Day 14: Hop on, Hop Off Sydney and Bondi, Plus Aquarium

The conference has come to and end, which means it's time for more sightseeing!

I started my morning off with this other yogurt that I had bought at the grocery store.  Sadly, I did not like it.  Thankfully there was other options in the room and I did not have to go hungry.
I was switching hotels on this day because the conference ended.  I had two reasons in mind for switching: 1) Cost- It was cheaper to not be directly at the harbour, and 2) I wanted a change of scenery and to be near different things.  The only problem was that check out from the one place was 10 am and check in was not until 3 pm.  I decided to leave my stuff with hotel concierge and do a full loop on the Sydney Hop On Hop Off bus.  I had seen very little of Sydney despite being here for 6 nights already.  The full loop took about 90 minutes, but I knew I planned to hop off at the Rocks to at least grab some real breakfast.

Not the best shot, but here is the bridge in the earlier part of the day. 
This is a little better, but the sun is just so bright.

I was so excited when I got off at the Rocks because I remember that the weekend market was going on.  The weather was perfect, so I was happy to spend some time walking around and looking at the vendors.
As I was walking around, something caught me eye.  Can you tell from this picture?
Pretzels!  We are no where near Germany or Austria, but because this was a beer house, I knew that it had to be my best shot at a decent pretzel.  It was still around breakfast time, or maybe more like brunch, so I decided the pretzel would be best enjoyed with eggs.
While I was waiting for my meal, I noticed this sign.  Kind of scary!  I have no idea what this is 1.2 kilos of, but that is a lot of food.
They are also the home to the Guinness World Record Holder for the most beer steins carried over 40 meters by Reinhard Wurtz.  Very interesting!
I was served some nice eggs with a side salad.
And yes, I enjoyed my eggs with a pretzel instead of toast.
After walking around a little more, I got back on the bus and said farewell to the market.
I love how the buildings look in this area.  
Here is a cute sign to mark the area known as the Rocks.
While I was at the market I picked up these chocolates.  They are hand made and filled with gogi goo (no better word to describe the consistency) and flavors of pomegranate and orange.  They were really tasty.
The next pictures are sights around Sydney, which I took from the top of the bus as it made's it way in the loop around the city.  This was my first real look at the city.  I liked that there was commentary on the bus so that you knew what you were looking at.

Writing in the sky...but I couldn't figure out what it was trying to spell out.

Here is St. Mary's Cathedral.

Nope, still can't figure out what it is trying to spell.
Nice gardens in the city.  I loved how many green areas there were around.

This Coca Cola sign is apparently an icon in Sydney and I believe they said is heritage listed, so it seems it will stay part of Sydney.
Fun fountain, which is also like a sculpture.
It was a really nice day and a weekend, so markets were popping up all over the place.
I just liked this house, so I decided to take a picture of it.  I wouldn't mind living here!

Palm trees!  I actually did not expect to see palm trees here, so I was definitely surprised to find them all over the place.

By now we were over by the Opera House.

I was actually taking a picture of the pig, but you can see that it says Sydney Hospital in the background (there is a new hospital, I think right next to this).  It's like the one in Florence.  You rub it's nose for good luck.

Welcome to my dark, cold and hungry world!  If I had more time, I would have definitely gone to see this exhibit.
Street art
Central Park...I actually don't know what this really is, but I do know it says Central Park in very pretty colors.
Definitely an interesting building.
ABC, which is one of their main TV stations.
Before I knew it I was back over by my hotel, so I got off the bus and went to get my things so I could change hotels.  When I came back to my hotel I spotted this sign.  The hotel was actually in an old wool factory and was converted to apartments (long term hotel and short term stays too).  This is why the building is so interesting on the outside and on the inside.
I also went to use the bathroom and finally got a glimpse of the hotel pool.  How did I not realize nice the pool until I was checked out?  I wish I had the time to have gone swimming, but sadly, I did not.  At least I swam once at my hotel in Melbourne.
I gathered up my things and headed off to my next hotel, Pensione Hotel.
Amazingly, they had a room ready for me.  Fantastic!  Now, I had read online that some rooms were really small.  When I opened my door and went in I was very pleasantly surprised.  I was right across from the front desk, so I had a little more noise than I would expect, but it was sporadic, and didn't keep me up at night.
Not a bad view- not the best either, but I'll take it.

The bathroom was a good size and I really liked the shower.
My next plan was to hop on the Hop on Hop off bus for the loop down to Bondi Beach.  This was a nightmare of an experience getting on and some of the worst communication and customer service I have ever seen.  However, the employee working at the first stop on the Bondi loop was very helpful and made sure I got on the bus.  I won't go in to all the details, but the stop listed was not exactly right, the bus did not stop there and I missed it.  The bus driver would not help when I stopped him at a red light and just shook his head at me.  I understand they can't open the doors and let you in, but at least pointing me in the right direction would have helped.  Nope, he could not even do that.  So, after missing that bus, I had to wait another 45 minutes for the next one.  But, like I said, the employee at the main stop where I had to walk to was very helpful and made sure I got on the next bus.

