July 7th:

The alarm worked fine. I probably set it a little earlier than I needed to - I was ready by 7 am. I had packed up my laundry the night before, so I called for a pickup at about 7:20. It wasn't much - not even a full load - but I had run out of socks! (I got the laundry back after getting home and calling housekeeping, though they should have delivered it - the total was 74.30AUD!!! Things are expensive here, but that's just ridiculous! I'm gonna go looking for a laundrette next time - even if I have to cab it to the place, it will be less expensive.)

I was downstairs in plenty of time - about 7:45 for the 7:55 pickup - but it was late. It finally arrived, though, and I got ferried down to the Star City Casino, where I moved to another bus for the morning tour, which was of North Sydney. Our driver/guide was Rob, and he was a hoot. He had all sorts of stories besides the canned spiel, and he enriched the spiel with sound effects and everything. We learned a lot about the beginnings of the colonization of Australia (including that "kanga roo" means "we don't understand you" in Aboriginal, which is what they answered when the whites asked "What's that beast?").

We drove all over north Sydney, going up and down in residential neighborhoods, stopping here and there at scenic overlooks and at Manly Beach for an extended stop. Because several of us tourists had to be back at Darling Harbor by 12 noon, that stop at Manly required everyone to be back at a certain time, and two of our 15 passengers just didn't show back up. Rob drove around a rather long block to see if they were going to arrive, but they didn't. He had to stop and phone their absence in, which delayed the bus and got us stuck in the Middle Cove Spit Bridge opening of 11:30. Fortunately, Rob got back to King's Road Quay in time, but he didn't really give us any instructions on what to do next.

I went down to the quay and started looking for a Captain Cook ship, since my lunch harbor cruise was going to be with them. They were at the end of the quay, but they were waiting for me so I didn't miss the boat (actually, I think they were waiting for a few people). The buffet was good - I went back for seconds of the potatoes, tomato wedges, and olives - and the harbor tour was too. The only issue I had was that the boat went by the south shore and all the cool landmarks while I was eating, and had turned around to go along the north shore for the return trip when I was up on the top deck taking pictures.

We got back to Darling Harbor at something like 2:15pm, and I got back to the street just as Rob was pulling back up. This time he had a different crew of tourists (well, some were the same, but now there were 20 of us), and the tour was of south Sydney. We did many of the central city landmarks I'd already seen both on the herse tour and the explorer bus, and I didn't get many more pictures than those times (but on the way back I got a few). Then we went east, ending up at the Gap, the opening of the entire Sydney harbor and all of its bays, harbors, coves, and etc. to the ocean.

We pretty much ended the tour at the famous Bondi beach, which wasn't all that much different from Manly beach, except that the waves were worse. Rob took note of our hotels, and planned out our return trip. We drove through more residential neighborhoods and got some information about the evils of bringing rail stations to the beaches of Sydney, and finally returned to the center of the city and started letting people out at their various hotels.

When dropped off, I didn't go back to my room, but went looking for dinner. I eventually ended up in a block just off George Street that seemed to be a "Little Spain" block, but instead of having tappas I opted to eat at Mama's Kitchen again (which was right at the end of the Spanish restaurants). I had lasagna. I returned to the room via a 7-11, hooked up to the internet from my room (I was surprised that this worked, what with me using a Mac and all, but it did, and quite well, too) to read a few emails, and then downloaded my pictures and wrote this.

Tomorrow is a free day. I'm going to use up my explorer pass, and see the aquarium and possibly the Center Point Tower. Maybe I'll do some shopping too. Hope it doesn't rain much.

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