Visit to Hyde Park, Harbour Bridge, Broadway and Taronga Zoo
It has been a fantastic eleven weeks in Sydney so far, as you could probably make out from the snaps uploaded so far. Sydney is such a beautiful place and I am just plain lucky that I was destined to come to Australia, albeit for a short trip. For an Indian IT pro, Australia is not necessarily the likeliest of destinations (unless you work for HCL, I suppose :). That makes it doubly sweet.
Ok, now that the bragging is out of the way, let me get down to the point. After shaking off the customary lethargy that I feel over the weekends, as I already wrote about, we decided to make the most of the remaining days of the weekend. So on Saturday last, we decided to visit the Hyde Park. Hyde Park, for uninitiated, is a beautiful and vast park situated right in the middle of the City of Sydney. It spans from the Museum Railway Station at one end (the tube runs underground) and ends well past the St James Station at the other end. Just behind the Hyde Park is the beautiful St Mary’s Cathedral. We had a great time taking the four hours to walk the lawns of the Hyde Park, soaking in the natural beauty and watch the police arrive to round up a gang of teenagers who were high on spirits (both literally and alocholically :) and were out in strength to show off their skate-board skills at the park, causing a bit of problem to the other visitors.
Sunday last, saw us biting the bullet and deciding to take another walk, this time right across the Harbour Bridge to reach the Luna Park on the other side. This walk is named the Cahill Walk, and to get on to this Walk, you need to either walk a few kilometers to reach the begining of the Bridge span (from the Circular Quay) or you need to take a series of flights hidden in some of the streets in and around the area (we are thankful to an Australian Uncle who took a few minutes to explain to us what all streets and cross roads to take to catch the steps). So, we managed to find the stairs and climbed up to reach the base of the Bridge Walk area. From there started a long walk and we had to stop every few meters to ensure that we soaked in the beauty of the splendid view of the Harbour on offer. On the way I kept clicking away with a vengeance (as I normally do :).
It took us nearly an hour to cross the bridge and reach the railway station at the other end (that was the nearest loo for quite some distance :). From there started the walk to reach the Luna Park. It is a mini amusement park for the kids right in the heart of the city. We had no intention of taking any rides or spend money there, and so when the security at the Car Park warned us that the Park is closing and they can’t issue any tickets now, we were not perturbed. From the Luna Park we took the ferry back to the Circular Quay. This was the first ferry ride for us and the view of the harbour was breathtaking. In fact I recalled what the cab driver told me on the night I arrived in Sydney told me (while he was ushering us to the hotel from the airport) — the best way to enjoy the harbour is to take the ferry and watch it from the inside out. This is absolutely true, believe me.
This Saturday we decided to check out the shopping area of Broadway. Broadway is the name of the George Street once it goes beyond the Railway Square. It is a pretty wide road (not sure whether that was why it was named the Broadway), but incidentally it also houses some of the most popular shopping malls in Sydney. We wanted to check out the K-mart and Target. But more importantly, we had to eat our lunch too, at the North Indian Restaurant, at the sprawling Food Court at the Broadway Shopping Mall. Sridhar had been there before (with Abish, Nishanth and Satheesh) and so he knew about this Restaurant. To my great surprise, I found out that for just AUD 11, you would get the biggest Naan you had seen so far (it was bigger than the Indian Naans I have seen at Chennai or Bangalore by at least 30%), two curries of your choice, enough rice to waste, and a can of your favorite soft drink. We reached home in the evening, after having spend a few hours at this shopping mall. It was teeming with people and so we had a nice time overall.
Today I ventured out alone to the famous Taronga Zoo, as my roomie excused himself since we were probably ill informed that there is nothing much to see at the Taronga zoo. But thanks to Murtuza, a colleague at the Sydney office, was inspired enough to visit the place. In particular he impressed upon me that usually in Australia when you spend a dollar at any public place (like the zoo or somewhere else) they normally ensure that you don’t feel cheated. On the other hand, you would feel at the end of it all, that it was worth every cent spend. He also talked about the Bird Show and the Seal Show. So, in all, I was inspired. Another hidden reason was that there was another ferry trip involved, as the best way to reach the zoo from where I live/work is to go (again) to the Circular Quay and take a combined ferry/zoo ticket for AUD 44. This allows one to take the ferry (to and fro), a 15% reduction to the entrance ticket at the zoo, take the bus/sky-car at the zoo.
Tarango Zoo turned out to be a truly great experience. The zoo is a sprawling complex inside the city, and the best part is that it is on a hill. So once you reach the docking yard, you can take either the bus or the sky-car to go up to the main entrance. I decided to take the sky-car, just for the heck of it. It turned out to be similar (but much more safer, better engineered and steeper) than the one at Malampuzha, Palakkad, Kerala (the only other rope way that I can remember). After reaching the main entrance, I spend some time trying to understand what the heck I am about to do. To help address this vexing problem, they give out free maps of the zoo at the information centre.
After orienting myself and getting a hang of the important events of the day, I decided to bite the bullet and start walking. I was thrilled to find that there were quite a few things lined up for me. I just needed to walk to ensure that I manage to reach the vantage points. It started with the fabulous Bird Show at the noon, followed by the talk by the Elephant Keeper, and then the fabulous Seal Show, followed by the Penguin Keeper talk, followed by a trip to the missed out parts of the zoo, and I managed to round it off in style with an encounter with the kangaroos!
All in all it was a great experience. It is a must-visit place if you are at Sydney, and it is better to ensure you are there at the zoo by 9am and leaving by 5pm (if you really really want to soak it all in and really enjoy it). I reached by 11am and so I had to sacrifice a bit of it by either skipping a few things (like the Koala keeper talk at 330 pm) or hastily rushing through some of the sections (Orang-utang and birds).
This was one day when I cursed my decision of not having purchased my dream T series Sony Cybershot digital camera before coming here (I purchased a Sony Vaio laptop instead..so what does that leave me? stupid?). Some of the shots from the zoo trip are nowhere near as good as I want them to be (another way of saying “bad”) and so bear with me here. But some of the pix are really good. I took more than 400 snaps (yes, using that stupid camera phone on a single charge) and I have discarded more than half of them for the upload.
As usual, the link to the pix follows:
Oh, and we had to shift to another Meriton Apartment at the nearby Danks street (since we were late in trying to extend the room booking at the Potter Street Meriton) and here are some random shots from Week 10 at Sydney. Plus, we managed to find a solution to another vexing problem we had — we were eating curd rice and carrot curry out of sheer laziness everyday at work. We, during the course of the last two weeks, discovered the Maharaja Indian Food Court at The Galleries Victoria, near our place of work. It is a 10 min walk, but this is one walk we don’t want to miss out on, every day these days :). We also had the xmas party at work, at the beautiful L’Aqua Restaurant on the Cockle Bay Wharf, on the Darling Harbour.