Monday, November 29, 2010

The Land Down Under: Sydney

Sidney Harbor overlooking the Opera House
Sydney is a beautiful City. With its scenic and historic waterfront and stunning beaches, it's no wonder many people think Sydney is one of the world's most beautiful cities. I have to agree. However, high prices and the lack of reasonable Internet access is a challenge. 


View from Hotel: Sydney Harbor
Sydney has the worst public Internet access I've ever encountered. In five days of wandering about the city, I found one cafe with free Wifi and a Starbucks that had one hour of Wifi for $3.00, which turned out to be the best deal around. Even the public library, which was suppose to have free Internet, turned out to have limited accessibility. 


The Internet has become such a central part of our life that this lack of easy, affordable access is an impediment to everything. I couldn't look up train/bus/tour schedules, access my e-mail or even find the location of Wifi hotspots. (At this posting, I am in Melbourne.) Even something as simple as performing early airline check-in is impossible to do without the Internet. Recommendation:  get a Pocket Wifi. It's convenient, relatively inexpensive and hassle free. 


At Manly Beach
Unidentified Birds at Hyde Park
Nevertheless, Sydney is fascinating. I am struck by the varied plant and bird species that I have encountered in Australia and the strong sun. (It can be quite uncomfortable at times.) The trip by ferry to Manly Beach was a high point, but my quick visit to Bondi Beach was a bust. If you're under 25, have a great body, and into the "Scene," then head to Bondi. If not, there are plenty of other beaches to explore.   


Finally, traveling by air in Australia is a joy.  It's fast and not cumbersome: there is no liquids ban, no requirement to remove shoes while going through security, and no pat downs! It's the way air travel in the USA use to be. The TSA could learn something from Australian security procedures. 

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