It's often a disappointment seeing famous places for real. Photographs in travel brochures or films on television can give a false impression. The sea is not that blue, the mountains not that high, the iconic building not that impressive in the flesh. Sydney is such a familiar sight - especially after the Millennium and the 2000 Olympics - that it might be expected that it would fail to live up to expectations.
But if anything it surpasses them. The harbour with the Bridge and the Opera House has to be one of the most stunning locations for a city anywhere in the world. The sea is ever present. This is not a city like Edinburgh that seems to turn its back on the Firth of Forth or like Liverpool which has cut the centre off from the Mersey waterfront with an eight lane road. Sydney makes the most of it with the City centre clustered around Circular Quay and Darling Harbour and there are many coves and beaches within a short ferry ride to what are, essentially, some of the City's suburbs.
The many ferries are the best way to see the city giving close up views of the Bridge and the Opera House. Viewed from the water the skyscrapers of the Central Business District look especially impressive - particularly at night. The ferries have delivered us to two swimming beaches at Watson's Bay and the wonderfully named, Manly. (So called because that's how a British naval officer described the original, Aboriginal, inhabitants.)
Away from the beaches the City offers some excellent art galleries and museums, good shopping if you want it and really good food and drink.
But the best thing about Sydney is that Joce and Frankie are here. Frankie and Ed came back after a months woofing and Joce has flown out for her Easter holidays. Lovely to be all together again for a couple of weeks. Tomorrow Sophie flies down from Brisbane and she's going to come to the Great Barrier Reef with us on Sunday. Fantastic!