“Sydney’s early convict days live on in the Rocks, a jumble of cobblestone streets and cul-de-sacs just five minutes from Circular Quay. You only have to step off the harbor foreshore to find the sandstone terraces and cottages and some of Sydney’s oldest pubs. This historic precinct also draws both visitors and locals with its museums and galleries, lively weekend markets and hotels with harbour views. The past and present collide in the best way in the Rocks, home to both ghostly tours and some of Sydney’s liveliest celebrations.” australia.com
The Russell is a fun boutique hotel that has stairs to everywhere, Janice and John’s room was on the first floor (bars and restaurants on the ground floors) in the second building. To get to that room with luggage you cut through two fire exit doors up 2 stairs and down 3 stairs. Pete and Bunny had a room in the first building and had to go down 2 stairs then “uphill slightly” down a hall the last room before 5 steps of stairs. For us to meet in the reading room we both went down five steps..fun buildings. The reading room has a cool balcony where we could watch the action in the streets. To enter the building with luggage you walk uphill to the back of the building then up an elevator to the first floor and reception is down the hall, two steps. The buildings and rooms are old, but updated and very comfortable. The fun of being at the Russell is just being at The Rocks. There is activity going on all the time and with only a few days in Sydney, the perfect place to stay.
Just up the street you can walk across the top of the Harbour Bridge, the cost is $250 per person, takes over three hours, you have to put a full body suit on and you can’t take any pictures, it was 30C (86 F) that day. We took a pass. If we wanted to get high, there are many great pubs, at a much lower cost with air conditioning!
The first evening we went to the Phillip’s Foote Restaurant and pub just up the street from the hotel, they had an interesting eating plan. The fist thing is to visit the butcher and pick out your protein, it can be steak, chicken or pork, pay at the register, they give you your steak on a plate. You walk over to the cooking area and cook your protein (it is a large indoor BBQ grill). While the steak is cooking you take the same plate and go to a buffet and pick out your sides. We can’t think of a restaurant like that in the United States. Can you imagine a restaurant in the US that would allow customers to handle uncooked meat and cook it any way they want? It was fun and the meat was cooked to perfection, even if it wasn’t, you just can’t complain to the chef!
We spent some time on Saturday catching up on the blog, it was two o’clock before we knew it. We walked up the street to the “market” and walked around the stalls. A cruise ship was in port, a block away from the hotel, so there were 3,000 of your closest friends competing for the tables outside the many little restaurants. We settled on some kabob at one of the booths and watched the sea of people pass us by. Walked around more booths and came to a gentleman that had an incredible lamp with multiple colors that could be stored in a tube the size of a wine bottle. We bought one to make with green colors, it looks great it is for the dining room.
John had lost his Kindle at some point in time, so he took off for the long walk to the hotel we first stayed in on our way to New Zealand, no luck in finding it. He had checked the lost and found at the Auckland airport without success, the only place left is the Sydney airport. (We must report, no luck at the airport.) While John was out Janice made an arrangement to play golf at Moore Golf Course for 6:45 Sunday morning.
We fell in love with a small restaurant a block from the hotel called the Pony Lounge and Dinning. It is an old brick walled building with exposed brick and glass walls on the inside. The open kitchen has a large wood grille. We shared an appetizer of fried prawns with coconut and wood fired grilled salmon. The atmosphere, the ambiance and the whole experience was fantastic. A wonderful place we would return to.
Our last chance to play golf in Australia began with a 5:45 cab ride the 5 miles to the golf course. We arrived about 6:20. We went to check in at the pro shop and were informed that we were only playing the final eight holes! We had paid on-line for 18, but the pro took great effort to explain that the booking system is a problem and really is not obvious what you are playing and it does not know to only bill for 8 holes. SInce this course is owned by the city, the hope is that the government will get it fixed in July. It is the first time we have been scheduled for eight holes! Hole number ten, ends at the club house, so when tee times run out for 18, you can play eight as long as you tee off before the people playing 18 holes make the turn after hole ten!
The course was beautiful with outstanding views looking towards downtown. We laughed about the 8 holes, but after an hour we were happy it wasn’t 18 holes, we think it might have been close to six hours to play 18 holes. When we finished we were looking at the driving range. It looked like driving ranges in Tokyo. It was three levels facing out about 250 yards to the fence. The grounds inside the range all slop to the center for collection of the balls. When we started to leave we were watch several at the range. They would hit the ball, the tee went in the ground, the machine dropped a new ball and the tee came up ready for the golfer to hit again, without having to bend over! There is also a “jumbotron” airing the current golf tournament on TV so you can watch golf while you practice.
We enjoyed a nice breakfast overlooking the putting green and then had a taxi take us back to the Rocks. We did get a refund, since we had paid for the full 18 holes.
Back at the hotel we spend some time to get packed, with a car service picking us up at 9:30 for the airport. We worked some more on the blog and went around the corner to a cute pizza restaurant for a small pizza, it was great.
The plan for the evening was to have our “End of Vacation dinner” with Pete and Bunny. We met in the reading room to meet and share our last bottle of Lambert Estate wine, a great Shiraz called The Commitment.
Pete and Bunny were going to pick a place to have dinner for our last night together. We all enjoyed a laugh when they had picked the Pony Lounge. As we mentioned before, “we would go there again”.
When we got to the Pony we were seated at a table serviced by Clair, from Normandy, France who had serviced our table the night before. We had a wonderful dinner and talked about the times we had enjoyed over the last 42 days, the great sights, the beautiful golf courses and the magnificent people that we had met during our travels.
Up early in the morning we headed out to the airport for the 24 hour trip back home. It was an uneventful series of flights and it was great when we landed in Daytona Beach just before midnight on Monday, March second.
To summarize our 42 days, we drove about 4,200 miles, drank over 50 bottles of wine, about 6 bottoms of rum and 6 bottles of vodka. We bought a “chill box”, that is what they call a cooler there, that we carried in the car with our cheese, soda and cold wine. We donated it to Maxine, the fabulous reception person at the Russell. She was so helpful in making many of our arrangements. Great trip with our friends Pete and Bunny and we say Goodbye to another adventure.