Tag Archives: Sydney-Australia

TRAVEL IMPRESSIONS – Sydney – Day 3 – Blue Mountains Tour

Wednesday, September 24th – Sydney – Day 3 – Featherdale Wildlife Park, Three Sisters, and Scenic World

Activity Tours picked us up same place, same time on Wednesday. Our first stop—the Featherdale Wildlife ParkFeatherdale Wildlife Park. There, we took pictures of koalas, wombats (not a bat), kangaroos, emus, an Australian crocodile (his name was Dundee!), scads of birds/owls/flying predators, wallabys, Tasmanian devils, spiny echidnas (pronounce ih-KID-nuh), and on and on and on. Great time there!

Koala and Pal Betty

Koala - 2

Bird - Colorful





Dingo (Wild Dog)

Dundee the Croc

Tasmanian Devil Wombat - 2 Wallabys and Pal Betty Goannas








Next we broke the ride up with a stop a small park for a quick 15-minute “bush walk” down to Leuraa local falls. After that, we stopped in the little town of Leura for lunch and shopping. Very nice.

Our next stop was at Scenic World. You take a cable car ride to the top of the mountain Gordon Fallsplateau, take one of the many raised walkways through the canopy, and descend again on a 52-degree incline railroad. Of course, you have the mandatory exit through the gift shop. The Three Sisters and Usviews are spectacular, overlooking a mini-Grand Canyon with their famous Three Sisters pedestal. The legend has it there were originally 7 “sisters,” but time and weather eroded four of them away. Today, the three monoliths stand side by side with a nub at the end. Locals affectionately call this their puppy.

We also made friends with a family from Malaysia — even exchanged emails. Our Tour Mates

The experience was marred (only slightly) by the influx of the “green jackets.” Good for Sydney, not so good for the smaller tours. Some 6,000 healthcare professionals from China descended on the city for a week-long conference. Of course this day, their final day in town, was dedicated to tourism. We managed to avoid them until Scenic World. In some eastern countries, there is no sense of what we call personal space. Contention for space, taxis, entrance – you name it – is based on who can get their toe in the door first. Even though that’s not the culture of Australia, it’s hard to overcome the onslaught of thousands of these green jackets letting their fellow green jackets break into the queues. Annoying. We never did get to take the cable car across the valley because of this.

Harbor bridge at sunsetRiver FerryThe tour was capped off with a quick visit to the site of the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, and then a relaxing ferry taxi back to Sydney. Amazing views of the Sydney Harbor Bridge at sunset.

After our return to the city, we ate at another Thai restaurant (Siam House) the Meriton recommended. Can I say YUM?!

TRAVEL IMPRESSIONS – Sydney – Day 2 – Hunter Valley Wineries

Tuesday, September 23rd – Sydney – Day 2

Sydney - Activity ToursActivity Tours is the name of the organization Paul booked our tours through online. Today, we visited three boutique wineries in the Hunter Valley region.

The trip started brighSydney - Pie Face Eatery 2t and early with a pick-up at our doorstep at 7:40 a.m. That meant an early rising (not hard for us with all the time changes we’d made on the ship) and a visit to Pie Face, a local patisserie. A really neat concept, fresh baked goods made daily from local products and delivered to several franchised locations throughout the city. Most of the street-level shops along George Street are “open air.” We each chose a mini quiche and coffee. Delicious, but what a surprise! Food in Australia is expennnnnsive! Our little breakfast cost AUD 21. Ouch! We started drinking water after that.

Our ride to Hunter Valley (in a Caravan type minivan) with 12 other passengers took Sydney - Activity Tours - Ernest Hill Wineryapproximately 2 hours. Once we arrived at the Ernest Hill Winery (a small family-owned winery that sells only at the cellar door; no exports; no commercial sales in country), we were treated to a taste testing. One of the family members explained each of the wines we tasted which were named after deceased ancestors – (Cracklin’ Rosie Rose’). We bought two bottles there.

The next stop was at the Iron Gate Winery. This grower/distiller is fairly new to the region, but Sydney - Activity Tours - Iron Gate Winery rosebusheswith several awards under his belt. A retired industrial chemist, he uses science to create his product. Considered a “little bit off center,” he’s made a reputation for himself of producing creative combinations of the highest quality. They still continue the tradition of planting a rose bush at the head of each row — an ‘early warning’ system to alert them early of any potential blight problems that might affect the grapes. We bought a case of wine there and shipped it home since we’re restricted to 2 liters duty free to carry with us.

The next stop – lunch at a local café, followed by souvenir shopping at a small shopping area. We visited a third winery on our own and bought a loaf of fresh baked French  bread and a Sydney - Kangaroos by the roadlovely round of brie. That, plus the wine we  bought early made up our supper.  On the return drive, we saw kangaroos by the roadside. They prefer shade over open sun, so they’re usually found hiding in the trees and shadows.

After a long 10-hour day of touring, we were more than ready for bed. After all, we just spent the last three weeks lazing and grazing, hardly having to do more than take the elevator up or down to the feeding troughs!


Monday, September 22nd  –  Sydney – Day 1

We woke to blue skies and a huge harbor ahead. The Legend came to Australia to replace the Carnival Spirit, which is being moved to Alaska. The Legend, which is significantly larger than the Spirit, is making quite a splash in the Sydney news media. We waited at the mouth of the harbor for the local news helicopter to show. Once they did, we made our slow, cumbersome Sydney - Arrival - Opera Houe 5way into dock.

In Noumea, the Australian Girls Choir joined the ship. Now, at 6:00 o’clock in the morning, 2,500 passengers (give or take a few) and most of the crew lined the top decks waving Australian flags while the choir sang Australian favorites and the flag team performed a dramatic presentation of flags. We  docked directly across from the Sydney Opera House — a spectacular view … and we were there for this historic moment. Even got to watch on local TV later that night.

Since our hotel check-in wasn’t until 2:00pm, we elected a relaxed debarkation and didn’t leave the ship until almost 10:00am. A short taxi drive later ($40.00 worth!) down George Street (Atlanta’s equivalent of Peachtree Street), we arrived at the Meriton Serviced Apartments. What a great bunch of people there!. Not only did they let us leave our bags, they made Sydney - George Streetseveral suggestions about changing US Dollars to Aussie Dollars, a free bus, and the best places to eat in the area.

We set off on foot back along George Street, which runs in a north/south direction. Along the way, we found several money exchange places and converted some currency. We also found the green and white 555 bus that runs from the Circular Quay (pronounced kee) where the ship docked to Chinatown (near our hotel). Funny, the locals call it Thainatown because of the proliferation of Thai restaurants.

We rode the bus for a full loop, and then got off and walked several blocks to the east. Sydney is a hodgepodge of modern eclectic, historical protected building, and a cultural diversity that is impossible to explain. You really need to experience it for yourself.

Thoroughly wowed, we found our way back to the Meriton and settled into our room. Serviced Sydney - Meriton 2apartments are similar to a hotel, but we think they’re better. Our quarters contained one small bedroom with king size bed, a closet (one side for hanging clothes, the other side with drawers for folded things), and a flat screen TV on the wall. We also had a living room Sydney - Meriton 3 Sydney - Meriton 4area with a 48” flat screen, sofa, chair, small table with 2 chairs, an offset full kitchen area (full size fridge, cook top, toaster oven, electric kettle, and full complement of dishes), a desk area, and lovely bathroom with walk-in shower. Oh yes, mirrors everywhere!

Later, we ventured out again to sample one of the recommended Thai restaurants.