Tuesday, 25 January 2011


[[Sorry, this has been delayed due to family problems]]

It was obviously a good day for me, not only did I get a posh taxi for an ordinary taxi price, but when  I got to the Conrad and was whisked up to the Executive Floor, the magic words were uttered “Could you wait a little while whilst we finish preparing your suite”.  That’s a three level upgrade from the originally booked room, as a Hilton Gold, I hope for a one-level upgrade.  The suite overlooked the Fountain of Wealth, which I'm sure would make many people happy. It was quickly available and I swiftly unpacked, sorted out some clothes for pressing and then headed off for supplies into Sun-Tec City. Oh boy, did I get lost. What should have been a twenty minute expedition, turned into about a 90 minute trip. After that, I finally managed to touch base with my friend Michael who had been trying to get hold of me, but the hotel’s computer system had been down. After making arrangements for the next day, I wandered off, first to have a quick look at the lounge and then to find somewhere to eat. Rather than going hawker, as it was raining heavily, I took a table at a Vietnamese restaurant – I had some lovely light prawn summer rolls and a nice bowl of northern style pho, along with lime juice to drink. Good smiley service, food produced swiftly and quite delicious.

View from the Suite
The next morning, I met Michael in the lobby, he was a bit late, so he missed the teddy bear tree which was being taken down which was a shame. We then proceeded towards the National Museum via various shopping malls with both of us getting distracted by various things in shops. We did stop for kaya toast and hot drinks (Teh-C in my case, Kopi in Michael’s). I’d never had kaya toast before and it was delicious if not terribly good for you. 

The Bear Tree at the Conrad

Teh, Kopi, Kaya Toast, Eggs
The Museum was very interesting, I had to remember my Latin for the very good Pompeii exhibition and the Singapore food exhibition was fascinating. The old part of the building has a wonderful  dome and cupola with lovely iron railings. 

We then had a long food dithering session, but ended up at a little shop in an arcade which specialised in noodles. I had crispy mushrooms, spinach noodles and prawn dumplings. To drink was home-made iced tea.

Spinach Noodles

Crispy Mushrooms
Then it was back to the hotel for afternoon tea in the lounge, which both Michael and I found to be a little disappointing, there wasn’t much to tempt me and whilst the service of tea and cold drinks was very nice, a few nicer cakes or pastries would have been welcome. We also went up a bit later for pre-dinner snacks, again I found these inspiring, although the cheeses were nice and there were replenishment problems. 

After that, we wandered through to the Arts Centre and the Library and Michael showed me the fabulous night time views from the roof garden at the Arts Centre which has been unfortunately spoilt by Marina Bay Sands – which looks like a distorted giant wicket. We wandered back via a slightly strange route which seemed to involve walking through the public areas of several hotels.

The next morning, I went for a bit of a wander down to the Esplanade and back whilst doing some window shopping and looking at cameras (mine is starting to play up a bit). I didn’t get too lost in Suntec City this time, although it has to be amongst the most confusing malls I’ve ever been in.  Kaya Toast may have been involved at some point. Anyway, we ended up going for lunch at a Javanese place in SunTec – it was quite enjoyable, although the rice being removed after we had taken some was not so much fun. To start with there were bitter nut crackers with sambal. Then we had half a fish (which was delish, but skimpy on the fish), some sambal aubergine (tender and delicious) and some lovely chicken. 

Fish and sambal

The bill was modest and the service OK. Later that evening,  I met another friend for drinks and chit-chat which was very pleasant and ended up realising I hadn’t eaten and wasn’t that hungry, so I just went and found a stall which sold me a couple of curry puffs.

