NSW Trip: Day 6: Cessnock to Sydney

30 10 2009

We weren’t in a hurry to get into Sydney. We had plenty of time — check in at the hotel wasn’t until 3:00 PM and we were only a couple of hours out. I decided to go to the Cessnock Public Library about two streets away to check and delete the avalanche of emails I knew would be piling up. But the library was closed — it was the annual picnic day for the Council workers! Just my luck…

We drove back to Sydney the long way — via Kurri Kurri, Newcastle, Belmont (where we stopped at a patchwork fabric store!), then meandered down the coast through The Entrance (where we had lunch) to Woy Woy, then we cut back in to Gosford and on into Sydney.

The foreshore at The Entrance is very like the foreshores at Rockingham and Mandurah in Western Australia. Lots of picnic tables, grassed areas for families, cafes, etc. We grabbed a delicious chicken kebab each from the kebab shop on the corner and ate it at a picnic table under a tree. The weather was gorgeous.

The drive down the coast and through the little towns was very picturesque, but I’d live in dread of the bushfire danger lurking in the steep, well-wooded hillsides where lots of houses are built.

Susan the Navigator had some trouble getting us back on to the Pacific Highway — we wanted to go one way; she wanted us to go another. We stopped listening to her and did it ourselves! Once on the Pacific Highway, we had a dream run into the outskirts of Sydney. The road through Ku-ring-gai National Park is great — wide, smooth, with nicely flowing traffic. Then we hit the suburbs. The Highway takes you through a lot of suburbs, with lots of traffic, cars parked on the side of the road, short merging lanes, etc. It’s possible that we could have avoided all this, but we don’t know ‘cos I made a boo-boo with Susan!

The hotel where we were staying for the wedding tomorrow was the Sir Stamford Hotel at 93 Macquarie St, Sydney (http://www.stamford.com.au/) — opposite the Botanic Gardens and right near the Opera House and Circular Quay in the heart of Sydney. I entered ’93 Macquarie St, Sydney’ into Susan, and she took us there. Only it was 93 Macquarie St in some leafy suburb north of Sydney! “You have arrived at your destination” was interesting when we were looking at a house instead of a hotel near the Opera House! Then I found out that Susan had a city selection option for ‘Sydney’ and ‘Sydney CBD’. My error. When I selected ‘Sydney CBD’ then put in 93 Macquarie St, she got us back on course and delivered us over the Harbour Bridge and along the Cahill Expressway right to the hotel door. Too funny!

The Sir Stamford is a very classy hotel, but with all this ornate, over the top 18th Century French style decoration that doesn’t do a thing for me. It’s also pretty expensive (we had a group rate of $274 a night which included full breakfast for two each morning, but didn’t include parking at $35 a day). Our room was really big, with a HUGE all-marble bathroom.

We decided to see if there was anywhere close by to eat (other than the hotel), so we walked down to the Opera House (a 5-minute meander), then along Circular Quay to the Overseas Passenger Terminal. There were HEAPS of places to eat! We had that extra bottle of Zinfandel from Piggs Peake Winery that we couldn’t take on the plane with us, so we were looking for a restaurant/cafe that looked reasonable, but that also allowed BYO. With corkage of $15 per bottle at some places, it all looked too hard. Also, the area was very busy and noisy, with lots of crowds enjoying the warm weather the views and the ‘breeze’ off the harbour at the end of the working week. My husband was not fussed about the crowds, so we headed back to the hotel to cool off. We decided to get room service so we could drink the bottle of wine with our meal, in the quiet comfort of our room. The steak sandwiches from room service were excellent, and the Zin went down really well with them! It was a good decision.

The bed was really comfy, as were the pillows.

As an aside: It always amazes me that the more you pay for a hotel room in Australia and the US, the less of the basics you get. For example, the range of TV channels at the Sir Stamford was limited at best and they charged for all movies — they didn’t even have one of the Foxtel movie channels. All of the cheaper places we stayed on this trip had a much bigger range of TV channels. And expensive hotels charge an arm and a leg for internet connection — not that it mattered to me this time as I didn’t have my laptop. They may have fancy restaurants and gyms and special club facilities, but that means diddly at 10 PM when you’re not yet ready for sleep and just want to watch a bit of TV.

20091030_sir_stamford_01_small

King bed at the Sir Stamford Hotel


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