Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
It was early morning when the Explorer of the Seas began to approach Sydney Harbor, the largest natural harbor in the world. We were at the end of a 22 day transpacific cruise to Sydney. I was out on deck at 5:30 and saw the Sydney Opera House and the Harbor Bridge in the distance.
People climb the bridge from early morning until late at night. The people by the flags on the photo to the left are bridge climbers who pay about $250 for the privilege.
The debarkation process went smoothly although I had to talk to a custom’s officer about my sealed can of Hawaiian macadamia nuts which I claimed on my custom’s form. Taxis were supposedly easily accessed, but we were directed to continue to walk down to Circular Quay (pronounced “key.” It was quite warm, and so we found delicious slushies for $1AU. Eventually, we found a taxi from Circular Quay to the hotel ($14AU).
Hotels: There are a number of hotels located in Circular Quay, the Rocks, Darling Harbor and the business district, but we chose a “boutique hotel” in nearby Potts Point. Hotels near the Quay with an ensuite bathroom run from $250-350 while the Challis Hotel in nearby Potts Point was $113 (ensuite bathroom, lift, free internet, etc.) The tour company that would take us to the Blue Mountains picked us up at a nearby hotel that was just a five-minute walk from our hotel, and a taxi to almost anywhere to a Sydney site was between $12-16 AUS, so we thought Hotel Challis was a good choice, and it was! The room was small but functional with a refrigerator, kettle, etc. There were a number of Asian, Thai, Indian restaurants, wine bars, coffee cafes, and bistros right in the area, and a Woolworth grocery store less than three minutes away. Our favorite restaurant was Maggie’s German Austrian Restaurant which served schnitzel, goulash, pork roast, etc. and a fine assortment of German beers.
Things to Do in Sydney
We had just three short days, so when we arrived, we left our luggage at the hotel and hopped aboard the Big Bus (HOHO) at a stop close by Hotel Challis and purchased a day pass for about $45AUS (senior rate for 24 hours- a regular adult is the same if you purchase it online.) This worked out to be a very good value as we received interesting background information and were quickly oriented to this lovely city.
Sydney is a truly great and impressive city. It is clean, interesting and friendly. We rode the Big Bus around almost one time before deciding to get off near Circular Quay to explore the Rocks area which is the oldest area of Sydney. Eleven ships filled with convicts from England arrived in 1788, and they settled into the Circular Quay and Rocks areas.
We then went to the Opera House and walked through the lovely Royal Botanical Gardens.
We then walked up MacQuarie Street (MacQuarie, the original governor named many streets and structures after himself) to see the Hyde Parks Barracks Museum, St. Mary’s Cathedral, Hyde Park and then toured the Australian Museum. After a full day of touring, we caught the Big Bus back to our hotel.