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Sunday, October 29: Sydney, Australia Day 1
Our ship must have picked up a pilot out at sea while we were asleep, because when we awakened at 4:45 the ship was just outside the cliffs making the entrance to Sydney Harbor and sailed in without a pause. That was shortly before dawn, so we took a nice set of pre-dawn pictures and as our ship wound its way through the harbor to dock at Circular Quay. Since Circular Quay lies right between Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Sydney Opera House, we had great views of those iconic parts of Sydney as our ship edged up to the dock to moor. The photography was difficult as it was still rather dim and the camera exposures were around 1 second, but hopefully some pics came out.
Needing breakfast, we repaired to the Windjammer for a last meal there, and Monika snagged a nice seat at the rear window so we could watch the sun rise over Sydney Opera House as we ate a leisurely breakfast. That was a gorgeous sight, and we also had the opera house as our view out from the balcony in our cabin after we returned there to await our turn to disembark the Explorer of the Seas.
We had docked at Circular Quay, which is a stop on the harbour's ferry system, so we had fun watching the ferries come and go. But then we had to cope with the fiddly work of making sure all the drawers and the safe were empty, and that the contents were all safely stowed in our carry-on items before we left our cabin for the last time. I MUCH prefer to do that leisurely as doing it in a hurry makes it easy to overlook things and leave them on board the ship, which just does no one any good. We also had to empty the refrigerator and in general put things where Nino, our room steward, would have an easier time cleaning up after us and preparing the cabin for the next occupants. And, of course, we had to say good bye to the various towel critters we had accumulated during the voyage.
Then we waited in the Star Lounge while I worked myself into a lather about having the mulberry bark paper prints we had bought at the Fiji Museum confiscated by the Australian port authorities. Such needless worry! When we finally disembarked, our luggage was waiting for us on the pier and after a short wait at the exit I was directed to the Australian inspector. She took one quick look at the dolphin print, which was in a cellophane envelope, and didn't even have me bother to unwrap the other one, but just waved me through. I was so relieved.
Once outside the terminal, we picked a nice spot in the shade, waived good buy to the Explorer of the Sea and waited for Neville and Lyn to show up, which they promptly did. I had thought Sunday morning traffic would be light and make it easy for Neville to drive down and pick us up, but I was seriously mistaken because street segments were blocked off for Sunday neighborhood markets, and train sections were closed down for maintenance, which also increased the traffic. Nevertheless, Neville soon drove us back to their residence in Hornsby and then spent the afternoon chatting away. That evening Nev also showed us some of the features of his membership in the Berlin Philharmonie on-line site, including a couple of nice piano concertos and a video about the process of making a classical music CD, which was an extremely interesting insight into the complex and creative process underlying the near-perfect CD produced by them. It was so much fun seeing them again that we had a hard time going to bed that evening!
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