The Old Fogies go to Sydney Fish Market

 

We both enjoy going to markets and we were told by many people that Sydney Fish Market is well worth a visit, it is located near to Darling Harbour.  

Sydney Fish Market is considered the world’s third largest fish market but is much more than that it also incorporates a working fishing port, wholesale fish market, fresh seafood retail market.

There is also a delicatessen, a sushi bar, a bakery, a gift shop, a fruit and vegetable market, a florist, a new meat deli, a beverage outlet, a seafood cooking school, indoor seating and an outdoor promenade for visitors.

When we arrived at the market, it was already crowded with people with coaches offloading their passengers, just as we approached the entrance a large pelican flew by to scavenge for some fish creating a rather surreal scene.

The market has been on this site since 1945 but it is only in recent years that it has become a visitor attraction in its own right.  

The incredible variety of seafood in the market is sourced from fishermen, co-ops, fishing businesses and aquaculture farms in Australia, New Zealand and the Asia-Pacific Region with over 100 species available to buyers daily. It is the freshness of the seafood that attracts the crowds who survey the large tanks looking for their lunch.

Numerous restaurants serve large platters of seafood to large parties who devour the food with relish. One of the favourite places to eat lunch is outside on the promenade where you can enjoy panoramic views of Blackwattle Bay and the working fishing boats.

If you can visit when it is not too crowded, the market offers a wonderful insight into the enormous variety of seafood, many that seem quite exotic to our European eyes.

If you would like to sample the food, take a table outside for plenty of entertainment from the human life and bird life.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

 

Advertisements

The Old Fogies go to Sydney City Centre

In many cities, the city centre would be the first point of call for visitors, however in Sydney this is not the case with many of the attractions on the waterfront. This does not mean that Sydney city centre or Sydney central business district (Sydney CBD) as it is known is not without interest.

Sydney is the state capital of New South Wales and the most populous city in Australia and the city centre is where you will find of the city’s most significant buildings.

Walking in the Sydney CBD, you become aware that it is Australia’s main financial and economic centre with many international banks and businesses located here. It is also full of shops, bars, restaurants and cafes. Standing tall above the city is the Sydney Tower.

The main streets are George Street and Pitt Street with Macquarie Street, part of an historic area that houses such buildings as the State Parliament House and the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

Sydney’s CBD features a mix of old and new architecture; two of the most grandest Victorian buildings are the Queen Victoria Building and the Sydney Town Hall. The Queen Victoria Building or QVB as it known is a shopping gallery with over 190 shops, it is considered one of the most beautiful shopping galleries in the world and it certainly does have an appeal all of its own. The Town Hall is a popular meeting place and is rather grand in a very English sort of a way.

Much of the greenery in the city centre is in Hyde Park which has a number of interesting features, dominating the park is the stunning Anzac Memorial which commemorates those Australians killed serving their country. At nearly 100 feet high, the inside of the memorial is reached up a number of stairs leading into a small exhibition.

Other features in Hyde Park are the Sandringham Gardens and Archibald Fountain and across the road is the impressive St Mary’s Cathedral.

The Australian Museum is nearby and if you carry on you can go to Paddy’s Markets where the local population go for a rather different shopping experience.

With such iconic sights on the waterfront, it may be if you are on a relatively short stay that you decide to ignore the city centre but that may be a mistake. Sydney’s CBD gives a glimpse of the past and a taste of its bustling commercial present with a number of attractions to keep you interested.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies Go Racing at the Rosehill Gardens Racecourse in Sydney

When travelling, we are always on the lookout for experiences that are not always on the tourist wish list. We also enjoy a day watching horse racing and we were fortunate that our time in Sydney coincided with a race meeting at Rosehill Gardens which is one of the premier racecourses in Sydney.

The racecourse is around 22km outside of Sydney city centre and we decided that it would be nice to take the RiverCat ferry from Circular Quay up to Parramatta. We bought tickets for the meeting online and noticed that this entitled us to free transport to and from the course. This made the whole trip really good value for money and gave us a little more money to wager on the horses.

We boarded the RiverCat which slowly made its way up the Parramatta River stopping at a number of places including Balmain, Cockatoo Island and the Sydney Olympic Park before arriving at Parramatta.

The fertile land of Paramatta was important to the early colonists and it still has a feel of being well away from the city.

