A Night at the Opera…Mixed reviews from this couple…

Luna Park at night.

What can I say?  Tom didn’t love it. I didn’t expect him to.  Although, in the past I’d noticed him listening intently when a few opera singers performed on various episodes of “America’s Got Talent.”

Last night, he didn’t express a glimmer of enthusiasm over the performance at the Sydney Opera House other than his pleasure at seeing how much I was enjoying it.  That’s worth something, isn’t it?

Cloudy night at the opera house.

He didn’t grumble or have a scowl on his face nor did he dose off.  It lasted less than two hours during which I was totally engaged and enthralled.  I’ve always loved opera after being introduced to it by my Harvard educated, musical genius, doctor uncle who could sit at his baby grand piano and play any aria from memory.  He left quite an impression.

When it ended, we made our way to Wharf 3 to catch the next Manly Ferry which takes off every 30 minutes.  Little did we know the treat we were about to receive in taking the photos we’ve included today, too many for one post.

Tourists chose the upper deck to take photos as we did.

As we entered the ferry terminal in Circular Quay, Sydney, I suggested we climb the steps to the outdoor upper deck to sit outside to cool off on the humid night.  It was a great plan when we found suitable seating and views that literally left our mouths agape.

Sure, we knew Sydney had a lot to offer.  We’d reveled in it on six past occasions when our cruise ships sailed from the exquisite harbour.  Over the past week on four occasions we visited Sydney, three by taking the ferry.

But, nothing we’d seen earlier could match the perspective from the top of the ferry even on a dark cloudy night after seven cloudy days and nights in a row since our arrival one week ago today.  Thus, we share today’s photos with excitement over this amazing city, in many ways, the most beautiful city we’ve seen so far in our world journey.

The interior of the Joan Sutherland theatre of the Sydney Opera House. 

As for the remainder of the evening’s photos, we took several from the interior and the grounds of the Joan Sutherland Theatre at the Sydney Opera House which we’ll continue to share in posts to come. 

Having ordered the tickets almost a year ago, we had perfect seats, four rows from the stage, dead set in the middle.  See our photo below taken from our seats.

Our seats were only four rows from the stage and dead center in the theatre which has  seating for 1507.  There are two large theatres and several smaller theatres in the complex. The cost for these two excellent seats was AU $190.15, US $146.50.

No doubt, the theatre is beautiful and interesting.  There are many steps to navigate to get inside the theatre. For those who may have difficulty with stairs there are elevators and a few escalators.  For the full experience, we did the many flights of steps, making our way through tourists who were sitting on the steps as shown in yesterday’s post.

As for the remainder of the day, we’d left the house at 1:30 pm in order to catch the bus arriving at 1:59 pm. We made it to Manly in time for the 2:15 pm ferry.  With the recent inclement weather about 10 minutes of the 25 minute ferry ride was particularly rough but we didn’t give it a thought.

The building of the Sydney Opera House has an interesting story.  Click here for details.

Arriving in Circular Quay, we walked through crowds and commotion to make our way back, the second day in a row after our flub of showing for the opera one day early.  We’d decided to dine early, before the show, since we hadn’t eaten earlier in the day. 

With a 3 pm meal, we’d be set until returning “home” when the evening ended and if hungry, we could have a snack of homemade coconut bread with butter with a small bowl of organic Greek yogurt on the side for me.  (I’ve been taking “big guns” probiotics and eating yogurt twice a day since since my recent two week round of antibiotics).

The Sydney Harbour Bridge after dark.

We’d considered the same restaurant as the prior day since they were able to accommodate my diet.  But, we tried to branch out and try something different.  Shortly, we were seated in a high end Asian fusion restaurant only to discover there wasn’t a single item on the menu that would work for me, except plain steamed veg and chicken which held little appeal.

We thanked the waiter but decided to leave.  I wasn’t sure the pans they’d use would be “gluten, starch and sugar free.”  Why take a risk?  We meandered back down the boulevard checking menus along the way only to discover the only restaurant that would be suitable was the same where we dined the prior day, Searock Grill.

I ordered the same grilled chicken salad and Tom had a steak and chips as opposed to the prior day’s fish and chips.  The steak was perfectly cooked medium rare and was thick and juicy.  We didn’t order beverages.

The Sydney Opera House at night.

What surprised us was the fact that the prices were higher on Sunday than they’d been on Saturday plus a 10% weekend service fee was added.  Then, we recalled mention on the news of increased prices on Sundays due to many workers receiving higher wages on Sundays.

Our bill was AU $41.80, US $32.20, still not to bad for the high end area which surely would have been considerably more in the evening.  The food was good and fresh although yesterday’s service was sketchy. 

With tips not necessarily rendered in Australia due to higher wages than in the US and many countries, we didn’t hesitate to leave the restaurant with nary a token tip left on the table.  While in Australia, we followed suit as per the locals, tipping only for exceptional service. 

View of a small portion of Sydney’s skyline at night.

Once back in the US, we’ll be tipping in the typical US manner, from 15% to 20% of any restaurant bill.  Add state and city taxes and a meal may be as much as 25% to 30% more than the cost of the meal and beverages.  I guess we’ll be heading to Costco for pre-made meals to bring back to our hotel, when not out  dining with family and friends. 

