This really is turning out to be a Whistle stop tour. We would love to have spent more time in the places we have visited so far (Broken Hill aside). It was time to leave the Blue Mountains and head back down to Sydney.
The drive back down was significantly easier than the trip up, notwithstanding very heavy rain en route, and suicidal articulated heavy goods drivers, carrying aggregates for the motorway extension ahead, and we dropped the car off after a bare hour and half on the road.
Our base in Sydney for the next five days is to be the Park Hyatt Hotel, right on the waterfront, in the historic Rocks region, beneath Sydney Harbour Bridge and overlooking the Opera House on the other side of the wharf.
What a place! Formed in a massive bay of natural harbours, the city is a glorious mix of the old and the new.
When you arrive in such a historic and attractive city, where is the first place you visit?
The nearest shoe shop, of course, and then the next nearest shoe shop , and so on. Because you are looking for shoes, or you may not be looking for shoes, but shoes are always nice. And not just any shoes. The sort of shoes that can only be found once you have trecked straight past the historic region and into five or six shops whose shoes were not quite right.
I felt I still owed Lorna after her train trauma, so tagged along without complaint, trying to be as enthusastic as possible.
I am not a tolerant shopper normally. Shopping for me is a tactical strike involving as little time as possible in a retailer. You know what you want beforehand and you go in and get it. With Lorna, it is more like a voyage of discovery and wonderment.
Anyway, amazingly, the right shoes were found after only an hour or so, with just the right heel length, the right colour, fabric and style. So we headed back to the hotel, stopping off in just one more shop, called Lorna Jane (Lorna’s first and middle name). Lorna felt she had to show solidarity with her namesake by buying some sports clothes.
And then, shopped out, we found a visitor information office (a real one this time). Very helpful guides gave us plenty of ideas for excursions and sights for our time here.
Then it was back to the hotel and a workout in the gym (a short one for me – my knees were still giving me jip from the Blue Mountains) before heading out for cocktails and dinner.