Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sydney: Holidaying at Home

And now, the Global Economy Crisis Strategy for Vacationing ... "homecationing". A week in one of the world's greatest cities, and without the expense (and drama) of overseas travel. Yes, we "did" Sydney.

For non-Oz readers and others who might be interested ... what did a family of 4 do, and at what cost? Stayed at the Meriton Kent, close to the heart of the CBD, in a 2 BR self-contained unit for AUS$160 per night. (Found via Wotif.com)

Amusements included the Star Wars exhibition (AUD$60 for family ticket) and Luna Park (free entry, pay for rides ... but with the McDonald's vouchers cost was $24 per kid for an Unlimited Ride Ticket). Travel around Sydney was AUD$10 for "Family Fun Day" ticket - all trains, buses and ferries.

Shopping? Paddy's Markets (open Saturday and Sunday) was 2 blocks away. A few good buys, but often cheaper in downtown stores - especially clothes. Don't miss dropping into Elizabeth's Bookshop. Well worth a detour (and no, I don't get a commission).

Eating out? Hotel was 10 metres from "the Spanish Quarter", two blocks from Chinatown, a leisurely stroll to Darling Harbour.
  • Best Value meal was at "Mamma's Kitchen" (Italian) in Liverpool Street; total bill came to under AUD$80.
  • Worst meal? "Capitan Torres" (Spanish); total bill was over $140 - which included a plate of bone and gristle that was supposed to be the house specialty, Suckling Pig. [After registering two complaints - once with the waiter, then again with the owner - they reduced the total bill by AUD$9.00.]
  • Worst value? 4 x Burgers,4 x cola and 3 x chips at The Rocks; total cost AUD$78.00. Really.
  • "Cold Rock" Ice cream x 2 was AUD$12.00, but well worth every cent - so I was told by the kids.
And being Sydney, lots of free stuff, sightseeing-wise at least - particularly around the harbour and Circular Key. Brilliant saxophonist near Customs' House; didgeridoo playing near the Museum of Modern Art (yes, Sydney has one of those too). Unfortunately the bagpipe player outside City Extra meant we changed our lunch plans for that day. Don't get me wrong, I really like bagpipes, particularly when the piper has a repertoire of more than three tunes.

Come, see, enjoy. And what's even better, for cheap!

Language Abuse: A sign of the times?

News reports of the last day or two have been bemoaning falling literacy standards throughout the country. Welcome to reality, Powers-That-Be. Yeah, we know you've been denying it for decades - but you won't believe the years of academically rigorous studies showing the potential for school libraries to impact positively on educational standards.

Why? Coz it's going to cost you money. Al told you years ago that you were all very good at defining your educational benchmarks, but that you need to also set resourcing benchmarks and do A Little Something about funding them. But wait! You started national testing in 2008. Brilliant!!! But then what?

Here's something interesting ... what does the sign photographed mean? I asked 3 high school students who were waiting for the doors to open. They all said "it means if you join up [as a Museum member], you can get in free". Sadly, no. It's $75 per year.

On the other hand, the Museum staff need to take some heat on this one. Where's the comma supposed to be? And shouldn't there be - at the very least - a semicolon after the word "today"? Ah. "What's a semicolon?". Indeed.