The concierge at the Mercure booked a driver to take me to the Melbourne airport. It was a much better price and the driver was very professional. He arranged for the same company to pick me up at the Sydney airport. The driver in Sydney was waiting for me in his new Lexus. What a treat… and much less hassle than standing in the taxi line. My hotel, the Megaboom, was in the middle of the business district. My friend, Patti, stayed there several years ago and gave it a great recommendation. It was small but updated, and the location couldn’t be beat. After checking in, I walked to the end of the block and went into the Queen Victoria Building on George Street in search of dinner. The building took up an entire city block and housed lots of sophisticated shops and cafes. I chose Vanto, an Italian café on the top level of the arcade. I had a pizza, and wouldn’t recommend it. It was soupy and probably one of the worst pizzas I’ve ever had. I walked the top level of the arcade and explored a few shops that were about to close on the lower level before heading back to the Megaboom. The young man at the front desk helped me book a tour with AATKings for the day before I was leaving to return to the U.S.
The next day, I decided to walk around Sydney and take photos. I followed George Street, which was under construction for a new tram line, and set off in the direction of the harbor. I wandered along taking photos and stopped for a tea and scone at a small café in the Rocks, the historical district near the harbor. A short walk took me to the harbor and I spent an hour or so walking around taking photos of the Opera House and the wharf area. I had a great lunch, a hamburger with chopped shrimp, and a glass of Pinot Grigio at the Searock Grill. As I sat watching the tourists and the ferries leaving from the wharf, I enjoyed the sight of the huge QEII docked across from the restaurant area. I spent another hour walking around taking photos before heading back up the hill to the central business district and the Hotel Megaboom.
I had to walk to the Hilton Hotel, a couple of blocks from the Megaboom, to meet my AATKings tour the next morning. The tour took us to several locations to take photos of the Opera House and the harbor before crossing the Harbor Bridge for our first stop at Manly Beach. We had plenty of time to explore the shopping area, get a tea and scone, and take photos of the surfers before going back across the bridge to Darling Harbor. At Darling Harbor, I boarded the Captain Cook excursion boat where I had a nice seafood buffet lunch and went up on the top deck to take photos as we cruised the Sydney Harbor area. It was a beautiful, breezy day and I got lots of photos of the skyline, Opera House, Harbor Bridge, etc. After the lunch cruise, it was back on the bus and off to Bondi Beach. Bondi Beach is one of Australia’s most iconic beaches and a mecca for surfers. I had an ice cream, bought some T-shirts, and took lots of photos of the beautiful, busy beach and the surfers challenging the waves. Sydney Mardi Gras was coming up on the weekend, a gay pride celebration with lots of tourists and a huge entertainment line up headed by Cher. I was glad my timing was taking me home before the onslaught of tourists arrived.
As I boarded my Quantas flight for Dallas the next morning, I was glad to be heading home and looking forward to seeing my friends and family. While I was a little disappointed that my Year in the World had only been Six Months in the World, I realized that I needed to be home to take care of some health issues. I can take a river cruise and travel to most of the other places on my itinerary over the next few years. It has been a great adventure and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. Thank you to all my friends and family who have read this blog and shared my journey.