Visting and old haunts & friends

Trip Start Sep 19, 2009
Trip End May 19, 2010

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Where I stayed
Manly and The Castlereagh Boutique Hotel

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Not feeling very well (and unwell during the night), a nice warm porridge helped to pick me up, before we were on our way to Christchurch International airport. The check in was pure bliss, no queue at all, and the departure lounge looked brand new, with sofas to lie down on and so blissfully quiet! After a sleep on the sofas I spent the whole flight sleeping too, peace for Ben!

Arriving in Sydney at around 4.30pm to 30 degree weather (wow!), we taxied it to our hotel - a little pricey, but I had little energy to fight with buses! Both of us know Sydney pretty well, having both spent time living and working here before, so we headed out for a late afternoon stroll around the Rocks and Circular Quay, before opting on the 3 Wise Monkeys pub for dinner - an old drinking haunt for both of us years ago, near our hostel and cheap as chips, also surpisingly tasty!!! It was an early night for me (although later than planned after seeing gossip girl on tv!), while Ben went the nearby "Global Gossip" for internet - WIFI in hotels is not free here, humph!

Feeling 100% better the next day, we checked out of our cheap hotel by down by Central Station, and dumped our bags in the nice, boutique hotel we had booked for later in the week. We then headed to find the Vietnamese embassy to sort out our visas, stopping on the way for a fry-up breakie. We found what we thought was the embassy, a very small office with a lounge with sofas and a beautiful tea set. I thought, how civilized, we can sit and have tea while waiting for our visa! But no, this was actually just the Vietnamese Trade Office, the embassy was in another suburb! After a bit more internet research we found we could apply for a letter online, and then turn up at one of the international airports to pick up our Visa there, so much easier! It was then a mad rush to get to Circular Quay for a ferry to Manly, to visit one of Bens old workmates, Laura, and meet her 3 month old daughter, Isla. Now, if I have a baby like Isla I will be very happy; despite being ill (Daddy fed her shampoo the previous night – by accident of course!) she was a very happy and beautiful baby, very quiet and sleeps through the night, pure bliss! We spent a lovely afternoon on the balcony overlooking the beach having a chinwag and cooing over Isla.

A quick bus ride back to Manly wharf and we were met by Blundell, an old school mate of Bens, who was our accommodation for 2 nights. If we had known how nice their flat was we probably would have factored in weeks here, apart from the uphill walk that is! With 2 spare bedrooms, 2 balconies, a huge lounge and flat screen TV to match, and a bath (!) we were in heaven! The evening sped by, drinking in 2 bars in Manly Wharf where our other host Phillipa came to join us, before finishing the night with a kebab dinner, which was surprisingly incredibly tasty! The next day was lazy day; a walk to town for brekky, a wander along the beach, a walk back to the flat, then an afternoon on the balcony! Hard life, huh! Then another night of far too much wine and another kebab, although this time it was only because we left it too late for bar food, the ozzies eat so early - it will clearly take us some time to adjust after South America!

Feeling a little worse for wear on Friday, it was back to the city for us, enjoying the close up views of the Opera House, Harbour Bridge and the City Skyline before lunching in Darling Harbour, where I used to work in an ice cream shop (long gone now : - ( )and Ben on a Harbour Cruise ship. I am sure there is double the number of restaurants there now, it took us a good half hour to pick one! That evening we met up with one of my old uni mates, Alison and her blokie, as well as an old family friend, Sarah – who foolishly mentioned she was off home to Wimbledon for 2 weeks with an empty suitcase – woohoo. We managed to shed 2 very heavy bag loads of stuff, which included our bibles for South America which we had been so reluctant to throw away, thanks Sarah! After numerous rounds in the Opera House bar, we didn't last much longer, our bodies don’t know what’s going on after 3 nights of drinking!

Our final day in Sydney & we were off to Bondi to meet another mate of Ben’s, Marcus and his 1 year old son (and child model!) Aiden. He was a right little cutie, who knew exactly when to smile for the camera in between his grumbles, brilliant! Back in the city, I went for a walk in the Botanic Gardens, one of my favourtie places in Sydney. I walked past 6 bridal parties having their photos done in Hyde Park and the Botanic gardens, including 2 parties with black bridesmaid dresses, what’s that all about? Is it the new fashion, or an Ozzie thing?! At 8.30pm it was to be Earth hour, where everyone is encouraged to turn their lights off in the city. We thought it would be a good thing to be up the Australia Square tower, to see the city turn into darkness. However, there was a 30 minute wait to have a drink and a strict 'no thongs’ policy, so we gave up on that and headed back to Darling harbour - and what a good choice it turned out to be. There were thousands of people sitting around the edge of the water, surely not to watch a few lights to go out?? We reserved a table at the Meat and Wine company restaurant, where we later had a fantastic meal, then headed to the Watershed for a drink. At 8.15 there was a very impressive firework display... finally making sense of the thousands of spectators. Earth hour did not turn out to be too impressive, both the Novotel and Skytower nearby turned out their lights, but otherwise all the high rise buildings in the city were normal!

So, our 5 days in Sydney had sadly come to an end, and we were off to rest in Port Douglas for 4 days, where the forecast was rain, hmmmm.
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