Sydney. The Rocks Rock
February 12, 2017
Cruise ship arrival in Sydney is splendid! The slightly downside is that we arrive in Sydney Harbor just before dawn. So our first very dramatic views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge are in silhouette, with the moon glowing behind storm clouds. The bridge and opera house are still impressive, and I’m glad that I set the alarm to get up at 5:30 am to see our arrival and go under the Harbor Bridge.
Our stateroom neighbors have gotten up to see the arrival as well. They are in a suite next to our humble cabin. This Chinese couple and their Americanized 20 something daughter (whom I have jealously spied in red heeled Christian Louboutin stilettos on at least one occasion onboard) have paid probably 7-10 times more than we did for our passage. We have rubbernecked their larger two bedroom suite with envy as we’ve walked by, but whoa, the price tag! Both the daughter and mom were in my hula group, so we have spoken a few times during the trip. This morning we smile and wave as we enter the harbor from our respective balconies. Then the mom reappears where our balconies join. “We are locked out! Can you call someone for us?”
We are, all five of us, in our bathrobes at our balconies and this is really sort of funny. With a chuckle, I call the guest services desk. A heavily accented woman listens to me explain that my neighbors are locked out of their suite and are stuck on the balcony. Please send someone to unlock their door, I ask.
“Yes, Madame.” She responds too quickly. I then ask, “Do you understand?”
She responds, “Yes, Madam, what do you need?”
Grr, I repeat my request and end with “Send someone to the Mo’orea Suite, right now.”
I go back to the balcony to let our neighbors know I called guest services and I will check back to see they are ok in a few minutes. Then our phone rings and a new voice says, “Ah, good. You are back in your cabin now, Madam?”
“No……grrr….no”. I explain again. Really, though, the ship is staffed by people from all over the world and we’ve had no difficulty communicating until now. The service on the ship has been just wonderful. All the staff have been so friendly and hardworking.
Finally the poor souls next door are rescued after nearly an hour on their balcony in bathrobes.
As the daylight arrives, we pull in toward the dock and Australian Immigration comes onboard. Barry and I have time for one final dining room breakfast, at least for a while. As has been my new beloved custom, I have a big plate of papaya and a coffee. It’s good to be spoiled sometimes.
In no time, Barry and I are in a taxi heading to The Lord Nelson Brewery and Hotel. What an inspired idea, a hotel in a brewery! The Lord Nelson claims to be the oldest pub brewery in Australia, established in 1841. Its outside is built of convict quarried sandstone with an English style sign over its quirky corner door. The inside of the pub could double as a pub in London. Full of character and yeasty beer smell, I just love this place. We are housed in a very small room, but with a generous bathroom on the fourth floor. No elevator, so that helps us offset the beers that we are enjoying. (lordnelsonbrewery.com )
The food is also delicious at the pub. On our first day here, we tried the Quayle Ale (gawd, named after Dan Quayle because he visited here) and Victory Bitters as well as splitting an order of heavenly fish and chips. Quite fortunately, we meet a young woman sitting at the table next to us and her partner. She was an American from Michigan who “lost the toss” when she and her partner were deciding where to life. (Ha! Lost the toss, she is so lucky! Anywhere, Michigan vs. Sydney!) As you might understand, her partner is an Aussie. Now they are both Syndeysiders (This is the darling term for folks who live here!). The American has been here for 18 years and is firmly Aussie. “You must try the meat pies with mushy peas while you are here. They are comfort food for us, as pizza is for Americans. ” she advises. She and her partner both dig into theirs and we take notes on the rest of their great insider tips for seeing their city. Though we don’t get to a meat pie until our last day in Sydney, we followed lots of their advice. We also enjoyed most of “The Lord’s” beer selection and a few of their meals.
Our first adventure is to explore our own neighborhood, The Rocks. This is the most historic area of the city, with lots to see. Today is a Sunday, and they have their regular weekend street market. It is really hot and sticky today, this slows but doesn’t prohibit our shopping. As we’d hoped, we found some fun and unusual souvenirs. There were mostly crafts: jewelry, wooden pieces, clothing, soaps, but no food at the fair.
The Rocks architecture is a mix of old world, mostly British, and some other elements. We are surprised to see so much wrought iron work for balustrades and corrugated metal roofs. The tropical flowers and verdant parks with gorgeous trees really contrast with the dark rocks in hillsides and cobblestones. Most homes are two storied and very narrow. These refurbished homes are now very expensive. This area was once home to the poorest of the poor, now it’s a highly sought after location. Warehouses are now turned into upscale shopping areas and a very nice Holiday Inn. This area is built into rock, hence its name and unusual street patterns, up, down and around.
By evening it cools and we walk Campbell’s Cove area to see aboriginal art galleries, eateries on the water and postcard views of bridge and opera house. We also locate the last remaining late 20th century wrought iron public urinal! It’s really a beauty. We put 7.28 miles on my Fitbit today, quite satisfying!
Larger cruise ships than ours are docked at the foot of The Rocks, in Sydney Harbor. Our ship docked in White Bay Cruise Terminal because it is smaller and can fit beneath the Harbor Bridge. But here, at the foot of The Rocks, each day a different ship appears in the early morning and departs in the early afternoon. We feel so fortunate to have a week here and just that one miserly day. When we leave Sydney, weeks from now, we will depart from The Rocks, right on Sydney Harbor, onboard the Queen Victoria.