Sydney by Ship, Ferry, Shuttle and Foot

Day 58, Grand Asia 2018

Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018, Sydney, Australia:

Our shuttle driver said, “Better get your outside activities in today. Tomorrow we are expecting more rain than we have had so far all year.” And it’s almost December.

So with that in mind, I set off on a marathon sightseeing day, eventually logging 19,371 steps and more than 7 miles.

The day started early, with our sail into the Sydney Harbor around 6 a.m. My favorite spot is on the 6thdeck, where there is a small overlook on the front, just under the bridge. For special sail-ins like this, they open the bow of the boat to passengers, and a large crowd gathered there. Our location guide Ian narrated our journey right up to the famous Opera House. This year I knew where to look, as the landmark slid into view with the Harbor Bridge just to its left as we approached.

Once again, the Amsterdam docked at White Bay Cruise Terminal, a miserable location requiring a drive of up to 30 minutes to get to Darling Harbor, which isn’t even in the middle of things. The slap in the face is seeing another cruise ship docked at Circular Quay – the perfect spot. Today it was Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas (tomorrow would be its Ovation of the Seas), a ship too big to sail under the bridge. I guess it is payback for our winning position in the middle of Shanghai, a spot the big ships cannot reach.

What is needed is ferry or water taxi service from White Bay. There is a Sydney Ferry stop about a half-mile from the terminal, but security fences keep us from reaching it. A private ferry service sometimes offers service, but it wasn’t running while we were there. I am tempted to say that next time I have an overnight at White Bay, I would consider getting a hotel room in town.

So I rode the shuttle, walked several blocks and caught a ferry at Barangaroo for Circular Quay, where I switched ferries to go to the Taronga Zoo. It’s across the bay and offers stunning views of the central business district (CBD). A tram takes you from the ferry dock to the top of the hill, where you work your way down.

Among my interests were seeing kangaroos and koalas, which I did not see during my stops in Australia last year. I checked off both, although the koalas were sleeping with their heads curled up as if to hide. The emu was more accommodating.

Maybe I’m just not really a zoo person, or maybe I’ve been spoiled by visits to the wonderful Fort Worth Zoo. But I wasn’t as impressed with the zoo itself as most fellow passengers seemed to be. Nothing wrong with it, but nothing that you wouldn’t see at most other city zoos.

Anyway, I left shortly after noon and took the return ferry to Circular Quay. Not only are the ferries the best way to get around, but they also offer great views of the city.

At the Rocks, a nearby shopping and dining area, I had a kangaroo burger for lunch. It tasted a lot like beef, and I washed it down with a local beer.

After taking a few minutes to sketch, I walked up George Street (which is under heavy construction for light rail improvements) past office buildings and upscale stores. The Apple Store WiFi reached easily to the benches on the sidewalk, so I uploaded photos to this blog and used WiFi calling to chat with my sisters back home.

The city was decorated for Christmas.

I hadn’t visited the Queen Victoria Building before and was stunned by its beauty, especially the Christmas decorations. A giant tree rises several stories, making it impossible to capture the entire thing in a photo. Time for a “flat white,” which is more like our latte, and people watching.

The ship was quiet when I returned, with passengers either out for the evening (some friends went to a symphony performance at the Sydney Opera House) or tired from a long day of sightseeing. Count me in the latter group.