Sunday, April 14, 2013

Australian Adventure (Day 3 of 21) - Sydney City Tour

      Day three was one of my earliest start in my whole stay in Australia.  By 6:30 AM, Sydney time, I was up and about, getting ready to go to the city with my aunt.  My aunt works at Commonwealth Bank, which was located very near Darling Harbour. Though it was already December 24 at that time, it was still a workday for her. And since I didn't want to waste my day, I decided to go with her and just explore the city by myself.
      Tito Bru dropped us off to the nearest train station, which was Mount Druitt at around 7:30 AM.  We purchased one-way tickets and proceeded to wait for our train.  According to my aunt, there were fast trains and slow trains.  Fast trains are those that did not have a lot of stops, thus bringing you to your destination at an earlier time, while slow trains are of course, its opposite.  I think we got to ride on a slow train but it worked perfectly for me because I was able to get some snooze time.  Our train was one of the older ones as there was no air condition yet.  But since it was still early, the weather wasn't very hot to be considered as uncomfortable.  What fascinated me with our train was that the seats could be manually arranged by the rider to face on one side to another, depending on his preference. So for those passengers who would want to be seated face to face, they would only need to turn this lever/contraption on their seats.  Similarly, if you're alone and wouldn't want to be facing any strangers, the same contraption could be used.  It was almost 9 AM when we arrived at the Town Hall Station, which was just a walking distance from my aunt's workplace.  But before going to work, my aunt went with me to the Queen Victoria Building (QVB)  to treat me for some breakfast.  

      The QVB is of "romanesque architecture" and was first opened in 1898.  Over time, it has undergone plenty of renovations to restore to its original beauty.  It now houses plenty of shopping stores, restaurants, and cafes making it a must-stop for Sydney tourists.  They offer free-wifi and normally operates from 9 AM to 6 PM except for Thursdays, in which they extend till 9 PM. Shops found in the QVB range from middle to high-end.

QVB from the outside
      For breakfast, I had some waffles (with two scoops of vanilla ice cream, bananas, and chocolate syrup!! hello calories!], and of course, some very good hot chocolate with a big squishy marshmallow on top. Once I activated the local sim that I bought, my aunt left me to my own devices.

Another sinful breakfast
        My first agenda was to just walk around QVB.  Since I was on a limited budget, I was only able to window shop.  Nonetheless, I had a great time, looking at the various bags, clothes, shoes, accessories, and unique products that the QVB has to offer.  After feeling that I've fully explored the QVB, I moved on to the nearby buildings.

Such a huge Christmas tree at the QVB

Feeling the Christmas Spirit

Surprised to see Cha Time in the QVB

           Thanks to the trusty GPS of my phone, I was able to locate the Apple Store with no problems at all.  It was my first time to enter into an actual Apple Store because in the Philippines, all we have are Apple re-sellers.  So I was quite amazed of finding not just one level but around three to four levels of pure apple products and accessories on a glass-windowed building.  There were plenty of Apple personnel scattered around the different levels, who were more than happy to offer a helping hand to the customers.  Since I still didn't have a case for my iPhone 5, I looked at their offered cases, but discovered that it averaged around AUD40-65.  Given that this was over my budget, I left the store with no purchases, but still with a great experience.

           My next stop on my city tour was a bookstore called Dymocks, located along George Street.  I guess its similar to Powerbooks in the Philippines. It boasts to be the "leading bookseller in the Asia Pacific region", with plenty of stores found in Australia and Hong Kong.  Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find the book that I was looking for, which was written by Paullina Simons, the author of the Bronze Horseman Trilogy [one of my most favorite books!].  Afterwards, I also dropped by Myer, which is "Australia's largest department store group".
Sighted: LV Building
                Since I was already getting a bit hungry, I decided to have my lunch at Darling Harbour.  Darling Harbour is a great place for eating, chilling out, shopping and sight-seeing. It has numerous restaurants offering varying cuisines.  The IMAX 3D cinema could also be found here. Street performers from dancers, to magicians, fire breathing people, and the like can also be seen, providing entertainment to tourists and locals in the area.  Museums and attractions such as Madame Tussauds, Australian National Maritime Museum and the Sydney Aquarium could also be found here.  In case you would also like to ride the Sydney Monorail, one of its station is located here.  However, the Sydney Monorail would soon have its last day of operations on June 30, 2013.

Darling Harbour on a Sunny Day
Such big anchors!
Which way next?

Sydney Convention Centre
Sydney Monorail...last operation on June 30, 2013
A beautiful view of Darling Harbour and the CBD of Sydney
               As I was craving for some meat, I just had some barbecue pork and rice in the food court of Darling Harbour.  The meal cost about AUD10-12 and the serving was good enough for two [at least for me].  After walking some more around the Harbour, I realized that it was already time to meet up with my aunt.

Big enough for two!
            I'm not sure if it's just a coincidence or if it was just fate [cheesy!], but my aunt's office was just right across the Sydney counterpart of the office where I work in the Philippines.  So of course, I just had to take some photos with our company logo in the background.  Since the two buildings of Commonwealth Bank and PwC are actually connected, I was even able to go up and have a view of the main entrance of our Sydney office.
At our Sydney Office
               After meeting up with my aunt, we roamed around for another 30-45 minutes around the city. We visited a few more shops and tried looking for some nice clothes and shoes.  But given that Australia is a developed country, most of the stuff I could find were way over my budget.  Since I still had a lot of days to go, I decided that there was no need to rush my shopping agenda.  Afterwards, we headed home by riding another train, and was picked up by Tito Bru.

              When we arrived home, I was able to pick some fresh strawberries from their garden. I wish that the Philippines also had weather that will enable me to grow strawberries at my own backyard. Given that the Philippines is a tropical country, strawberries could only be grown in Baguio, where the weather is nice and cool all-year-round.  As mentioned in my previous post, strawberries are one of my favorite fruits.  I just love eating them! At times, I would even add on some condensed milk and leave it in the freezer for some time [something I learned from my Dad].  Once its been frozen enough, I would then eat it to my heart's content.  

              Anyway, after my strawberry picking session, we then had some chicken curry for dinner and then took our rest in preparation for our Christmas celebration the next day.

Wishing I can grow my own strawberries back at home

More soon.... Day 4 - Christmas Celebration in Sydney


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