Michael had been saying how much Orchard had changed in the previous two years, so I took a trip to ION Orchard which is the swankest new kid on the shopping block. It has obviously been carefully planned by Patsy and Edina because it is full of “small, beautiful expensive things”.  Readers of Douglas Adams may have heard of the Shoe Event Horizon, at ION Orchard it is the Handbag Event Horizon that is evident. I was looking potentially for three things, a manbag (some nice ones at hideous prices), a pair of shoes (nothing available above a 10½) and some books. There is a very nice bookshop on, I think Level 4, where I spent a happy hour and made some purchases.  After a quick kaya toast stop thanks to Facebook directions, I wandered around Orchard and, yes, there has been a great deal of change over the last two years.
An interesting MRT ride and the usual maze of twisty passages at Suntec City lead me back towards the hotel and a branch of Mosburger. Now I try not to do Burger in Singapore – but this is Japanese burger. One Spicy Cheese Mosburger with fries later – as warned, small, quite spicy (lumps of green chilli evident) and a step up from the usual burger cheese – decent fries.

I spent the afternoon relaxing in my room, Michael popped along in the early evening and then we headed out for a veritable feast of seafood. Given the compensation I received from Singapore Airlines, I’d promised him a fancy meal out and as usual there had been much dithering. We eventually decided after a bit of a last minute waiver on Jumbo Seafood, who despite being a bit nickel and dime-ish have a good reputation. The fine dining resto really lost out when Michael rang up and the receptionist couldn’t pronounce or explain the dishes on the set menu. We did have a wander around the area, which is full of restaurants and bars of just about every possible sort.

Jumbo on Clarke Quay is noisy, as it gets full, it’s very noisy. They like to have their tables back quick, but will deliver food very quickly to allow for this and the food is pretty damn good. We had some jasmine tea but otherwise stuck to Aqua Tap (neither of us are big drinkers) and sent the nice dish of peanuts away (otherwise they charge for them). Michael ordered with some consultation, we had squid fritters (I didn’t like these), cereal prawns (best I’ve had so far), scallops with broccoli (a bit below standard, scallops could have been plumper), a chilli crab (just over 1.2 kilo normal spicing level and sadly Jumbo only do male crabs) and salted chicken fried rice (I insisted on this and it was very good). We left a bit of rice, some chilli crab gravy and a bit of scallop/broccoli and it was extremely enjoyable. Total cost, 143 S$, value for money, I dread to think how much it would cost in the UK. 

Waiting for the crab

Chili Crab - yum

We bumbled around in the warm drizzle for an hour or so around the Civic area before I was led to the evils of a gelato stall. The evils of a gelato stall with Dulce de Leche gelato. We both only had small tubs, otherwise I think I might have burst. It was very good gelato, certainly in the top 5 I’ve had. They also had gelato lollies, which of course are Sick and wrong and yet so pretty and tempting.


Right two more bits to go.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Trip Report 4 - Part 5 - BNE - SIN, SQ J

Airbus 330-300
Business Class, 11A

Checking in was not terribly quick or easy, both sets of passengers using the Business Class Desks seemed to be taking a great deal of time. As large families, they were probably having fun getting seats together or something. However, eventually I was called over and everything was done for me in a trice. I wandered back outside to enjoy a smoke before dealing with Immigration and Security. Both Immigration and Security were extremely quick and extremely painless.  I then went to the SilverKris lounge, which wasn’t very exciting, however, it provided me with the breakfast I didn’t have time to have on leaving the hotel. Vegemite toast, apple juice and a long black. I thought the selection of food was weak.

I did try to settle down, but the area was invaded by what I believe is termed in Australian English “cashed-up bogans”, who at the tender hour of 7:45 decided to hit the beer and vodka. After the second lengthy sighting of the grubby underdaks of one of the younger(and deeply unattractive) bogans due his low riders, I decided to see if I could find some cufflinks and have a general wander through Duty Free, after a short search I did find a display of links, although it did take some time to find some subtle ones. I then went in search of the secret smoking terrace at Brisbane, it does exist but is signposted nowhere.

Boarding was called very much on time and I swiftly found myself on board my first Airbus 330-300, I have the bulkhead row at the front and no seat mate. This is very lucky as there are only 2 free business class seats (and economy looks very full as well). The bogans are at the back of business class.

We are immediately offered, newspapers, magazines and a fruit  juice, I take tomato and a Straits Times. The rather paltry business class amenity kits are distributed, socks and eyeshades, I’m afraid I take my Suites slippers out my case, they are very comfortable and I’ve been wearing them in the hotels. Menus are distributed as well.

