Thursday, February 23, 2017

there's an app for that...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
After the long day yesterday, we are planning an 'easy' day and it's going to be fairly warm, like 27C plus. this is our last day in Sydney ( we are coming back after the NZ part for another week) traveling to New Zealand tomorrow and we have to be to the airport pretty early. My plantoday is to take the ferry (we love the ferries!) to Circular Quay and take in the Botanical Gardens and maybe a tour of the Sydney Opera house.
Over in the Botanical Gardens, it is really lovely and it's free! Unbelievable that they had the foresight back in the mid 1800s to set this land aside for such a beautiful project. Even though it is quite warm, there is a good breeze coming off the water to keep us cool enough to enjoy a couple of hours here. Closer to noon, we've already decided this will require/deserve another visit. We head toward the Opera house for something to eat and then do a tour.
The tour seems a little pricey, at $37 per head but Jan reminds me that we (Canadians, specifically Toronto) charge around $60 for the CN tower. After paying and going to the allotted meeting place for the 2 pm tour, we are lined up and a young Asian girl quickly places each couple/group in front of an ugly grey wall and takes our photo - she checks her screen and retakes ours a couple of times. We are given headphones (Jan declines because they do not have a hearing loop and she won't be able to use it) and our tour guide is Blandine, a French woman who's been in Australia for 20 years (I asked because her accent was quite different). Jan had checked out the performances at the Opera House but thought there was nothing of real interest to either of us but now that we've decided to come back here for our final week, there may be another opportunity. There are 6 halls/performance venues, each of varying size. We find that there is a Canadian performance, 'Barbu' from Quebec. B explains it as 'the bearded man' and it's a
circus act, playing here in one of the smaller halls (300 seats) and we are shown the set up which has two small circular stages, connected by a short, narrow runway. It is running through to March 4. The sign outside the doors  catches my attention and that of several others in our group, with a bit of laughing and photo taking - our Canadian reputation! The tour was pretty good, we saw the two larger venues, including the opera stage with the gigantic organ built into the back wall. At the end we are escorted down to the lower level and find that busy elves have put our personal photos into a booklet and photoshopped them so it looks like we were photoed in front
of the stage of the opera hall and in front of the outside of the building and, along with some literature of the opera house, we can purchase this little memento for a mere $40. Even though I've never seen a better picture of Jan and I together, we quickly decline and it looks like most everyone else has as well. Back out into the sunshine, we find a nice outdoor cafe nearby and have a cappuccino each and a sweet to share ($20), no tip. Actually, it's good here because the price on the menu is what you pay, there are no added taxes, so when it says it adds up to $20, you don't have to figure on it being another 15% or whatever.
By now, it's 4:30 and we take the ferry back to our home stop, walk the 1.5 km to our apartment to get ready to repack for traveling to Christchurch tomorrow. It's about 6 pm. Giacomo, our Italian/Aussie, retired, surfer-dude landlord comes by to check and see if there is anything he can do for us and offers some suggestions for things to do when we come back to Sydney  although we won't be staying with him - he was booked already.
We have to be at the airport for around 6:30am for our 8:30 flight and he assures us that the cab ride should be about a half hour. He recommends Uber but Jan has no app for that and doesn't really approve of it - she did try it once and had a bad experience. He recommends Silver Services taxi. We thank him and he leaves. We want to pre-order the taxi and fortunately attempt to do this now. An hour later, after trying to book online on both my iPad and Jan's tablet and trying futilely to call a taxi with her blackberry...Jan is alternating between googling how to use her blackberry and trying to book online and none of their apps are blackberry-friendly. I don't have a cell phone, don't really know how to use one, especially a blackberry but I finally manage to call Giacomo on the blackberry, using the number he left us, without trying to add any overseas codes or whatever. Amazingly, I manage to get through to him and he kindly offers to take care of it and even comes back up to reassure us that he's taken care of it, giving us the reservation code. Poor man, he's probably thinking we should never have left home!
Relieved, we go out and walk 1.5 km to the same restaurant as last night and have a really nice dinner, having 'barramundi' which is a local freshwater fish and a much needed glass of Shiraz from the Hunter Valley but not from one of the wineries we visited!
Fitbit 12.4km, MA, 12.9 km - go figure!

1 comment: