Getting to Know Sydney

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November 15th 2015
Published: November 28th 2015
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Our third and final day in Sydney dawned with sunshine streaming everywhere. We had to get into town earlier today because we planned to go on the "free" walking tour. We didn't know what to expect as the one in Cape Town hadn't been very good. We loved Sydney's though. Our guide, Leah, was so passionate about her home city and she showed us so many architectural gems and gave the human interest story of the city.

We started in Hyde Park, this time at the grand Cathedral of St Margaret. From here we wandered past the Library of New South Wales, the old mint and the Rum Hospital. The story of this medical facility was fascinating. It was built to replace a bad clinic by some scurrilous rum importers in exchange for a monopoly on the rum trade. The building was so bad that patients had to be locked in to avoid them escaping. Following this historical digression we came to the botanic gardens and had a short break here before heading to the old Customs House which is now a library which houses a huge three-dimensional map of the city. Whilst the first half of the tour had focused on government buildings, the second half focused on the building a of the old convicts. They had been given "The Rocks" so called because the area was so rocky it was almost impossible to build on. They did build a settlement though which ended up full of drunken ex-cons and prostitutes from all accounts. Now the area is a thriving tourist hub with a great food market. We wandered the Rocks for a while and then were taken down to Circular Quay to finish with views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge. We really enjoyed the tour and felt it was a great way to get to know the city a bit.

Following our tour we made our way back to the Rocks Market for some food and then went to sit in a cool shady back alley for an hour or so to escape the heat and the bustle of the city. Soon the oppressive heat broke down into thunderstorms. We spent our afternoon in the botanic gardens getting a good view of the bridge from Mrs Macquarie's Point. Our last activity in Sydney was to meet Lindsey's friend, Nicky, for coffee. We met in the Lindt café which was the scene of Sydney's terrorist attack earlier this year. Now there is no sign of the carnage that was wrought. We had a lovely chat with Nicky over thick hot chocolate. Then it was time to brave the heavy rains. We caught the train out of the city for the last time, sad to be leaving somewhere we were only just starting to get a real feel for.

Sydney was invariably busy and feels like many large cities. It has real charms though and I enjoyed being a visitor here. I'd love to return one day for a more leisurely visit.

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