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  • Writer's pictureRuth Mcbride

11 and a half!

Day 55/138 2022/2023 Viking Neptune World Cruise. Day in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

It was an early alarm this morning! 6am! I am not an early riser, especially since I’m retired! There is no reason to wake up early, other than for an early tee time, which I also try to avoid!

We heard last night that the pilot would boarding at 5am; commentary would start in the Explorer’s Lounge on Deck 7 at 5:30am, and we would be docking in Sydney at 7am. So I split the difference and set the alarm for 6am! I knew I was taking a chance that I might miss something, but hey? Sleep is precious and I knew we were going to have a busy day in Sydney today.

The first shot I took this morning. The sun was still not up.

As the tugboats brought us into Sydney Harbour, the first glimpse I had of the iconic Sydney Opera House was this one:

Wow! Its easy to see why Sydney Harbour is regarded as one of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world! With 240 km of shoreline, lots of green spaces and beaches, it sure was exciting to be able to sail into Sydney for the first time ever! I had spent a day and a night here on the same business trip that I went to Melbourne on, but I had never sailed into Sydney before. I think sailing in is much better than flying in. And it definitely was worth getting up at 6am to view this!

Wow! Wow! Wow! How gorgeous is that? The Celebrity Cruise ship on the right of the photo has the ’primo’ docking site in Sydney Harbour, being so close to downtown.

We continued sailing past Sydney Harbour and under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Thank goodness we are on the port side of the ship for this sail in! There was no need to get dressed and go to the Explorer’s Lounge with everyone else to view the sail in! We had ordered room service breakfast last evening too, so we had breakfast on our balcony as we sailed into Sydney Harbour!

I’m not sure who took this photo, but Richard sent it to me and I think its so cool that you can see the Viking Neptune sailing into Sydney Harbour at 6:33am this morning!

I liked the framing by the Sydney Harbour Bridge, (also known by the locals as ’the coat hanger) of the Sydney Opera House. But where are we going?

Anzac Bridge across Johnstons Bay between Pyrmont and Glebe Island. I thought we were going to Sydney Harbour?

For those of you who know Toronto, I feel like we finally docked in Etobicoke, when I thought we would be docking at Queen Quay, in downtown Toronto! Or about a 15 minute drive away from the CBD where all the action is!

See what I mean? Sydney Harbour bridge in the distance.

Since we had some free time this morning after we sailed in and before we were heading out for the day I decided to try out the new water colour pencils I bought yesterday in Eden. I ended up also using water colour paints as well.

My inspiration.

Not bad for a short painting session this morning. I’ll work on it some more when I have some free time.

We were trying to figure out how to get to the golf course this morning and Richard said “Hey! We can take a ferry to the golf club!” I looked into the ferry and how we would get from the ferry to the club and then we tried to figure out how long every ‘leg’ of our journey would take. We decided to leave the ship around 10:35am, but of course Viking was running shuttle buses to Lime Street, King’s Wharf, every 30 minutes. So because we missed the shuttle bus, we decided we would take an Uber directly to the ferry terminal. Because we have our own golf clubs, everywhere we go, we’re carrying the clubs, so taking an Uber made sense, as we would have less walking to do from the shuttle drop off point.

The Uber dropped us off, near Circular Quay which is a harbour, former working port and now a transport node for Sydney. You can see that Richard is only carrying one set of clubs….I had the other set!

Richard checked with the information counter at Circular Quay to find out what Wharf we needed to be at, to get the ferry and how could we buy ferry tickets?

We found out that to travel to Rose Bay ferry terminal we needed to be on Wharf 2 and we could tap on with our Visa card and tap off at the other end with the same credit card. Sounds pretty simple! The cost of the ferry was $6.43 each from Circular Quay to Rose Bay.

Wow! The internet has ground to a complete halt as I’m trying to upload photos into today’s blog! Its so frustrating to know we are in one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and yet our internet is almost non-existent! I could turn my data on but that costs $15CAD every time I turn on the data, so I’m not going to do that, instead I’ll suffer with bad internet. I thought having Starlink would have solved this problem with the internet, but it seems It has not.

