Armstrong Adventures travel blog

Dana's Australian friend, Fleur, met up with us for dinner

In front of the Opera House smiling between raindrops

A tank viewing window at the exceptional Sydney Aquarium

Darling Harbour in Sydney

The Sydney Opera House as seen from the ferry terminal at dusk

The view back towards the city from the ferry terminal

Snow and his Sydney friend, Tony Massaro

We were looking forward to 3 days of exploring all the sites in and around the beautiful city of Sydney. We were even tossing around the idea of signing up to climb the Harbor Bridge for the killer view of the whole harbor (it's a 3 1/2 hour climb with all the climbing hardware and jumpsuit provided and includes a picture of the whole group at the top of the bridge). Alas, after a record-breaking 37C (almost 100F) the day before we arrived from Tasmania, the temperatures dropped to the low 50's and the rain blew in. The periodic breaks in the rain lured us outside long enough to make sure we were no where near any cover when the hard rain started up again. We are well-weathered Seattlites, used to our fairshare of raindrops but after hours of sloshing around in the puddles we were happy to duck into any museum that would let us in. The Powerhouse Museum was particularly cool.

Despite the wet, grey skies we still really enjoyed our 3 days here in this beautiful city. We skipped any tourist attraction that involved a view, but we made it to the iconic Opera House after a brief walk through the Botanical Gardens during a short dry spell. The Aquarium was a surprising delight. We especially enjoyed the really cool underwater tube tunnels that let us walk under the shark tank filled with about 30 different sharks, lots of big fish, and several rays-one ray was impossibly HUGE with a span of about 8 or 9 feet!

Sydney was also a very busy social stop for us. We were shocked to discover we had 3 social engagements in 2 days--VERY busy for two people who have not had any social calendar since March 9. In 2000 when I was traveling in Europe I met an Australian couple, Fleur and her then-boyfriend, Luke, just as I was about to get on an overnight boat from Split, Croatia to Rijeka, Croatia. In Rijeka we met Jessy (American) and Miranda (British/New Zealander who has lived her whole life in Japan) both traveling alone as well. Luke went on to Italy and we 4 women had a fabulous 3 days in Slovenia together. Then Fleur and I continued onto Austria for a couple days before saying good-bye (but not before enjoying a REALLY cheesy Sound of Music tour in Salzburg together). I always knew I'd eventually make it to Australia, and sure enough, 4 1/2 years later we had pizza and beer at an Australian pub as if no time had gone by at all. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to reconnect and get caught up with her.

The next morning we got up early to jump on a bus downtown. We had a 9am appointment with David Clarke, a business school classmate of Snow's dad, Snowden. Though David and Snowden saw a lot of each other during their days in business school they had not seen each other in more than 30 years. We filled David in on what Snowden has been up to and heard about all the David has been doing.

That night we jumped on a ferry from downtown Sydney to head up to the north shore for dinner with Tony, a business school classmate of Snow's, and his wife, Kirsti. We had actually seen Tony and his older daughter, Lucia, when we passed through Sydney for one night before heading to Tasmania. Our timing was a little poor as Kirsti had given birth to their second daughter, Sofia, the morning we arrived. As mom and newborn were still in the hospital we camped out with Tony and Lucia for the night. It was fun to get a chance to meet the whole family when we returned to Sydney. They seemed surprisingly energetic considering how busy their week had been, and Sofia is absolutely precious. She slept the whole time we were there so we never got to hold her. But 2 year old Lucia kept Snow plenty busy with the ever-engaging game of "chase". Tony and Kirsti have done a tremendous amount of traveling to many of the places we have been on this trip. It was fun to share stories and get caught up on all that they are doing. We were also very envious of Tony's commute: a 4 minute walk through their beautiful, leafy suburban neighborhood, a 30 min passenger ferry ride across the harbor with views of the city, the Harbor Bridge, and the Opera House, then a 10 min walk to his office, not bad.

We really enjoyed connecting with old friends, and family friends, while we were here. Sydney is a lovely, very accessible city and I'm sure we will return someday. Hopefully we'll time our visit for better weather. We leave tomorrow to head to New Zealand and I'm pretty sure the weather forecast in Sydney tomorrow is clear, sunny, and warm....oh well, you can't win 'em all.

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