We were able to walk from the ferry terminal to the racecourse past the attractive houses and the odd strange poster.

Arriving at the racecourse, we were pleasantly surprised by its attractive exterior and joined the colourful crowd walking up to the entrance. The racecourse has recently had a $28 million refurbishment and is one of the more attractive racecourses from around the world.

Rosehill Gardens is home to a number of top races including the world’s richest race for two-year-olds; the $3.5 million Longines Golden Slipper. Although the racecourse is similar to many British racecourses, however there are plenty of umbrellas to shelter from the hot sun.

We sat in the stands so we could take a look around the racecourse, like many other racecourses outside of the UK, the course is rather flat.

Although the dress code was quite informal, many people had dressed up to enjoy a day at the races and were enjoying the various food and drink options.

One of the reasons we like to go to the various sporting events when travelling is that you can meet the locals and have a chat in pleasant surroundings and throughout the afternoon we enjoyed the social and sporting aspects of the racecourse.

Although not familiar with many of the Australian racehorses, we managed to make a small profit before making our way to the nearby Rosehill station to get the train back to the city centre.

If you are in Sydney for a few days and you would like to get away from the usual tourist trails, it may be worth taking a trip on the RiverCat and enjoying a day racing at the very attractive Rosehill Gardens.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies go to Hong Kong Park

 Looking to get away from the stifling Central district, we sought refuge in Hong Kong Park. Although relatively new (the park opened in 1991), part of the site was known as Cantonment Hill in early colonial days in 1840s. This was also the site of the Victoria Barracks, built between 1867 and 1910.

Hong Kong Park covers an area of 8 hectares and is a very pleasant mixture of old and new which blends nicely in the natural landscape. On a hot steamy day, it was nice to sit next to the various water features which include waterfalls, streams and ponds.

Around the park are a number of historic buildings dating from the colonial period, Flagstaff House built in 1846) now houses the Flagstaff House Museum of Teaware, the Cassels Block from the former barracks is now the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre since 1992 and Rawlinson House is now the Cotton Tree Drive Marriage Registry.

The park is very attractive, full of interesting little corners including an Olympic square, lily ponds, fountains, unusual sculptures, Flagstaff House is in front of the Lippo towers that look like they have Koalas attached .

The park also has a large aviary with over 80 species of birds living in a designed tropical ‘rainforest’. 

The walkways take you amongst the canopy and provides great vantage points to watch the birds.

One thing that you will notice as you walk around is that the official organisations within Hong Kong do love signs. They leave nothing to chance, warning you of all the dangers in the park.

If you are visiting Hong Kong, Hong Kong Park is well worth a visit and a peaceful oasis amongst the high rises. It is well designed to provide plenty of interest with stunning views of the various tall buildings in the Central district.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies Travel on the Peak Tram in Hong Kong

The Peak also known as Victoria Peak is the highest mountain on Hong Kong Island, at 552 m (1,811 ft). In the 19th century, the Peak attracted European residents who enjoyed the panoramic views over the city and its coolness especially in the searing heat of the summer.

However its steepness was a problem and many of the residents would hire or own Sedan Chairs which would be carried by locals. There was an increase in residential development with the opening of the Peak Tram in 1888.

The Peak Tram is a funicular railway in Hong Kong, which carries passengers to the upper levels of the Peak. The Peak Tram is one of Hong Kong’s attractions which transports of seven million passengers a year.

We joined the queue at the lower terminus station and looked at The Peak Tram Historical Gallery where over 200 pieces of memorabilia of the Tram and Hong Kong are exhibited. The station has a single track, with platforms on both sides. One platform is used for boarding, the other for exiting the tram.

Whilst waiting, we wondered whether there would be much ‘fun’ on this funicular railway but as the Tram came into sight, the excitement levels began to build.

After boarding the tram, the Peak Tram’s began its route which covers a distance of about 1.4 kilometres (0.87 mi) and an elevation of just under 400 metres (1,312 ft). Initially there is little to see except trees and bushes, but as the Tram climbs, more panoramic views appear.

Near to the top, there is more excitement with the ‘The Peak Tram illusion’, this illusion occurs on the uphill journey when the high rises of Hong Kong on the right ride of the tram appear to fall toward The Peak. This illusion is due to the tilt of the tram and the reclining body position of passengers inside the tram.

