Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Tasmanian Devils (2010)

Soggy Sydney Sunday

Sunday dawned grey, wet and thoroughly miserable, with conditions that looked depressingly similar to the British weather doing its worst. As I didn't have breakfast included in my rate, I decided to be a cheapskate and head out in the pouring rain to a nearby fast-food joint for something to eat. As I munched, I tried mentally to block my ears to the tones of a group of teenage girls with painted faces and accents that were a discordant blend of Manchester and Valley Girl. Unfortunately, and assuming that such a feat were possible at all, it required more effort and self-discipline than I could muster first thing in the morning, so I told myself not to be a grumpy old man and instead quietly marvelled at the sheer awfulness of the contrived sounds. What better way to handle an ordeal than by turning it into an entertainment, with each aural depth plumbed converted into an ever higher score?

Back at the Westin, it wasn't long until Bruce appeared on cue. As I had secured a 4pm check-out, it made sense for him to leave his luggage in my room before we moved to our new room later in the day. We had discussed a visit to Watson's Bay, a spot that I discovered during my 2004 visit to Sydney. Despite the unpromising weather, we agreed that we might as well press on with our plans rather than sit around trying to out-do the weather at being miserable.   Once outside, it quickly became apparent that the rain was on the way out, at least for a bit, and that it was still reasonably mild in spite of it. We made our way to Circular Quay, bought our tickets and awaited the departure of our fast ferry.

Some forty minutes later, we had reached our intended destination. A quick walk through the small park to the ocean-side viewpoints reminded me of why I liked this place so much. It is both quieter and on a much smaller scale than Manly, and the proximity of the ocean side and bay side serves to accentuate and highlight the contrast between the two. A walk along the cliff-top path rewarded us with some wonderful views, none more so than when first one rainbow and then two seemed to form twin aerial bridges between town and ocean. As the rain started up again, we made our way back to the bay shore and the well-known Doyle's restaurant, where we had a most enjoyable Sunday lunch

With the restaurant being adjacent to the little pier, it was an easy matter to time our departure so that there was no unnecessary hanging around. Back at the Westin, I packed my remaining things, Bruce checked in for the new room and we moved our stuff there. Did you spot what was missing in that? We were just about to head out again when I realised that I hadn't checked out of my old room! I went down to the front desk and apologised profusely, but apparently someone had inspected the room at 4:20 and as a result they had gone ahead and checked me out. No harm done - phew! We walked along George Street to the Queen Victoria Building (also known as QVB), a grand old edifice occupying an entire city block that has now been tastefully and spectacularly converted into a modern shopping mall.

After that, we had cocktails in the Westin's Executive Lounge, before setting off in the direction of Chinatown using the quirky monorail that was built in the 1980s as part of the redevelopment of Darling Harbour. If ever there was a flawed concept in urban mass transit, this is it, and the level of patronage appeared to reinforce my opinion. After wandering around a few streets and lanes that looked much more Asian than Australian, we came across a little place called Super Bowl. It looked a little basic and unprepossessing at first sight, but it had one significant factor in its favour: unlike many neighbouring establishments, it was busy, with a largely Asian clientele enthusiastically tucking into appealing-looking dishes. We had a tasty dinner of authentic Cantonese food at an outside table, helped along by one of those outdoor gas heaters that underlined the fact that we were not, after all, in South East Asia. After that, we returned to the Westin on foot, with George Street becoming noticeably quieter as we neared our base for the night. 

Sunday 23 May

Next Day

Previous Day