25 April 2018 – Travel Day – ANZAC Day – Sydney, Australia to Waikiki, Hawaii – Day 1

Today was going to be a long day. We were going back in time, literally, going back in time. We were leaving Australia and flying to Hawaii. If all goes as planned we will technically land in Honolulu, Hawaii earlier on 25 April than we leave Sydney, Australia on due to crossing the International Date Line.

Our flight to Honolulu isn’t until this evening, so we have most of the day to spend in Sydney. Today in what is known as ANZAC Day in Australia, a day for commemoration and for thanking the veterans. Remembrance Day is soley about remembrance. A statutory holiday here, so a lot of places and work places were closed today.

We headed over to a restaurant that was across the street to grab breakfast. This place was so busy with everything that was going on today. I ordered waffles and Doug had French toast. Even though you don’t tip here in Australia, because they have to pay the staff more to work on statutory holidays, that extra cost is passed on to the customer and there was a 15% service charge added on to all food and beverages today. From what I can see, the minimum wage for a permanent worker over the age of 21 is $18.29 an hour. Apparently casual workers get paid more. And from what I can tell, they seem to get double time on statutory holidays.

As we ate, we watched as motor scooters were towed away. There had been signs up the whole time we have been here in Sydney about NO PARKING on many of the streets for today. They obviously enforce it here. It was priceless to watch them load the scooters onto the tow trucks.

After breakfast, we headed back to the hotel to finish packing and checked out. The hotel would store our bags until it was time for us to leave for the airport. We would be taking the train to the airport since our street was closed and we had no idea how long it would take a taxi to get to us. They could not guarantee anything with the crazy traffic today.

Rydges World Square – the hotel we stayed in while in Sydney, Australia

We still had lots of time, so we decided to walk around and see some more of Sydney.

Here is another one of the faux pas we have seen on our travels. The sign clearly states “Sorry we’re Closed” with the door wide open welcoming patrons.

After stopping back at he hotel to pick up our bags, we made our way over to the train station. We knew exactly where we needed to go as we had checked it out earlier. The station was also only 2 1/2 blocks from the hotel. We purchased our tickets, found the stop and boarded the train. It was so easy.

We arrived at the airport with lots of time to spare, so decided to grab a snack. A couple glasses of wine and a couple orders of french fries. What more could a person want?

We were flying Qantas. First time for us with them. Boarding was supposed to start at 1830 hrs, for a 1915 hrs departure, but didn’t get boarded until 1920 hours. It wasn’t full so that was great, especially since it is approximately a 10 hour 38 minute flight.

Didn’t take them long before they came around offering up drinks and dinner. Both were good.

Since the plane wasn’t full we were able to stretch out. Doug stretched out across our 3 seats and I moved one row back where there was a vacant 2 seat row. Neither of us slept much, but I never do. Doug can usually sleep on flights though. We made up some time for our late departure and landed in Honolulu at 0450 hr, 26 April 2018, Sydney, AU time, but 0750 hrs, 25 April 2018 Honolulu time. There is a 21 hours time difference.

We grabbed a shuttle from the airport to take us to our hotel. We had booked the Aston, Waikiki Beach. Price was reasonable for last minute in Waikiki and it was across the street from the beach. We checked into the hotel around 1045 hrs but our room wasn’t ready. We had figured as much, since we were so early.

We just walked around and ended up sitting in an area around the pool waiting for our room to be ready. What? They have bar service here?

The wait was worth it and they upgraded us to a ocean view. Room 1502. Wasn’t straight on ocean view, but we could still see the ocean from our balcony. From the other side of our room, outside was the view of Diamond Head.

View of Diamond from just outside our hotel room.

We were really tired, so once we got into our room we decided it was nap time. I couldn’t sleep, but Doug certainly did.

Received a free bag of goodies which include sunscreen.

Once Doug woke up from his nap and I had rested up, even though I didn’t sleep, we headed out to walk around and see what was around us. We didn’t go too far, as we were still tired and jet lagged, but I felt like I was in a Hawaii Five-O episode.

Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole 1871 – 1922

We decided to head back towards the hotel and eat at the Tiki’s Grill & Bar, the restaurant that is attached to the hotel. It has a great view and we were given a great table to view the sunset from. Plus they had live entertainment.

Doug order Fresh Island Fish Sticks & Fries, and I had Chicken Tenders.

Doug had the Six-Layer Chocolate Cake (a bombucha 3/4 pound slice of chocolate cake, raspberry coulis, fresh whipped cream) and I had the Haupia Crepe Cake (twenty layers of crepes, fresh berries, and house-made whipped coconut crème). You could definitely tell we were in the USA now. Even from our bill.

