As the ship had been docked in Sydney overnight, there was no sail in to watch, just another lovely early morning phone call to a friend while I watched the sun rise behind the opera house. We were ashore by 7.45am, ready to catch a train to nearby Chatswood, where we met my cousin Simon, his wife Sharon, and their super children. We had breakfast together, a good catch up, and a wander around the area, before they headed off for a karate tournament and we got the train back to the city! The track went over the harbour bridge, so we had lovely views. We continued a few stations further down the line to Central Station, and then spent the rest of the day leisurely making our way back to the ship, stopping as and when we felt hungry! I got some lovely scrambled eggs and fresh juice at a cute little cafe shortly after leaving the train, then we wandered round looking at lots of impressive old buildings. We walked through Chinatown, and then stumbled upon the Chinese Garden of Friendship in Darling Harbour. This was incredible - a beautiful oasis in the middle of the city. It had lakes with fish and ducks, intricate pagodas, trees and plants of all varieties, waterfalls, rocks in a variety of unusual formations, sculptures, and pavilions containing a range of paintings and artwork. We even saw some lizards lounging in the sunshine! It was a magical find!
We walked back to the main part of the city, past more cathedrals and beautiful buildings, to Hyde Park, where we saw the large Anzac memorial. I had hoped to find some signs of the start of the famous magnificent Mardi Gras parade which would be taking place that evening, but I guess it was far too early, as apart from parade banners and a few people in rainbow coloured wigs and tutus, there was nothing to be seen. So we set off through the park, looking at the cockatoos, fountains, statues, and buildings old and new on the nearby roads, including the Sydney Tower looming 268 metres in the air. We then made our way into the Royal Botanic Gardens, where we found another wedding, and lots of beautiful winding flowery paths to take us back to the Opera House. We stopped into the Sydney Cove Oyster Bar (as JL hadn't had any for at least 12 hours!) and I had a yummy mango and strawberry dessert. Then after a bit of souvenir shopping, it was back onboard.
Lots of new passengers were embarking in Sydney, and so they asked everyone to do another safety drill at 5.00 (which was good as it appeared JL had completely forgotten where to go and how to put on his life jacket!). We went to our muster station and checked that the light and whistle on our life jackets still worked (which, as a recent onboard comedian kindly pointed out, would be of next to no use in the middle of the Pacific for attracting help, but would be of great interest to the sharks below!!!) We then went on deck to join the celebration sail away party, which involved lots of flag waving (to which the groups of climbers on the Harbour Bridge waved back enthusiastically!), singing, and a performance by my line dancing and party dance groups. We then sailed away as the sun set and we waved goodbye to beautiful Sydney :-(
We went along to dinner but then decided to give the evening show a miss - partly because the sea was starting to get very rocky again already, and partly because we were absolutely EXHAUSTED after our two busy days ashore! Luckily we have 3 days at sea now to recover!