Thursday, August 23, 2012

Australia Adventures #11.. where there really was an adventure.

I never actually posted a summary post about the Sydney leg of the trip.
1.  I am lazy.
2.  I was glad to be home.
3.  I needed a break.
4.  I was overwhelmed.
5.  I was hurtin' like hell.
6.  I wanted to forget about Australia and being in a plane and being miserable.
7.  Picture were all you wanted, right???  I kid, I kid.

So, we left our resort by 9, to be at the airport by 11, to be in Sydney by 1830, to be at the Holiday Inn in Potts Point at some point after that.  I had made the hotel reservation bases on proximity to the train station/"downtown" Sydney.  We planned to do some sight seeing, so being in town was better than being near the airport.

Double decker train!

We bullied our way through public transportation, which ended up being mostly free (thankfully), and we made it to the hotel.  We checked in and took a few minutes to gather ourselves, then decided to head out and find food/take photos (me and a travel cohort).  The guys were just along for the sights.

There were a few food places down the street where the hotel was and we couldn't decide on asian or pizza.  The pizza place wasn't packed and they had real food, where the asian place we weren't so sure about.  When all else fails for food options in Australia.. get the pizza.  Seriously, it will be the most delicious pizza you eat in your entire life.  We ended up at Doughboy.  We all stole magnets.

I ended up ordering the Quattro Funghi mushroom (EXTREME) pizza.  I didn't know that many types of mushrooms could come on one pizza.  America seriously needs to take some food hints from the rest of the world.  Pffth, pepperoni is crap.  Mushrooms (of all types) are where its at!!

While we were eating, we were discussing our touristy game plan.  We were chatting up the waitress/one-hit wonder of this restaurant, since she seemed to be the only person in the place..  UNTIL we saw someone come up a flight up stairs.  This place had a basement.  AWESOME.  So, we're talking about the best place to go and needing to get on the train to go to Circular Quay and going to The Rocks (where my female travel cohort wanted to go see more than anything else on earth (since she's already seen the curviest street in the world in SF)) and just general touristy stuff.. and the lone patron that had come in after we'd arrived, ate his meal, and was about to leave approached me (since everyone else had went out to smoke).  At first I was like, wtf stranger danger!!!  He said that he couldn't help but overhear our conversation (since there were 4 tables in this closet of a place and we'd taken 2 of them) and he wondered if he might make a suggestion.  What did I have to lose?  

He suggested that he take us around.  He explained that he was a professional driver and that he'd charge us $80 an hour to take 5 people around to all the awesome sights in Sydney.  His gig that night had just been cancelled and he was giving us a discounted rate while taking us around and he would also recoup some of the money that he'd lost from the cancelled gig.  I was skeptical and excited at the same time.  Not having to deal with public transportation!  A set $$ amount?  Riding around in a van with a stranger?  The man said that he would go and pull his van up so that way we could have a chance to eat our pizzas and then check out the van when he came back.  The others came back in once he left, right as the pizzas started coming out, and I explained the conversation to them.  Everyone thought it was a good idea, but one of the guys suggested that we check his credentials before we decided to all take off in a van with a stranger.  

The guy pulled up in a Mercedes van.  The only issue was going to be that one of the back seats faced backwards instead of towards the front.  He showed us his license to be a "driver" and he explained that he used to do tours regularly, but now he did more transportation stuff, like picking groups up from the airport or transporting customers to meetings when they were in town for business, etc.  The concerned guy was satisfied and after our pizzas were consumed and paid for, we jumped in the van to head on an adventure with a stranger!!!  Weeeeee!

Of course, Mike (we learned his name) asked us why we were in Sydney, and we mentioned that we were in the US Navy.  The first place he stopped at was one of the Australian Navy bases since we were Navy too..  and the base was right down the road from our hotel. 

While Mike was asking if we could get a photo in front of the gate (they said no),
I snapped one anyways.  I'm a rebel!

We could tell from this point on that Mike was going to be an awesome tour guide.  He told us that he was going to take us to the best photography spots around the harbor and while he was driving he was also explaining parts of town to us.

Our 2nd stop was St. Mary's Cathedral, the largest church in Australia.

Looks like it would make a solid haunted house.

Another example of Mike being awesome:
I set up the tripod and he took photos of us in front of the Cathedral.
This one shows just one (of 4 times) I ran (literally) up and down the stairs to fix something on the camera.
I miss that "winter" weather!