We push back bang on time, take off bang on time and are told that our flight time will be around seven hours. Just a small hop around here J

Quickly another round of juice is distributed with the hot towels, both of which I’m very grateful  to receive. The bogans are demanding beers, I can hear them from the front row.  We are then asked for our selections for brunch and I settle down with Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex – which is at least more readable than The Virgin Suicides, if somewhat unfinished. I can’t help feeling that there should have been a second book there.

The choices today for Brunch are

Sliced fresh fruit

Cereal (Raisin bran or Cornflakes) or Yoghurt

Grilled beef fillet with rosemary jus, roasted vegetables and potatoes
Singapore style roast chicken with chicken flavoured rice and chilli sauce

Scrambled egg with ham steak, sautéed mushroom, roasted tomato and roesti

Sticky rice ice cream garnished with yam and sweet potato in coconut milk stew.

The fruit is, as ever on airlines, slightly too cold. However, the mango is nice and ripe and the two raspberries and the blueberries are always welcome. I get a cup of tea, more juice and water to go with it all.

Breads are served, nice and wam, only one each and the brown roll is pretty dry. Those complaining of Lufthansa’s bread rationing may wish to take note. The yoghurt is Ski, wild strawberry, it might be slightly more classy to put it an bowl, but this is the Brisvegas route.

The Roast Chicken Rice is fairly decent, the chilli adds a good kick and the chicken is juicy, especially the two dark meat pieces, the rice has suffered slightly in the convection oven. However, an enjoyable choice, I’ll pop down Maxwell Road for the real thing later this week. I did see the grilled beef fillet served to another passenger and it looked very good.

The ice-cream is slightly strange, it’s a bit of an unusual combination for me and I approach it with a certain degree of caution. It is, like 99% of airline ice cream, rock hard. When melted, it’s delicious. I’d happily order that again.

The cabin then settles down, some go to sleep, some use Krisworld. Myself, I get the seat into a nice comfy position and I switch between reading Middlesex and writing this trip report. After just half the flight, we leave Australia and I decide that as it is now Australian lunchtime, I’ll take a beer. It comes with mixed nuts (which are carefully examined for the presence of the fell walnut before consumption). The regional seat isn't as generously wide as some SQ seats, but does have a nice reclined position for reading with loads of legroom.

Just after that, there is another drinks round and then orders are take for what is deemed refreshment which is served about 75 minutes out of Singapore.

Our choices today for refreshment are:

Warm smoked chicken, brie and Avocado in rustic Turkish bread served with rucola
Braised egg noodles with beef mushrooms and greens.

I took the sandwich with a cup of tea and some water. It was tasty, but quite messy to eat.  It was certainly just about the right size after only 5 hours.

The decent into Singapore was a little delayed due to a thunderstorm in the area, but we made a nice landing at Changi just before three o’clock Singapore time.  We then proceeded to have a small tour of the airport before arriving at one of the far gates in T2. We were off quickly, I popped for a quick smoke, then joined what I thought was the shortest immigration queue, but unfortunately was behind some French cretins who felt they didn’t have to fill out a landing card.  Sigh. Bags were, of course, on the belt by the time I got to them and I was quickly into a taxi for my hotel where a big surprise was waiting for me.

Brisbane Hilton

I have always liked the Brisbane Hilton, whilst a older hotel, it offers excellent customer service with very friendly and helpful staff. I was given a room on the smoking floor with access to the Executive lounge.  The rooms have been renovated, but unfortunately they still have the old showers. However, the refresh is welcome and the internet no longer drops out every five minutes. The lounge is very nice, with staff in the evenings now offering hot selections as well and I recommend the cake with afternoon tea – especially if the banana custard tarts are on.

I was personally greeted by the customer services manager, who brought a cake (yum) and a bottle of wine (declined, I can’t drink more than two small glasses at the moment). Laundry was taken and returned very swiftly.

Lounge Breakfast at the Hilton suits me down to the ground, rarely varying from two long blacks, a vanilla and cinnamon smoothie, some mango and pineapple, some sourdough bread and cheese. They had a particularly nice blue cheese very similar to Cashel Blue, I should have found out the name. By the second day, my drinks preferences had been noted and would be prepared for me on entering the lounge.

