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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Radisson Blu Hotel, Sydney

Radisson Blu Hotel Sydney

For my own future reference and for anyone who may be looking for where to stay I thought I would include my review of places that I stay when travelling.

For this trip to Sydney I stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel in the CBD, in O’Connell Street. When choosing a place to stay, I have a criteria that I’ve developed with having a few years travelling experience. Thanks to this technological age that we live in it’s never been easier to select accommodation when travelling.

My criteria consists of

  • ·      Price
  • ·      Location
  • ·      Facilities
  • ·      Optional extras

So price is the top of my list as it’s pointless looking at accommodation that may be perfect but way out of my price range. For the past few years I’ve been using the site to select accommodation for where ever in the world I'm planning on visiting. Since this trip was organised very last minute, I was able to get a very good (ie affordable!) price to stay in a very nice hotel.

Location is also very important, I like to walk so it’s important to me to be fairly close to the places I’m interested in seeing. If it’s a large city then a  location close to public transport is very important. Once I start having a short list of accommodation in my price range, I check the map to see where they’re located and discard those that aren’t close to public transport or sites I’m interested in.

Facilities, different holidays require different kinds of facilities from where I’m planning on staying. If it’s a warm weather vacation, then an attractive pool and pool area will sell that particular place. But generally what I look for now are things like, free wifi, if the accommodation (and that does include places such as B & Bs) don’t include free wifi I move onto looking at the next place. For a short hotel stay I also look for things such as a business centre so things like boarding passes can be printed off.

Optional extras for me include things like if it’s an old building that has been adapted. Something with a bit of history attached.

For this Sydney trip the Radisson Blu fulfilled my criteria.

Booking at short notice for a short trip the price was right.

The location was perfect, it was a 2 minute walk to Wynnard train station and the direct train line to Sydney airport.
It was also a 5 minute walk to Circular Quay, and then depending which direction you wanted to go, The Rocks was close by or the Opera House area, the Royal Botanic Gardens were a pleasant stroll away. Finally the shopping precinct of the Pitt Street Mall was also a 5 minute walk way.

As expected for a high end hotel, the facilities were of a high standard, my basic need to have free in room wifi (some hotels only offer it free in public areas) was met. The room was large,

 the bathroom spacious as well, 

there was a business centre also various restaurants for those people who prefer to eat inhouse. I like to get out and try what I can find in the local area. Being that it was such a high tourist location, it was easy to find places to eat. Including convenience stores for those necessary snacks! The hotel had an indoor pool and spa for those who are after some pampering!

Optional Extras
This hotel had been adapted from a beautiful old building that was built to house the newspaper the Sydney Morning Herald. It was built in the late 1920s, the Herald was printed from that particular location until 1956 and then it was used as a bank until the Radisson group bought it and redeveloped it into a hotel. (There’s a plaque on the building giving this information!)

To answer the all important question of “Would I recommend this hotel?”

Drum roll please

Yes I would, great location, lovely hotel, the staff were extremely helpful and accommodating, it was an enjoyable experience staying at the Radisson Blu, Sydney.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Banksia man

Snugglepot and Cuddlepie is the name of a well loved, classic children's book written by May Gibbs. She was Australia's version of Beatrice Potter in that she wrote and illustrated children's books with delightful characters. That's where the similarity ends. The obvious difference between the two was that Beatrice Potter was English and her books are quintessentially English. Her characters were those found on an English farm, May Gibbs was Australian and her Australianness was reflected in her characters which were created out of what she found in the Australia bush. Snugglepot and Cuddlepie were based on flowering gum nuts. The 'bad guy' in the books was the Banksia man, May Gibbs looked at the seed pod of the Banksia plant and imagined a nasty character for her bush stories.

This is a flowering Banksia, named by Joseph Banks after himself. He was the botanist that sailed to the southern hemisphere with James Cook and was the first European to record the plants and animals he found.

Once it has flowered and the flowers die away, all that is left is the seedpod.

After seeing this I can understand where May Gibbs got her idea of the bad Banksia man. All this pod needs is eyes at the top and it's the Banksia man!

Just a little something I found whilst bushwalking in a national park!

