February 10, 2016

World Cruise 2016 Day 36

Day 36 Sydney, Australia. I'm up at the ridiculous hour of 6 AM to watch our arrival into Sydney Harbor. The air temperature is about 68, the humidity high, but the skies clear. It is expected to warm to the high 70's today.

Our ship passes the world famous Sydney Opera House. The International Cruise Terminal is just past the Opera House but is reserved for a Princess ship. We are much smaller and can go under the Sydney Harbor Bridge where we then turn around, and back into the White Bay Cruise Terminal. Our terminal is about a 30 minute bus ride to the city center and the Opera House. Free shuttles are provided until 11 PM tonight.

My tour for the day is a combination of city sights, a tour of the opera house, and a stop at Bondi beach. I find the outside of the opera house much more impressive than the inside. Unfortunately our tour doesn't show us the interiors of any of the major halls, just one of the smallest theaters. The streets of Sydney are very narrow, and our large bus seems to go around and around the same blocks over and over. This is because of construction, traffic congestion, no turn lanes, overpasses that are too low, and streets that are too narrow.

Bondi beach is famous for surfers. There are several thousand people at the beach, we are told on a summer weekend 50 thousand or more is not uncommon. The bus drops us off near one end of the beach and the driver tells us he will park near the other end. We have almost 2 hours for shopping and purchasing lunch. Most places are selling fish or seafood items. I do a real cop out and go to McDonalds. Tastes just as bad as in Florida.

The passengers on the bus today were all properly behaved ladies and gentlemen, so I have nothing more I can write about them. However let me tell you about the tour company guide. He tells the bus driver to leave without even counting passengers on the bus, or letting the HAL escort board.

The escort bangs on the door and the driver stops. The guide then tells us he forgot his name tag, he also does not wear any sort of uniform which most of the other tour guides seem to be wearing.

We get to the Opera house, the bus parks as close as it can, several blocks away. The guide leads us up the many front steps, and we stand in the lobby for 15 minutes while he is in the ticket line. He then approaches us and tells us we must go to the sub level for tour groups.

Yes there is a group tour office there with little to no line, but he doesn't have the required voucher for the tickets, nor does he have his cell phone to call his office, he says he left it on the bus. Fifteen minutes later, our guide from the opera house begins our tour by going back up all the steps again. Starting half an hour late may be why we didn't get to see any of the main halls, but that is only speculation on my part.

Sydney is the largest city in Australia, hundreds of high rise buildings are under construction, there is a lot of traffic congestion, and housing is very expensive. I see no blighted areas. The average rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is reported to be $500 USD per week. Lofts built into old warehouses on the waterfront sell for 3 to 10+ Million USD!

We stay in port tonight. Many passengers are having a night on the town, not me. I have another tour early in the morning. On the ship there is only one show tonight, a comedian at 9:30. I will skip it, sleep is more important.