I only did evening snacks once, but as well as a fine selection of cold items, the extremely friendly staff came round to offer hot items from a short menu. You can also get Room Service to the lounge which is a nice touch.

Housekeeping were very prompt and efficient (except for New Years Day and that’s very understandable) and turndown service was offered every evening.

Again, another very good stay at this hotel and I would not hesitate to return, the customer-facing skills are very good here, although I must do one night at the Conrad one day to collect the teddy.

Thursday, 13 January 2011


Sorry about the slight hiatus, but Jet Lag has been a bit of a bitch, I’ve been coming back from work, cooking and pretty much wanting to go straight to bed. I’m about an hour out of sync now, which I can live with. This section is being written with a certain tristesse as after the events of the last few days Brisbane won’t be the same.

There are no photos in this section, there were some, but many of them are in areas that are now badly flooded and unrecognisable. It feels a bit strange to be posting photos of them as they were. I do hope that the New Farm Riverwalk is restored, that Southside is repaired, that Eagle Pier is again a thriving dining venue and the Brekky Creek Hotel resumes its former glory.

After unpacking and having a small afternoon tea in the lounge, I went to get my bearings and to do the usual room shopping for small items.  I then settled down to finish “The Slap”, I’d managed about 250 pages on the flight up and was rather desperate to finish it – this took a couple of hours. After that with it being early evening,  I decided I was peckish – a resto on the Queen Street Mall sorted this out with a delicious dinner salad of scallop, king prawn and squid with a tomato based sauce and a glass of Australian Riesling. I amused myself by watching some truly terrible A-League football at the same time. After that, a quiet stroll around the CBD enjoying the balmy evening air until driven back in by the rain.

The next morning was bright and sunny, so after a slip, slap, slop I ventured out for the day, a swift walk up to Spring Hill, then down to Fortitude Valley and back towards the CBD, pausing for a quick burger at Grill’d on Eagle Pier, I then took the RiverCat up to New Farm and explored there for an hour or so before realising I was really rather tired.  I went back via River Cat and happily noticed a open barbers where I got my hair trimmed. I was just back in time for the last bit of afternoon tea and a rest before heading out for a simple pasta dinner (not brilliant) at a place on the corner of Albert and Charlotte St.

New Years Eve was a bit of a rainy day with sunny periods. I met a friend who took me on a nice tour of the cultural quarter and Southside and then we had what seemed to be a pleasant lunch, mine was grilled fish with Greek salad, the fish didn’t taste quite right. I then went for a disco nap to prepare for the night ahead, this was a bit of a failure and I whilst I rested, I didn’t sleep. Unfortunately, just after an early dinner, there were unpleasant sensations down below and I ended up having two immodium and a litre of water as my NYE’s party, I suspect the fish from lunch time. I ended up watching the fireworks first from the lounge and then from my room.

New Years Day was fairly quiet as well, I woke up late, it was pissing down, but I felt OK again. After a Japanese curry fast food lunch, I went and found some indoor activities for the afternoon including a visit to the Queensland Museum.

I spent much of my final day in Brisbane riding around on buses, or actually exploring the new BRT schemes that Brisbane has put in. I was quite impressed with the bus mall and the various busways, but I suspect the project is too rich for Birmingham. I also spent some time window shopping in the various stores, mainly looking for suitable gifts for back home, By the evening I was jonesing for a steak, so I went to have my last full on meat meal of the holiday, which consisted of a lovely Darling Downs steak with shiraz jus, portabello mushrooms and crushed spuds. I then had a quiet drink in the hotel bar before packing for departure.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Trip Report 4 - Part 4 - SYD - BNE, QF J

Boeing 767-300
Business Class, 4A

Now this was more like what I usually get from Qantas on domestic flights.