Something else that I found was this amazing web complete with spider!

It was reasonably high up so wasn't being damaged by people walking into it. I've never been afraid of spiders so was more fascinated than any thing else. The spider was a large one that I hadn't seen before and unlikely to cause anyone any damage. Whilst admiring this spider an American tourist that I had encountered on the path and had a brief chat, (the camaraderie of the hiker!) stopped again and I pointed out the spider. Here's your introduction to Australian wildlife! Like pretty much all tourists that have a close encounter with Australian spiders, the first question was "Is it poisonous?" Australian spiders have a really bad reputation with tourists! No, I reassured him, only 2 spiders are venomous and both of them are actually quite small, big spiders are fine!

Here's a close up!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

On Sydney Harbour

On any first time tourist's wish list when they come to Sydney is to go sailing on the harbour. A quite sedate way of enjoying the harbour is to do a harbour cruise, my personal preference is to catch a harbour ferry. I like to have a destination, all part of the pretending to belong in the place you're visiting. The locals catch ferries, therefore so will I.

One of the longest ferry trips you can do is to go across the harbour to Manly. This particular day there weren't very many sail boats out, but I managed to grab a photo of a few looking back into Rushcutters Bay.

Ferry rides across the harbour are always very smooth, but with the Manly ferry when it crosses The Heads (the opening of the harbour out to the sea) the ferry bobs up and down as the open sea comes into the harbour.

Manly beach looking north, it was a reasonably hot day so the beach was busy.

From Manly Beach it's possible to stroll along Cabbage Palm Bay to Shelley Beach. Cabbage Palm Bay, named for the palm trees found along the shore, is an aquatic reserve. It's rocky but still popular with people on the rocks, and more noticeably snorkelling in the water. There were numerous groups of people snorkelling I just managed to capture these two with the kayaker.

From Shelley Beach, you can head into the bush. Behind the beach is a set of stairs that lead to a carpark and from that carpark you can enter a national park which will lead you to the North Head. I was up for the challenge and off I went!

Got to the top, well kind of! Not at North Head but along the top with a view over the water looking north. Continued in the direction of North Head but it was a VERY hot day! Hiking in full sun, in 34 degree heat even with water and a hat wasn't exactly pleasurable so I waved to North Head in the distance and made my way down again. Meeting quite a few people on their way up!

The rocky outcrop in the foreground isn't North Head, the landform in the background is! This picture was taken from the lookout in the carpark above Shelley Beach, so basically once I was down. The thing that stuns me most about this scene is the colour of the ocean, that's the Pacific Ocean and it's the most glorious shade of blue. Colour sensory overload with the lighter shade of blue of the sky.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


On a visit to Sydney it's not possible to get a more iconic picture, the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge. And judging by the amount of people at this scenic lookout on Mrs Macquarie's Point (When did she stop being Lady Macquarie, I'm sure I used to know her name as that? Hmm) every tourist and their selfie stick was making sure they got their iconic picture. Me too! No selfie stick though.

When visiting a new or familiar place as a tourist I like to walk, it just makes me feel as though I'm part of a place. I like being able to be immersed in the sounds, the smells (not often pleasant!) and the sights of where ever in the world I am. 

I managed to meander to the main entrance of the Royal Botanic Gardens, and then strolled through the gardens heading in the direction of Mrs Macquarie's point. (I wanted my iconic picture!) Slightly round the corner is the sandstone carved bench that is called Mrs Macquarie's chair.

Trivia Alert!
 The story around it, is that Elizabeth the wife of Governor Macquarie used to like to sit at that point and watch the ships come in from Great Britain. The bench was hand carved by convicts in 1810. 

There are other (wooden) benches to sit at and have a reflective pause, look across to Garden Island which is the Royal Australian Naval Base and just people watch for a while. 

Then time to move again and I decided to walk along the water's edge, the area that is known as Farm Cove as it was the site of the first farm in Australia established by Governor Philip in 1788. (Not a great success of a farm, the soil was poor and the young colony almost starved waiting for the next supply ships!)

Farm Cove

Royal Botanic Gardens

Walking around the full length of Farm Cove brings you to the steps of the Opera House. (And more selfie sticks!)