Arriving at the top, you enter the Peak Tower shopping and leisure complex which has numerous food options, shops, Madame Tussauds and the Sky Terrace where you can enjoy 360 degree views for a fee.

In a ultra-modern city, it seems that many residents of Hong Kong and visitors take pleasure in the relics from the past. The Peak Tram also connects the city to a more natural environment with plenty of people trying to escape some of the extremes of the Hong Kong weather.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

 

The Old Fogies travel on the Star Ferry in Hong Kong

Victoria Harbour dominates Hong Kong and one of the main sights in the harbour is the green Star Ferries that ply their trade between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

The ferries have iconic status in Hong Kong because for over 100 years, they have been a reassuring constant in a century of change. The Star Ferry Co Ltd was created in 1898 to cater for the large number of people who wanted an inexpensive crossing between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Today, many of  the commuters using the service have been replaced by the many visitors who are keen to take a ride on the old ‘workhorses’.

The Star Ferry operates on the cross-harbour routes between Central to Tsim Sha Tsui and Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui and also run a Harbour Tour tourist cruise which takes a circular route to all the Tsim Sha Tsui, Central and Wan Chai stops.

We went to the Central Pier to get the ferry and looked around some displays about the Star Ferry before making our way to the embarkation point. You can travel on upper or lower deck but the trip is so inexpensive that most visitors travel on the upper deck.

To enter the part of the pier where you get onto the ferry, you need to pay your fare by getting tokens, which are available in the vending machines at the piers. You then drop your tokens in the turnstile to enter, cash is not accepted on the ferries, passengers must use an Octopus Card (pre-paid card) or buy tokens to pay for the ride.

Aboard the ferry, there are rows of wooden seats and small windows which gave wonderful views of the harbour as the ferry slowly makes its way across the harbour. In many ways, Star Ferries are a relic of the past and that is part of their appeal, they have plenty of character and symbolic importance for Hong Kong.

The short trip was soon over and we made our way down the ramp and onto the pier at Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon.

Watching the ferry making its way back into a now murky harbour, it was somewhat reassuring that in a city that was hurtling into the future, there were ties to the past that are respected and enjoyed. For centuries, ferries were the only way to make the crossing between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon but now Victoria Harbour is crossed by railway and road tunnels. However the romance of the Star Ferry still carries on with tourists and commuters making the short journey and enjoying the wonderful views of the harbour.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

 

The Old Fogies visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York

 Although there are many attractions in New York, one of the newest attractions remembers one of the darkest episodes of the city.

The 9/11 Memorial & Museum which opened in 2014 is a memorial and museum in New York City commemorating the September 11, 2001 attacks, which killed 2,977 people, and the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, which killed six. The Memorial and the Museum are located at the World Trade Center site in lower Manhattan at Greenwich St.

It is always difficult to visit these kind of attractions, however it is important to recognise that such places illustrate the best and worst of human beings.

When you approach the museum, it is something of a surprise because the main part of the museum is below ground and visitors enter through a pavilion at ground level. Not surprisingly, there are considerable security checks before you enter into the museum.

Once you do enter the museum, you are able to understand some of the scale of the tragedy.  The main hall of the museum shows the Last Column standing in the centre  and the original Slurry Wall retaining wall which are part of the foundation of the Twin Towers.

The 9/11 Museum  tells the story of that fateful day with a multimedia approach with 40,000 images, 14,000 artefacts, more than 3,500 oral recordings, and over 500 hours of video.

Other Ground Zero artefacts include wrecked emergency vehicles (including a fire engine), pieces of metal from all seven World Trade Center buildings, recordings, pictures of the victims, photographs from the wreckage and other media detailing the destruction and clean up of the Twin Towers that were destroyed.

Visitors wander through the museum in a restrained manner showing respect for the many victims and the horror felt by the people of New York and the USA.

One of the most poignant parts of the museum is the Memorial exhibition which features photographs of the 2,983 victims of the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center. Visitors can learn more about each victim looking up individual profiles and listen to audio remembrances recorded by family members, friends and former colleagues.

People who do not enter museum can show their respects by visiting the striking memorial that surrounds the museum. Two 1-acre pools with the waterfalls have been created in the footprints of the Twin Towers, the names of 2,983 victims are inscribed on the outside of the memorial pools.

