Thursday, January 13, 2011

Around Sydney's CBD - Part 3

A short ferry boat ride took us to Darling Harbour. Just staying around the harbour area, we enjoyed coffee, tea and cakes. From the restaurant, we could see the Australian National Maritime Museum. A short walk across a bridge from Darling Harbour is Chinatown.

Paddy’s Markets at Haymarket was conveniently located just a couple of blocks from the hotel we were staying at. You can find almost everything at Paddy’s, souvenirs (authentic Australian or China-made), clothes, jewelry, wigs, sunnies (sunglasses), home decors, fresh produce; you can even have your meals there or take-out. I even saw a fortune-teller stall. It was quite a shopping experience and more; there was even some live entertainment outside at times. It’s a short walk from the Town Hall and Central City Rail stations, Darling Harbour and Chinatown. If you take the monorail or the light rail, you can get off right outside Paddy’s doors.

Turn the corner from Haymarket and you are in Chinatown. The architecture is distinctly oriental, with archways and street lanterns. The main street is lined with eateries, all constantly filled with diners who flock to the area because of the variety of authentic Asian cuisine at reasonable prices. We joined the long queue at the corner shop where they were serving up traditional Taiwanese desserts.

Also a short walk from our hotel was the Sydney Tower. The Sydney Tower rises a quarter of a kilometre above the city streets and the observation deck offers the best vantage point for a 360-degree view of the city and beyond. The entrance ticket also includes OzTrek, a ten minute virtual reality ride (with real-motion seating) that takes you across Sydney, to Australia’s beaches and to the Australian bush.

After the Sydney Tower, we crossed the street to Hyde Park and, further beyond, St. Mary’s Cathedral. We had seen both when we were up on the observation deck. Hyde Park was named after the Hyde Park in London; it is the city central’s open green space tho it was originally a racecourse and sporting ground. St. Mary’s Cathedral is one of Sydney's most treasured historic buildings and one of the finest examples of English-style gothic churches in the world.

The Queen Victoria Building (QVB) located along George St is a beautiful 19th century building that is actually a shopping mall. Even if you were not going to buy anything, the architectural design is enough to warrant a visit. The dominant feature is the center dome; at the time of our visit, there was a magnificent Christmas tree decorated with brilliant Swarovski crystals rising towards the dome. There are also beautiful stained glass windows and an original 19th century staircase that sits alongside the dome.

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