular sushi rolls? The kind that they cut up into 8 pieces?

    That dress is a very nice color for you.
     

    tiggrbaby

    <font color=deeppink><marquee>We must work harder
    Joined
    Jun 26, 2004
    What a lovely day in Sydney!

    Your dress is very pretty, but you say it fell apart?
     


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