Showing posts from December, 2017

Cats, dockless bikes, and shark nets

We made some adjustments today.  First, we said goodbye to our number 1 daughter, Katelin, as she left to rejoin Elan and his family in Colorado Springs.  Katelin, enjoy the transition from 2 weeks of temperatures in the 80s or above to below freezing!

Second, we moved from Darling Harbour to Bondi Beach.  New Years Eve in Sydney is a BIG DEAL.  The fireworks over the Sydney Harbour Bridge cost millions, and the best places to view this spectacle cost money.  I heard that a basic ticket for a seat to the show at the Sydney Opera House costs $750 AUD.  What I do know is that our apartment rental rate increased 300% for tonight, so we moved on to Bondi for an Airbnb.  We’ll be here 2 nights before catching a ferry to the cruise ship, the Celebrity Solstice.  Unfortunately, I doubt that we’ll be able to stay up until midnight to see the fireworks. 

Caroline and I have already gone for a 5 mile run, a 20 minute swim, and a 6 mile walk today.  Add to this our Uber trip to Bondi and 2 buses t…

Manly Beach and the search for the water dragon

Taking a half day trip to Manly was a treat.  We went on a Friday, and since the weather was ideal for being outside, the crowds obliged.

Our trip involved a walk to Circular Quay, then a ferry ride to Manly ($7.35 AUD, one way).  As we left on the ferry, we passed the Royal Caribbean ship, Ovation of the Seas. This ship was in the news this month because of a norovirus outbreak that affected 195 passengers.  Caroline once was on a cruise ship with a norovirus outbreak, and she has a tale of a long line of passengers outside the medical offices, all in bathrobes and carrying barf bags.  Since this gastrointestinal virus doesn’t develop spontaneously on a boat, but is brought in with passengers and crew, the combination of hundreds or thousands of people confined in a small space, with drinking and late night events stressing the body makes cruise boats particularly susceptible to rapid outbreaks.  Good to know just before I embark on a cruise boat!

Past the Harbour Bridge and the Sydney…

A train to the Blue Mountains

About 2 hours by train from Sydney lies Blue Mountains National Park.  We walked downtown, got on the city light rail, then took a train to Katoomba.  Luckily (and with the careful planning of Katelin), we sandwiched our visit in between rainy days.  There were still puddles of water on many of the trails, and it could have been a cold and wet visit.  But no worries!  The weather was perfect, bordering on hot (when you are climbing up and down trails).  We got tickets to a “hop on, hop off” bus, and took 3 hikes through eucalypt forests.

There were loads of people, but the crowds decreased dramatically the further you walked from the easily accessible sites.  We found the bus drivers particularly helpful... they would get out of their seats to point you to the trailhead and remind you where to be picked up.

You could spend a lot of time here.  I think it would be a blast to explore Blue Mountains National Park for 2-3 days.  As it was, we saw a flock of sulphur-crested cockatoos, heard

Biking the bridge... and an unnerving experience

Caroline and I finally got bikes to ride around Sydney.  Jeez... you would think this would be a relatively straight-forward process!  But we panned the dockless bikes (the subject of an earlier blog), and when we found docked bikes at a nearby hotel, the check-out panel told us they were “in need of service.”  That’s what we were told for 2 of the 3 bikes there... we didn’t try to check out the third because we needed 2.

So we walked downtown where Siri told us there were some bike shops.  We found 2 opened during this holiday period.  They were large stores, with a great deal of equipment and bikes, but no rentals.  One shop employee suggested some vague possibilities for bike rentals in Manly, or Bondi, or The Rocks.  The other shop gave us a name in The Rocks, and after consulting Siri, we finally walked into Bonza.  Bonza seems to focus on tours, but Steve set us up with 2 great Trek bikes.  Sweet!

We started off with a ride over the Harbour Bridge.  There is a dedicated protected …

Circular Quay in Sydney

I think it’s fair to say that all visitors to Sydney go through Circular Quay.  Here you have the Harbour ferry terminals to a variety of locations, including the Toronga Zoo.  There is the Sydney Opera House, the Royal Botanic Gardens, The Rocks area, and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  There are cafes, restaurants, street entertainers, and CROWDS.  Yes, I suspect that for most residents of Sydney, this area is one to avoid if possible, like residents of Oahu avoiding Waikiki.

As far as we can tell, there is no ferry from Darling Harbour to Circular Quay, so we’ve hoofed it on multiple occasions.  It’s about a 2 mile walk from our apartment to CIrcular Quay (pronounced “key”). Today was a Sydney Opera House day, with a tour, lunch, and a show.  Then, a different route back, with a stop for a 6-pack of White Rabbit dark ale (“fermentation with imagination”).  Total mileage?  Seven miles.  Caroline and I ran to the Royal Botanic Gardens yesterday and back, for a total of 9 miles.  We seem t…

Dockless bike share programs

Logan will be getting its first “bike-share” program soon.  I’ve used the “docked” bikes in Washington DC before, and DC residents now have a dockless option as well.  In Sydney, I’ve seen dockless shared bikes from at least 3 different companies, and from an esthetic perspective, I am not impressed.  It’s not how the bikes look... they are meant to be bold and obvious.  It’s just that they are often left in awkward places, affecting the viewscape.  There’s a bike, just sitting on the sidewalk next to a statue or building... bold and obvious.  And I am surprised at the number that have been junked or vandalized, again adding to the negative impact on the viewscape.  Caroline and I estimate that 25% of the bikes we’ve seen have been in bad to unusable condition.  

I support bikes and cycling, for both recreation and as a form of transportation.  I hope the dockless experiment in Logan takes heed of the issues in other communities to make shared bicycles work, and avoiding the negative p…

A mass of skin... and humanity

There is nothing like a beach to give you insight into a number of important issues:

1) The places you forget to put sunscreen on.  Our bodies have lots of bends and corners, and the sun will find all of them, like it or not (and you won’t like it). I’m currently sporting a wonderful raccoon mask, thanks to my sunglasses and my failure to use enough sunscreen on my face.

2) The ocean has both a high and low tide.  Putting your towel down on the sand in a great spot near the water can result in a surprise as the tide rises.  Especially if you are a woman laying on your stomach, eyes closed, with your top unfastened.  I was polite enough not to take a photo.

3) Compared to Utah, there was a LOT more skin exposed, for both men and women.  I estimated about 10,000 people on the beach.  How?  You count 100, then extrapolate that bolus of humanity across the entire area.  That’s a lot of people, and thus a lot of skin.  This was a Saturday just before Christmas (in the Southern Hemisphere), so…

More of Sydney

I’ve done some exploring these past 2 days.  Yesterday, we walked around Darling Harbour and the Barangaroo Reserve, in addition to taking a 2 hour Harbour cruise.  Today, we challenged ourselves taking the city bus back to Bondi Beach, and being hammered by rather large waves.

The Sydney Harbour cruise was a blast.  We got seats on the front of the ferry, so we had a great view of the Harbour Bridge from all angles... front, back, and bottom.  We had heard that you can even walk on the top span of the bridge, and we could see groups of brave souls trekking the ironworks.  Of course, we also had the best view of the Sydney Opera House, with the sun and blue sky framing that distinctive structure.  One highlight of this cruise was that we invited ourselves (we knocked on the pilot house door), to visit with the captain.  He was very gracious, and chatted with us for about 10 minutes.  As we were about to leave, he asked, “do you want to sit in the pilot’s seat?”  Of course, Caroline cou…