Before I get into the details of my first day in Sydney, I should mention that getting there from the USA is no joke. I live in the Orlando area in Central Florida, and to give my body a break I made the decision to fly to Los Angeles and spend the night there before continuing on from LA direct to Sydney. I had a good night’s sleep, and the Westin LAX extended my check-out until 5pm so I could relax as close to my 10:30pm departure as possible. I flew on Qantas airlines, and they were able to put me in a bulk row so I’d have more leg room, and in an aisle seat so I’d have an easier time transferring to an aisle chair for trips to the bathroom. The flight attendants were absolutely amazing, and while a 14-hour flight is always uncomfortable at some point, both legs passed more quickly than I anticipated.
Arriving and getting through the Sydney airport was pretty easy. My scooter wasn’t waiting for me at the door of the plane, so I had to be taken in a wheelchair to the baggage claim area where my scooter eventually arrived. Getting through customs and immigration was a breeze. When I got outside, much to my surprise there were three wheelchair accessible taxis waiting! I never have such good luck in the United States. I will say, however, that taxi drivers might be picky about what mobility device you have. Their anchor systems are designed for power wheelchairs or manual wheelchairs, and if they can’t find good anchor spots for your electric scooter, they could deny you a ride for safety reasons. Fortunately, I had no trouble, but these laws were pointed out to me by one taxi driver.
Half an hour later, we arrived at my hotel, the amazing InterContinental Sydney. Despite arriving early, they gave me a key to the executive lounge to wait for my room, and I was able to enjoy a wonderful breakfast on the 31st floor with an incredible view of the harbor. My room was ready about an hour later, and it was perfect. The bathroom was large, with plenty of grab ars and a very comfortable roll in shower. The bed was low enough that it was easy for me to get into, and there was ample space to roll around in my scooter. I only stayed in my room long enough to drop off my bags. In order to ward off jet lag, I knew I had to keep moving and push through the drowsiness until that evening. I got a great city map from the concierge, and headed out to explore the city.
Downtown Sydney is incredibly wheelchair accessible. The sidewalks and the roads are in great shape, and while there are several hilly areas, they are manageable. Most of the places I passed had flat entries, and oddly enough the only inaccessible stores I saw were “convenience” stores that had a step to enter, LOL. My first visit was to the Museum of Sydney, which was located one block from my hotel. The museum was built on the site of the country’s very first Government House in the late 1700s, and you could see the outline in differently colored tiles of where the original building stood. I took a free guided tour, which detailed the highlights of the city’s history. It was a quiet day, and one member of the staff took the time to expand upon the information the tour guide provided to us. It’s a small museum, but it had some very nice displays and was very easy to get around.
After the museum, I headed back to my hotel room to recharge my scooter battery and watch a bit of the World Series. I was so excited to watch the Cubs win, even if it was from 9000 miles away! Then at 6 PM, I met up with a friend of a friend for a windshield tour of the city. Over the next two hours, I think he showed me every square inch of Sydney! We must have gone through at least a dozen neighborhoods, and briefly drove through the famous Bondi Beach just after sunset. Granted, I couldn’t see all of it since the sun wasn’t out, but it was much smaller than I expected and reminded me a lot of Fort Lauderdale. Afterwards we had a late dinner, and I was so grateful that I was able to stay awake until 11 PM. I slept like a rock until 8:30 AM the next morning, and was ready to go, jet lag free!