Well, you asked for it (well, one poster asked for it), and here it is - part 2 of my TR to SYD. I apologise for the delay and hope you enjoy this read. I've kept most of the focus on the transport side of the trip, but I've also included the all important announcement of whether I won my award.
The first night's accomodation was complements of the industry association running the awards. I did a little bit of research on the hotel, and was expecting a nice hotel for the night. I didn't realise it was going to be this nice. It was luxurious - from the door greeters at the door, the porter taking my luggage to my room, and the amazing room, including the bath with a view - which I took full advantage of (with the blinds down as to not give the neighbouring office some horrific trauma).
After a muggy afternoon doing a little bit of Sydney exploring, it was time for the awards night. As a state winner, I was automatically a national finalist, so I got a nice certificate that ensured I'd stay for main course. While I was a runner-up for the national award, it was a fantastic experience. My approach to the evening was that I was already a winner, and this was effectively a bonus prize. With this mindset, I felt zero pressure on the night, and it was all about having a bit of fun. As the big boss said recently, I'm in the top 3 in the country for the area I was nominated in!
With the formalities of the weekend done and dusted it was time for a weekend of celebration. While I was given the option of staying at the same hotel for the 2nd night, the price was, I thought, pretty steep. Turns out it was actually a decent rate for Sydney that weekend as it was the opening weekend of the Invictus Games.
Having said that, I found a great deal for a hotel at the airport, and it had some fantastic reviews - especially for it's airport views. As an av geek, I had to book this place! So I spent the morning transferring to the new hotel. It was a simple trek - around the corner to Wynyard Station, and then about a 10-15 minute walk from Mascot Station.
Museum and St James have always had London Tube style signage. Wynyard and Town Hall have recently had similar station signage installed as well.
The walk from Mascot to the hotel included going past Qantas HQ.
I got to the new hotel a little early, but they said if I was happy to wait 15 minutes they could have a room ready for me. With this hotel, reception is actually on the top floor, which was perfect for a bit of plane spotting.
While not at grand as the first hotel, I still loved this room.
After quickly dropping off my bags in the room - I was tempted to just stay in and watch planes all day. I did, however, have a lunch date with a close mate who'd recently moved to Sydney, so off I went.
Mascot Station was HQ for the day. Mascot is one of the 4 'Airport Link' stations that are privately operated (along with Green Square, Domestic and International). Initially all 4 stations attracted a gate access fee of around $15, however the New South Wales government has agreed to 'pay' the fee for Mascot and Green Square, which saw usage at these stations skyrocket. It also provides a bit of a budget solution to access the domestic terminal at SYD - Mascot Station is about a 20-25 minute walk to the domestic terminals. If you don't mind a little exercise, Mascot Station is a discount method to beat the dreaded gate access charge.
As I was meeting my mate at Barangaroo, it was back to Wynyard and a walk through Wynward Walk. I took a wrong turn though, and ended up seeing the new sculpture of the old wooden escalators.
There was also some digital photos of Wynyard's history, such as this photo of Wynyard Station being constructed. Originally 6 platforms, platforms 1 and 2 were tram platforms and were converted to a car park when the original tram line was ripped up.
My mate and I basically took the train from one part of the CBD to the other, and we ended up on the 3 main trains in operation on weekends over the course of the weekend - M sets, A sets and T sets.
Inside the M set
Inside the upper deck of the A set
Sydney's intercity electric sets - the V sets (older set in the background) and the H set (newer set in the foreground). Sydney are getting new intercity sets over the next few years, which will see the V sets retired, and the H sets converted to suburban use.
Part of our travels was via St James. This is my favourite station on the City Circle, I could just wander around exploring this station. It originally was meant to be a 4 platform station, but 2 platforms were never used, and were eventually filled in the 90's to produce one massive island platform. There's also a number of unused tunnel stubs around the station.
Of course, we had a couple of transfers at Central
Central Grand Concourse - the home of intercity, regional and interstate trains.
While travelling around Sydney, another mate messaged me - he just happened to be travelling (by train) from Adelaide to Sydney (via Melbourne), and asked if I wanted to catch up on the Sunday. Turns out the Sydney bus museum was having an open day, and they were taking some of their iconic Mercedes-Benz O305's out for a spin. Well that's Sunday sorted.
To get to the bus museum, I decided to get the light rail to Leichardt North, and then walk across the road to the museum. The museum is actually located in a historical shed in the massive Leichardt bus depot.
Urbos 3 tram that operates on the L1 line in Sydney. While the same trams will operate on the under construction Newcastle line (albeit parts of the Newcastle line will be wireless), different, incompatible trams will be used for the controversial L2/L3 lines, which they might finish building one day.
