Monday 16 January 2017

Sydney Part 2 - Being a cycle commuter or maybe not

I decided to avoid the previous backpackers  and chose one that was nearer to the station for the return to the airport. As soon as l arrived I knew it was a bad choice. There was a tiny reception opening onto the street and next to it a doorway going up a narrow flight of stairs.  The only place for the bike was on the roof.  Helpfully the receptionist closed up and said she would help with the bike and luggage. As we started up the stairs one of the young men in residence arrived and disappeared up the stairs with the bike, I hate to ask for help but it's always gratefully received. It was just as well as apart from the initial flight of stairs it had to be negotiated through 2 short but steep set of steps, through a narrow kitchen  and out onto the roof. The whole place was narrow and poky and a bit grubby, how I longed for the previous Sydney hostel!
Anyway onwards and upwards and I had tasks to complete - cycling over the Sydney Harbour bridge, the opera house etc.
I had realised apart from a sighting on the Great Ocean Road I had been Koala-less. So although it wasn't the same I found that the city zoo did a close up Koala experience so that was my first stop,  pedalled round there and locked the bike with some trepidation and got sucked into the tourist experience and booked for the zoo,  sea life centre and tower.
I must say the sea life centre was excellent,  full of manta rays, sharks etc and a great penguin section  where you went on a little boat ride on icy waters in a specially   chilled atmosphere.

I spent rather too long there  and after a  quick lunch in their cafeteria  - fish and chips which seemed inappropriate - I went to the zoo which was next door. The get-up close Koala experience was at the end so I went at a leisurely pace  and there were some Koalas in the trees but not easy to see. Then there was a get up close kangaroo experience  but after the talk here was a queue and time was moving on and by the time I got to the Koala experience they had closed it early for a private party, very disappointing.
By this time it was nearly 5pm and still had the Sydney Harbour bridge to cross. After finding my way through the Sydney traffic I arrived at the bike ramp just when it started raining heavily and when half of Sydney was wanting to go home. The cycleway was completely rammed with cycle commuters in both directions,  I was beginning to think it wasn't the best time  as it was raining too much for photos and I couldn't stop as I would have been in the way.  As this thought crossed my mind there was a terrific bang  and jolting as someone had crashed into the back of me.  I felt a bit shook up but was more worried about the bike. It was only later that I realised he had badly dented the pannier rack. He apologised but sped off pretty quickly and I decided to go back and try again the next day.
Arrived at the bridge around 10am when cycle commuters were hopefully at work and it was very quiet. There is the main road bridge, a rail line, a pedestrian path and the cycle only path, to prevent pedestrians using the cycle path there is a security guard at each end just stood there all day in case a pedestrian might sneak across. The one at the south end at least has shade but the north end guy is stuck in the sun. This time riding across was a pleasure with only 3 or 4 other cyclists the whole time all tourists ambling across like me.

I didn't go off the other end as there are a lot of steps to go up and down. Coming back off I realised I was next to the observatory that had a free museum and a time ball you could watch falling at a set time. Then rapidly on to the opera house,  botanic gardens and big tower.

Went to the airport by train and can't bear to describe what a hassle the whole experience was from the roof of the hostel to arriving at the gate for the flight with only 20 minutes to spare but that's cities for you though I did on the whole like Sydney.

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