February 7th
Sydney, Australia

Since there was no real morning sunlight, I did not wake up until long after we’d docked in Sydney.  I was only disappointed for a moment until I stepped out on the aft deck (at 7 am); & looked in every direction.  Even on a dreary looking, grey morning, the cityscape before me took my breath away.  It was everything I had dreamed & more!  We are docked at the Overseas Passenger Terminal at Circular Quay (key) in an area known as "The Rocks", which is an impressive complex on its own.

On the port side is the famous Sydney Opera House with its white ‘sail’ roofline.  Every photo I’ve ever seen made it look larger than life, when in fact it looks much smaller.  Regardless, it is an amazing work of architecture.  I learned later on my tour that the Opera House cost $102 million to build in 1973.  And by setting up a lottery, they were able to pay off the debt in 18 months!  Even though it appears modest from the outside, it houses 5 individual performance halls.

Behind the ship is the Harbour Bridge (‘the coat hanger’ as the locals call it).

My 10 am panorama city tour (SYD-AI) consisted of 24 passengers & a ship’s escort.  Our guide, Denise & driver, Michael were a delightful pair.  We had an impeccably clean, deluxe motor coach; & I was able to have the back 2 rows all to myself.  Denise said we must have brought the clouds with us, because the weather here had been perfectly sunny the last 3 days.  We did not experience any rain; but there was a damp coolness with the high humidity.

We started our drive down George Street, which is an important thoroughfare that runs the full length of this area of town known as “The Rocks” all the way to the Central (railway) Station.  This area appears to be the shopping & dining hub of northern Sydney; & is an interesting mix of old & new.  The late morning traffic was congested; & the driver had to take a few alternate routes so as not to just sit in traffic.  Therefore, some of the points of interest that we had hoped to see up close, had to be seen from a less than perfect vantage point.  I was disappointed that our alternate route took us too far afield to get a glimpse of the popular Darling Harbour area.

We drove past one entrance to Chinatown & down the Pitt Street Mall area (which is home to most of Sydney’s major designer shopping centers).  If it had not been for a ‘potty break’ request, I would have missed seeing one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture in the city.  Denise suggested that Michael drop us off at the entrance to the Queen Victoria Building (or the ‘QVB’ as the Aussie’s love to abbreviate everything).  The QVB is a national historic treasure that was on the verge of demolition.  This 5 story shopping/dining landmark takes up a whole city block & now houses some of the most exclusive designer stores in Australia.

We only paused there for about 20 mins; but the architectural detail made a great impression in a short period of time.  I’m sure the shopping is world class; but just sitting in the food court & people watching would have made for a delightful afternoon.

The focal points of our tour today were stops at an area called “The Domain” where the Royal Botanic Gardens is located; Miller’s Point observatory; a drive across the Harbour Bridge & the view there from Milson’s Point.

We arrived back at the ship at 1:15.  I went straight to the dining room for the obligatory (‘turnaround day’) Cobb Salad (which surprisingly wasn’t on the menu today; but they gladly prepared one for me).  They gave me a window table all the way at the back of the dining room, where I dined & read for a nice long time.

One of the appetizers sounded so good; & it was outstanding.  A tiny quesadilla of smoked turkey, brie & apricots served warm with a garnish of herbed salad greens.

The Cobb salad was fantastic; but not photo worthy.  What was worthy, the dessert recommended by the waiter.  I did not know what a ‘budino’ was; but as long as it was caramel flavored I knew it had to be good.  It was a caramel moussey-custard; & it was simply orgasmic!

We were issued new ID/key cards; & I carried mine to the reception desk to have a whole punched in it for my lanyard.  The lobby had been buzzing with new arrivals checking in when I got back from tour; but there was a quiet lull about 2:30.  Ed was standing off to the side of the Crystal Cove waiting to assist the newly boarding passengers.  I went over & we chatted for a while.

Another bit of interesting news, a production crew from the Discovery Channel boarded today.  They will be filming a documentary during this segment on the Serenity for their series “Mighty Ships”.  How exciting is that?

