Back from April 14th Spotlight on Australia - SYDNEY

By now I was starting to get tired. But there were still too many things to do and see for that to keep me down.

Let me mention a few things you should keep in mind.

1. Start thinking about spending the AUD money. When you return to the states the bank will only exchange paper. Unless you are a collector get rid of the change. The change includes the $1 and $2 coins.

2. I admit I didn't eat out much in Melbourne so Sydney pulled a fast one on me. We Americans do take out. The Aussie's do take away. I was in the shopping mall area and decided to get a sandwich. Looking at the board above the register I ordered an $8.95 turkey sandwich. The waitress told me to have a seat. So we sat. After my sandwich was delivered I looked at the menu on the table and noticed the same sandwich said $11.95. I asked was mine a lunch special. To my surprise she said NO. Because I sat, since she asked me to, the price was higher. I voiced my opinion on that practice and told her they should notify visitors of this practice, beforehand.

3. Don't be afraid to feed that little Roo. I, who shy away from 4 leg animals, did this. Come to think of it since they have short paws and big feet maybe, in my mind, I put them in a separate category. lol

4. After the Tauck Foodie Tour we were not hungry. I think we were finished by 1:30ish. This is a good time to make a last minute scheduled tour. Some people took the walking tour of The Rocks area.

5. The last night pack a pair of dress pants and shirt. Ladies, if you don't wear dresses do the same.

6. Hopefully you scheduled 2 - 3 hrs between your Sydney return flight and your USA connection (if any). It took us almost 90 minutes to get through immigration, customs, and TSA.

OOPS - Quick return to Melbourne. Two weeks before our trip, we tried to book dinner on the Tram Restaurant that circles the city. Unfortunately it was booked solid. Some people on the April 14th tour said it was enjoyable. If anyone else has done this Melbourne dinner please chime in.

http://www.tramrestaurant.com.au/

Now back to Sydney.

Sydney is a big city, with loads of museums, eateries, and places to shop. Across from the hotel is a large botanical garden area. Unfortunately we didn't find time to visit. Several people thought it was impressive.

I think Melbourne seemed more relaxed. Sydney appeared to be a little harder to navigate, jmo. Don't leave the hotel without 1 or 2 maps. If you can locate the two main streets (McCory and Phillips) you can find your way back home. lol

Comments

  • First of all, let me thank you for your posts. My question is......... What did you do on your free time in Sydney? Perhaps some of your fellow travelers experienced something noteworthy?
  • edited May 2014
    VA2Aussie wrote:
    2. I admit I didn't eat out much in Melbourne so Sydney pulled a fast one on me. We Americans do take out. The Aussie's do take away. I was in the shopping mall area and decided to get a sandwich. Looking at the board above the register I ordered an $8.95 turkey sandwich. The waitress told me to have a seat. So we sat. After my sandwich was delivered I looked at the menu on the table and noticed the same sandwich said $11.95. I asked was mine a lunch special. To my surprise she said NO. Because I sat, since she asked me to, the price was higher. I voiced my opinion on that practice and told her they should notify visitors of this practice, beforehand.
    I could not let this pass.
    Because you sat, you were served, thus incurring Goods and Services Tax (GST), ie. a Commonwealth tax on services, and goods … which has nothing to do ripping off American tourists. The rest of the extra cost was most likely because you were eating in a CBD, shopping area that is close to an internationally branded luxury hotel and probably does a nice little business feeding unwary visitors to the Big Smoke. (That may or may not include American tourists.) Had you looked carefully, you might have seen a price list for take away and the seated menu, as you describe. Chances are, they were covered legally. Every Big Smoke has an area like this. Caveat emptor. All over the world.
  • lori wrote:
    First of all, let me thank you for your posts. My question is......... What did you do on your free time in Sydney? Perhaps some of your fellow travelers experienced something noteworthy?


    Walk, walk, walk. Sydney is a very walkable city with beautiful old architecture stuck in amongst modern steel, glass and concrete.

    The malls are beautiful to walk through whether or not you are interested in shopping. (Queen Victoria mall, Strand malls are old and quaint, much like the malls in Melbourne- Westfield Mall is modern glass, crystal marble with some good eateries of all prices, stores are high end).

    There is a free nighttime (1- 1.5 hr)walking tour of the Rocks which includes things you would ordinarily walk right by. We left the tour near the end to have an "authentic?" fish and chips dinner among locals at Lord Nelson, one of the oldest pubs. Good food, good beer, reasonable prices
  • Shescha I knew you would have some good input. You and hubby got out early and moved swiftly.
    My traveling companion was not for early out or late nights. lol We did make it to The Strand which is across from the Westfield Mall. We skipped the Queen Victoria and went to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. I thought they had a good display from paintings, marble, glass/ceramics, and aborigines art.

