|We leave the ship before 8am and speak to a lovely lady from the tourist board. She advises us about the bus we need to catch and the opal card we must buy first to use the public transport system. Once purchased we catch the bus to Bondi beach. The buses are very clean. Street names and area remind us of home. Oxford St, Victoria St, Paddington and Kings Cross. We even pass by Hyde Park. After a short bus ride we jump off and see the long golden sand of Bondi Beach. The sea is very rough although it is a warm day. The rollers are huge and the sea is crashing against the cliffs. We are going to walk the coastal path of the eastern beaches. There are a few people on the beach and one lone man paddling in the sea, getting swept off his feet by the powerful waves. He soon decided to go back to the beach!
We pass by Bondi Baths, outdoor swimming pools that are being swamped by the sea cascading over them. Along side this is the Bondi Icebergs clubhouse. Member of this swimming club must swim every sunday in the winter regardless of the weather.
We carry on the path and the sea is spectacular, the powerful waves bombarding the rocky cliff faces. The clouds are disappearing and the blue sky is a sign of the lovely day ahead.
We walk along to Tamarama bay and onwards tho Bronte bay where we enjoy a delicious blueberry muffin and freshly squeezed juice. As we walk on to Clovelly beach we pass Waverley cemetery. Here in grand displays of Edwardian and Victorian monumental masonry, English, Italian and Irish residents have been laid to rest. (Lots of Bridget's). The Irish memorial honours the 1798 Irish Rebellion and its leader Michael Dwyer, who was transported to Australia for his part in the uprising.
Walk completed (4km) we catch the bus back to Bondi Junction and then a train to Circular Quay. Again the trains are very clean and punctual.
On returning to base we decide to catch the hop on hop off bus.
It takes 2 hours for the entire route and we pass many of the colonial buildings that helped turn the colony into a young nation. Amazing how small some of them were, it seems they didn't need so many bureaucrats in days gone by. We also see one building covered in plants, the complete vertical garden. It looks like a scene from a Hollywood film of post apocalyptic civilisation with nature taking over the urban landscape.
We get off before the end and walk back through some of the old dock areas that have been redeveloped into hotels and apartments. Crossing underneath the Harbour Bridge we came across a bridal party having pictures taken. Turning around we see a second bride, then a third. Finally we see five 'wedding parties', now either brides here have to have a wedding picture with an iconic Sydney building in the background or we were watching a bridal outfit fashion shoot. Given that all the people were extremely attractive we decided it was a fashion shoot.
After a shower back at the Ship went wandered off to The Rocks, the oldest part of the city, and a warren of small arty shops and restaurants. For the first time since we got on the ship we decide to go and buy a meal elsewhere. Just a burger and rib place but it smells wonderful. Ian has a standard burger but I opt for the 'butcher duo' which comes with chips. What I didn't realise was that it came with two burgers, hence duo I suppose. Still I managed to finish it all, well according to my Fitbit I walked 25,000 paces today so I earned it.
On day two we caught the ferry to Watson's Bay, like all public transport it is quick, clean and cheap (£5 return for a 30 minute ferry ride) Watson's Bay is a pleasant small seaside town with a "fish & chippery" !!!! Heading east we reach the top of the cliffs overlooking the sea. The waves are again worryingly big (considering we will be sailing out into them this evening) and are smashing against the rocks creating spectacular explosions of spray. A twenty minute hike takes us to several viewing points with marvellous vistas. On our return to the town we reward ourselves with a gelato from the grandly named Gelateria.
Back in the city we take a walk through the stunning Royal Botanic Gardens. We visited in 2015 but both of us desperately wanted to return. Exotic plants at every turn, incredibly well maintained grounds and an abundance of colourful and raucous bird life. I especially like the kookaburras that live here. A cool drink in the cafe overlooking the grounds and a mirror pool reflecting a floral display is pretty close to perfection today.
All to soon it is time to return to the Ship and to leave Sydney behind. The ropes are cast off just after 6:00pm and a lively pilot boat shepherds assorted pleasure craft out of our way as 90,000 tons reverses from the quay into the main channel in front of the Opera House. Then it is all ahead and we cruise away from a magical city that has been a real joy to visit. We have been given UK and Australian flags to wave at the sail away party on deck.
On the way out we pass a small island with a tower on it and Ian can't help but tell me it is the last Martello tower ever built. He goes on to tell me at great length that it saw action only once, 1941, when a Japanese submarine tried to shell Sydney. American warships returned fire but only managed to hit the Martello tower. End result apparently was no real damage to the city, the tower or the sub. (History lesson over.)
We pass between the two headlands that guard Sydney Harbour and are back at sea. And yep, those waves cause the ship to start rolling again, some of our new companions (about a 1,000 guests changed this morning) will find it a little uncomfortable. For us hardened sea dogs, we laugh in the face of a wobbly ship - some of us are quite wobbly on dry land.