Sorry this is so late. I finally have a connection that is good enough to upload photos without timing out. Huzzah!
I’m combining the next two days because almost nothing happened on day seven except doing laundry and working out on a rowing machine for the first time. That’s literally it. I was definitely fighting something off, and never even left the hotel. It’s OK. My body needed rest. I had a sore throat and upset stomach and sleep was my self-prescribed remedy as I needed to be healthy, because day eight was the day I had purchased an e-bike tour. Manly Beach is a beach situated among the Northern Beaches of Sydney, Australia in Manly, New South Wales and is a place that Sydneysiders recommended seeing.
We got up early on day eight and finished packing and checked out. We had the hotel hold our bags, and they kindly gave us a key to use the gym area later on if we needed to (showers, etc.) as our flight was later at night. I would definitely recommend staying at The Grace Hotel in Sydney; our room was huge and the people were very friendly and helpful. We again went to the French cafe for breakfast, because my theory is when you find something good, you stick with it (see: marriage). They again only had one chocolate croissant, though. How is this even possible? We were there even earlier than the last time when they only had one left! Come to find out the chocolate croissants are not in high demand in Sydney. I was dumbfounded, and the waitress agreed with me that it was crazy they weren’t in higher demand. Those croissants are the bomb. I told Sal he could the lone pastry, since I needed a healthy breakfast before my adventure. He did end up sharing, because he’s a good hubby. And because he was full and still had half left Throwing any portion of that out should be a crime!
The trip to Manly required a ferry ride, which had great views, but it was cold in the morning so I sat indoors and decided on the way back I’d take some photos. I was supposed to meet at the information hut at the wharf, but I was early so I looked around a bit. When it eventually was closer to the meeting time, I asked the young woman at the information desk if she knew about the tour company Blue Bananas. She didn’t. I fleetingly wondered if I had been scammed, as it seemed like a name you’d remember. Ha. I needn’t have worried as I saw a man with a bike standing outside the terminal area, scanning the crowd. Sure enough, it was my guide Richard. I quickly discovered I was the only person on the tour. Sweet! We walked a bit to get to the other (my) bike and ran into a bunch of wild cockatoos.
I signed responsibility away and got my melon head fitted with a helmet. These e-bikes were definitely different than the ones I’d ridden before.
These bikes are pedal assist, meaning you have to pedal the whole time. Here’s a little spiel on the designer:
GoCycle is the brainchild of Richard Thorpe, a design engineer with a 25-year career that has included designing for some of the world’s most prestigious names in motorsport, such as McLaren Cars, Bentley, Audi, Ferrari and Mercedes. Inspired by Formula 1 high-performance and design, GoCycle is the world’s first injection-moulded magnesium alloy bicycle.
It was much lighter than the other e-bikes I’d ridden in Paris and Vancouver. Richard showed me how to switch gears and use the bell, which he said we probably wouldn’t have to use as it wouldn’t be very busy since it wasn’t the weekend. I showed Richard that I could ride a bike, and pretty soon we were on our way. We rode our way through some streets before getting to an area that was pedestrian/bike path. This is where it got funny, because as luck would have it, a boy’s school was having some sort of field trip somewhere, and they were all on the path we were riding on. Richard would ring his bell and I would try to follow as close as I could. These bikes are quiet, and half the time the kids didn’t know there was more than one bike going through and they would start closing the path again after Richard went by. Luckily I knew how to use the bell and had no qualms about it. Richard said in the briefing he preferred not dinging the bell, as people were on these walks to relax. I appreciated the sentiment, but I preferred dinging the bell as opposed to hitting the kids. Eventually we gave up trying to get around these hundreds of teenage boys and we rode on the larger, I think pedestrian-only, path. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, I guess. I was glad we didn’t have to keep playing dodge ’em. It was just funny that it happened because he didn’t think it was going to be busy at all, and I don’t know how it could have been busier, unless maybe they let out the girl’s school, too. We stopped for a few beach photos:
And then we stopped for some coconut water and to give our legs a little break. This bird just strolled on by:
It was here we were going to try our first or second big hill. Richard had no problem at all with the hills, but I was absolutely winded by the time I got up one. He said I shouldn’t have been and he thought the bike might have switched modes. “Did you see how easily I did it?”, he asked. Why yes, I had. Yes, I saw you actually taking a call while lazily peddling uphill, while I had to give it my full effort to get up that sucker and end up red faced, panting. Richard does this tour several times a week, so I just figured he was in a lot better condition for the hills than I was. I told him it was probably me, not the bike. I thought it was sweet that he wanted me to try his bike to see if it was easier. He couldn’t switch the mode on my original bike without an app, which he didn’t have, but it was his idea that something was off with the mode. I reluctantly gave his bike a try. I say reluctantly because I imagined the embarrassment if/when I *still* ended up huffing and puffing by the time I got to the top of the hill. We switched bikes and tried the next hill and it was much easier. Hallelujah! Something actually was wrong with my original bike mode and it wasn’t just me. He said he could tell a difference in the bikes, too, but I should keep his. I knew we had more hills and didn’t know how I was going to do it on my original bike, so I was very happy. Richard’s bike was much easier for me. We went up more hills to finally get to the Memorial Walk. This was an interesting, quiet area in the hills. It was very peaceful. There was a brief history on every war that Australians were part of. Families of fallen soldiers could buy a brick in their honor. It was a place to honor loved ones and Richard suggested it would be a good place for Sylvia’s stone. If you don’t know about Sylvia’s stones, here’s the story. Once I am done with this trip I will post about the placement of these next set of stones.
We went downhill a ways to get to the North Head Quarantine Station. According to Wiki:
The complex operated as a quarantine station from 14 August 1832 to 29 February 1984. The concept behind its establishment was that, as an island-nation, the Colony of New South Wales, as it then was, was susceptible to ship-borne disease. Those who might have an infectious disease would be kept in quarantine until it was considered safe to release them.
It was sad to hear the stories of how they would segregate them. It didn’t matter if someone came over with a first class ticket, if they were not white they would be put in the non-white area, and it was quite clearly the worst set up. We continued down to the water level, where there was a museum about the quarantine. We were only there for a little bit, before it was time to make our way back uphill and to return to where we started. We had three hills to get up and the first one left me out of breath. Uh oh. “That was the worst one,” Richard promised. And it was. After the second one I was following Richard and I looked to the left to see this:
I did a double-take and yelled to Richard to stop and asked him if this was a porcupine. I didn’t even know that was a possibility to see! In Africa we tried to see them at night, but never got lucky. I got extremely excited and asked Richard if I could take a pic. As you can see, he said sure, and he told me to get closer. “Are they dangerous?”, I asked, keeping in mind that they tell you everything in Australia is trying to kill you. He said he didn’t think so. I thought they shot quills. He said he wasn’t sure. To be honest I didn’t get all that close; that’s a zoomed in pic. Just call me a chicken. Or a bush turkey. I was very excited to see the little guy. Richard and I had to stop another biker so our new friend could cross the street. Richard said he’d only seen one in the wild once before and that I had good eyes. I miss very obvious things, but somehow find this sort of stuff. Go figure.
It took about 5-10 minutes to ride back to our starting point, and I think I had a smile on my face the whole time. Part of that was from the echidna and the other part was I knew there wouldn’t be any other hills to ride up. My legs were tired. I got off the bike looking like I’d ridden a horse. I was so tired. I decided I would skip going back to the wonderful pasta place I meant to re-visit, since it was back in Sydney, and just eat in Manly at a place Richard recommended across the street from the beach. Hemingway’s had good cauliflower and a diet coke. It did the trick.
It was time to go home, back to Sydney, and this time I took the fast ferry, which apparently charged me a lot for not swiping out – even though I didn’t see a spot to do it or anyone else do it. I guess it’s payback for us not swiping at all the first time we took the ferry because we didn’t see the spot. Oh well.
The best views are from the ferry:
I had time to burn, so I did what any reasonable person would do after riding a bike for three hours: I got a food massage at the Thai spa. No, it was not as inexpensive as Asia. Yes, it still felt wonderful and was totally worth it.
I met Sal at the hotel, and we caught an Uber to the airport. Traffic was an issue, as I guessed. It was fine, we left plenty of time. We even had some sorta strange lamb nachos for dinner.
They were pretty good. It was our first Jetstar flight and we flew to Darwin. No issues with the flight. We got in extremely late, and by the time we got checked into the hotel it was like 2 or 2:30 a.m. We slept hard.