Yesterday we had debated getting a MyMulti pass, a week-long transportation pass that includes the trains to/from the airport and to/from the Blue Mountains. Rather than spend $65 each for this luxury, we instead chose the route of more exercise and agreed to purchase train/bus/ferry tickets as needed. This exercise was starting today and began with a 40 minute walk into the city for our I’m Free Tours of Sydney after prepping our packed lunch and downing some yogurt for breakfast.
We arrived just in time at 10:30 a.m. to be introduced to our group leader, Justine, who also happens to be the founder of the company. After providing us with a free city map (yay!) she led us through the city introducing us to a number of oddities and some of the history of the city. One such oddity included a statue of Queen Victoria’s favorite dog who just so happens to speak to you as well. Another was two statues of Governor Macquarie that looked nothing alike. Very strange. We roamed the streets with her and our group for a good 3 hours before concluding at the harbor overlooking the very iconic Opera House which we learned went very much over budget and time leading to the original architect, Jorn Utzon, not being invited to the opening. In fact, he never even stepped foot in Sydney to see his creation finished before passing away in 2008. Ouch.
Rather than waste this view, the two of us sat down to eat our packed lunch while a nearby bird politely hoped we would share. When we were done, we headed back into The Rocks neighborhood to visit The Rocks Discovery Museum, a free museum pointed out to us by Justine, which delves into the history of the neighborhood. This area was the original home to the convicts (after sequestered from the aboriginals, of course), but throughout the 1900s was transformed into a working class neighborhood. In the 1970s, there was a big push to tear down all the historic buildings and replace them with towering condos. The neighborhood united and a compromise was reached, leaving us with a very quaint area of shops and restaurants hidden within the various nooks and alleyways. The museum was good, but the highlight was learning that they used to use wooden bricks to pave the streets. The process was documented in a movie and indicated that it was nearby, so of course we would visit. The low point was the number of elementary-aged children darting in and out of us, yelling at each other, and not really interacting with the exhibits. What is the point of bringing them to a museum if they aren’t even learning anything? To annoy the rest of us, obviously.
After getting instructions from the museum receptionist, we quickly found the wooden road. Wood bricks don’t seem to last very long, since these were only installed in 2008 but are all already breaking apart. It totally makes sense why this is no longer a thing.
We made quick loop of the nearby Planetarium grounds before walking over Sydney’s Harbour Bridge. The walk offered incredible views of downtown, the harbor, the surrounding inlet, the Opera House, and the massive Royal Caribbean cruise ship despite all suicide-prevention security they have had to add over the years. We chose to roam the waterfront before ending up at Luna Park, the very creepy amusement park nestled under the bridge next to shore.
After a brief tour where we luckily did not die a horrible death, we walked back over the bridge for a closer look at the Opera House. To our surprise, the building is not a pure white but has tiles of alternating white and cream colors. It also looks a lot nicer from further away.
With the help of our tour, we learned that there would-be free trivia at a nearby bar tonight and being avid-trivia players back home, we decided to make this our evening activity. By this time it was 4 p.m. so to ensure we had ample time to make it, we headed back on foot to our apartment. We hiked through the Botanical Gardens, by Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair (a lookout point built for Governor Macquarie’s wife), across the neighborhood of Woolloomooloo (a hilarious name if we ever saw one), and finally back to Pott’s Point. We prepped some dinner of salad and beef stew before taking back off on foot to The Strand Hotel, our trivia bar for the evening.
The bar of the The Strand Hotel when we arrived 5 minutes before trivia was due to start was not busy, so we easily grabbed a hightop table and our trivia sheet. We chose to name ourselves, “The Flakey Tarts” after a restaurant we had giggled about earlier in the day. We intended to be suitably squashed by our opponents since we were in Australia and what do we know about Australia, but thankfully the questions were very similar to the U.S. and some even favorable to us being Americans. As an example, “Name 6 of the top 10 countries visited by United States citizens.” That was cake. But, there were also a few related to cricket, which we had no idea about so that balanced it out. We also greatly enjoyed the random games thrown in for pitchers or pints of beer, such as Heads or Tails where the entire bar would need to stand up and choose either heads or tails indicated using their hands. The trivia host would flip a coin and those that chose incorrectly would sit down. Last one standing wins. We didn’t win sadly, but we enjoyed the concept. The pinnacle of the night, however, came with the jackpot featuring a $700 AUD takeaway. All we had to do was give the exact year something happened and be the only team to put that year. “What year was the gold repository at Fort Knox established?” Yes! Another America question. We agreed it was before WWII. Lynn blindly guessed 1937 and Doug, with a little more reasoning, said 1933 when the U.S. went off the gold standard. We settled on Doug’s choice because, well, he put a little more thought into it. Shoot. It was 1937. No one won, so next week the jackpot would be more and we wouldn’t be here. Disappointed but proud of our showing we headed home to bed.
Daily Walking Miles : 15.9 Miles
- You can climb the Harbour Bridge for the minimum price of $173 AUD per person (it increases with more time, peak hours, etc). We considered it, but figure the free view is just as worth it.
- Ibis birds are everywhere in this city and they have the littlest head in the longest beak ever.
- Australia’s crest contains the kangaroo and the emu, both of which the residents eat. This had led to the creation of a Coat of Arms pizza.