At the end of the ferry ride back to Manly, we crossed the busy street to a taxi stand and grabbed a ride back to our holiday home at a cost of AU $7.40, US $5.70.  Then, in the dark we maneuvered our way up the long steep winding walkway to the house.  Luckily, Tom had his LED flashlight attached to his RFID wallet, lighting the way for the uneven walk up the hill.


View to Circular Quay from an upper deck on the Manly Ferry.

Amid our immigration worries, overall it was a good weekend and first week in Manly.  Unusual for us, we dined out four times; once with Bob in Manly, another in the Rocks area of Sydney with friends Linda and Ken and twice in Circular Quay near the Sydney Opera House.

Today, we’re making a favorite dish and staying put planning this week’s menu.  We’re trying to figure out what we need to purchase to last only through next Sunday night, just in case we have to leave the country for good, as of next Monday’s immigration office meeting.  We shall see.

Be well.  Be safe.  Be happy.

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Photo from one year ago today, March 20, 2016:

One year ago we got a kick out of watching cattle wander back and forth through the barren vineyards Okurukuru Winery in New Zealand.  For more photos of the winery, please click here.

A visit to Circular Quay and ride on The Manly Ferry…A Sydney Harbour tradition and popular means of local transportation…

 
The esplanade, a walkway along the shore in Circular Quay.

Traveling from Manly Beach to Sydney couldn’t be easier.  The Manly Fast Ferry offers five location stops; Circular Quay; Darling Harbour; North Sydney; Pyrmont Bay: and weekend sightseeing ferry between Manly, Watsons Bay and Rose Bay. For details for the Manly Fast Ferry, please click here.

While in Sydney a few days ago, Royal Caribbean Voyager of the Seas was in port.  We’d sailed on this ship April 16, 2016 from Sydney to Singapore.

The slower ferry route taking about 30 minutes is the Manly Ferry, in operation since 1855, from the wharf in Manly to Circular Quay, the popular wharf. There are shops, a news stand and electronic machines from which to purchase more money for the Opal card used for Sydney transportation. 

Video during ferry ride to Circular Quay in Sydney.

In addition there’s an array of restaurants and fast food shops at the Wharf.  Bob showed us a “drool worthy” candy kiosk where candy lovers can find many of their favorites, if they so chose.


Entertainment at the Wharf in Circular Quay in Sydney.


Circular Quay is a harbour in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia on the northern edge of the Sydney central business district on Sydney Cove, between Bennelong Point and The Rocks. It is part of the local government area of the City of Sydney.  For information on this ferry, please click here.


Ferries ready to be boarded.

For our purposes the slower Manly Ferry will serve our needs.  Tomorrow night, when we’ll attend the opera at the Sydney Opera House, we’ll use the slower ferry for the round trip as we did when meeting friends Linda and Ken in the Rocks area of Sydney a few days ago.

The ride is easy and pleasant with breathtaking scenery with many popular points of interest greeting us along the way.  Getting on and off the ferry is seamless especially with its frequent departures every 30 minutes.  There are multiple decks, both outdoor and indoor seating and restrooms on board. 

Between the launch area to a view of the cruise ship.

Considered one of the top ten sights to see in Sydney at many tourist sites, the ferries themselves are a popular attractions.  Plus, it makes no sense to pay the high taxi fares when it’s much more economical and faster to use the ferry. 

Sales area for Captain Cook Cruises, a tourist company.

We paid AU $100, US $77 for the round trip taxi fare from Manly to Sydney whereby its only AU $28, US $21.50 for the round trip ferry for both of us.  Its a no brainer when we can easily visit the beautiful city as often as we’d like during our remaining time (yet unknown due to immigration) in Fairlight/Manly.

Tom on the Manly Ferry which was clean and well organized.

Taking the ferry requires a ride on a bus to return to the holiday rental but the Hop, Skip, Jump bus is free and arrives at the stop outside the Manly Wharf every half hour or less, stopping within a few blocks of where we’re living.

The cruise ship, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and a small ferry boat.

Typically in our world travels, we haven’t used a lot of public transportation when we’ve lived in more remote areas of the world where public trasnport schedules were erratic and stops too distant from our location at the time.  Instead, we’ve either had a rental car or used a taxi.  Neither of these options were necessary in this area.

From almost any point in the area, its easy to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  Ken asked if we were going to do the bridge walk.  Maybe not.

The weather has been rainy, windy and cloudy since our arrival on Monday.  We’ve only been able to wash clothes once with the high humidity.  It took three days for the clothing to dry indoors on the rack.  As a result of inclement weather we haven’t had much of an opportunity to walk the neighborhood, although we’ve been out and about on several occasions.

Soon, we’ll visit The Museum of Contemporary Art located near the wharf.

Yesterday late afternoon, our kindly landlord Bob took us to a local mall with dozens of shops and restaurants, Stockland Balgowlah, where we rounded out our grocery shopping at Cole’s Market, visited a pharmacy and stopped at the local health food store. 

We had to walk to find the pub where we were meeting Linda and Ken.

We’re hoping the weather will improve by tomorrow’s ferry ride to Circular Quay especially considering the long walk to the Opera House from the Wharf but it doesn’t look hopeful.  Rain or shine, we’ll be on our way for what surely will be a fabulous performance at the world famous venue.

Have a fabulous day!

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Photo from one year ago today, March 17, 2016:


Two bottles of New Zealand wine we’d purchased and savored in New Zealand.  We seldom purchase wine for “home” use but have done so twice in the past year.  No wine for me recently with this medical issue, yet to be fully resolved.  For more details, please click here.