Suzi and I caught a bus round the corner from our lodge (more about the Sydney public transport later). It is good to go on a trip with someone who had the foresight to research transportation dues before going on a trip. Suzi had purchased transport passes for AUD 38 at the airport: good for seven days and gave us access to most bus, rail and ferry lines in Sydney. This is truly value for money: a regular bus ticket for a 7 km trip cost about AUD 4.90 a single way. I guess they are trying to make it easy for the tourists to move around a lot; then they would spend more, no?
The bus wound around the suburbs. It looked to me as though Sydney doesn't believe in zoning. You could see mid-size shopping malls in the middle of the suburbs and just a few blocks away, rows of shops offering everything from dry cleaning, Lebanese bread, lotto and liquor to real estate. The houses seem to be on a small side, but Suzi pointed out that it gets really cold in winter and that smaller houses are more efficient to heat. However, although the gardens of the homes are the size of a postage stamp, they are immaculately kept and boasts a variety of colours. Some even shaped their shrubs into topiaries! None of the apartment buildings are over 5 stories high, which is amazing. I don't know whether this means Sydney doesn't have very many people (which I doubt) or because the development sprawls away into the countryside.
We got off near a train station to try out the double decker train to get to Circular Quay.
On board the train we were giggling away like demented girls as we craned our necks about, commenting at the age of the well-preserved vinyl seats and generally just oohing and ahing. Circular Quay housed the ferries harbour that we took to get to Taronga Zoo, where I got this cute little fellow for my niece.
However, it seems that he spends most of the time on my bed. Huh.
We bought breakfast at a cafe at the port?dock? of the ferry heading towards Taronga. Suzi told me that the school holiday had just begun with Easter last weekend. There was a large number of families also waiting for the ride. Many comprised of three generations; so for those who generalise about the moral and family institution decay of Western society, better shut your trap. There was quite a few where it was the grandparents who took the kids out; no parents. It was noisy and cheery and this atmosphere continued on board the ferry.
The ferries weren't very large and are quite old, I think. Autumn in Sydney was blissfully cool and the delicious cold breeze over the water was a fantastic contrast to the heat back home. The journey took us past a few major landmarks of Sydney such as:
The famed Sydney bridge. Apparently there are guided tour to the bridge inclusive of a climbing expedition. Those crazy mat sallehs.
The Sydney Opera House reminded me of some building in Shah Alam. Don't ask me why. I was just shocked to see how close it was: something that I had not thought to see except on postcards and television. The harbour water looked quite clear and did not carry the unpleasant reek that one often associates with a busy harbour. No debris, no floating pseudo jellyfishes (i.e. plastic bags) either. Fantastic.
I was admiring that white structure on the foreground of this picture; no idea what it was. You can see sailboats moored in the cove in the background; there are all kinds of water vessels to be found here, from paddleboats, schooner-types, water taxis etc.
The ride on this baby wasn't covered by our transport pass, so we only took pictures.
Boats big and small idylly made their way around the harbour, unhurried and casual.
Some of the hydrofoils carry passengers for special tour trips around the Darling Harbour and stuff. They serve food and provide some kind of entertainment on board.
This classic ship also carries passengers for tour trips to reminisce about the historical beginnings of Sydney. Unfortunately none were moored when we were at the quay; it would have been nice to be able to get on board to see what it's like.
Next: Wildlife encounter!