Today was yet another good day.
The weather was cloudy as we set off after a hot breakfast in the Hotel.
This was after Karen was left feeling grumpy when she found that this Holiday Inn doesn't have any guest laundry facilities, only service wash items at a price where it would be cheaper to buy new clothes rather than have them cleaned. Living out of a suitcase for almost a month has meant that despite doing washing whenever the opportunity arose, the dirty clothes pile is starting to grow alarmingly.
I asked the reception desk to call the other Holiday Inn nearby to see if we could use their machines but they flatly refused saying it was for the use of only people staying in that Hotel.
Anyhow we caught the train back to Circular Quay. It was very easy and efficient. We then found the correct wharf and waited for the ferry to Manly. By now the temperature was rising and the clouds being to dissipate. It was a lovely journey and we sat outside marvelling at the views as we meandered across the harbour. Sydney was now starting to weave its magic upon us again.
By the time we disembarked 30 minutes later it was a beautiful blue sky as we ambled up the main strip to the beach area. We looked in a couple of shops. One of these in particular was where Karen had purchased some orthodontic flip flops some years earlier. We found the same shop and they still sold them. A lot of humming and haaring later and she couldn't decide if the sole was strong enough or high enough, so no purchase was made (as yet).
Then much to Karen's delight, on the corner of the street overlooking the beach and bay we came across a Starbucks. This was her first of the Australia leg of our trip and unsurprisingly we stopped to get her a Flat White.
After this we sat on a bench next to the sea just watching and admiring the sun glistening on the sea. It was just beautiful. We decided to walk round the right hand side of the bay and ended up in a place called Shelly Beach. It was a pleasant walk although we didn't realise quite how hot it was or or how strong the sun was. I had made the error of cutting my hair the day before and so didn't have much protection on top. I should have been wearing my hat but didn't think about it as it had been cloudy when we left the hotel. As I found out later, I definitely did catch the sun on the top of my head. During the walk we passed a Water Dragon basking in the sun on some rocks - we only knew it was a Water Dragon as there was a sign saying to keep a look for them.
The pathway was quite busy with other walkers and even more so when we reached Shelly Beach. I would say 50% of the people were teenagers aged around 13 - 15. We weren't sure if today was the last day of their Christmas/Summer holiday, but they were certainly all looking to make the most of it. It was lovely to see. There was no trouble with them as they were jumped from rocks into pools and generally having good honest old fashioned fun in the sun. I reckon another 25% of the people we saw or heard were grey wrinklies from the UK (still don't classify us as that) who were just walking and chilling in the Aussie sunshine.
We ate our picnic lunch on the beach on some rocks in the shade. We were just behind some fashion shoot that was taking place at the same time on the beach. I am still amazed they didn't mistake me for one of the models and ask me to take part.
After this we went to The Boathouse cafe to have some cold drinks before walking round the bays back to Manly. Then after another unresolved deliberation about flip flops and another visit to Starbucks we caught the ferry back to Circular Quay.
From here we decided to walk to the Sky Tower. In doing so we walked up Pitt Street which is the main shopping district in central Sydney. It was all rather pleasant with almost every busker we passed playing different Ed Sheehan songs, which made us even more jolly and happy.
The entrance to the Sky Tower was in the Westfield Shopping Mall. We bought our ticket and soon made it to the top of the tallest building in Sydney. The view were spectacular and it enabled us to see all the City laid about before us and for us to contextualise the different areas/buildings/locations and bays. The one thing that would have made it better would have been the opportunity to go outside. However you could only do this if you paid to do the Official Sky Walk around the outside of the building. Not only was it a load of money, but there was no way I was ever going to get Karen to stand and walk round a tiny ledge on the outside at that height, even if you are attached to a wire.
We then walked the mile back to the Hotel through Hyde Park. It was really hot by this point.
After cooling down in our room we decided to break one of our rules by eating in the Hotel tonight. They had a Steak meal plus a drink on offer on Mondays and so we opted to try that. Unusually for a Holiday Inn, this hotel had a pleasant outside restaurant area in which we sat and enjoyed a really rather good and exceptional value meal.
It amused me that on the next table were a bunch of people who were obviously staying at the Hotel whist attending a conference. They all appeared to work for the same company but didn't know each other. The dynamics and politics were interesting to watch. There is always the quite one, the one who wants to be heard, the bossy one, the one everyone else wants to talk to, the flirty one, the one who just wants to party, the one who just wants to get drunk, the one who just wants to talk about work etc etc. I have been very fortunate to have been sent to many lovely places around the world for work but I don't miss the enforced socialising during the evenings. I always preferred to be out exploring the place I was visiting rather than see it as an opportunity to network more than necessary or party. Incidentally in case anyone was wondering, in these situations I was always the quiet one who tried not to get noticed.