As part of our annual quest for at least 50,000 PQM on United Airlines, we planned a trip to Sydney Australia this year. We originally scheduled it in April, but cancelled that trip due to some health concerns. The airline allowed us credit on our airfare, and the Shangri-La in Sydney also allowed us credit for our pre-paid reservation there. We ended up using the airfare credit for a trip to New Zealand which is coming up soon, and scheduled a new trip to Sydney in September, so here we are.
SaturdayWe left home Saturday and arrived in San Francisco for a stopover before our Sunday night flight to Sydney. Thanks to the valuable discount provided by Jennifer and Paul, we stayed at the San Francisco Waterfront Marriott which is one of our favorite hotels. We had a newly remodeled room on a high floor with a bay view. We enjoyed dinner and drinks in the lobby restaurant and bar where the bartender makes an excellent Caipirinha. An unexpected bonus was that the hotel's proximity to the bay meant there were a plethora of water type Pokémon hanging out there. I caught at least 50 Magikarp. That puts me halfway to evolving a Gyarados! :)
SundayThe breakfast buffet was pretty good. We were allowed a 4pm late checkout from the hotel so we could relax in comfort before heading to the airport for the 14 hour flight to Sydney. The San Francisco weather was unseasonably warm so after checkout we sat in the outdoor lounge area for a while and watched planes land and take off. About 5pm we boarded the shuttle to the airport and checked in for our 11pm flight. We had dinner from Klein's Deli in the E concourse, then went to the United Club in the International terminal to hang out until boarding time.
Our seats for the flight were in the bulkhead row 16 on a 787 which has lots of leg room. We initially booked them with an empty seat between us in hope of having some extra room to spread out during the flight, but the middle seat ended up being assigned so Janet gave up her aisle to the lucky standby passenger and took the middle next to me. We have the same seats on the return trip so if we lose the space again I'll take a turn in the middle.
The flight to Sydney is grueling. You eat dinner, then watch a movie, then try to sleep a while, then watch another movie, sleep a little more, etc. It seems to take forever but eventually you arrive and are thankful to get off the plane.
Our first stop was Ernest Hill Winery, where we have gone on most if not every previous trip to Sydney. They have a couple of wines that have become our favorite, and we usually try a few from their tasting menu. After buying some wine to carry home we drove around wine country a bit in search of somewhere to grab a late lunch, finally stopping at The Goldfish.
After eating we started on the 2 hour drive back to Sydney. It was late in the day and dark by the time we got back to town, but again Janet guided me flawlessly to the hotel. We arrived back in time for evening drinks in the lounge.
ThursdayWe woke up a little later today and again relaxed in the room for a while after breakfast. We needed to return the rental car by 1pm so we left the hotel around 11:30. It was a little tricky finding a gas station to fill up at, and some construction detours on George Street made it even trickier. We did get the car gassed up and returned on time. Our plan for the afternoon was to have a late lunch at Doyle's restaurant in Watson's Bay. We walked the 2.1 km from No Birds to Circular Quay where we arrived just in time to get on the 1:40 pm ferry which got us to Watson's Bay just in time for our 2 pm lunch reservation. Doyle's is famous for their fish & chips prepared from your choice of several fresh caught varieties of fish. We both had that and shared a nice bottle of South Australian riesling.
We caught the 3:45 ferry back to Sydney and leisurely completed the uphill walk back to the hotel, stopping in a few shops along the way. We arrived back with plenty of time to freshen up for evening drinks and snacks.