    I might have forgotten t to mention that both Schescha, myself and sister, and several others used backpacks.
    Actually there appeared to be three different ranges. Schescha's pack was small, my sister was slightly larger, and mine was the largest. Although it was larger than their's it was what I consider a normal size pack. It served as my purse, umbrella and bottle carrier, and souvinier catcher.


  • Not sure why you tried to book the tramcar dinner in Melbourne - when we went last October that experience was included for our tour.
  • Just a quick answer to that … Tauck don't include it these days. A tip … if you want to do this fun thing, book ahead online, but try for lunch, not dinner. You have a much better chance of a reservation.

    Cheers,

    Jan
  • VA2Aussie wrote:

    I might have forgotten t to mention that both Schescha, myself and sister, and several others used backpacks.
    Actually there appeared to be three different ranges. Schescha's pack was small, my sister was slightly larger, and mine was the largest. Although it was larger than their's it was what I consider a normal size pack. It served as my purse, umbrella and bottle carrier, and souvinier catcher.


    Did you use your backpack as your carry-on luggage?
  • jdurkin wrote:
    Just a quick answer to that … Tauck don't include it these days. A tip … if you want to do this fun thing, book ahead online, but try for lunch, not dinner. You have a much better chance of a reservation.

    Cheers,

    Jan


    It seems that they are always evaluating the tours based on a myriad of reasons. Previously, they used to spend two days in Alice Springs. I noticed that the 2014 trip includes 41 meals, yet the 2015 tour has 44 meals. (one additional lunch, and two dinners). The base price for the land portion, however, remained the same. Nevertheless, I'm sure that Tauck will provide us with an interesting and top notch experience.
  • You are so right, lori. Some people are never happy. And of course, if you take care of the pennies the dollars take care of themselves. Tauck need to craft a product you are prepared to spend your pennies on and you need to be convinced the product is worth your pennies. You just can't please all the people all the time, can you? And Tauck have to somehow include attractions that will amuse the naive tourist while also covering more cerebral or just plain interesting items for more experienced travellers. And then there are those experienced travellers who don't want, or need, to be treated like toddlers. That's why Tauck are so good at their job… they mostly do manage to accomplish just that. Ah, happy days.

    Cheers,

    Jan
  • jdurkin wrote:
    Just a quick answer to that … Tauck don't include it these days. A tip … if you want to do this fun thing, book ahead online, but try for lunch, not dinner. You have a much better chance of a reservation.

    Cheers,

    Jan


    Granted it was 2 or 3 weeks before the tour started but I tried for both times. They had an opening the night of the opening meet/greet dinner. Those who went in April booked the Tram in October.

    Because of the diversity of travelers they probably keep tweaking the trips. We had people on their first and their twelfth Tauck experience. They ranged in age from 10-80. It is difficult trying to find the correct formula at all times.
  • lori wrote:
    Did you use your backpack as your carry-on luggage?

    Hi Lori,

    As VA2Aussie mentioned, I had a "small" backpack which I purchased at REI. When it is really closed, it folds to about 3"x5" and is packable but doesn't hold anything. When open, its about the size of a child's large backpack or tote bag and can alternate between both configurations. I used a small roll-on as a carry-on for plane travel, and shoved my purse into my backpack if the airline needed me to do so. Since many of the all-day excursions involved traveling on the Tauck bus, I could load jacket, hat, umbrella etc. into the backpack and leave all not needed items on the bus until the next stop. For days on our own, I found that a small folding tote bag stored in my purse when not needed was all I needed to carry.
  • Aaah! It is so good to hear jdurkin using proper language referring to pennies taking care of things. As a UK Tauck traveller it is good to know that some of the old Mother Country words still get used - I never got used to cents.....or should it be dimes.
    The important thing is to enjoy whatever Tauck provides. They take exceptional trouble to ensure their tours match the changing aspirations of their clients, as demonstrated by this thread. Just delivering the same product time ofter time gets stale.
    The one thing we have found with Tauck is that when they receive feedback their response is never just hollow words. It is vital that travellers use their end of tour feedback sheets with frank and truthful comments. Every sheet does get read and considered. Tauck seems to really strive to keep improving. We have not found better so Tauck is always where we start looking.
    Enjoy your travels.
  • I would love to be a fly on the wall to see how Tauck puts all the tours together and at what point they decide to tweak a tour. When I booked the Australia tour the Sydney part had changed by the time we actually went so that instead of having two free afternoons there, Tauck had one full day and then a completely free day. This was the first tour we had booked two extra days at the end, primarily to visit a relative in Sydney. Initially we were bummed, but I decided that the tour had the Oprah Effect' and everyone must have been demanding a change so they could walk the bridge and there would have been far more difficulty trying to fit that into a half day timeframe. As it worked out, we really enjoyed the down time and doing extra things at our own pace before we returned home. It will be nice in the future to always be able to do this but the skimpy vacation time given to workers in the US prevents us from doing what Jan is able to enjoy on her world travels at the moment. Our tour did include the tram ride and dinner. It was a fun thing to do.
    How on earth Tauck is able to please everyone is beyond me. The variety of travelers on a tour is staggering to me. Back home in Pennsylvania, the majority of our neighbors just can't understand why we would even want to leave the state never mind the country to travel. They are happy to visit the Jersey shore every summer, and not being from PA I just don't get the appeal. We are a two hour ride from New York and some have never visited there either. So it's good to meet other like minded people on a Tauck tour and not feel that we are kinda crazy wanting a taste of another culture.
  • Richardb wrote:
    Aaah! It is so good to hear jdurkin using proper language referring to pennies taking care of things. As a UK Tauck traveller it is good to know that some of the old Mother Country words still get used - I never got used to cents.....or should it be dimes.
    Message understood. Snigger. ;))
  • shescha wrote:
    Hi Lori,