I arrived at SYD about 95 minutes before my flight. all domestic check-in is fully automated at SYD now, which is interesting.  So after printing and applying my own bag tag and putting it on the belt myself – which seemed a pretty easy process, I went quickly through security and into the Qantas Pub where I was hoping to catch up on the death throes of the Fourth Test – oddly, it wasn’t on, can’t think why :-) 

I found an area with decent lighting for the laptop, connected to the wi-fi and then raided food buffet. I had some highly acceptable cheese and silverside with sourdough just in case the meal was inedible. The bar was open, but had no attendants much of the time, I was drinking tomato juice anyway.

Boarding was on time and swift, the load in Business was about 80%, Economy maybe 70%. Juice was handed out before hand, a rather nice apple juice for me. Not much of a wait for take-off and we were soon heading up the coast to a rather sodden Queensland.  I found the seat slightly uncomfortable, but I think that was because it was slightly broken. The 767 was generally in decent condition (compared to say, BA’s), but there were a couple of random bells incidents.

Lunch was pretty much the same offer as the previous flight, this time I didn’t choose the Dog Food Salad, but went for the Chicken dish with a Crown Lager and a cup of tea afterwards. It was a piece of Chicken with mashed potatoes, veg and gravy and filled a whole, I was surprised to see that it was dark meat – but I have no problems with that. Service on this flight was pleasant and swift. Top ups and refills were offered until we approached the ever present (this year)  Queensland thunderstorm.

Baggage came off quickly and I was soon on my way to the Hilton in a dodgy mini-van cab in light but persistent rain.

Btw, comments are welcomed.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Swissôtel Sydney

I haven’t had a Swissôtel stay for many years, so I don’t really have a good comparison, but it looks like a solid four star.  Given this was a last minute room, I was really pleased – a large corner double double, very light, very airy with a pretty good bathroom  with a good shower cubicle. Decor was a bit bland, but not offensively so there were no Wildean moments with the curtains. Housekeeping were pretty decent and friendly and what toiletries I used were fully refurbished in good time. Access beyond the lobby is a key-card system, so you have to meet trade  friends in the lobby.

Breakfast was a buffet style with a selection of hot items in the dreaded steamer dishes, in addition there was an omelette station which also produced some rather poor rösti which would not be allowed on the correct side of the Röstigraben. The cold buffet which was a bit sparse on the salad/veg side, but good on cold cuts and not bad on cheese, some bakery items changed every day which was welcome. If you got down early, everything was hunky-dory, but if you rose a little later, then there were some restocking problems – although some of those were customer induced,  one morning a tray of egg tarts were placed down and one customer just picked the whole tray up and took them to their table (which to be fair, was a table for six). I didn’t use the restaurant, although I admit I was tempted at one point given the high quality of the bar food produced from the same kitchen.  The bar staff were also very pleasant and professional.

Unusually, I did use the spa, it was very professionally run and I enjoyed my experience. I did like the small laundry provided for guests. Reception staff were pleasant, helpful and good at following up to check if there had been a successful resolution. I will be adding Swissôtel to my list of possible places to stay.

I have now returned to the UK, I estimate I have about six more posts on this trip in various stages of completeness.

Monday, 3 January 2011


I’m finally having chance to catch up.

I had quite a few plans for Sydney, a couple of people to catch up with, several coastal walks out of the book I bought last time, a few places to go etc.

The change of hotel didn’t really disturb this, slightly further from Oxford Street, but still very well positioned and very good for public transport etc. The only problem was that it was smack in the middle of the seasonal frenzy of shopping.

The temporary problem was that the T’intertubes in the were not working. A quickly diagnosed this as a dead modem and the wireless service was virtually non-existent (no Scruff for me L ) and contacted the service provider. This kept me in the room for a couple of hours whilst a series of people tried to diagnose the fault that I’d told them. This and the transfer had wasted quite a bit of time, so after they decided they were sending an engineer the next morning and I could I be there.

After a shower, I looked at the time and decided to have a bar meal. d at the time and decided to have a bar meal. decided they were sending an engineer the next morning and  I had noticed quite a few people eating there on my trips to and from reception. I quickly found out why, the food was really good. I had a Crown Lager and the house burger, which is a wagyu burger in a generous bun with very nice fries and aioli. Despite on having noshed at the Qantas Pub and a bit of the Dogfood Salad, I couldn’t finish it, I left a bit of bun and a few fries. Delicious.

