Sunday proved to be an even sunnier day than the day before. It was a perfect reason to head out to Manly Beach. It gave us a reason to get on a ferry boat. The boat left out of Circular Quay (pronounced like key) which is also the same train station that’s next to the Sydney Opera House. Getting to Manly Beach required the use of the Opal card which is the  transportation card used for the train, light rail, ferries, and buses. I still haven’t quite figured out the cost of each trip. All I know is that you tap on before you get on, and tap off before you leave.

img_9461Once we arrived at Circular Quay, one of the most vivid things that I, as a tourist, noticed right away was the opera house to the right, and the Harbour Bridge to the left. They are just so stunning. I’ve seen them in pictures, in movies, many, many times….and there I was again admiring them both. And then, the other thing I noticed at Circular Quay? Well, there’s no denying, it’s a tourist trap. Lots of vendors, restaurant, street performers….you know the drill.

Circular_Quay_station_entrance.jpgWe finally made it to the wharf, and we boarded the ferry.  We were one of the last ones to board. Fortunately, we found a space to sit on. Once the ferry started to move, it was time to take hundreds of pictures, lots of selfies with the opera house and the bridge.

img_9483img_9520img_9560While Australians speak English, it is still quite distinct to hear of the “American” English. We asked the guy to our left to take our picture. He gladly did so. I asked him if he was American (because I knew he was), and he said yes. For the next 20-25 minutes of the ferry ride, Nancy and I had a great conversation with Patrick, a flight attendant with Delta. He was only visiting for four days. We both exchanged stories about his travels, and he was quite surprised at the amount of travels we’ve had considering that we have four kids. Thanks for the conversation, that made our ferry ride quite entertaining.

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We arrived at Manly Beach and the very first thing that hit me was Santa Monica. It was lined up with stores, restaurants, and of course, the beach. Although Nancy and I were both casually dressed for the beach, we just decided to walk around and watch people enjoy this beautiful Sunday afternoon.

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After leaving Manly Beach, we had to get on the ferry back to Sydney. Once we got back to Circular Quay, we headed to Spice Alley. What is Spice Alley? It’s a collection of little Asian restaurants or stalls. There was Vietnamese, Singaporean, Thai, Japanese, Malaysian, and Chinese. It was heaven.

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I opted for Beef Rendang and Roti, while Nancy had Bibimbap. I also order Sambal Pipi (clams sautéed in Malaysian spices). Oh what a day!!! The food was delicious. The atmosphere was quite vibrant. I have a feeling we’d be back at Spice Alley at least one more time before we head home.

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We got home close 9:00 pm. Greg and Grace were both home. We talked for a little bit. They asked about our adventures and we shared with them our plans for Monday. It’s good to come back to the apartment and feel welcomed. We slept early because we made plans to go to the mountains the next day.

cb90838ea9ce373e54ac7ba726902167.jpgMonday Mountains

I got up around 6am. I wanted to make sure th
at we leave the house early enough to get to the Blue Mountains in Katoomba. First, we grabbed a quick breakfast over Le Monde Cafe. We ordered an Egg Muffin with spinach, avocado, hollandaise sauce. I paired that with a cup of Cafe Latte….perfect, simple breakfast.

Okay, let’s get to
Blue Mountains. We walked a few minutes to Central Station and got on board the Blue Mountain Line. It was a two-hour train ride. It was long!!!  There were about twenty stops. While the ride was smooth, I have to say that I miss the high-speed trains that I got so used when we traveled around Italy. We also rode a high-speed train betwee
n Madrid and Barcelona. But hey, the US does not even have a high-speed train ***sigh***

The Blue Mountain was an all-day adventure. Upon arrival at Katoomba Station, we decided to use the Hop On, Hop Off bus. It was around $44 AUD. We had 3 main highlights during our visit….visiting the Katoomba Falls, Leura Falls, and a hike down to Three Sisters. There were many other places to stop at, but those three sights presented good enough sight-seeing and challenging adventures for me and Nancy.

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What I enjoyed most about the trip? The Hop On Hop Off bus drivers. They weren’t just drivers….they were the tour guides. Jimmy was so animated. He asked every single group of passengers where they were from. By the time he started to drive, he had a way of talking of all foreign nationals using their native language. Jimmy took pride of being a tour and it showed.

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img_9658-2The other thing I enjoyed most was the trail. There were real stair steps that helped the tourists to get to these sites. It was easy to follow. I wished going up the steps was as easy as going down. i could only wish.

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By 3:30pm, we decided to head back to Sydney. The two-hour ride allowed us to sleep for a little bit.

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By the time we got up, we decided on Spice Alley….this time for some ramen and more Malaysian food. For dessert, we headed to Chinatown (just another 10 minutes away), and had a festival of an ice cream at Meet Fresh. That was one great way of end this day.

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