I went back to the cabin; & checked the internet.  It was lightning fast; & I set up the computer out on the verandah & went to work.  When that was done, I laid down for a short nap.  By late afternoon there were a few breaks in the clouds, enough so to give the city a less somber look.  So, I took the camera out on deck & shot more photos (which I continued to do throughout the evening hours).

The ever changing light & the illumination after dark kept changing the perspective.  The city just kept getting more beautiful.  I also noticed through the zoom lens that a group was making the trek across the upper ridge of the Harbour Bridge.  The guide this morning told us that it’s a very popular & expensive excursion.  They put you in a harness, tie the group one to the other; & you walk (very carefully) the entire span for a thrill of a lifetime.  I bet it is!

I saw Liz about 7:45; & she looked tired.  Turnaround days are extremely busy & stressful on the crew.  I told her I’d check the menu right away & place my order so she could finish for the evening.  Tonight’s menu was a very good one.  I keep finding items that I’ve never seen on the menus before; & I’m tempted to try them all.  Liz set up the table out on the verandah so I could watch all the people that were dining just a few yards away in the terminal at a very fancy, candlelit restaurant called “Peter Doyle on the Quay”.

Continuing with my scallop theme, tonight I had an appetizer of sautéed sea scallops on green pea puree topped with wild mushroom salad.  Succulently sweet & tender.

Another appetizer that I couldn’t pass up was thinly sliced San Daniele ham with roasted pear, shaved parmesan & raspberry-balsamic tossed greens.  Another winner!

Since the fish has been outstanding lately, I gave something new a try…..’ling’.  Actually it was a broiled fillet of fresh rock ling on a bed of sun dried tomato risotto with fresh green & white asparagus with a citrus beurre blanc sauce.  It was a very mild, meaty white fish; & I loved it.

And because it looked so good, I got an appetizer portion of the pasta special, cellentani with plum tomato sauce, artichokes, eggplant, olives, basil & pecorino cheese.  I took a bite before I wrapped it up & put in the fridge for breakfast.  Delish!!!

I stayed out on the verandah until 11:30.  The restaurant next door was still serving; & so many people were strolling about.  Some folks were watching us from the observation tower at the north end of the terminal building.  Others were strolling along the railings on the 2nd & 3rd floors walkways, admiring our beautiful ship.  (I’ve noticed a LOT of security people on each level of the terminal throughout the afternoon & night.  They are watching the waters around the hull of the ship.  This may be standard procedure in this era of continuing security threats.  I find it both sad & comforting.)

I’m tempted to sleep with the drapes open so that I could catch glimpses of the beautiful lights during the night.  This will be the first night I won’t have to set an alarm.  Nothing on my agenda until a early afternoon tour.  That will feel very, very nice.  I’ll be praying for sunshine.



Anne Fasfous said...

Your photos of Sydney are lovely. I'm so excited just looking through them and can barely wait to sail into Sydney for my 3 day stay over New Year in less than 11 months time. Hope you enjoy the rest of Australia, I look forward to following your adventure..

Anne (Jayayeff)

Anonymous said...

Becky, love your posts and pictures. All I can say is "WOW". Hope you continue enjoying your cruise. Thanks for sharing.

Marilyn (suitedreams)

JoAnne said...

Enjoying your travel journal and the wonderful photos. So glad you are having such a great trip and I can be an arm chair traveler. Miss you.

drtee said...

Becky, Love the photos.
I always sleep with the drapes open. It helps me wake up earlier, and the view is worth getting up for.

Rosemary said...

Becky--love your haircut--Crystal did good. You look fabulous and so happy that you went out a little bit for others to see you!

I am enjoying your blog very much. Crystal is one of my sig. other, Lee, and my favorite cruise lines. We've been on legs of 3 different WC's, so can appreciate all you of which you write.

Between you and Keith and Anne Marie's blog, I have gained a few pounds just looking at the food!! It is so wonderful, I am happy to see the photos and to know that it hasn't changed.

Thanks again for writing the blog. I write a daily diary, so know the dedication, yet rewards--years later when I read it.

XX Rosemary and Lee

Anonymous said...

What a great blog , thanks for sharing.