The next day dawned and I quickly showered, made my way to breakfast where I indulged in Vegemite Toast, Fruit and some Sossidges with Roesti and Mushrooms (of course they have Roesti, it’s the Swissotel), you can even get a 2 day old Neues Zuercher Zeitung. Anyway, the man came to fix the Internet, he fiddled and played and pronounced it hopeless. He then left and the hotel maintainence guy told me how to bypass the modem – suddenly it worked, all you needed was a crossover cable – which I happen to carry.

Anyway, I then wasted rather too much of a nice morning, doing my email, sorting out a few other things etc. I then looked at the time, went eek, went down and bought a weeks worth of MyMulti1 and found myself on the Manly Ferry. Normally, I’d do one of the fine walks that start at Manly, but as it was already 1:30, I just decided to have lunch at the Manly Wharf Hotel, where you can enjoy lovely views and a very fine steak sandwich over a pint of some amber nectar or other. I then did a little shopping, returned to the City and did a little clothes shopping amongst the angry buzzing hordes of frenzied  festive shoppers.  Myers ( a large department store next to the hotel) was staying open all night on the 23rd. Ye Gods – luckily my room faces away from the streets and whilst the view is unattractive, it’s quiet. As it got quieter, I decided to explore the streets around and I found the Vietnamese place which was the source of much carry out back into the hotel, I then ambled slowly down towards Darling Harbour, regaining my bearings in search of a simple small evening meal. Grilled Fish and Greek Salad was my choice and then I returned back to the hotel for a evening quietly smoking and getting to grips with my new book.

Christmas Eve dawned bright and sparkly, clear, sunny and still cool. Before you could say, up, up and away, I was swiftly to breakfast, giving it a quick slip, slap, slop and heading down to Circular Quay. A ferry to Cremorne Point followed and then the invigorating walk from Cremorne Point to Taronga Zoo (it was still only 7:45 in the morning), the up and down and Mosman was quite difficult, proof that I’m not as fit as I was two years ago. There are some excellent views of the harbour from here, some extremely attractive (and expensive houses) and a decent long black and chance to pick up extra water at Mosman Wharf.  Walking swiftly up to Little Sirius Point which is one of my favourite places in the harbour.

As by this time, the zoo was just opening,  I decided to go in to look at the Australian exhibits, whilst very expensive, was very enjoyable. The koalas were, as usual, asleep and most of the platypii were not to be seen, however, swimming in the one tank was a young platypus. Utterly, completely gorgeous and so at home ducking and diving and swimming in the water.  I also managed to see the Tasmanian Devils, which of course are in dire trouble these days, they ain’t so cute, but are husky critters and of course, Echnidnas, which I’d always wanted to see and had imagined were quite small. Err, no, quite robust beasties the size of a small dog. One section allows you to wander amongst the animals – a couple of emus, some wallabies, a couple of roos and a very inquisitive stork type. Depite the signs saying don’t touch, one of the wallabies would come sidling up looking for an ear scratch and the stork got very close – not scared at all.

I stopped off at the food village for a quick snack (it’s like 11:30am) and to get some more water, I try to eat my Glasgow Salad without interference from the dump chooks (ibis), but they are quite insistant on me sharing. Having done that, I wander off down the coastal pathway further, going through some lovely bush with lots of various lizards basking in the sunlight into the National Park to a grassy headland where I rest for a while and look at the HMS Sydney memorial.  I then press on down to Chowder Bay, where I stop for a while, firstly for a short paddle and then, on realizing it’s 2pm, for a sandwich and coffee in a cafe. Having looked at a map, I then cheat a little, I take the bus from Chowder Bay three stops to the centre of Middle Head Road where I then walk down to Balmoral Beach. The climb looked (and was described as) steep. On reaching Balmoral Beach, it was time for a nice cold drink and ice-cream and then back to Sydney on the direct bus.

