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Topic: Round The World In 28 Days - Day 4

  1. #1
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    Default Round The World In 28 Days - 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.










  2. #2
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    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 a 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.












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    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.





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    What a fantastic day DG, no wonder you had an early night as you saw and did a lot. The Chinese Garden of Friendship is beautiful and looks so peaceful. I also love the shopping arcades, such character.
    I'm glad you got checked into the ship fairly quickly, I wouldn't have been impressed waiting for 2 hours!
    By the way your evening dress is lovely, one of my favourite colours.

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    What an enjoyable day. Sydney certainly has some great sights.
    91/92/95HI MGE;97NYC/Cali/Ariz/Chicago;98St.Petes Bch/Hyatt K'mee;00C'water Bch/Dixie Landings;02South'n Dunes;05Ft.Myers/Keys/Ft Lauderdale/BW LBV;06Indian Ridge;07Ind. Ridge;08Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;09Sarasota/Ind. Ridge;10Sanibel/Ind. Ridge;11Ind. Ridge;12Sanibel/West Haven;13West Haven;14Sanibel/West Haven;15Sanibel/West Haven;15West Haven;16Panhandle tour/Ashley Manor;16Loma Linda;17Sanibel/Loma Vista;18Gulf Coast/St Ag/West Haven;19Sanibel/Venice Beach/West Haven

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    I'm not picture-perfect, by any means, when it comes to London, but did you get a feeling some of the buildings in Sydney look a lot like London? I get that impression.

    What a pretty Chinese garden. I love the photo with the willow trees.

    I was brave and had some chocolate roulade and lemon roulade for dessert. The desserts were every bit as bad as I remembered.
    That made me laugh!

    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 wonder if this has a similar feel to sailing past Lady Liberty coming into New York, seeing such an icon against the backdrop of darkness.

    A superb start to your cruise! Looking forward to more.












    Midlife: when the Universe grabs your shoulders and tells you “I’m not messing around, use the gifts you were given.”

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    Sydney was a bit of a pleasant surprise with its lovely Victorian buildings.

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    What a great embarkation day the gardens look beautiful, lovely pictures.

    Sydney looks lovely in the dark

    Muster always seems like a waste of time to me and being forced to get there early would irritate me ;) ...

    Love your dress

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    I'm always amazed at how much you manage to pack into a day, but Sydney is obviously worth it. Those 2 clocks are genuinely superb, while the Opera House at night is simply stunning.

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    I thought I had replied to this, but for some reason it did not post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
    What a fantastic day DG, no wonder you had an early night as you saw and did a lot. The Chinese Garden of Friendship is beautiful and looks so peaceful. I also love the shopping arcades, such character.
    Sydney is a beautiful and very diverse city. I am glad that we got to see at least some of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
    I'm glad you got checked into the ship fairly quickly, I wouldn't have been impressed waiting for 2 hours!
    We would not have been either. Loyalty really paid off on this occasion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
    By the way your evening dress is lovely, one of my favourite colours.
    Blue is my favourite colour. I also have the the same gown in purple and that is making an outing to my awards ceremony tomorrow.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tiggers Friend View Post
    What an enjoyable day. Sydney certainly has some great sights.
    I really enjoyed this and Sydney definitely made it into my top 10 of cities.

    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Veness View Post
    I'm not picture-perfect, by any means, when it comes to London, but did you get a feeling some of the buildings in Sydney look a lot like London? I get that impression.
    Yes, there are definitely similarities. Sydney is just a very beautiful city.

    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Veness View Post
    What a pretty Chinese garden. I love the photo with the willow trees.
    I really enjoyed this. I am curious how this will stand up to the real thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Veness View Post
    I wonder if this has a similar feel to sailing past Lady Liberty coming into New York, seeing such an icon against the backdrop of darkness.
    Over the years, I was lucky enough to sail underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, past the Statue of Liberty and past the Sydney Opera House and all three are kind of getting weak at the knees moments.

    Quote Originally Posted by Susan Veness View Post
    A superb start to your cruise! Looking forward to more.
    I got a little behind. Work is crazy busy at the moment, but I am hoping that it will be back to normal scheduling now.

    Quote Originally Posted by ELAINE View Post
    What a great embarkation day the gardens look beautiful, lovely pictures.
    This all worked out perfectly.

    Quote Originally Posted by ELAINE View Post
    Sydney looks lovely in the dark
    It is even prettier during the day.

    Quote Originally Posted by ELAINE View Post
    Muster always seems like a waste of time to me and being forced to get there early would irritate me ;) ...
    I am with you there.

    Quote Originally Posted by ELAINE View Post
    Love your dress
    Thanks

    Quote Originally Posted by Simon Veness View Post
    I'm always amazed at how much you manage to pack into a day, but Sydney is obviously worth it. Those 2 clocks are genuinely superb, while the Opera House at night is simply stunning.
    I figure you only live once and unfortunately I had a very powerful reminder of this later in the cruise. Sydney is absolutely stunning and there seems to be a hidden gem around every corner. Fortunately I knew about the clocks in the Queen Victoria Building through somebody else's trip report. Otherwise we probably would not have gone in there.

    Corinna





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