    As VA2Aussie mentioned, I had a "small" backpack which I purchased at REI. When it is really closed, it folds to about 3"x5" and is packable but doesn't hold anything. When open, its about the size of a child's large backpack or tote bag and can alternate between both configurations. I used a small roll-on as a carry-on for plane travel, and shoved my purse into my backpack if the airline needed me to do so. Since many of the all-day excursions involved traveling on the Tauck bus, I could load jacket, hat, umbrella etc. into the backpack and leave all not needed items on the bus until the next stop. For days on our own, I found that a small folding tote bag stored in my purse when not needed was all I needed to carry.


    Shescha, I just received my documents from Tauck. They state that a wheeled carry-on, although acceptable on airlines, may not be able to fit on buses. What did you do with your small roll-on case when you were on the bus? It wouldn't be an issue if you were going on a day trip, since you would most likely be returning to your hotel. I am inquiring about those times when all luggage has to be secured, such as trips to and from the airports. Since Tauck only will handle one piece of luggage per person, I would hope that a wheeled carry-on would fit "up above", like on a plane. Did you find this to be true?
  • lori wrote:
    Shescha, I just received my documents from Tauck. They state that a wheeled carry-on, although acceptable on airlines, may not be able to fit on buses. What did you do with your small roll-on case when you were on the bus? It wouldn't be an issue if you were going on a day trip, since you would most likely be returning to your hotel. I am inquiring about those times when all luggage has to be secured, such as trips to and from the airports. Since Tauck only will handle one piece of luggage per person, I would hope that a wheeled carry-on would fit "up above", like on a plane. Did you find this to be true?


    Hi Lori,

    We have taken 4 Tauck trips all of which have the same disclaimer. We usually travel with one "big" 26" suitcase and one small roll on . We each use the roll-on for electronics, meds, jewelry, amusements etc and we take it with us only when the tour is relocating by bus and/or by plane. We have never had an issue with Tauck storing this in the bottom of the bus along with the larger suitcases. Tauck does not check this for air travel, (we carry it on) and Tauck does not transport the carryon to/from the rooms. The carryon does not fit in the overhead rack of most buses, but it definitely complies with airline reguations.

    For a day excursion bus trip we use a tote bag or a backpack each to provide us with sweaters, water, souvenir space etc. This always fits either in the space beneath our feet or the rack above us inside the bus.

    Don't worry, pack what you need. Tauck will not let you down. In Australia, the only time any of our group was cautioned about luggage was the trip from Alice Springs or Uluru to Sydney by plane. Everyone in our group had at least one "extra" piece of luggage, or a piece of luggage that was overweight. NO ONE had to pay any extra charges or was denied baggage handling, we all checked in as a group.
  • Thanks Shescha,

    My husband will use a backpack, but I prefer the wheeled carry-on. I'll use a smaller tote for day trips. The countdown begins................
  • Richardb wrote:
    Not sure why you tried to book the tramcar dinner in Melbourne - when we went last October that experience was included for our tour.


    Question: when the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant was included was that lunch or dinner?

    The October 10, Melbourne schedule is morning tour only so we booked Lunch at the Tramcar which I can cancel if this is too tight for the schedule. Please advise.

    Liz
  • I hope you make it, Liz. It's a fun thing to do in Melbourne for locals & tourists alike. You could always call Tauck directly to see if they can give you an idea of the on-tour daily schedule.

    Cheers,

    Jan
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