Sydney, Australia

G’day, Mate!

DSC04098I was up at 5am this morning, up on Deck 10 in rather cold weather to see us meet the Pilot to guide us in to Sydney, and get some pretty stunning pictures of our arrival into the harbour. The sunrise was a true sight to see, and it was amazing to see the bridge, and the opera house come into view.

DSC04143I was up for the entire thing, on Deck 10 for most of it, so I got quite a few pictures of the whole thing. I have to say this was one of the more difficult departures… I’m never very happy to leave my cruise ship home, but after 19 days you really do get attached to the ship, and the people on board. The crew really do make you feel like family, and you can tell they get pretty attached to you too. So needless to say, it was a tough departure after more than two weeks, and I’m very sorry to see her go.

On the plus side, Sydney is absolutely beautiful – it’s still a little difficult to believe that I am on the other side of the world, over 9 hours away by air, and as I was able to personally witness, over 19 days away by boat ;). We got into port around 6am, I had breakfast with Simone, a friend I met on board, and her family in the Windjammer, and then picked one of the last slots to disembark – around 9am (giving me just a bit more time on board!). I got off, picked up my luggage in under 2 minutes (Royal is very, very good at this), and made my way over to the Central Station shuttle.

The shuttle took about 10 – 15 minutes to navigate through the city a bit, eventually winding up at Central Station. Full of luggage, and no one to greet me with drinks and food, I was already missing the ship :p but that’s another matter! Arriving at Central Station I took a quick walk around the building and found myself at the hostel that I booked, “Bounce Sydney” – really nice spot, literally across the street from Central Station (makes it very easy to find, and get back to). I couldn’t check in until 1pm, but I left my bag there and decided to explore a little bit.

There’s no pictures of this since I was already a little tired and cranky, and didn’t really feel like doing the whole tourist thing today, but I had a fun walk, acquainted myself with the general area, found a nice park, some good places to stop for a food, stuff like that. I stopped back in the hostel to use the internet for a bit, and wound up talking to Shauna who was able to help me pick out a SIM card for my phone, so I took off for Telstra (I think?) and bought a new micro SIM with some credit for my iPhone – the guy thinks the $30 will last me the entire time I’m here, but we’ll see how that works :p

So I’ve got a working phone again, I do have to say it is nice to have real internet, and not pay 65 cents a minute to use it – nice to talk to people again (live), and nice to walk around this beautiful city. It’s about 6pm now, I’m getting pretty tired :p but there’s a BBQ at 7pm here at the Hostel that I’ll check out, and I’ve got a nice full day planned for tomorrow with a 3 hour walking tour in the morning, lunch and then the Royal Botanic Gardens, and then maybe one more thing that I might decide to do based on the walking tour.

In other events currently planned…

  • Art Gallery of New South Wales
  • Sydney Opera House Tour
  • Bridge Climb (check it out… www.bridgeclimb.com – very cool)
  • Sydney Tower Eye
  • Australian National Maritime Museum
  • Darling Harbour
  • Possibly the Powerhouse Museum
  • and the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium

So lots to do, I might add a bit as we go along, but it should be a full week. Planned departure for New Zealand is Sunday Oct 21st, I’ll get there mid-day. Still need to pick out a hostel and figure out exactly where I’ll be throughout the week or so that I’m there – lots to explore, and I think I’d like to get over to the South island at some point as well. So I’ll be planning that tomorrow as well, and trying to fit in some work time as well to wrap up a couple of things, and get some of the work that I did on the cruise uploaded and finished up.

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Jumping back for a minute, the All Access Tour yesterday was a blast, we got to see all sorts of places, including the laundry room, crew cabins, printing press, receiving dock, all the storage areas for the food, drinks, etc, supplies closet (not sure I’d call it a closet, but anyway…), the “I-95” on Deck 1, crew galley, bar, recreation room, HR office, training room, main galley/kitchen, engine room (VERY cool – the Chief Engineer took a lot of time to answer all my questions lol), and of course – the bridge, where the Captain was just as generous with his time. I think because of my questions (and others) we ran about 45 minutes later than planned 😀 it was terrific, very worth the money.

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Otherwise yesterday was a pretty relaxing day… we had some indoor horse races which was amusing, our “last dinner” :(, and a terrific farewell show put on by the cast and crew.

It was a really nice way to end a wonderful trip, and I would happily do that cruise, or longer, again. I have to say the Captain is the best I’ve seen so far (Captain Rob Hempstead), the Cruise Director is the best I’ve seen so far (Casey Pelter), and both of our dining staff were just terrific – Evan and Sandra.

We had a great table of 10 dining each night, really nice group of people – unfortunately a couple weren’t feeling well on the last night so we didn’t do a group picture, but I did get one with Julie, myself, Evan and Sandra – Julie was the other “solo cruiser” at the table, and decided to take me on as a project during the cruise :p

DSC04043So it was a great cruise, and it’s been a good first day in Sydney. This is the real start of my “adventure”, from here it’s just one city, state, province or country after the next! This trip officially began on Sunday, September 16th, so in a couple of days I’ll have been at it for one month, with approx. 9 months to go!

Lots to see, lots to do – so let’s go! What’s next?

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