Journey To The End Of The Earth – Part 2

>The second instalment in my travels to New Zealand takes me to Sydney… if you haven’t read Part 1, go and read it now.

Bangkok to Sydney in British Airways FIRST

This was a flight I was very much looking forward to; having flown with British Airways more than 100 times in the preceding 10 months, this was my first time in the FIRST cabin! With such a great Club World flight out to Bangkok, how could this be even better? Simple answer; It wasn’t.

The crew really couldn’t be bothered. The service was on the schedule that suited them most; an early meal (which was tough as old boots and nowhere near as good as the Club meal we’d had on the previous flight), plenty of booze, and then it was lights out and temperature up in the hope that we all went to sleep and didn’t bother them until morning.

I asked two different members of the cabin crew if they could turn the temperature down, but the “I’ll see if there’s anything that can be done” response was never followed through.

We were sat in 5E/F in the middle at the back of the cabin. The “Toilets Occupied” light above was very bright, and combined with a hot cabin and the noise from the galley it was a restless night and a very disappointing flight.

Emma also had a restless flight, and we couldn’t help but think back to our First Class Lufthansa flight to Cairo a few months before – the difference was night and day, and if this flight was anything to go by, I’d definitely made an error in choosing which airline to bring my loyalty to.

The InterContinental Hotel, Sydney

We landed in Sydney at around 6am, and all we wanted was a good night’s sleep. As our taxi pulled up at our hotel, I was never more grateful that Royal Ambassador status allowed me to check in early.

Our room was ready, complete with an upgrade from a “city view room” (read: small room, lame view) to an “Executive Harbour View Suite”.

And what a suite it was. The view was spectacular; we were on one of the highest floors looking down on both the Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. We also found a bottle of champagne on ice and a card wishing me a happy birthday – a lovely touch.

Having gawped at the view a little while longer, we then decided to get some much needed sleep, waking just in time for lunch.

Out In Sydney

Darling Harbour

A 5 minute walk from the hotel is Darling Harbour, which offers some fantastic places to eat. Food was of course my first thought, and Sydney certainly doesn’t let itself down in this department.

Darling Harbour has an excellent selection of restaurants and bars, and it was no mistake that we stopped at a steak house. One word; Superb.

At one end of the harbour is an aquarium which seemed like a great way to pass the afternoon. The aquarium has a fantastic glass tunnel that you can walk through with sting rays and sharks swimming around you. Unfortunately by this point my camera battery had run out, though I did manage to get a photo of some terrapins playing leap-frog before it finally gave out.

Taronga Zoo

With the camera battery re-charged, we took a boat across the harbour to the Taronga Zoo. If you’ve never seen koalas and kangaroos before, this is the place to go. You can walk amongst them, and even hold them.

Sydney Opera House

As it was my birthday, Emma told me she was going to treat me to drinks at the Sydney Opera House, and as it was a special occasion, we got a little dressed up. It was about half way through our first glass of champagne that she produced 2 tickets to see Madama Butterfly that evening.

The show was absolutely stunning, but I do wish we didn‚Äôt have a bottle of champagne during the interval as it made us quite tired. I think next time I‚Äôll save the champagne until the after show party 🙂

The Opera House is one of the most beautiful places to see such a spectacular Opera; I’d love to go again.

Day Trip to Blue Mountains

On our last full day in Sydney we decided to hire a car and drive out to the Blue Mountains. A quick trip to Avis and a spot of haggling later, we were on our way.
We also arranged to drop the car off at the airport the next day, thereby avoiding the taxi fare.

The Blue Mountains are only about 90 minutes‚Äô drive from Sydney harbour, and fortunately the car had Sat Nav too, which saved me from Emma‚Äôs navigation 🙂

We aimed for Katoomba, and parked the car at the foot of the scenic railway. The scenic railway is a “popular attraction” in itself apparently, as it’s the steepest railway in the world. Yes, it’s steep and goes through the rainforest, but I can’t help thinking it’s popular because it’s the way to get to the top!

From the summit we took the Scenic Skyway across to the other side. The views were breathtaking, and with a glass bottom to the cable-car you really got an appreciation of how high you were.

We followed a number of trails in the area. One of them took us along boarded walk ways through the dense forestry. There were informative signposts around the whole walk, although I preferred just to look at the pictures…

On our way back to Sydney, we stopped off at the Jenolan Caves – these are nine different limestone caves on show to the public, and we caught the last tour of the day through the limestone formations of stalactites and stalagmites. It’s easy to remember which are which – if GCSE geography taught me nothing else, it’s that ’tites come down.

Part 3 takes me to New Zealand – click here 🙂