Sunday, November 17, 2013

Australia road trip day 9 - Sydney hop-on-hop-off tour

17 November 2013

We had already done the major Sydney attractions on Saturday, and the plan for Sunday was to get aboard the hop on hop off bus service and see the rest of the city. This worked out great because it rained a lot and it would have been a real nuisance to get anywhere on our own.

Like the day before, we took the regular bus to Sydney. Except that on Sundays, they have what they call 'Family Funday Sunday'. If you're travelling with your family (of course they had rules to define 'family' -- the travelling group must be related and include at least one child and one adult), you can get a ticket for $2.50 per person, which grants you unlimited travel on buses, rail and ferries. I was very keen to take the rail at some point, so this option was great. We didn't do the ferry because of the rainy and cold weather.

We sat in the upper deck of our first hop on hop off bus, but we didn't last longer than a few minutes. It was just too windy and cold, especially for Xena who had insisted to go upstairs but wanted to go back down in three seconds.

Our first stop was the popular Bondi beach. 'Bondi' is an Aboriginal word meaning 'noise of water breaking over rocks'. It was still raining and very cold, and even though we were bundled ourselves up in our jackets and hats, we couldn't be out for too long. So we quickly took some photos and went back into the warmth of the visitor centre.

Xena and me at Bondi beach

Xena pretending to read the map and guide Grandpa

Bondi pavilion - the cultural hub of Bondi 

We roamed around trying to find a lunch place with vegetarian options and stumbled upon 'Thai in a Box' where they could customise dishes exactly the way you want them. Pick your preferred noodles or rice, toppings and sauces and they'll whip up a mind-blowing meal. I loved it. They also had a feature wall showing various spices used in Thai cooking. 

Xena, of course, showed zero interest in the food and was happy to roam all over the restaurant. 

Soon, she had conceptualised project 'pull the stool to the wall'. 

She hopped on to the stool...

... and made herself comfortable till we had finished our meal. 

We spent pretty much the rest inside buses and rails, touring the city and listening to the audio commentary. Xena happily napped, nestled in her Poppy's arms. The audio commentary was quite interesting and had some fun trivia such as how Paul Hogan used to work on the Harbour Bridge as a painter! A carving of a lion's head near the Sydney town hall has one eye shut. This was apparently done by one of the stonemasons to mock the building supervisor who used to close one eye when checking that the stonework had been laid correctly. Also, did you know that just before its official opening, the Harbour bridge was 'pre-inaugurated' by a man in a military uniform who rode up on a horse and slashed the ribbon with a sword 'opening the bridge in the name of the people of New South Wales'? He was promptly arrested, the ribbon retied and the opening ceremony carried out as per the plan. Another funny one was a building that was deliberately not completed to avoid paying a completion task! 

The Star Sydney casino and hotel

An art installation we passed -- a boulder that had smashed a car. Not an apt piece of art to put in the middle of the road I think!

I found this quite interesting - a KFC housed in an old building!

The Australian museum (we didn't go in as Xena would have been very bored)

The rain was really coming down hard. 

The beautiful El Alamein fountain is a memorial for soldiers who died during WWII at El Alamein, Egypt. 

A rainy view of the Opera House

This sculpture of a wild boar called Il Porcellino stands outside the Sydney hospital. We didn't get down to see it (it was still raining), but from the bus, we photographed this guy who was photographing the boar. There's a plaque that says that "When you rub my nose and make a wish, your donation supports research, education and development at SydneyHospital.' Its nose sure is well-rubbed because the rest of it has turned a dull green-brown, but its nose still looks new and shiny. 

We did one and a quarter rounds on the hop on hop off bus because we'd missed some of the commentary earlier. Xena was quite flummoxed at this new mode of transport and kept asking where her car seat was. We finally hopped off the bus and went to Woolsworth to stock up on breakfast items and some food for Xena. 

Then we went to our bus stop and waited for the bus to take us back. The glass panels at the bus stop were all fogged up and Xena enjoyed herself thoroughly watching me trace the letters of the alphabet on it.

Finally, we got into our bus! Here's Viv with all the stuff from Woolsworth, and a dazed Xena.

We also got a ride over the Harbour bridge.

By the time we reached our stop, the rain had stopped too. We walked back to our hosts' house.

It had been a looong day. Xena snuggled up to me. 

Good night, everyone!



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