We waited for the ferry to arrive at Wharf 2 after tapping on at the gate to the ferry on Wharf 2 with our Visa cards. I bought us each a water bottle, and some snacks for the golf course at a convenience store at Wharf 2 while we waited for the ferry to arrive.

The ferry arrived, and the ferry captain announced ”Rose Bay” ferry now boarding” so we knew we had to right ferry!

We boarded the ferry and quickly found seats. Most people wanted to be outside or upstairs, so I left Richard with the golf clubs inside the ferry, while I found my way upstairs to take some photos of the iconic Sydney Harbour bridge and the Sydney Opera House. The ferry ride to Rose Bay was only scheduled to be 8 minutes long, so after taking some photos I sat inside the ferry with Richard.

Departing from Circular Quay towards Rose Bay.

What a stunning view!

The Sydney harbour and all of the yachts clubs along the shores.

Very expensive homes on the shores of the Sydney Harbour.

Once we got to Rose Bay, we walked up the walkway, found the tap off machine and tapped our respective Visa cards and started walking.

Rose Bay Harbour.

I had looked at Google maps to get a sense of what our walk would be like to the golf course and I am very good with visualization of a place, before I get there, once I’ve looked at a map. As soon as I saw the sign for ‘Lyne Park’ I knew we had to follow the path, to a parking lot, then turn right beside a coffee cafe, and once we came to the street, we needed to walk across the street and then cross to our left to reach the golf club. Simple right?

Carrying two bags for now.

We walked and it turned out perfectly! It was only about an 8 minute walk from the ferry terminal to the golf club. Who would drive in busy Sydney traffic, if you could take an 8 minute ferry and then walk 8 minutes to the club?

We had to stop and take our photos outside ‘The Royal Sydney Golf Club’ which was the course we were playing today. I had read on the course’s website that they did not like people using their cell phones in too many places on the grounds of the golf course, so it was best that we took photos surreptitiously!

As you can see Richard is still carrying both sets of golf clubs!

I was in need of a restroom, so Richard found the pro shop and I entered the huge club house to try to find a restroom. I then met up with Richard on the lower level of the club at the huge pro shop. After checking in, and renting 2 electric trundlers (electric push carts), we decided we should have some lunch before our 1:52 tee time. It was only noon and we had arrived way too early for our round. Richard had a sandwich and I had a delicious meat pie! I gave Richard almost half of the meat pie, since his sandwich was not as good as the pie!

A delicious meat pie! Pies seem to be a staple in Australia. Everywhere we look there are coffee shops selling pies and homemade sausage rolls. Very British!

Richard went to do some practising after lunch, while I thoroughly checked out the pro shop. I really didn’t like any of the clothes they had for men or women in the pro shop. Although they did have some good brands like: J Lindbergh, Annika, IBKUL, Daily Sport, nothing really turned my crank so I just kept looking to see if there was anything else like a hat or a visor that I could buy as a memento of our visit. I finally decided to go and do some putting practise. The greens were stimped at 10 today, which was a decent speed.

We were able to tee off early because there was no one after a group of 4 guys who were teeing off, except for us. Richard had to climb up some steps for his tee box which is definitely odd for a first hole. The first green was unbelievable. It was hard to figure out where to land the ball on the green because it was ‘crowned’, elevated and also had huge run off areas from the green, and oh ya…it was surrounded by the deepest bunkers I’ve ever seen without having built in ladders to climb out of the bunkers.

Royal Sydney Golf Club Clubhouse

1st hole. A shortish par 4.

Royal Sydney has a mandatory walking policy unless aged 80+ or with a doctor’s note. So since we had no Dr’s note and we are under age 80, we had to walk the course. The electric carts helped with the walking, but without a remote, we had to walk holding onto the cart and I found the speed setting ‘3’ too slow and ‘4’ too fast, and my cart kept veering off to the left as the steering seemed ‘off’. The golf course was very hilly and I no longer walk hilly courses. It was also 28C out, and extremely hot.

