Sydney for New Year’s Eve – wow ! what a dream; you have seen it on the TV but now we were there for real!! Sydney, one of the most iconic places in the world, was our core destination on our round- the-world trip. The idea sprang from the wish to be 'down under' for the start of a New Year. We stayed at the Sheraton on the Park a very up-market hotel, but booked well in advance made sure we got a really good deal for our seven nights visit to Sydney.
The Sheraton is within walking distance of all the main attractions and has a bus stop outside if walking is an issue. The Botanical Gardens, a calm tranquil place to walk and enjoy away from the crowds of Sydney, the birds and plant life are surrounded by beautiful trees and lakes. The Sydney Opera House is one of the most recognised buildings in the world. A tour of the Opera House is special, very informative and well worth the cost.
The Sydney Harbour Bridge, well if you can walk, do the Bridge Walk, it is amazing and you are so well looked after by the guides that even at about 400 ft you still feel secure and confident. You are strapped to the guide and attached to a strong cable, so go for it. A tour of the Blue Mountains and the Beaches are a must and easily arranged by the hotels or tourist information offices. At the harbour, boats run like buses across the bay to Manley Beach, Watson Bay and many other inlets so, if you have the time jump on a ferry boat to see the surrounding areas of Sydney.
We took a cruise boat out on the Harbour for New Years’ Eve and drank champagne, it doesn't get much better than that. The crowds and boats make the scene amazing. But if you don't like going out on the water, just chill, enjoy a meal and a drink and go to anywhere on the Harbour front and you will see the fireworks and enjoy the spectacle. Many people sit for 8 hours near the Sydney Opera House just to get a good view, in the soaring heat that is some feat, but don't worry you can see them comfortably from most vantage points without sitting for 8 hours in the sun.
Next stop the beautiful tree lined city of Melbourne and the Radisson hotel. The tram network is amazing, the rail network is also one of the best I have travelled on. Buy your ticket for the hop on hop off price and you can use it on the railway and the tram. The beaches are lovely but beware the Australians do not have deck chairs!! – only your towel is necessary, unless like me you like to sit in comfort, but there are many cafes and bars on the beach fronts for you to while away a very enjoyable afternoon.
The food in Melbourne is good and very varied and the Greek restaurants outnumber all others. Melbourne has the highest Greek population outside Greece! If you want a food spectacular then go to the Victoria Market on a Wednesday evening, ask anyone as most people make their way to the Market on Wednesdays. The food market has food from all around the world and is good, plentiful and cheaper than the restaurants. You can also buy many items to take back home from boomerangs to wine.
The Great Ocean Road is accessible from Melbourne and is a welcome change from the hustle and bustle of the Town. We hired a car and journeyed down the coast. It is a good road to drive on and stops on the way give you a flavour of the lives that the Australian people live.
Eight days of leisure, what a treat, but we didn't realise just what a treat Hamilton Island is. As you arrive from the airport on a golf buggy you start to get the idea, yes a golf buggy, no cars allowed on the island other than delivery vehicles.
Our hotel was the Reef View, really good quality, family orientated, but also ideal for couples as the area was big enough to accommodate everyone. You do not use money on the island either as your costs are charged to your room and you settle up at the end of your stay, so watch what you spend it can be costly as no money changes hands.
My husband had a deep water fishing trip and we both went to the white island to swim and snorkel. The guides are professional and calm and help even novices to enjoy the wonders of the deep.
Hamilton Island and the surrounding islands are like paradise, and an ideal place to rest and recuperate before setting off for the last leg of our journey.
Cambodia via Bangkok
An overnight stay at Bangkok was necessary for the timing of the flight to Cambodia. We stayed at an Airport Hotel which was cheap and cheerful and arranged by Trailfinders. We landed to a wall of heat at Siem Reap. It is humid but we didn't find it too uncomfortable. Our taxi took us to our lovely ornate hotel right in the centre of Siem Reap, the Soma Davi, within walking distance of shops and restaurants and sights. And what sights! The Cambodians are poor but proud and begging is not seen on the streets. Men and women who need to beg play instruments and collect money for the disabled which they are, people affected by the hidden land mines that Pol Pot's army planted.
The Taxi driver that brought us to our hotel offered to take us to the Temples and stay with us for the day, it was a good deal and the driver called for us the next morning and took us to all the recognised sites and waited for us. He even took us back to our hotel to rest in the afternoon then out again to see the sun going down on Angkor Wat, a wonderful sight. But if the driver suggests going to the hill top to see the sunset, be warned the climb to the top of the hill is steep and tricky under foot, even so many people venture up the hill, some looking very red by the time they stopped.!!
Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, the Elephant Temple are all wonders to behold, a credit to the Cambodian people who suffered under Pol Pot only to rebuild their country and the temples.
We are now at Journey’s End, and going home, we could have carried on and on, but we have to wait until my husband retires – when he does we will be off again to see the wonders of this beautiful world.
• For your tailor-made travel arrangements to Australia, Silver Travel Advisor recommends Australian Sky
• For your tailor-made travel arrangements to Asia, Silver Travel Advisor recommends Selective Asia
• Read Chapter 1: Enjoy life, it is later than you think
• Read Chapter 2: The Land of the Long White Cloud
• Read Chapter 3: New Zealand South Island
More about Glynis
I am 62 years of age, married to Trevor, retired in 2009, but had three jobs since then! I was not happy with coffee mornings and bored at the gym! So I now work as a receptionist at Cavendish Cancer Care, which I enjoy and feel is really worthwhile, although it is difficult at times as everyone who comes to the Cavendish has Cancer or is related to someone who has. I enjoy travel, working with the U3A group in Sheffield on the publicity committee, meeting friends, reading and walking. My previous travel experience was to Peru, India, Sri Lanka, and Alaska. I enjoy cruising and have been on three cruises and would love to go to the Galapagos, soon.