Monday, November 2, 2009

We went snorkeling first thing in the morning. We started at the east side of Anchor Bay, then swam around the rocks into Watson's Bay. This was way easier than walking over the hill - we weren't sure why we didn't do this before. The water was very cold, and the clouds made it difficult to see much color. We got out of the water a little before 8, then did the majority of our packing, then went to breakfast.

We figured out that breakfast was not our thing - it took way too long yet again. This was weird, since the service at the other meals was uniformly good. We finished packing, then hung out in the lounge and the bar. Justin had the thought that being a bartender at Lizard Island not such a bad gig - not many places to spend money, easy to save. Filip made up his "Swedish Fox" - Muddled oranges and lemons, vanilla infused vodka, a bit of peach schnapps, vodka. It was excellent, and hopefully we can make it at home.

We took the return flight from Lizard Island to Cairns, with better visibility this time. We could easily see the mainland, plus all the reef. Crystal got a good picture of Cape Trib - with Myall Beach on the left and Cape Trib Beach on the right of the cape itself. Justin took a little nap, which was perhaps good since the plane was swaying back and forth near the landing. In the airport, we ate lunch at Hungry Jack's, which is the Australian Burger King. The flight from Cairns to Sydney was straightforward.

Captain Cook landed in what he labeled "Botany Bay" on April 29, 1770. It was here that Cook and the rest of his crew made first contact with the Aboriginal peoples. It got the name Botany Bay because "The great quantity of plants Mr. Banks [the Endeavour's botanist] and Dr. Solander found in this place occasioned my giving it the Name of Botany Bay." As an aside, Banks brought many of these plants back to London, and several of them were used to enrich what then was a relatively new botanical garden, and now is the world's largest collection of living plants, Kew Gardens.

Back to Sydney, Botany Bay was the landing spot for Britain's penal colony in Australia. After determining that the soil in Botany Bay was infertile, the colony relocated to Port Jackson to the north. The colony was named Sydney after British Home Secretary, Thomas Townshend, Lord Sydney, in recognition of Sydney's role in issuing the charter authorizing the colony's establishment. Today Sydney is Australia's largest and most influential city, and generally renowned as one of the world's most beautiful cities. We were intrigued to see how it would compare to San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, and Cape Town, all of which we have been to, and all of which generally rival Sydney for top honors.

When we landed in Sydney, the sun had just gone down. Robin was there to pick us up at the airport. It was uncanny how much he resembled Colin Farrell. On the way from the airport to our hotel, he was nice enough to take us on a couple of detours to show us around - particularly pointing out which roads we would take to get from our hotel to Darling Harbour in the morning. For Sydney, we decided to find the least expensive hotel in the best location, which ended up being above a bar and restaurant, at the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel. Robin remarked as he was letting us out "I'm pretty sure I've gotten pissed in there a couple of times." The room was nice enough - with a bed, a television, and a bathroom (and, as we found out a couple of days later, a refrigerator).


Our hotel was in the Rocks, just west of Circular Quay, and right near where the Sydney Harbour Bridge starts. We took a short walk east, down to the Quay, and got our obligatory view of the Bridge and the Opera House. There were tons of people walking around - it struck us as a very vibrant city. We walked over to the Opera House, then walked back towards our hotel. We kept looking for a place to eat, but nothing sounded that great, probably because we weren't that hungry. We ended up getting a drink at Glenmore Rooftop Hotel, which we had read about in Virgin Blue magazine. There was a good view from up there, for a price much lower than some of the other "view" bars. We came back and went to sleep, noting on the walk back that we had an interesting day - starting by snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef, ending by having drinks overlooking the Sydney Opera House.