The course followed the design of a typical Donald Ross golf course, but more extreme. Elevated greens, with blind shots into every green and massive bunkers down the sides of the fairways and surrounding the greens. The closest course I’ve played which would be similar to Royal Sydney would be Pinehurst #2. There are 121 bunkers on the course and the course rating from the red tees was 76 and the slope was 131. A crazy tough test of golf. From the red tees the course was also 5,758 yards! That’s crazy long! My course at home is a 131 slope at 5,360 yards but the course rating is only 70.8.

Richard had been given a golf course map and we were also following a group of 4 men who we did not catch up to in front of us. Usually playing as a twosome, following a foursome, its very easy to catch up to the group ahead, but not today. There was a washroom after 9 beside the tee box and also a beverage fridge, so we helped ourselves to some Powerades for the back nine. The layout of the course was that after 9 we were still far away from the clubhouse.

The 10th hole was a very long downhill par 4. At least we could see the green on this hole and to reach the green I had to use Driver, 3 wood and a pitching wedge. I hit a long golf ball so for me to have to use 3 clubs to get to the green on a par 4 was a bit much. The 11th hole was worse. An uphill par 4 and I had to use driver, 3 wood and a 7 iron to reach the green. Richard unfortunately had to use a few more shots than me to reach these holes. We teed off on the next hole and were walking down the fairway when we heard yelling! Yelling at a Royal golf club? Anyway, as soon as I reached my ball in the middle of the fairway, still 155 yards from the hole, I realized why we were being yelled at! We had teed off on the 18th hole, instead of the 12th hole. Richard did not consult the golf course map and since the 11th hole took awhile for us to play, we lost the 4 men in front of us, who had turned right after the 11th, to play the 12th hole.

We waited off to the side of the fairway while the gentlemen behind us hit, and then Richard started talking to one man, and apologized for us hitting on their fairway. It turns out that the man he was speaking to lives in Ottawa, Ontario and is a member of Royal Ottawa Golf Club and he has spent every winter for the past 20 years in Australia with his wife, golfing at Royal Sydney. What a coincidence! Richard is also from the Ottawa area! Realizing that we would need to walk back up to the tee box on 18 and then walk over to the 12th hole, I said to Richard “I’m done”. 11 and a half holes was all I was willing to play. I haven’t walked a golf course since October last year and I don’t walk hilly golf courses anymore because of my leg. So we walked back to the clubhouse chatting with the man from Royal Ottawa and were glad we quit when we did. We had already done 12,500 steps for the day and we still were not back on the ship!

I went to clean up in the lady’s locker room at found the neatest thing ever! An old fashioned foot cleaning station! Amazing! I find that my feet kill me after walking a golf course, so it was so nice to be able to take off my golf shoes, wash the dirt off my legs and feet and put some nice baby powder on my feet before putting on my sandals. I’ve never seen such a thing at any other golf club I’ve ever played!

Foot washing station in the ladies locker room at Royal Sydney.

Richard had gone up to the clubhouse for a beer after golf and the gentleman from Royal Ottawa had come over to chat with him. Richard’s family lives in Ottawa and Buckingham, Quebec which is less than an hour from Ottawa, so having someone all the way on the other side of the world from Richard’s home town was amazing. They knew some of the same people who were members or had worked at Royal Ottawa. He also found out that Royal Sydney has 6,000 members, and 1,000 golfing members because it is ‘the’ club to belong to in Sydney. The club also has tennis and other amenities and they actually call the pro shop the ‘sports shop’ because they sell more than just golf related merchandise.

After a quick drink of water with lime cordial added to it which was available for free, we grabbed our clubs and started walking back to the Rose Bay ferry. The last thing I think either one of us wanted to do was walk, but since it was rush hour and we knew it would take an Uber a long time to get back to the ship, we decided the ferry was probably the quickest and smartest way to get home.

