Day 37, Sydney, Australia – 10 February 2018
We cruised thru scenic Sydney Harbor very early this morning. By the time I made it to the bow, we had already passed the Opera House and were beyond the Sydney Harbor Bridge headed toward our berth at White Bay Cruise Terminal. “Opera House” rolls were being served on the bow and they looked the same as the Fiordland rolls a few days earlier, but different than the “Panama Canal” rolls that were served during our canal transit.
White Bay Cruise Terminal
Our destination was the White Bay Cruise Terminal, which is not your best spot for visiting Sydney. The berth near the Circular Quay at the Overseas Passenger Terminal (OPT) is far preferable, but priority for that location is given to ships too large to fit under the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
Note: We were joined by the Viking Sun who was berthed next to us for most of the day. We would see her move to the Circular Quay around 5 PM to facilitate their guests going to the evening Opera House performances on Saturday evening. She would return to White Bay Cruise terminal very early Sunday morning. Viking was using their ship as a giant tender! I have never heard of a cruise line shifting its location twice in a port before. Please comment on this post if you are aware of another instance.
Australian Immigration requires a face to face passport check for every passenger and crewmember. Everyone was required to get off the ship even if you didn’t want to visit Sydney. No one could return to the ship until everyone cleared immigration. We picked up our passports a few days ago and the Front Desk completed most of the blocks on our Australian Immigration form. We still had to complete the questions about whether we visited a farm, were carrying any microbes, etc. Our Australian immigration forms were stapled to a letter (HERE) describing the process we would follow along with a number indicating the order when we would be called to leave the ship to get processed. I am not sure exactly how the numbers were assigned but I suspect they started with Deck 7 and moved down from there. The first groups were letters A and S followed by numbers 4 thru 17. Groups A, S and 4 were called at 8:30 and the last groups were called at 9:30 AM. Even though we were in Group 5, we waited until final call since we weren’t in any rush to leave the ship.
The gangway was attached to the ship on Deck 3 near the atrium using a jetway style telescoping arm. As we left the ship we spotted Henk monitoring the immigration and disembarkation process. Clearing immigration was a breeze and we weren’t asked any questions. We saw a few people sent over to secondary screening by agricultural officials. I suspect they may have answered “yes” to one of the questions about visiting a farm recently.
Inside the Cruise Terminal
There isn’t much in the cruise terminal, a small shop selling drinks and snacks and a pop up information center with some people available to answer questions and hand out maps. There was an ATM machine near the snack bar. There wasn’t any Wi-Fi available for passengers.
Shuttle Bus and Uber
Due to construction near “The Rocks” the shuttle bus drop-off location was near the Aquarium at Darling Harbor rather than the normal spot at near Circular Quay. We decided to avoid using the shuttle bus and use Uber directly from the cruise terminal.
Note: Uber now offers an option to request an UberXL which will produce, for a slightly higher price, a vehicle with a capacity of 6 people. This option proved handy when our group of 5 headed to the Opera House later in the day. UberXL fare was about $34 AUS from White Bay Cruise Terminal.
Note: Every time we left the cruise terminal there were taxis waiting at the nearby taxi stand. We still prefer Uber since the app requires you to put in your destination which eliminates any potential confusion. While most taxis now take credit cards, this is never an issue with Uber.
After spending a few minutes getting organized, we requested an Uber to take us to Skein Sisters Yarn Shop about 6 miles away in Dulwich Hill. Our Uber arrived in about 10 minutes and we arrived at the Yarn Shop in about 20 minutes.
Skein Sisters Yarn Shop
Skein Sisters is a wonderful shop that has been in business for less than a year. The proprietor, Deb McDonald, greeted us as we entered and oriented us to her shop and the various types of yarn available. Her sales associates, Molly and Jane, were quite knowledgeable and helpful.
Every month they feature yarns dyed by a local indy (independent) dyer. This month’s feature is Revive Designs. They had a yarn dyed in shades of green for an exclusive color called ‘SISTERS’. The shop also sells most of the Shibui line of yarns as well as Woolmeise. We have been to the Woolmeise shop in Germany and know that it is in very few other stores.
Judy decided to buy five hanks of Revive Designs fingering weight yarn in the ‘SISTERS’ colorway. There should be enough to knit a sweater or cardigan.