We came away from the 9/11 Memorial & Museum with mixed emotions, angry and sad at the needless waste of human life but admiring the tasteful and positive way that the victims of the tragedies are remembered.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies go to Alcatraz in San Francisco

One of San Francisco’s main attractions is the island of Alcatraz that sits in San Francisco Bay. To get to the island, visitors must take one of the tours that visit Alcatraz. The tours depart from Pier 33 located along San Francisco’s northern waterfront promenade near the Embarcadero, It advisable to arrive early as the queues begin to form to board the ferry and you need to go through airport style security. We booked the tour through the official Alcatraz Cruises website, if you thinking about going to Alcatraz be wary of tours that charge a large amount to go to Alcatraz and maybe a cruise around the harbour.

For some reason, swarms of flies descended on the ferry as we boarded and were unwelcome travellers all the way across to the Island. For most people, Alcatraz is associated with the prison but the Island has a long history of human habitation.

There is evidence that the first people to visit Alcatraz Island were indigenous people who arrived there between 10,000 and 20,000 years ago. 

The first lighthouse on the West Coast of the United States was built on Alcatraz and went into service in 1854. At roughly the same time a military fort was on the Island which during American Civil War became the largest American fort west of the Mississippi River.

It was during the American Civil War that the first convicts were sent to Alcatraz fort, gradually the fort became less known for its defence capabilities and more for its military prison.

The army transferred Alcatraz to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) in 1934 and the BOP quickly converted the military prison into a maximum-security civilian penitentiary.  It is the period from 1934 to 1963 which is the focus of the tour when Alcatraz became one of the most famous federal prisons in United States history.

When you arrive on the Island, you are shown to shower room where you pick up the excellent audio tour which gives some background to the tour. The audio includes contributions from old inmates and warders from the prison and tells some of the stories about some of America’s most notorious offenders.

One of the reasons for Alcatraz’s reputation was that it was considered a prison that dealt with inmates that were sent from other federal prisons. “The Rock” was where the most troublesome prisoners were sent to be dealt with before they could be returned to a lower-security institution. 

Some of the most famous inmates were Al ‘Scarface’ Capone and Robert Stroud otherwise known as the ‘Birdman of Alcatraz’. Walking around the prison, you wander around the cells in the different parts of the prison and listen to some inmates describing the monotonous regime and how some tried to escape. Over the 29 years from 1934 to 1963, 36 men were involved in 14 separate escape attempts. Of these, 23 were caught, 6 were shot and killed during their escape, and 2 drowned. There is no evidence that anyone escaped the “Rock” and survived. One of the most notorious escapes was the “Battle of Alcatraz” in 1946.

Strangely, considering its reputation it was not the worst location in the world with the sights and sounds of San Francisco all around. Many prisoners remarked that this made their incarceration more unbearable.

After the tour of the prison, visitors can wander around the Island and see some of the buildings and structures from the different periods of occupation. Now and again you see signs related to when a group of Native American Indians claimed Alcatraz as Indian land in 1969, their occupancy was relatively short-lived when they were removed from the Island by Federal Marshals in 1971.

The tour of Alcatraz is a fascinating reminder of a particular chapter of United States history, it is a history in which fact and myths are interchangeable probably due to the many films and books that have been written about the “Rock”.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

 

The Old Fogies visit the Statue of Liberty in New York

Like many visitors to New York, we decided to visit some of the iconic sights of New York. Probably one of the most iconic is the Statue of Liberty which stands on Liberty Island, just off the southern tip of Manhattan.

On a warm and sunny day, we went on the subway system to take us from Midtown down to Battery Park where the ferries take the thousands of passengers to Liberty Island and Ellis Island. Arriving in Battery Park, we were directed to Castle Clinton from where we could pick up our tickets for the ferry.

Although most people ignore Castle Clinton, it has a remarkable history.  Castle Clinton or Fort Clinton was previously known as Castle Garden, is a circular sandstone fort which was America’s first immigration station (it predates Ellis Island), where more than 8 million people arrived in the United States from 1855 to 1890. The original fort was built between 1808 and 1811 on a small artificial island just off shore. When Battery Park was extended the fort was incorporated into the mainland of Manhattan.

