Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Sydney's Magnificent Harbour

From left to right, the Sun Princess docked, the "Coat Hanger," (Aussie nickname for the Sydney Harbour Bridge), and Sydney's Grand Old (about 43 years) Opera House, the "world's biggest planning disaster."

On past visits we've toured the Opera House, and walked all the way over to the bridge, but today we just gaze, never tiring of the views.

Hilton Sydney

A tiny but pleasant room, a great lounge where we made dinner of the offerings, and a very mediocre breakfast in the famed Glass Brasserie, fortunately a free Hilton Diamond benefit, rather than the AUS $44 price per person.

The problem? Nothing was actually HOT, from the coffee to the Gyoza, to the Eggs Benedict. It was warm at best, and both the ham and the center of the yolk in the Eggs Bennie still had a refrigerator chill.

We've eaten well this trip (we usually do) and we won't be disappointed to skip Glass in favor of a quick continental breakfast in the Executive Lounge before taking the train to the airport for a 9:30 a.m. flight. 

Our tiny room at least includes a separate tub and shower.

From our window...

Glass - very impressive but poor execution at breakfast.

The Queen Victoria Building from our table...

The buffet...

American hash? Potatoes and carrots? Let's call it Aussie Mash instead.

Rainy Sydney

Wouldn't you know it? This is our first visit to Sydney that actually coincides with the amazing Vivid Sydney display of lights and it's too rainy to venture out to view it.

We savored our last breakfast at the Surfers Paradise Hilton this morning, said our goodbyes to various fellow Flyertalk friends at the hotel and the airport, and flew back to Sydney on a Qantas 737, a 90-minute flight complete with hot mini-meal.

We shared an Uber with Bo, a Flyertalk friend on our flight, and checked in at the Hilton Executive Lounge about 3:00 p.m.

After a few nights in that four-bedroom suite, we'd forgotten how small a hotel room can be. Still, it's cozy and comfortable.

We've enjoyed the Happy Hour (actually two hours) in the lounge, and the food offerings were good enough that this will be dinner.

We'll see what tomorrow brings, but the agenda for tonight is catching up on our sleep.

Sunday, May 29, 2016

At the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary

It would be easy to spend an entire day here, a highlight of Australia's Gold Coast.

We only caught the bird show thanks to friends getting us on the little train after lunch (too long a walk otherwise), and the various birds swooping just over our heads made it worth the effort.

We also managed to wander into a kangaroo petting zoo that thrilled youngsters.

We saw emus too.

Last but not least, we finally saw cute koalas up close.

Not to mention Blinky Bill, an Australian kids' TV celebrity.

Australia's Easternmost Point: Byron Bay

A curious little kangaroo or wallaby - he appears to be mooching the tourists for food as he hops around the steep hillside.

 a sight - more than 20 dolphins surfing in the clear water below...

Australia: Surfers Paradise Hilton

After one night in a pleasant room with a slippery shower floor, we asked for a rubber bath mat or two. Instead, the hotel's manager transferred us to a massive four-bedroom suite on the 53rd floor of the higher tower. 

This occurred after two of our friends (and fellow Oz Fest attendees) had earlier discussions with her and she was kind enough to make some accommodation, literally and figuratively, for our group.

Even with 4 1/2 bathrooms in our suite, we no longer needed bath mats.

We became Party Central at the end of the day, and we had a great turnout on three consecutive nights. 

The only challenge was shuttling everybody up the elevator, since the floor requires a card. With a little teamwork, we made it work quite smoothly and a good time was had by all.