The shop is bright and cheery with a lot of natural light. A small seating area is perfect to browse patterns or for a place for husbands to relax. There is a classroom in the back. We had a wonderful time chatting with Deb and she mentioned that she will be visiting friends in NYC this fall and then taking a side trip to the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool Festival in NY – more info HERE
We had originally planned to visit another yarn shop in North Sydney (Middle Cove) called Unravelled Textiles, but it was going to close at early today and that wouldn’t leave us much time.
Check out the Skein Sisters web site HERE
Deb suggested we walk about half a mile toward the center of Dulwich Hill where we would find a variety of shops, restaurants and coffee shops. After saying our goodbyes, we headed off on foot walking down New Canterbury Road until Dulwich Street where we found a nice local coffee shop called Campos Coffee. We ordered a latte, an apple juice and a pulled pork sandwich. We normally don’t take our laptops off the ship, but we needed to get some things synched up and we would never be able to accomplish this on the ship regardless of how long we wanted to spend trying. Dulwich Hill is well off the normal tourist track and we enjoyed chatting with a local woman who shared our table for much of the time.
It was now around 3PM and we needed to get back to the ship and meet our friends at 5PM to head over to the Sydney Opera House for the 7PM performance of “Limbo Unhinged”.
NOTE: Uber is at its best when you are in place off the beaten path like Dulwich Hill. There aren’t any taxi stands in this part of town and calling a taxi would require you to find the phone number of a local taxi company or ask a merchant to call one for you. Using Uber gives you many more options to explore Sydney which is very useful if you have been here before and are wanting to explore something else beside the usual haunts within walking distance of the shuttle bus. As I have mentioned before, get the Uber app before you leave your home country and use it once or twice in a familiar area to get used to how it works.
We arrived back on the Amsterdam around 3:30 which gave us enough time to order some room service for an early dinner and get changed for our evening at the Sydney Opera House.
There are usually two or three events going on every day at the opera house. Check out the Sydney Opera House website six months ahead of time and you will start to see what programs are available during your time in Sydney. Buying tickets online is easy and you will either print them at home before you leave or pick them up at the box office on the day of the event. There are two box offices in the opera house so ask someone when you arrive for the directions to the box office where you will find your tickets waiting. This will save you waiting in line only to find out that you were waiting in line for the wrong box office.
Note: HAL will usually offer an evening at the Opera House as an excursion but will end up costing almost twice as much as if you do the bookings yourself. If you book thru HAL, you don’t have to plan for anything as everything is arranged. When you book on your own, you have to get your own tickets and arrange for your own local transportation – taxi fare will run about $20-$25 USD each way.
There were five of us going to see “Limbo Unhinged”. I ordered up an Uber XL which arrived at the cruise terminal in about 10 minutes. Twenty minutes later we arrived at the Sydney Opera House taxi drop off spot which is about ¼ mile away from the entrance. If you take the HAL excursion, I think that the buses are allowed closer and can drop you off within steps of the Opera House entrance.
As we were walking up to the Opera House, we watched the Viking Sun slide into her berth alongside the Overseas Passenger Terminal where she would spend the evening. She would return to White Bay Cruise Terminal on Sunday evening.
“Limbo Unhinged” was in the Studio, a smaller venue on Opera House’s ground floor. Described as “vaudeville steampunk”, Limbo Unhinged has been touring Australia for the last couple of years and is in the Opera House for a three month engagement. This is an amazing show which runs for 90 minutes without an intermission. There isn’t any plot that I could follow, but a series of very entertaining circus type displays of skill and daring do. One of the many highlights was the incredible display of sword swallowing by Heather Holliday who dazzled the crowd by swallowing six swords simultaneously. Another act featured her ability to work with fire as she swallowed some type of flammable liquid which she sprayed into an 15 foot stream of fire. You can read more about the show HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE
Back on the ship
After the show we headed back to the taxi pick up area and requested an UBER. Our car arrived in about ten minutes and we were back on the ship in twenty minutes. There were numerous taxis waiting to pick up passengers, but there weren’t any that had capacity for 5 people. Another benefit of Uber is the ability to summon a larger car holding 5 people.This entry was posted in Uncategorized