Inside the Urbos 3
The iconic Mercedes Bens O305. While Adelaide had heavily modified O305's for our original O-Bahn fleet, ours looked considerably different to Sydney's. Our had digital front and rear displays, and the centre/rear doors were not driver operated, plus ours had guide wheels and the capacity to do 100 km/h on the O-Bahn.
Later model Mercedes - that did have the digital display.
This old London double decker was offering rides into the CBD and back!
After a look around the old buses, it was time to head to the airport. To finish the trip off, I got off the tram at Pyrmont and got the ferry to Circular Quay, to get the train to Mascot. By coincidence, I ended up on the infamous May Gibbs. Initially May Gibbs was going to be named by a voting competition, and 'Ferry McFerryface' was the 'winner' of the competition. After the union refused to operate the ferry, it was revealed 'Ferry McFerryface' wasn't actually the winner of the voting comp, and it got renamed May Gibbs.
Victor Chang - another of the current model Emerald fleet of ferries
Lower deck inside of May Gibbs
Freshwater series 'Freshwater' operating the Manly service. The Freshwaters are both the oldest and the largest ferries in the fleet.
After a pitstop at the hotel to pick up the luggage, it was a short walk to the airport.
After the nice walk into the terminal, I was greeted with the chaos that was Virgin Australia check-in.
A small snippet of the ridiculous bag drop queue.
After printing the tag off to attach yourself, you then had a 45 minute queue to get to an agent to drop your bag off, as Virgin only had 4 of 12 counters operating (and 1 of them was for last minute bag drops). After the 45 minute wait, I got to my agent, who after taking my phone (which had my boarding pass on it), proceeded to spend several minutes talking to her colleague before realising I was still at the counter. If I was the sort that like to make a scene, I would've made a comment along the lines of 'if I can pull you away from your conversation for just a moment.' Most disappointingly, when I mentioned this situation on VA's Facebook page, I got little more than 'we'll take you comment into consideration for future improvements'. No acknowledgement of the poor service, no apology, just a copy/paste response. Anyhoo, once the agent remember she actually had a passenger to serve, she returned my phone, and eventually got my bag dropped off.
After that, security was, a breeze, with no line. I guess with VA in no real rush to process their passengers bags this shouldn't have been a real surprise.
By the time I got some food and a reasonable spot for plane spotting, I think I was slightly hangry. After a bit of Red Rooster in me, I was ready for some limited plane spotting. Would've been nice to have another 40 minutes to chill, but you can't help poor VA service.
Qantas Boeing 737-800 'Retro Roo II' and one of their remaining Queens
Close up of the Queen
After a bit of plane spotting I decided to head down to the gate, but first, here's a glimpse of what looks like hell, but it's the walkway to the LCC pier of T2.
The more aesthetically pleasing walk to the VA pier of T2
Tonight I was heading off from gate 44, which is one of the few gates where VA only boards via the forward doors. This meant that a nice relaxing bit of extra plane spotting was replaced with a quick skull of a bottle of Coke, some quick snaps, and straight onto the plane.
In another rarity (for an ADL flight anyway), VA haven't used a plane that is on the verge of being shifted to TT's fleet. This was actually a new-ish plane with wifi. This would be the first time I'll have wifi (besides the wifi IFE) on a flight.
VA's domestic wifi is free for the basic stuff (like browsing, checking social media etc), but if you want something strong enough for video, it's $8 for an hour. While the wifi and the mood lighting worked, their in flight entertainment, once again, failed. This time, however, I was prepared, and had downloaded a heap of episodes of The Goldbergs for this situation.
The snack service came around, and in another rare treat for this flight, it wasn't the protein ball. This time it was a packet of chips. They went well with the juice and The Goldbergs
Obligatory Adelaide Oval shot coming in to land
And back to where I started - gate 14. Tonight our neighbour was QR
I was greeted by Mum, who was now in a moon boot. That gave VA plenty of time to make sure my luggage was already on the belt by the time we got downstairs.
If you've made it this far, congratulations, you've hit the end of the report. I hope you enjoyed the read. The next trip I have planned is a 3 leg ADL-MEL-SYD-ADL trip in January - the Melbourne stop is for the Australian Open, and the Sydney stop is to visit my mate. Despite my poor experience with VA on this flight, I've booked with them for the ADL-MEL and MEL-SYD legs, as the majority of my gripes with their poor service was with the SYD check-in experience. The SYD-ADL leg will be a JQ flight however, as I opted not to consider VA for this leg due to what happened on this flight. It will be, however, the first time I'll do a TR on a LCC/JQ, so I look forward to compiling another 3 reports early in the new year.