A weekend away

 

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Not long after we arrived home from our South American cruise, we were ‘invaded’ by the family, who wished to celebrate our Golden Wedding. We never turn down a party particularly when we don’t have to prepare anything :- o)

During the party we were presented with a voucher for two nights in the city at a major hotel, which included breakfast each day, afternoon English tea, and Happy Hour (which was actually two hours) in the evening – PLUS a voucher to Aria Restaurant, which is one of the top restaurants in Sydney. Aria overlooks the harbour.

Friday – Saturday and late check-out Sunday

Sofitel Sydney Wentworth

Sofitel Wentworth Sydney

We’d been booked on the Club Floor, so it was fast ride to the appropriate floor to check-in.DSC05551r

Our room

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View from our window.

Once checked in and we’d unpacked, we decided on a short walk to the harbour, which was only a ten minute walk away.

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Explorer of the Seas – Royal Caribbean, alongside Circular Quay.

DSC05558rcThe Bridge of course – who doesn’t photograph the bridge :- o)

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and of course the Opera House

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The Old Customs House, opened in 1845, but is now used for various exhibitions. It ceased to be used as a customs house in 1990 and was converted to what we see today. Inside is a miniature model of Sydney and you can get a better idea of Sydney’s layout.

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City model at 2 mm to the metre

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Back for afternoon tea – help yourself to sandwiches / cakes etc and waiters bring you a selection of teas or coffee.

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This was one way to put weight on . . .

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The Club Lounge at 5.30 pm – just the place until 7.30 pm.

We met a couple from Brisbane and the chat just flowed and the time passed quickly. Once again help yourself to the food and waiters bring the drinks – all very civilised.

It had been a long day so we had an early night.

Breakfast was in the Club Lounge – all the normal things that one expects in a first class hotel.

It rained heavily over night (the first in weeks) – so as we left for a walk around the the Rocks & Darling harbour we borrowed a very large umbrella from the hotel – just in case.

We walked to Darling Harbour to view the converted areas which used to be wharfs and are now shopping centres and restaurants. What a change since my first arrival when I was at sea in the 1960’s.

James Craig

Across the harbour is the Maritime museum and alongside was the James Craig. When Maureen & I moved from Melbourne to Sydney in 1985 the James Craig was just a hulk as gangs of volunteers worked on her restoration.

Launched at Sunderland in the UK in 1874 and named Clan Macleod. She sailed around the Cape Horn twenty three times during her twenty six years before being sold to J.J. Craig in 1900 for the trans-Tasman trade. Her name was changed in 1905 to James Craig,  She was laid up in 1911 because of competition from steam ships. She became a copra hulk in Papua New Guinea,
At the end of WW 1 she was refitted and had a new life due to the shortage of ships. But by 1925 she was back to being a hulk, this time for coal, in Tasmania. In 1932 she was abandoned and was beached during a storm.
In 1972 volunteers re-floated her and she was patched up enough so that could be towed to Sydney, which happened in 1981. Restoration took place and she was relaunched in 1997.

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She is now a fully operational vessel (picture from Sydney Heritage website) and anyone can, (for a fee), have a day at sea in her from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm and the fee includes morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea. One of these days . . .

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The Strand in Sydney centre, all old world type shops, which trade normally, they are not tourist shops, but are worth a visit for something different.

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Same cruise company but a different ship – Quantum of the Seas.

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I told you :- o)

 

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Looking up at the Opera House roof/sails.

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Every time I look at the ‘sails’ I am reminded of a Spanish soldier in the middle ages.

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Admiralty House – (just in the trees) opposite the Opera House,

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Fort Denison aka Pinchgut – originally a small rocky island.
In the early days prisoners were sent there with little to eat or drink – hence Pinchgut.

Much of the island was quarried for its sandstone, which was used to create were the Opera House now stands – aka Bennelong Point. In 1857 8000 tons of sandstone was quarried from Kurraba Point (Neutral Bay) to create the fort.

A one o’clock gun is still fired from the fort, which began in 1906. It wasn’t fired during WW 2 after 1942 so as not to alarm the people.

Our walk was a large circle that took us back to the hotel to change for dinner at Aria Restaurant.

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View from our table overlooking the cruise ship that was alongside.

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Maureen studying the menu – GF of course.

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Another view from our table

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I needed a strong dink as I studied the wine list prices . . . .

We had a late check-out on Sunday, so decided to walk through the Botanic Gardens, which were very close to the hotel.

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It was a beautiful day, with little wind as you see with the lack of white caps.

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One last photograph as we walked back to the hotel to check-out, the weekend was over.

But what a great present!   Thanks kids :- o)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Orchard Road & Gardens

 

orchard-road-620x400Orchard Road Singapore – nothing but shops & more shops.

There is a different kind of Singapore, the Botanical Gardens.

DSC09539rA beautiful peaceful park area, which concentrates on orchids.

DSC09541rMy knowledge of gardening and plants is very limited, so I’ll just post the pictures . . .

DSC09537r Getting to the Botanical Gardens from the city is very easy, because the gardens are on the metro system. You don’t have to take a taxi.

DSC09545rI couldn’t stop clicking the camera the colours of the plants are fabulous.

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The first botanical garden in Singapore was created by Sir Thomas Raffles in 1822. After his death the authorities lost interest in gardens.

The present garden was started in 1859 and many features such as the swan lake, main entrance and the ring road are still in use today.
Lawrence Niven was hired as Superintendent and he oversaw the layout and landscaping. A small hill was reduced to a flat area in the early 1860’s so that regimental bands could play for the public. In 1930 the band stand was created and can still be seen today.

unesco nom pic 1 bandstandBandstand Hill

Over the years the garden grew (excuse the pun) in size and is now 82 hectares in size.

In 1928 the gardens started orchid breeding, which is still carried on today.

2015 saw the current Singapore Botanical Gardens being inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is the first and only tropical garden on UNESCO’s World Heritage list.

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DSC09559rMany of the plants in the celebrity area have links to world famous people  –

Queen Elizabeth, Andrea Bocelli, Margaret Thatcher, Jackie Chan, etc over one hundred different orchids linked to the same number of famous people.

DSC09562rPeace and quiet where ever you go . . .

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DSC09563rThe occasional problem if you are an insect.

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If you decide to visit the gardens may I suggest that you make it early morning before the heat of the day – we walked all over the gardens and as the morning progressed it became more humid (monsoon season), but it was well worth the effort.

In the evening I took some photographs of Singapore river –

2716362184_a7a57228c6_zThis is how I remember Singapore River in the mid 60’s.

DSC09522rAs it is today

DSC09535r The river at night today.

Singapore has changes so much in the last forty odd years.

In an earlier blog I posted this picture of Clifford Pier in the 1960’s.

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Clifford pier

Clifford Pier  today . . .

I think Joseph Conrad would have recognised the early 1960 version, but not today’s.

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