In the meantime, while I was waiting, I made sure to grab a cup of coffee.
Before I knew it I was on my way to Bondi Beach.
Another house I wouldn't mind living in!
Yay, I see water!

The weather was so beautiful and the drive in gave us some great views.
I thought this painting on the building was really cool.
When I got down to the beach I realized it was packed.  I knew the weather was good, but what I didn't realize was that a big festival was going on.  So there was a lot of activity taking place and tons of kites flying.
It was the Festival of the Winds so there were kites for sale and tons of kites being flown.

I guess I picked the right day to check out Bondi.  It was so cool to see everyone out there having so much fun.
Here I am, enjoying the nice weather, even if it was a little on the windy side so close to the water.
Check out those waves!  No wonder people come here to surf.

I only had 45 minutes there because the bus only comes once every 45 minutes, and I wasn't sure if another bus was going to come after that.  As I headed back to the stop I spotted this sign.  Obviously a place that was voted Sydney's Best Fish and Chips last year was something I had to check out for myself.
They sold fresh seafood too, and I think you could buy it and cook it there.
They had all kinds of battered foods waiting to be fried.
Even a Mars Bar!  Yeah, not on my list of things I am interested in trying, but certainly an interesting item.  I stuck with the fish and chips.
Then I had another crazy moment.  I was waiting for the fish and chips and I knew the bus was coming soon.  My food was nearly ready when I spotted the bus drive by.  I let the man at the counter know and he quickly pulled the food out of the fryer, wrapped it up and put it in a bag.  I knew I had a few minutes as everyone exited and boarded the bus, but I also knew I could not miss that bus.  I grabbed my food and made a run for it.  Thankfully I got on the bus just in time.

On the way out of Bondi I took a few more pictures.

Then I sat down to enjoy my fish and chips for dinner.  I would say this was definitely a good fish and chips.
Coming back we had some nice views for more photos.  Here is the Sydney skyline.
A little marina area.
When I got back in to Sydney it was still early enough that I could head to the Sydney Aquarium.  The Hop On Hop Off staff was more than happy to help me out this time after my complaints from earlier, so knowing I wanted to go to the aquarium they told me to get on the other bus that was there because it was on the Sydney loop and was going to stop at the aquarium before ending it's loop at Circular Quay.  It saved me from having to walk there (which I didn't really mind) and saved a little time (that was a good thing).
Here are some of the pictures I took at the aquarium.

Crazy turtle
Gigantic shrimp looking lobster
Some sort of shark
A ray

Seriously large fish
As soon as I walked up to this display, my first thought was that these look familiar and they must be Japanese.  Then I spotted the sign.  Yes, these are the Japanese spider crabs.  I have total seen these before.  They are huge!
Really hard to read, but basically it is the info on this giant crab.  I believe this is the largest of all crabs.

Can you guess what this is?
Sharks!  Yes, that is the view from above the shark tank and here are the views from next to the shark tanks.

And here is the view from under the shark tanks!
Next up are my pictures from inside the Great Barrier Reef display.

More fun sharks.
I love these.  Lion fish are so neat looking.
As for my impressions of the Sydney Aquarium, I will say that I think the Baltimore Aquarium is better in general and you can spend a lot more time there, however Sydney had an amazing shark exhibit and I also really enjoyed the exhibit where you could touch the starfish and other small creatures.  They had an employee there and he was really helpful.  He went over what each animal was and then let me touch everything.  That and the sharks were my favorite.

After a short stroll back to the hotel from the aquarium, I quickly washed up and tracked down some dinner since I knew it was getting late and food is hard to find the later it gets.  My new hotel was more in the China Town area, so I was able to find this Chinese restaurant open.
They had a huge menu to pick from and their kitchen was closing in a few minutes from when I arrived so I quickly made a decision on something vegetarian (sorting through the fish and shrimp would have taken too long).  I ordered this dish of rice noodles, bean sprouts and mushrooms.  It was so good!  I was glad this was what I decided on and didn't think too long and hard about it.
As I was leaving I discovered that this ice cream shop, Pappa Roti was open.  They are a chain started in Malaysia and actually specialize in bun with a coffee coating.  Well, I wasn't really up for that after eating the Chinese food, although it did sound good.
Instead, I looked over all of the many unique ice cream flavors they had.
I couldn't make up my mind so I stuck with one of my favorites- cookie dough.  It was a nice ending to my long day, especially because I had to head back to the hotel and get more work done.  I was still teaching 1 class and the term at UMDNJ just started, so I had 2 new classes to dive into ASAP so I didn't fall too far behind. 
Then it was off to bed because I had another full day ahead of me.

QUESTIONS:  Have you ever done a Hop On Hop Off bus tour?  What is your favorite aquarium?  If you could have a kite with anything on it/shaped any way, what would it be?


Unknown said...

Pictures are so beautiful. I like and enjoy. Sydney Conference Rooms

EA-The Spicy RD said...

Sounds like you are having a womderul time! It's been a long time since I visited asydney, but I'd love to get back there one day with my husband and kids. I like the Baltimore aquarium a lot too, and used to take my kids there when they were young and we lived in Northern Vieimia, but I have to say the Monterrey Bay Aquarium is probably my all time favorite. Keep up the fun adventures!

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