Australia Part III: Sydney

I am glad we went to Melbourne before we went to Sydney. Melbourne is a wonderful place but Sydney was so fabulous that it would have been a let down if we had gone to Sydney first. Not only that, but if we had reversed the order we would have been rained out in Sydney. But, as it turned out, we had beautiful weather while were in there. They were having unseasonably warm days in the mid-70s.

I know I am prone to hyperbole, but Sydney has got to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I know Travel+Leisure magazine thinks so. I could live in Sydney in a heartbeat–if only it wasn’t located half way around the world.

The pictures above were taken from our hotel room. The views were amazing and we could easily walk downtown, take the CityRail which was right next door, or walk through the great neighborhoods of Potts Point, Paddington, Surry Hills, and Woollahra.
Normally we would not do so, but we ended up staying at the Holiday Inn. We were originally scheduled to stay at a cheapish boutique hotel in the same neighborhood, but the bathroom was so moldy it set off the other Mr. MyPorch’s allergies. Not only was the Holiday Inn close, clean, and comfortable, but the views were great and it only cost $50 more a night than the depressing boutique where we spent our first night. It is making me rethink my automatic bias against big chains.

Parks in Sydney

Like Melbourne there are is a lot of wonderful greenspace in Sydney. The main difference is that in Syney much of the park space is found in one big chunk of green downtown with fewer parks scattered throughout the city. Sydney’s Botanic Gardens and Hyde Park form an enormous green park on the harbor right in the heart of work a day Sydney. There are very few U.S. American cities that have this kind of access to green space in the central business district. Given the wonderful weather while we were there the Sydneysiders who worked downtown to good advantage of the park on their lunch hours.

Transit in Sydney

The transit system in Sydney relies a lot more on buses than the system in Melbourne. It might turn out to be just as convenient, but for the visitor it is a little more difficult to navigate the buses in Sydney over the trams in Melbourne. There is one tram line in Sydney but it feels much like the one- or two-line light rail systems in North American cities. I guess it makes up for gaps in the heavy rail system that runs throughout the Sydney central business district and the suburbs, but it seems rather isolated. The heavy rail system moves a lot of people throughout the metro area but it has limited reach in some parts of town and bus use becomes a necessity. But even this doesn’t seem like much of a problem given the quantity, frequency, and quality of the buses in Sydney.

Even more isolated than the one tram line in Sydney is the monorail system. It consists of one loop that hits the core of downtown and the convention and entertainment districts. I think I saw a few Sydneysiders riding the monorail, but it seemed to be the domain of tourists. It must get a good workout when there is a convention in town but it seemed pretty sad when we were on board. An added annoyance is that the cars are broken up into small comparments that seat about 8 people with no connections between cars. No doubt this is because a monorail isn’t wide enough to have a center aisle, but the feeling was pretty confined, not to mention dated and kind of ugly.

An integral part of the commuter transit system are the ferries that move people from the Circular Quay in dowtown Sydney (right next to the Opera House) to various suburban neighborhoods outside the city core. We took a ferry one late afternoon out to Manly. Within about 35 minutes (30 minutes on the ferry and 5 minutes on foot) we were sitting on the beah. One can only imagine what it must be like to live in Manly, steps from the ocean and yet be to work in downtown Sydney in less than 45 minutes.

Australia Here I Come

Hey everyone. The porch will be empty for the next few weeks. We are headed off to Australia. We will spend time in Melbourne and Sydney as well as five days on Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef. Sigh.
We managed to snag first class seats using frequent flyer awards (ah, the joy of planning vacation 331 days in advance). I can’t wait to sack out in my lie-flat seat on the 14-hour Pacific crossing.
So, a perfect time for all of you to catch up on previous posts. If you scroll through the archives there is a little something for every one.
For my birthday the other Mr. MyPorch had 12 of Sue’s world famous Whoopie Pies air shipped from Monhegan Island, Maine. As I note in this post from last year, Sue makes the best Whoopie Pies on the planet.