Of Mountains, Caves, and Wine – Leaving Sydney Is Hard to Do

So today I leave Sydney.  I have greatly enjoyed seeing friends and getting to know this awesome city.  I am actually sad at leaving it and wish I can come back some day soon.  But I am off to see other friends in Melbourne and that is helping me depart.  I have packed all the stuff I brought plus all that I acquired here (souvenirs).  It all fit so now let’s see how I do taking the bus and then the train to the airport.  It will save me like $50 so I am willing to do a little work.  Fortunately, the bus stop is very close to my friends’ apartment.

Of course Sydney has a Chinatown

One of the final explorations of the city itself started with a trip to Chinatown where, after enjoying a stop at a Chinese bakery :), we went shopping for souvenirs.  Paddy Market (not to be confused with Paddington) has an incredible amount and variety of stuff for sale, including souvenirs, the same you find around town but much much cheaper (thanks Kelly for the tip!).

I got to do some good shopping which, of course, wore me out (I really do not enjoy going shopping) so we went to the Lowenbrau restaurant at The Rocks to recover by sampling their pork knuckle and enjoying some beers.  It was a great place to sit outside on a beautiful afternoon, relax, and soak life in.

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Awesome a city and a setting as Sydney is and has, beyond the city proper are some really neat things to see.  I explored those before wrapping up visiting this corner of Australia

A quick getaway to wine country!

How could I let Sydney end without seeing wine country??   Sunday we went to the nearby wine country:  Hunter Valley.  We visited 4 wineries and enjoyed sampling wine (oe swallowed; well, except the driver – thanks Dave for taking one for the team!).  It wasn’t  a bad drive heading over though we did face some roadwork traffic delays.  Folks at the wineries were very pleasant and eager to talk about the wine – and pour for free. The most common wine as Semillon, which is fairly unfamiliar to me.  It seemed a good summer wine or good for fishy fish (salmon comes to mind).  We did also sample Pinot Noirs, Cab Merlots, Cab Sauvignon and Moscato.  The latter was my favorite!

Tyrrell’s Wines in Hunter Valley

I felt like a tree hugger… This is a fat tree!

And leaving Sydney to see mountains and caves

Tuesday I visited the Blue Mountains and the Jenolan Caves.  I went on a tour since the places would be about 3 hrs away.  Unfortunately, though, we did not get to spend enough time doing the hikes around the Three Sisters area which I would have loved – I only got to spend like 45 minutes walking around the tropical forest near the old mines. Having now explored it, if I get to return to Sydney, I will plan to spend way more time in the Three Sisters area!

Driving on the Blue Mountains gave me a good view of the local mountain towns and I also wish I had gotten to spend time in these small towns.  They look like a delightful place to live.  The Jenolan Caves were pretty spectacular (we visited the Lucas cave; I liked the “slide” cave).

The tour we took was 1.5 hrs which was about the right amount of time to spend in caves.  The temperature inside, as in any cave, was in the 60s which was extremely nice given it was much colder outside where I wore a cap and gloves!  The Jenolan Caves also deserve more time so one can explore other caves (though I am told usually in this time of year there is only one cave open per day).  Some other day…

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My final night in Sydney

My visit in Sydney ended with a dinner at the Belgian Beer Cafe in Harrington St. in The Rocks.  A former school dining hall, it has a lot of charm and you can see the ruins under the building which probably date to close to the founding of Sydney by the British.  There we enjoyed good Belgian beer as well as kangaroo loin, and mussels in white wine and cream sauce.  The kangaroo meat was quite tender (cooked medium rare) and the sauce was delicious.  I highly recommend it!

Now, I will wrap up my writing and posting of pix so I can head to the airport to my next stop in this great trip:  Melbourne.  I close this post with one of my favorite pictures of Sydney…

View towards Harbor Bridge and the Opera House

Thanks to my Sydney friends for a truly memorable time and for the hospitality.  Til next time!

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