I must admit, by the time I returned, I was completely flaked out, I had a shower and then a bit of a lie down and woke up to find it was 7:30. So I got ready and walked out into the thinning crowds of last minute shoppers to find firstly, something to eat in the shape of a wood-fired pepperoni  pizza – very good and then a couple of drinks at the Oxford Hotel where there was a meeting of the Harbour City Bears. That was pretty, quiet, but a couple of beers were welcome, but I swiftly left to place myself in the arms of Morpheus.

Christmas Day dawned bright and early and was probably the best weathered day of the trip. Sydney was perfectly peaceful at 8:30 am as I made my way down to Wynyard to get the bus to Spit Bridge, no sign of the frenzy of consumers. The target for the day was Manly Wharf and I took a nice steady pace, enjoying the sun and  a nice steady pace to Clontarf Beach which was filling up with people getting ready for a nice day on the beach and a Christmas Barbie. As the tide was high, Clontarf required a bit of a paddle, which was quite refreshing, the sea was lovely and warm.  The next section is officially marked as hard, but the book claims it isn’t, the book lies, the section to Castle Rock is one of the roughest I’ve done and I was starting to tire at the end of it. Lovely views though and some lovely bush/coast bowers. The next section is marked as hard, but by not going to Reef Beach or Washaway, you can cut some miles off and new paths have been laid which make it easier, there’s still some fun with uneven steps at one point.  

You then get to Forty Baskets, which is a pretty little beach with a bit more paddling involved at high tide, I stopped for water here and filled up from the bubblers and used the toilet. By this time I’d been on the go for about 3 hours, so I had a bit of a break. The path becomes very easy after that as you start to head towards the North Harbour Reserve and then becomes a very gentle walkway through the attractive suburbs of Manly  to Manly Wharf which I reached about 1:20pm – I found the last bit very distracting due to the large number of fit young men with hairy chests in well-filled budgie smugglers. On reaching Manly, I looked at the various lunch options carefully, before deciding on Fish and Chips from a small cafe within wi-fi poaching distance of MacDonalds. I also knocked back 1 litre of cold iced tea at this point, the fish and chips were delicious. I then wandered along the Corso, picking up some macadamia gelato on the way before deciding I was too tired for a walk up to Shelley Beach and getting the ferry back to Circular Quay. At this point I really needed a shower and a nice lie down, which is what I did. My evening meal was a Club Sandwich in the hotel bar, again, good quality.

Boxing Day dawned rather rainy, in fact it was honking it down, the original plan had been to meet a friend for a Dim Sim brunch, then to do one of the smaller city based walks. However, the previous two days had taken a bit of a toll on my feet.  We took a raincheck because of the sheer amount of rain in the area, but eventually met up a bit later for coffee and lunch and a glance around the Boxing Day sales.  The queues were horrific and quite interesting in their composition, many of the classy shops had security confining entry to stop the shop being swamped. After that I wandered up Oxford Street to a social gathering for bears, but it was fairly quiet, however I had a nice chat with a few of the guys there. By that time, I felt like some food and on the way back to the hotel called at a branch of Grill’d and had a great burger with herby fries.

The 27th showed no sign of the retail madness abating, so I decided to firstly do my washing (Swissotel has a guest laundry for a reasonable charge) and then to be cultural, firstly off the the Emperors exhibition which was excellent, then a nice Greek salad and juice and then onto the Annie Leibowitz exhibition which was a bit crowded but also very good.  After resting my foot for a while and chatting to some people on line, I went out in search of food. For some reason, nothing really appealed and I ended up with a Bondi Burger from Oporto, which whilst perfectly edible,  I only really pecked at.

The 28th was my last full day in Sydney and I started it off by going to the hotel spa and getting my feet sorted out. After I did that I went to meet a couple of guys for coffee and ended up spending most of the day with them, a French/Aussie couple and we got along very well. After a short rest back at the hotel, I remembered I hadn’t eaten since breakfast and I went down to Chinatown to the food court and devoured a plate of wet Hokkien Mee and had a wander around before heading up to Oxford Street for the beer of the day. I ran into one of the barstaff from the hotel and we chatted for a while before I headed back to pack.

I was quite knackered on the 29th after a busy day the previous day. I did the final packing on what looked like a glorious day and headed for SYD Domestic for my flght to Brisbane.