Our itinerary for this trip called for us to transit through Sydney, Australia so it made sense for us to see the city on our way through. We arrived at noon on Tuesday and flew out Thursday morning so we needed to make the best possible use of the limited time we had. Our friend Shelley was also there so she and I bought tickets for the Hop On/Hop Off City Tour and headed out as soon as we had checked in to our hotel.
The open topped, double decked bus provided some great views but the blazing midday sun and 43 degree temperatures quickly drove us back into the air-conditioned lower level. A stop at Bondi Beach sounded very inviting and it was indeed a very beautiful beach, but most of Sydney was there before us and it was pretty much standing room only. We did manage to find a quiet little restaurant for a salad and cool drink before we continued on our “guided” tour of the city.
The Sydney Opera House is designed to represent a ship in full sail and is really quite a magnificent building, placed on a very prominent peninsula at the end of the Royal Botanical Gardens. Across the harbour is the massive steel arched Harbour Bridge and beautiful sailboats and yachts glide continuously through the waterways.
Unwilling to pay the exorbitant prices for a harbour tour, we opted for a $5.00 evening ferry ride from the Circular Quay to Darling Harbour where there was plenty of night life and a gigantic five storey Rubber Ducky, brought in for the Sydney Festival. Sydney is really a lovely, lively city with a great mix of well preserved historical buildings and modern architecture.
In the center of the business district you find the Queen Victoria Building. Originally built as market, it was scheduled for demolition in the 50s but fortunately was preserved and is now billed as the most beautiful shopping center in the world. While the building was modernized with the installation of escalators and air conditioning, its historical restoration is amazing. The tiled floors, stained glass windows, balustrades and arches are all carefully restored, creating a marvelous people place, not your average shopping mall.
Sydney may be a beautiful city, but the temperature peaked at 43.4 degrees around 4 pm and we are just not used to that kind of heat in Malaysia. In Fahrenheit for our American friends that is 110 degrees. It felt very nice when the sun went down and even nicer to put the aircon on high for a few minutes back at the hotel. Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler, thank goodness!