Liberty Island and Ellis Island are run by the National Park Service who use Statue Cruises as the official ferry boat service to the Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island Memorial Museum. Like most of the major American attractions, once you have your ticket, you have to go through airport style security screening prior to boarding the vessel.

Depending on the time of day you may find large queues to board the ferries, however the ferries do run very frequently and eventually it was our time to board the crowded ferry. There is little doubt that the best way to approach the Statue of Liberty is from the water and many of the people on board had their camera’s ready for that iconic photograph.

The statue resides on Liberty Island, although the island was known Bedloe’s Island up to the 1950s.The Island is located nearly a couple of miles southwest of Battery Park, so the ferry ride is very short.

There is little doubt that the Statue of Liberty is one of the most famous statues in the world, however when you see it in real life, its size comes as a bit of a surprise. In all it stands over 300 feet high and towers over the small Liberty Island.

The Statue of Liberty or Liberty Enlightening the World which is the correct name was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States, designed by French sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi and built by Gustave Eiffel. The statue was dedicated in 1886.

The statue quickly became an icon of New York and the United States, and was always a welcoming sight to immigrants arriving by sea.

You can get tickets to go inside the statue but we were quite contented to get an ice cream and wander around the statue. The island also gives great views of Manhattan, New Jersey and Brooklyn.

The statue’s location is interesting because in some ways it is influenced by the large statues of antiquity like the Colossus of Rhodes which stood in a harbour entrance. In 1984, the Statue of Liberty was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and welcomes over  3.5 million visitors each year.

As we made our way back to the ferry, we saw the crowds of excited visitors making their way to the statue. The Statue of Liberty has been attracting the crowds for over 100 years and is still as popular as ever.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.

The Old Fogies go to Devonport in Auckland

Just across the water from Auckland is Devonport is very attractive small seaside village town with plenty of antiques, gift and book shops with a number of cafes and restaurants. It is popular with locals and visitors and has a number of attractions.

A short twelve minute ferry ride takes you from Auckland’s CBD to Devonport and not far from the ferry stop you have a wide range of book shops and food options.

Devonport is one of the earliest settled areas of Auckland and is rich in history with a strong naval tradition with special links to the New Zealand navy who still has a naval base here and are featured in the informative and attractive Torpedo Bay Navy Museum. Devonport’s foreshore is where the great Waka (Maori canoe) Tainui landed in the 14th century and also where the British Navy arrived in 1840.

Two volcanic cones are two main landmarks of Devonport , Mount Victoria and North Head. Towering over the town is Mount Victoria is the highest volcano on Auckland’s North Shore, a steep walk up its slopes are rewarded with stunning views of Waitematā Harbour, Hauraki Gulf and the Auckland skyline. For some reason there are number of toadstools on the peak and artillery emplacements with a disappearing gun.

Although quite steep, it only takes around twenty five minutes to walk to the top of Mount Victoria and the walk gives spectacular views of the surrounding areas. It strategic importance is reflected in evidence of Maori occupation and the military bunkers, interestingly one of the bunkers is now home to the Devonport Folk Club.

After the delights of Mount Victoria, it is relaxing to just wander around Devonport with its small beaches and a number of beautiful Victorian buildings that are a feature of the area.

All along the waterfront is reminders of Devonport connection with New Zealand history,  it was at Windsor Reserve that the British navy landed and began the European settlement of Devonport in 1840. Near King Edward Parade is the Boer war Arch commemorating the fallen soldiers of the Boer War.

Near Torpedo Bay is a commemoration of the great waka Tainui. The Tainui was one of seven wakas that carried the first Maori from Hawaiiki to New Zealand.

Even if the pace of Auckland is hardly frantic, Devonport has a notably slower pace and locals will stop and have a chat. We had a long chat with an old dear who had lived in the UK for a while but for the last few decades had enjoyed her life in Devonport.

We could understand why Devonport was so appealing, we stopped for a coffee and some homemade scones and watched the stream of visitors exploring the shops and art galleries. Entertainment has obviously been a feature in Devonport for some time having the earliest purpose-built cinema that’s still in existence in the Southern Hemisphere.

Old Fogies Travels are the adventures of two elderly Londoners (The Old Fogies) as they explore their home town and travel around the world looking out for the strange, unusual and absurd.

Our articles are published on our blog but also listed on the website of our friends at Visiting London Guide.com here.