Sunday, December 16, 2007

Touring around Sydney-delayed post

By the way, if you fly First or Business into Australia, they give you an “express pass” on the airplane that gets you into the expedited lane for processing. DON’T THROW THIS AWAY… IT’S EQUALLY VALUABLE FOR YOUR RETURN CHECK IN THROUGH CUSTOMS! Since I have no checked baggage, I’m first out on my flight to the agriculture, suitcase checking area. Three Pakistani/Indian women in front of me have large amounts of food in their suitcases, so they have to go to agriculture screening..they start to pass me into that line, but I looked at the woman, and said, OK, but I don’t have any food products… and she said, sorry, just been dealing with so many that are bringing in all these foods like rice…

So I’m out and about in the terminal now.. found a plug converter for US to Aussie… no plane converters…. Decided to buy some more currency. Talked to the information bureau which confirmed best way to Sydney harbor was the train and gave me more details on how…. AND they told me I could check my bag while I trotted around at the “SmartCarte” baggage stowaway place. Which was a true gift to not haul all that stuff around for the next couple of hours (simultaneously subliminally shouting tourist, steal my purse!)

Called Biff, told him about my challenges, and he checked the connectors at home and when I called him next he suggested I check my bag again, because he didn’t see it at home. So, when I rooted through my suitcase in an area where it was light.. I did finally find it.

Got to the train station (short lift ride down to bottom of station)… ticket machines, but ticket person….who I talked to explained I should just get an airport combo day tripper, since I might want to do another hop or so on the train, and I wanted to go on the ferry. Cost me a little over $30. Rode train about 7 stops to Circle Quai (said “key”) which is where all the ferry docks are.

Got down to ferry… I had originally thought to go to Manley where there are farmers markets and botanical gardens (from reading the guide book), but I had since realized I was leaving at 4:15, not 6 or 8 pm as I thought. I was told the Watson Bay trip would be shorter with good views.. Turns out the Watson Bay trip was about 40-50 minutes, so the Manley trip would have been longer… It had stops at Garden Island, Rose Island, ?? and then Watson Bay. From Watson Bay it made a straight trip back to the Circle Quai docks.

I took a lot of pictures. Hope some of them are usable—it was a light gray overcast and hoping the Opera House pictures will be distinguishable. It is really cool looking, but I must admit it’s smaller than I’ve always thought! Pictures of the bridge. Lots of skyline pictures, lots of bay pictures. All the hills surrounding the bays are full of homes from little to big. Condos, townhouses (some look quite old) and then some monster mansions. It never did get to the 80s predicted.

Tyler found a friend who found a hotel for me in San Francisco. I hadn’t worried about it because I had lists of hotel by every airport on my travels from SAIC travel..but with laptop in question of working before arrival in San Francisco, I was looking for a place to stay. The place Tyler’s friend Brad found also had a reputation for a great concierge. Biff got me reservations and sent me the confirmation information.

When I got back I wondered around the area and found a Starbucks! Got my standard Vente iced decaf Americano… But the Vente in Australia is shorter than the Vente at home. They don’t have the extra tall straws either (because they don’t need them). Picked up a few little souvenirs and some post cards. Was stymied trying to mail Christmas cards and post cards…couldn’t find any stamps! I guess they will go out from Heathrow??

Grabbed a light lunch at the Quayside Café..and then headed back to train station. Just as I got to train station it started to rain. So I’m sitting in the train station and Biff calls me to remind me it’s 3 hours til departure and shouldn’t I be getting back?? The return trip on the train was uneventful—almost. I was watching the monitors which tell you when the next train is coming and what stations it will stop at.. I was on the right platform, but the airport stations weren’t on the list. A quick consult to the map and realized even though I didn’t switch trains on the way to the harbor, I needed to switch at Central station to get over to the spur that takes you to the airport stops. It was a quicker ride back than it was going to the harbor (17 minutes vs. 30 minutes on the way out)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Very useful information here Paula I will certainly have to remember about the express pass for arrival and departure. Its sound like a very nice adventure.