On our way from the cathedral, we passed an awesome fountain.

Another example of Mike being awesome:
he pulled up on the walkway so we could get a closer look instead of everyone getting out and walking up.

Then we headed towards the Opera House.  Due to it being night time and having to keep the shutter open for a longer time to get a good shot, all my initial excitement photos of being AT the Sydney Opera House were all ridiculously blurry.  I made up for it though.  If not in this post, the next one.  Promise.

From "beside" the Opera House:

The Overseas Passenger Terminal is where cruise ships pull into.  There are lots of accommodations at the OPT, so most tourists never have to leave the building.

Sydney Harbor Bridge w/ the Ferry going out.

Me + Sydney Harbor Bridge.  :)
 Then Mike drove to the Overseas Passenger Terminal, where there was an open gate, so we were able to sneak in, park for a few minutes and I was able to snap some awesome photos.

Sydney Opera House

Sydney Harbor Bridge + Luna Park

Long exposure of the ferry and an airplane.
 We moved on other places, since the hour was ticking on.  Mike agreed to do 2 hours (still at $80 an hour), because despite how much we were hurrying, 1 hour just really wasn't enough time to do a sufficient tour of Sydney.  We agreed to this, since that was $30 a person for a 2 hour personalized tour around Sydney, stopping at all the good vantage points.

Apparently, the City of Sydney hates cars, that's what this "art" means.
 Mike had told us that he would take us to all the good photography points, which meant that we got to go across the bridge!!

Mike was going to take us over the bridge, but we had to get there first!

Crossing the bridge!!

Mike slowed down scary slow for me to take these pics from the sunroof of his awesome pimp van.

70KPH was the speed limit.. We might have been going 25 so I could get a good photo.
Mike really was awesome.
 We made it across the bridge to one of the most classic vantage points in Sydney.  It has a name that I don't remember, but I'll call it "directly across from the Opera House."

This is me being "artsy" and embracing the photo's noise.


More bridge action with the city.

After I took panaromics till my heart was about to burst, I let someone borrow my tripod so she could get pics and then we headed on to Luna Park, which we saw under the Harbor Bridge earlier.

Crossing under the bridge to get to Luna Park.

This place just gives me the creeps.  Seriously.  From looking at it.
Mike also informed us that several kids had died here when the Ghost Train caught fire in 1979.
Creeps concreted into my soul.

Our time was almost up, but Mike wanted to take us around downtown Sydney and show us a few more places that weren't necessarily for photography, but just awesome in general.

We drove through the red light district, where we saw a not very sexy transvestite pole dancing.  We went through some shopping areas.  We went through Chinatown, then Mike brought us back to the Holiday Inn. We'd made a huge circle.  Mike was pretty tired of having to completely stop for me to get a good photo, so he didn't do much stopping during the end part of the tour, so all the photos came out really blurry.. even at almost stopped.  Pretty sure night photography is one of the most difficult things I've done in relation to photography.

Some of the lights in Chinatown...
where Mike had pulled up onto the sidewalk to stop so I could get this photo.

Moral of the story: Mike = awesome.  Mike = so awesome that I insisted he been in a group photo with us.

Mike = guy in the blazer.

Despite an awesome day, I was exhausted.  It was past 11pm when we arrived back at the Holiday Inn.  I agreed to meet up with the other girl I was travelling with at SIX AM (not enough hours later)...  We were going to catch the train and head to The Rocks, the only place she wanted to go to in the entire world........  Lets just say 530 came very early....

....But ended up being one of the best decisions I've made in my entire life...

Want to catch up on the Australia Adventures???1st day off in Australia (summary)
2nd day off in Australia (summary)
San Francisco (photos)
Perth Zoo a, b, c (photos)
The Indian Ocean and downtown Perth at night (photos)
Caversham Wildlife Park a, b, c (photos)
Fremantle Prison (photos)
walking around Fremantle (the city) (photos)
Perth from King's Park (photos)
HMAS Ovens (submarine) (photos)
Sydney at night (photos and a story)

a preview of what is coming up left:
Sydney in the morning (really excited about this one)
panoramics from the entire Australia trip

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad that I'm not the only one who stuffs posts full of photos! I'm kinda jealous of your Australia adventures, it's definitely on the list of places to visit


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