So, do you mean it when you say: “I want to travel like you guys do?” Well read on, and see exactly what traveling like us entails…
We visited Sydney, Australia several years ago, and absolutely loved it, so I was very excited to be coming back – especially on a cruise ship. The Sydney Harbour is maybe the most iconic in the world, and the Sydney Opera House is ranked on the Elliott Scale of Favorite Buildings in the World™ as #1. So imagine my disappointment when we found out that the Saturday of our arrival was also the Australian Fleet Review commemorating 100 years of the Australian Navy. As a result, our ship was docked by 5:30am, and we were off by 7:00. We often improvise when we travel, and we figured we’d pick up a hotel in Sydney for our two-night stay, but we weren’t counting on E-V-E-R-Y hotel room being booked solid.
Circular Quay is the central harbor area where you go to see the bridge and the opera house. They also have some public spaces with free Wi-Fi. As we sat in a square trying to figure out where to go before the battery could die on our netbook, we watched the area slowly start filling up. After a couple of hours, I went in search of accommodations that might not have been listed in Stephanie’s internet searches. Heading into the city, away from the harbor was a bit like a salmon swimming upstream. It seemed the entire population of the Southern Hemisphere was headed right to where Stephanie sat innocently surfing away. About 15 blocks later, I found a hostel, but, like everywhere else, they were full. As I went to bring Stephanie the bad news, I caught sight of an Internet café with an all-night special. Hopefully, we wouldn’t need it.
Back in Circular Quay, Stephanie was running out of power. It turns out that the Old Customs House right at the harbor has a public library with free Wi-Fi, and the comfy lobby was open until midnight. We whiled away the afternoon surfing (Stephanie) and snoozing (me). Come evening time, I went in search of food, and was reduced (I’m ashamed to say) to “take-away” from Pizza Hut. It was by far the best budget option. Stephanie, always a pizza fan, didn’t mind so much.
As I went out to find a restroom, I was surprised to learn that the entire wharf area was closed. It had reached capacity ahead of the fireworks. When the fireworks started, it was simply amazing. I have never seen such a spectacle. I stayed in the Customs House with our luggage, and sent Stephanie out to make sure at least one of us saw them. From what I could see, the entire sky was lit up from all sides of Sydney Harbour, and the noise was deafening.
By midnight, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, we hadn’t found a place to stay, so we gathered our stuff and headed to the aforementioned Internet café. $18 got the each of us (and our luggage) the use of a fast computer, a large monitor, a comfy, reclining chair, and all the Internet we could eat until 8:00am. We alternated sleeping and guarding our luggage. Around 4:00am, while Stephanie slept a very noisy group of gamers trooped in. Taking no notice of the sleeping beauty behind them, the proceeded to holler at each other such lovely sentiments as “WHAT THE F??? JUST HAPPENED??” and “GO JUNGLE ON IT, DUDE!!” Miraculously, Stephanie barely stirred. When we finally left at 8:00, they were all sleeping before some big tournament or another, and it was all I could do not to holler some of their phrases back at them. But being a benevolent interloper, I decided against it.
OK, now here’s one of the many awesome things about my wife.
For our second night in Sydney, she had found us a hotel
…on award points
…in Sydney’s exclusive Rocks district
…with a view of my beloved opera house
…and we could leave our luggage with them immediately.
We dropped our gear and went camera shopping. We use our cameras HARD when we travel, and this one got dropped just as we were disembarking from the cruise two days prior, and was refusing to perform. (Wait until our friend Ben hears he gets to open it up and fix it for the fourth time!) By the time we found a suitable replacement, our room was ready. So was the rooftop pool where we could relax and casually check out the bridge and the opera house.
After a relaxing afternoon, we took a ferry to Darling Harbour. This is one of the least expensive ways to see Sydney Harbor from the water. We opted to walk back (about 20 minutes) and had our second take-away Pizza Hut dinner in Circular Quay. It’s not as bad as it sounds – the area was back to its normal levels of humanity, and we had prime seats on a bench right on the harbor, with perfect views of both the bridge and opera house. There was a saxophone player, playing perfect background music for a take-away Pizza Hut dinner. We even got a slow dance in to his music before retiring for the evening. I knew we were heading on the next leg of our journey the next day, but I did not know how or where.