But the sunset certainly made it worth it.

It was going up for 8:00 pm and we were tired!!! It had been a very long 25 April 2018.

24 April 2019 – Sydney, Australia – Day 3 – Royal Botanic Gardens & Opera House

As per our usual habits, once we find a place we like to eat, we stick to it. Off to Starbucks again this morning to grab some breakfast, which worked perfectly as we are off to the Royal Botanic Gardens and the Opera House, both in that direction.

We always seem to find something new and amusing to us.

Looks like a portable news stand. Something we would see in a movie.

And a portable fruit stand.

I have no idea why I looked over this wall, that was by the train tracks, but I did, and was shocked to see all these bikes thrown here. To me, the look like the bikes that you would rent from the city to ride around on for the day.

Is this a stone graveyard? Looks like a stone graveyard. Random stones discarded, but not disposed of.

We arrived at the Royal Botanic Gardens and went in what I think is a side entrance. Don’t recall any signs saying where we were.

Sorry to say, but the Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney are a very pale comparison to the gardens in Singapore and didn’t get many great pictures.

This was a cool tree though.

They certainly have an issue with bugs eating some of their plants here. Good to see that they aren’t using insecticides though.

These must be a couple of the culprits.

This guy was making a racket in the bamboo trees. A Kookaburra! Such a beautiful looking bird. Not sure if the Aussies would think so though, as they can be pretty noisy.

From the Botanic Gardens grounds, there was certainly an amazing view of the Sydney Opera House and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I asked Doug is he wanted to do the bridge climb, but it was a hard “NO”!

We headed over to the Sydney Opera House which is very close to the gardens. It was difficult to get a good picture, as the sun was shining so brightly today. Have I mentioned lately how hot and humid it is? Well it isn’t! Not like SE Asia was. This is April and Australia’s fall. It was perfect weather for us and we were still in our shorts.

We did not go in it, as neither of us were interested in doing that. Maybe if Sydney had of been at the start of our trip we would have been interested in doing a tour, but not today. Next time…..maybe. Just like we didn’t get any pictures from the water side as we didn’t do a boat trip either. Next time for sure! This was the best I got for water side.

We walked along the Sydney Harbour boardwalk? I actually have no idea what this area is called.

Trying out the fish eye lens again today. I often forget I have it.

A P&O cruise ship was in port today.

Had to get this picture of the girl taking pictures of their food. Doug always thought it was weird that I take pictures of our food. I told him, some people like to see the food. Others, not so much. She was going for a real close up.

As we headed back to the hotel, we walked back through a different park of the Botanic Gardens.

We just headed back in the general direction of the hotel taking what ever street caught my fancy.

Public Library of New South Wales
Sydney Hospital

I just loved the name of this café, Legal Grounds Café

We decided to change things up today and grabbed KFC for dinner. It was HORRIBLE and so GREASY!!! Worst KFC we have ever had. My chicken fingers were the smallest I have ever seen.

Good thing we had picked up a couple of small bottles, single serving size, of Shiraz for Doug and a Cooler for me. Another quiet night in our room, me working on our blog and Doug watching whatever.

23 April 2018 – Sydney, Australia – Day 2 – Lots of Walking – AGAIN!

Headed off walking this morning with no particular destination and stumbled upon a Starbucks. As good a place as any to grab some breakfast. This was after all our first Starbucks in Australia!!

Can’t say I have ever seen rainbow bagels before.

There was a little excitement going on as we exited. Fire engines and emergency vehicles arriving at the next block. Looked like there was fire starting in the apartment building.

We also saw articulated busses here. Have never seen them any where but at home in Ottawa before. Guessing they don’t have the same issues here in Sydney that we do in the winter with the busses getting stuck and jackknifing because of the Snow and Ice!

That was enough excitement for one day and we headed over to check our Hyde Park.

Is HP for Harry Potter? That was actually my first thought when I saw this though.

Here is the Anzac Memorial that commemorates the courage, endurance and sacrifice of the Australian men and women who serve their country in war.

Looking at the Anzac Memorial across the Pool of Reflection

Thou didst let fall

This memorial on the land of the Gadigal clan pays tribute to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who have defended our country – the unsung heros, our brothers and sisters, our mates.

Can’t say I have ever seen a sign stating this before.

St Mary’s Cathedral and there was a wedding photo shoot going on.

The inside was spectacular.

To all Australians who died in war

It was such a beautiful area.