We got to the ferry dock at Rose Bay and lucky for us the ferry had just arrived, so we were able to tap on with our credit cards and get on the ferry for the quick ride back to Circular Quay. We sat at the back of the ferry in the open air, and really enjoyed the sea spray hitting us as we took in the magnificent harbour views of the Sydney Harbour. We didn’t know when we would ever get the chance to be so ‘up close and personal’ with the Sydney Harbour again and seeing it from a ferry, even if we had not gotten off the ferry, was an amazing treat! We like these ‘little adventures’ independently exploring on our own and today was no different. What an amazing way to see the Sydney Harbour on a ferry, instead of sitting on a bus being ‘whisked’ by all of these beautiful sights!

Approaching from Rose Bay to Circular Quay.

Sitting at the back of the ferry watching the Sydney harbour go by!

I fell asleep trying to write the blog last night so apologies its late! And the internet is so bad I’m going to take my Ipad with me into Sydney and try to hook up to some free wifi to be able to add my photos and try and publish the blog. What a frustrating experience dealing with Viking’s wifi!

Now our next challenge after getting back to Circular Quay was trying to navigate through the rush hour streets of Sydney with our golf clubs, back to where the Viking shuttle bus was waiting at King’s Wharf on Lime Street. Since we had not taken the shuttle in the morning, we weren’t sure exactly where the bus would be waiting on Lime Street. We had a 1.6 km walk to navigate through busy sidewalks because it seemed like everyone was out in the pubs or heading to the pubs after work on Thursday evening. I kept walking on the wrong side of the sidewalk too! You know the protocol of walking on the side walk in North America. You walk on the right side of the sidewalk, in the direction you are going. Just like we drive. Well in Australia, they walk on the left side of the sidewalk, the same as they drive. I was carrying Richard’s golf clubs and of course I kept finding myself on the wrong side of the sidewalk facing a wall of people coming my way. Its funny how our brains are programmed for what we are used to. I kept having to say to myself whenever I crossed an intersection, to stay left. Stay left.

Yup. Back to carrying clubs!

It was a very busy downtown navigating the downtown streets of Sydney with golf clubs and forgetting which side of the sidewalk to walk on!

We found Kings Wharf finally and now the trick was to try to find the Viking shuttle bus. There were 3 buses waiting on the Wharf and of course the last bus, was the Viking shuttle. Richard remembered the area once we got to King’s Wharf, because he had worked a program for U.S. Foods at the Sofitel hotel near King’s Wharf/Darling Harbour a few years back. The shuttle bus driver put our clubs under the bus and we got on the bus to wait 10 minutes to drive the 15 minutes back to ‘Etobicoke’….

Yeah! We found the shuttle bus.

We dropped the clubs in our cabin immediately and headed for dinner. We were hungry after all of that exercise and our step count was now 18,000 steps! That was a long, very tiring, hot day! Luckily for us we did head to dinner, because the buffet was closing down at 7:30pm because most of the guests had gone to a concert which Viking offered up all of a sudden two days earlier. We knew we could not make the concert, which started at 6pm, so we had declined the invitation to attend.

Our ‘dogs were barking’ as Richard likes to say, when his feet are sore, so I suggested we head to the Nordic. Spa for some time in the hot pool and hot tub. We were able to enjoy 30 minutes of the Spa, before the 8pm closing time. And then it was blog time!

I’m glad we had the chance to play Royal Sydney, but I wouldn’t say I really enjoyed it. It was definitely an experience which we will not forget because the ferry ride to and from the golf course was spectacular! And some days 11.5 golf holes is enough! Who says we have to play 18 holes anyway!

We have one more day in Sydney and we have a private excursion booked which I think will be really neat! But first to try and get this blog published!

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Feb 17, 2023

I recall from a previous post of your goal to play at St Andrews. Based on your experience in Sydney, the Old Course is considerably longer at over 7,000 yards and I don't believe the golf cart ban has been changed, as only registered disabled can use them. I believe you can now use trolleys for the clubs, as in my St Andrews days we all had to carry the bag.

Although it can be windy, it is reasonably flat and similar to Sydney the 9th green is out at the turn, furthest from the clubhouse.

Hoping to read of your St Andrews experience and photos in the future, since I haven't played any of those courses in over 45…

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