G’day, mates, from Sydney! After months of planning, Don and I headed off to Australia and New Zealand October 8.
The first leg of our journey–an hour flight from San Diego to Los Angeles–should have been the easiest and was anything but. (Warning: first world problems ahead!) Instead of getting to LA at 6:15 for a 10:50 flight, we were delayed more than three hours waiting for a first officer to arrive on a Denver flight that was late. After boarding a second time, we sat for almost an hour because of some sort of mechanical problem. Wouldn’t you think they could have checked out the plane while it was sitting at the gate for so long? Gotta love United…
I’m glad to say things improved once we took off, especially Mr. Fussy’s attitude. We made record time to LA and even had a chance to relax in the lounge before boarding our 10:50 flight to Sydney. This was the first time we flew on a 787 and were looking forward to it. It’s a nice plane but we didn’t find it anything special. United has supposedly upgraded its business class service; we didn’t think it compared to our Turkish Airlines flights last year. The service was quite good, very attentive, with a wine flight tasting that was a nice touch. Seats were comfortable, movie selection poor. Location of outlets for headphones, chargers etc. awkward, and USB ports didn’t work. Luckily I had one charger with me. But if you plugged in the charger it interfered with the headphones! Very poor engineering. Not sure the Dreamliner is aptly named….
Mr. Fussy wasn’t happy with food; I thought it was ok but strange choices. We both chose the Spicy Thai Chicken with Udon Noodles. The sauce was tasty, with a little kick, but there was way too much of it. Don said the noodles tasted slimy. I took a pic of it but it looked so unappetizing and weird that you will have to use your imagination.
After the rocky start and a 14+ hour flight, we are enjoying our first day in Australia. We “lost” Monday en route, with a time change of 18 hours from San Diego, so it’s now Tuesday October 10. Our hotel, the Park Hyatt, is in The Rocks area and lovely. We have a spacious room on the harbor, right across from the iconic Sydney Opera House. There is even a fancy Toto Washlet toilet with a heated seat!
Just outside our balcony is the perfect photo spot, and it’s been fun watching lots of bridal parties come to take pictures with the Opera House in the background, as well as the ferries and other boats criss-crossing the harbor. The humongous (2000+ passengers) Carnival Legend is berthed so close to us we can hear the engines and even announcements! When the sun broke through the clouds the Opera House gleamed.
We took a half hour ferry to Manly, a cute beach town, to get some fresh air after being cooped up in the plane for so long. The weather was pleasant, 68-72°, and the scenery along the way was lovely. The beach was reminiscent of home.
Seafood appealed to us for lunch, and the Manly Fish House was a perfect place to indulge. Don started with oysters, which looked different from North American varieties but tasted good, especially with the savory but not spicy chili sauce. He enjoyed his fish and chips as well. Feeling adventurous and intrigued by the name, I bravely chose to order bugs–Moreton Bay Bugs, that is. Also known as flat head or slipper lobsters, only the tail is edible. They were delicious, similar to a large langoustine, very tender and sweet. The preparation was simple, sautéed in lemon and garlic, and enhanced the delicate taste.
On the ferry home we had another great view of the Opera House and of our hotel from the water.
After regrouping we had dinner at The Cut Bar and Grill, a nearby steak house recommended by the concierge. It is in an historic building and retained the original brickwork and beams. I had a cocktail called The Bee’s Knees: gin, lemon, honey water, and orange bitters, which I enjoyed except for the small size. The house specialty is a 4-hour slow roasted prime rib. Think it must be well done after that long? Nope, it’s roasted at such a low temperature that it stays juicy and medium rare. I neglected to take a picture of the whole rib, which they bring out to show you before you order. (Sorry!) It’s quite impressive! I ordered the lamb chop, a double loin cut in an unusual way. Delicious, as was the roasted corn with smoked paprika we had as a side dish.
All in all, it was an excellent first day. The city lit up at night was the perfect backdrop to our stroll home. G’night, all!