“This fountain is the gift of the Late J.F. Archibald to his fellow countryman and is intended in terms of his Will to commemorate the Association of Australia and France in the Great War 1914 -1918. It was erected in 1932 and is the work of Francis Sicard, Sculptor, Paris”

From here we started to head towards Darling Harbour. Came across another church, St James Church. St James is Sydney’s oldest surviving church building.

St James Church
This church, intended in 1819 as a court house, was designed by Fancis Greenway and consecrated by the Rev. Samuel Marsden
on 11 February 1824

We made it to Darling Harbour and decided it was time for a bite to eat and maybe a beverage. Still haven’t quite got the hang of ordering in restaurants here, with no waiters/waitresses serving you, so we sat and observed for a few moments until we figured out what we had to do.

And we both opted for the Greek Salad. It was really good. Nice to have a good salad as it had been a while. Didn’t really eat salads in SE Asia, as we couldn’t trust that the vegetables were washed in good water.

We also had a nice view.

After lunch, we continued to explore the area, taking lots of pictures.

We walked through the shopping mall that was here and came upon The British Lolly SHOP and they had so many candies. So many that I remember from our trips to England.

But these really caught my eye. Who names their candy Acid Drops?

It was time to head back to the hotel to relax. We grabbed ice cream cones and crossed over the Foot Bridge heading back.

All rested up we went in search of dinner. But before dinner, we decided we would go to the hotels bar, The Cidery, for our free drink. One free glass of wine turned into purchasing a second glass. It was quite nice in here and relaxing in comfortable chairs. Quite busy as there appeared to be an office party going on here.

Time to head down to the World Square below the hotel.

Found a Coles store there. Turns out this Coles is a grocery store and not a book store like at home. They had the cutest cake though.

A vending machine for flip flops, or as they are called in Australia, thongs.

We came across another Guzman Gomez “take out” or as they would say “take away” and once again chose to have Mexican for dinner. We took it away, back to our room, ate and relaxed watching tv and Netflix.

Our day isn’t complete until we have used a public washroom. This one was actually in the area of St Mary’s Cathedral. SE Asia signs would tell you NOT to place toilet paper in the toilet. Here they tell you NOT to place toilet paper in the garbage.

14,651 steps today. Goodnight.

22 April 2018 – Travel Day – Brisbane to Sydney, Australia – Day 1

No sleeping in today as we had a morning flight to Sydney, Australia. We all piled into Kim’s SUV and headed for the Domestic Terminal at the Brisbane airport. Got all checked in and through security.

You know what we found was really weird here? Bruce, Kim and Erin were allowed to accompany us all the way to the Departure Gate! We all enjoyed a coffee and breakfast together in the airport waiting for our boarding time.

It had been so great catching up with old friends and we really hope to see them again sometime. Thank you Bruce & Kim for your wonderful hospitality. We all waved goodbye to each other, with Kim and Erin giving Doug their special wave, which he returned with a big grin. Both Kim and Doug text with their middle fingers, so it became their special sign.

We were off to Sydney. We will be back to Brisbane one day! BEWARE!

We landed in Sydney around noon and grabbed a taxi to our hotel. We are staying at Rydges World Square, 389 Pitt Street.

We got all checked in, dropped our luggage off and decided we would head down to the Circular Quay and cruise port area to check it out.

Here are a few pictures that I took on our way to the cruise port area. There is lots of amazing architecture. Both old and new. I may have taken a few pictures.

We made it to the cruise port area and the Royal Caribbean ship, Explorer of the Seas was in port.

Had a great view of the Sydney Opera House from over here, but we will go over there another day.

We continued to wander around. Just took whatever street took our fancy at that moment.

We wandered into a large building and stumbled upon a food court on the 5th floor. After checking out all of the offerings, we decided to get Mexican. It was quite good. If you can’t tell yet, we are not ones for fancy sit down restaurants. Takes too much time and I don’t see the sense of spending all the money for food that I probably won’t be that crazy about. Take out Mexican was perfect.

On our way back we spied a Woolworths Store. We use to have these stores when I was growing up. We didn’t go in it, but the sign says Woolworths the fresh food people, so I am guessing it is a grocery store over here and not a department store, like we had.

Stopped at a small store and I spied these Cheetos – IMPORT !!!! They cost a small fortune, but oh my, they were so worth it. The Cheetos that are made on this side of the world have a totally different taste. Not one that I was too fond of.

We headed back to our hotel as we wanted to do some hand laundry. Why did we not do laundry at Bruce’s house? I have no idea why not. Probably, because we never thought about it at the time. Just relaxed and enjoyed some tv for the rest of the night.