Published: March 11th 2012March 11th 2012
The carpet is a depiction of the Canturbury Plain
Before the plane left for Sydney, we had a couple more things to do in Christchurch. First, we visited the Antarctic Center. Many of the expeditions to the Antarctic leave out of Christchurch, so the Center talks about the exploration of the continent and the conditions people face while they are there. They also had a penguin display including a glass walled tank. They had a couple dozen “little blue” penguins which are the smallest species, about a foot tall. But they waddle along the ground like the emperor penguins you see in the movies. However, underwater is really their environment. They basically fly underwater and are very quick and graceful. The center was a bit expensive, but well worth the cost. After that, we went to the terminal and after going through customs, got to the gate. On our way to the gate we noticed the carpet in the terminal and then read the information about it. When the airport authority was redecorating they wanted something representative of the Christchurch area and finally chose carpet printed to represent the Canterbury plan as viewed from an aircraft. Interesting idea. Then off to the BIG city. By the way, the two days
of rain on the South Island had covered the peaks of the Southern Alps with snow, so the view from the plane was great.
Sydney certainly is big, and our hotel was right in the heart of it. We arrived about 7pm on Sunday night and really didn’t know our way around at all. So, we wandered out of the hotel to look for a place to eat. We walked a couple blocks without seeing anything open although there were lots and lots of people on the street. Finally hunger and exhaustion and a sudden downpour won out and we ducked into a McD’s, violating our prime travel rule; never eat somewhere we can eat at home. Anyway, it was as expected and we were at least fed for the night. After watching it rain for a while, we gave up and did a quick walk from overhang to overhang only getting mildly soaked on the way back to the hotel.
Bright and early Monday morning the guide for our “Ultimate Sydney Tour” picked us up. The plan was a driving tour of the city then a fish and chips lunch followed by a harbor tour in a
sailboat. Since the weather was forecast to deteriorate in the afternoon, the guide switched things around and we did the harbor tour first. In a word it was FANTASTIC. The weather was lovely, the skipper, Colin was knowledgeable and entertaining and the views divine. After a short turn under the Sydney Harbour Bridge and near the mouth of Darling Harbor, we sailed along the south side of the harbor through the various bays. We went almost all the way to the mouth of the harbour on the Tasman Sea before turning around and docking at Watson’s Bay. Our land guide was ready for us there, and after saying goodbye to Colin we grabbed a picnic table and had some Australian wine and cheese while our guide walked to Doyle’s to pick up the fish and chips. This was probably the best we’ve ever had, lightly battered fish (and scallops, shrimp and calamari) with crispy fries that actually tasted like potatoes.
After lunch we were off for the driving portion of the tour. First stop was Bondi Beach and even though it was a Monday, there were lots of surfers, sunbathers, and tourists watching them. The weather was perfect, about
75 and not a cloud in the sky so we joined the party (the watching part not the surfing). We continued our drive back into Sydney and the driver dropped us off at the Sydney Aquarium. We had a nice stroll through and were actually able to see something as it was late enough in the day the school groups had all left. The Aquarium is one of the few attractions that are actually open past 5pm, so we were able to take our time and see things. The fish and other sea creatures were interesting but there was also a series of Lego sculptures each one more elaborate than the last. Near the end was Moby Dick standing a good 10 feet high with a backdrop that was probably 20 x 30, all made from the little single dimple sized Lego blocks. Quite a work. We then walked across the Darling Harbor pedestrian bridge to the Harbourtown shopping area for a quick bite then back to the hotel feeling like we’d accomplished a lot in one day.
There are more photos below