Day 14 – Cairns to Sydney

Our morning flight on Jetstar Airlines, a low-cost subsidiary of Quantas, was uneventful, except that their baggage allowances are tighter than all the other airlines. We found out afterward that the tour company paid for us to have more weight at no cost to us. ​Oh well… We didn’t shop much anyway and we were within the reduced limits without a problem.

The four-hour flight took us over Sydney before landing. It was an amazing sight. We checked into our lovely hotel, right in the city’s center, near every high-end brand you can imagine. A short walk away was the Queen Victoria Mall, which was a spectacular example of Victorian architecture and now a bevy of beautiful stores and food purveyors. Everything is decorated for Christmas, especially on the streets and department store windows.

Outside, the city was decorated and very festive. We walked all around the center of Sydney before we could check into our hotel. It has a wonderful energy, kind of like New York, except with an accent. Oh wait, New Yorkers also have an accent! There was theater, shopping of every kind, too many restaurants to count, and coffee shop upon coffee shop. Aussies LOVE their coffee, aparently.

At 5:30, Jim, Bob (a fellow traveler), and I went on a Sydney Pub Crawl. It included dinner but only Bob was adventurous enough to have a crocodile and emu pizza. After eating Adam, our guide, met us and six others to start our “crawl.” We got a fabulous history lesson about The Rocks, the original settlement of Sydney, where the prisoners were sent from England. They worked to cut and shape the sandstone that was used to build the original buildings in Sydney, many of which are still in use.

While excavating a foundation for new construction, remnants of 45 structures were found from the 1600’s. Fortunately, they have been preserved and the new construction was built on stilts so the digging sites could still be visible.​ We visited The Hero of Waterloo pub, the oldest pub in Sydney, dating from 1843 and still functioning well. It is one of the busiest pubs, as well. The Lord Nelson pub has the oldest hotel in Sydney, dating from around the same time. The interior is original, except for Wi-Fi, security cameras, and other modern conveniences.

Another anachronism is the public phone booths all over Australia. Not only are they free, but they also have Wi-Fi. The reason they exist is for the unhoused and runaways so they can keep in touch with loved ones and have internet access. What a good idea!

After four pubs and too many beers (all excellent), we toddled back to the hotel and slept well.

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