Showing posts with label Sydney. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sydney. Show all posts

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sydney: Blue Mountains

Many, many people told us to go see the Blue Mountains if we got a chance while in Sydney. For our last day, that is exactly what we did. After a snafu regarding the pickup location, caused by booking agent not the company, our tour guide from Oz Tours made his way through Central Business District to pick us up.

We did a quick drive-thru of Olympic Park. I don't have any pictures because we never got out of the bus, but the story of how Sydney turned a wasteland into an Olympic venue that continues to thrive as a suburb is pretty amazing. I found this video that tells the story in case you want to see for yourself.

After a brief rest stop on the Nepean River, we arrived at the edge of the Blue Mountains at the East Station. Part of our visit included the Scenic World experience. Our first experience was floating between cliff tops 270 meters above the valley on the Scenic Skyway. The car was crowded, so at times it was hard to see out the windows, but the glass floor let you see everything below you!

We got our first glimpse of the Three Sisters rock formation as we were crossing.

From the Scenic World top station we took the Scenic Cableway 545 meters down into the Jamison Valley. We managed the front row on this one and had amazing views going down.

Our Oz Trails tour guide led us on a short walk along the Scenic Walkway, the longest elevated boardwalk in Australia, through part of the Jamison Valley rainforest. It was nice to have a narrated tour, but if we were not on a day tour there was a lot more to see on the 2.4km of walkway.

Our return to the top was at a 52 degree incline on the Scenic Railway, the steepest passenger train in the world. This was a little scary! 

As much as I enjoyed the Scenic World "rides", one of the best parts of the Blue Mountains was the bushwalk to see the waterfall. 

The viewing area was pretty small, but the Wentworth Falls were breathtaking. There are many hiking/walking trails around this area. I would have loved to spend more time exploring and getting closer views of the falls.

We also stopped at Lincoln's Rock, previously called Flat Rock or Wedding Rock, it was officially renamed in 2013 after Lincoln Hall. Hall lived in the mountains for twenty years, but was known for having survived a night near the summit on Everest after being left for dead.

We definitely had amazing panoramic views of the mountains from here. 

We ended our day in the Blue Mountains with a sunset harbour cruise back to Sydney. The sky was already turning pink when we arrived at the boat. 

It was a treat to see the iconic landmarks at night.

We disembarked at Darling Harbour and after a quick bite to eat, we said good night to Sydney for the last time.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Sydney: Bike the Bridge, Hyde Park Loop and Fortune of War

This was by far my favorite day in Australia. Hanging out with mrC, riding bikes and just moving at our own pace felt really, really good.

We walked back down to The Rocks to a cute little outdoor eatery that we saw the day before for brunch. DARE, Delicious And Responsible Eating, serves everything gluten free. We took full advantage and ordered gluten free toast and banana pancakes with our eggs. Everything was delicious.

We earned that BIG meal after the full body workout we did at the hotel. A little warmup on the treadmill followed by arm and leg circuits then a cool down. My new Lorna Jane tank spoke for me.

After eating we walked around the corner to rent our bikes for the day from Sydney Bike Tours. In the past we have gone on guided bike tours, but this time we went on our own. The bike rental comes with helmets and maps, but we used the bike store app to download the maps onto our smartphone. They gave us a phone holder to attach to the bike and let us use a locker to store our extra belongings while we were biking.

Our first route took us over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. To me, this was kind of like walking across the Brooklyn Bridge. The dedicated bike lane is on the west side of the bridge, so we could not see the Opera House, but we could see Goat Island. 

On the north side of the harbour, the bike route went by Luna Park, Australia's oldest theme park. It was closed for "filming" but open to walk around.

We rode the path around Lavender Bay past the marina to the secret gardens. We did not spot the home of the Prime Minister, but part of the bike trail was closed for construction. We had to carry our bikes up the stairs to bypass the construction. By the way, my Athleta pants were amazingly comfortable. I love that I felt sporty without having to wear tights.

Back across the bridge we stopped for a gluten free brownie that we got to-go from DARE on Observatory Hill. It was a well-earned treat after riding about 9km.

After our snack stop we continued our biking adventure picking up part of another route. We made our way down Macquarie Street to Hyde Park. Archibald Fountain was a popular photo spot.

We paused at the reflection pool at the Anzac War Memorial at the south end of the park. 

Then we made our way up College Street stopping to visit St. Mary's Cathedral. It was so big and so beautiful. 

We returned our bikes and walked to Fortune of War, the oldest pub in Sydney.

We hung out at the bar learning more about The Rocks neighborhood and tasting some of the local delicacies like crocodile skewers. They tasted like a fatty piece of chicken.

Afterwards we walked back to the hotel.

Coming up next our last day in Australia took us to the mountains.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Sydney: Harbour Tour & Opera House

Our Australian adventure continues!

It doesn't take long to fly from Melbourne to Sydney. I arrived a few hours ahead of mrC and since it was raining we stayed close to the hotel only venturing out for a late lunch/early dinner.

We walked a couple blocks to Darling Harbour spotting the Sydney Tower and the Queen Victoria Building on the way. The QVB is home to some great shopping, or so I hear. We never made it inside. (I guess I'll just have to go back!) Darling Harbour is a tourist hotspot with restaurants, shopping, the National Maritime Museum and more.

The next morning we started with a good sprint workout at the hotel gym. The fitness center in Sydney Hilton was even more amazing than the one in Shenzhen. 

After a quick low carb breakfast at the hotel, we walked down to The Rocks, the oldest neighborhood in Sydney and literally built on rocks. We walked along the cobblestone streets and I wished it was the weekend so I could stroll through one of the famous markets selling local artist's handmade gifts and jewelry and organic food. 

On the way there, we passed a Lorna Jane fitness store. I was happy to browse the shop on George Street and pick out a LJ souvenir. A fitness blogger in LJ land has to test the local product, right?

After wandering around The Rocks, we walked along the waterfront getting our first views of the Sydney Opera House on our way to Circular Quay for our Captain Cook Harbour Cruise. 

The views from the boat were amazing. We got to see the most famous landmarks from all perspectives. If we could have a do-over on this part, we would just jump on the commuter ferry (for less AUD) and see the same sights. The narrative part of the cruise was not audible, at least from the upper deck. It wasn't worth the money.

We grabbed dinner on the waterfront at the quay, then walked to the Sydney Opera House. It's interesting to see things in person that you have only seen on television. The Opera House is much more of a tan color than the bright white it has appeared to me.

Over cocktails, we watched the sunset before going inside to see a performance by the Bangarra Dance Theater: Our Land People Stories.  

Coming up next: a bike ride and eating like the locals!

Previous posts:

Melbourne: Exploring the City
Melbourne: Great Ocean Road Adventure

Melbourne: Puffing Billy, Wine and Wildlife