Winging it Sydney

Trip Start Mar 07, 2009
Trip End Apr 08, 2010

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Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Monday, July 27, 2009

16th – 29th July 2009:

So this was it, my first visit to Sydney, first to Australia no less, soon to be home so no pressure at all. The flight was pleasant, with Qantas; luckily we were able to get seats together for a change as the online check-in was malfunctioning. Food was alright, got my fare share of free beer and the in-flight entertainment was top notch. Flight came in on time at 0530, still early so difficult to tell what the weather was going to do. I was prepared for crap weather, as it is the peak of winter so I would have to wait and see about that but it was dry so it was promising. Headed through immigration and was somewhat disappointed that we weren’t greeted into the country with our fancy residency visa’s with some kind of fanfare or at least a welcome hamper but alas we were stamped in and shunted along with all the regular holidaymakers!
We got over this disappointment quickly with the sight of Ang’s mum Francis waving like a maniac in the arrivals area, we knew she was in the country on holiday but this was a surprise. Curiously our Australian pal Shelley was not there as she was at the wrong terminal but she soon caught up with us, thankfully as we were to stay at hers tonight. On the way back to her flat, or unit as there called out here, got a glimpse of some of Sydneys’ landmarks including the Opera House & Harbour Bridge.
After catching up we headed into the local shopping district to pick up a few items. I fancied getting a pair of jeans after wearing cargo trousers for the entire trip, the last few months have also taken their toll on my 4 pairs of pants which were in desperate need of replacement. I was devastated to see the prices of stuff here. I managed to pick up some cheap gear at the oz equivalent of TK Max but decent stuff was really expensive, not helped by the rubbish exchange rates at the moment. While we were shopping Shel left her car on a clearway and by the time we got back it had been towed, luckily just up the road but it took a couple of hours to find it so that was a bit of a drama. Managed to last the day without more than a few minutes nap so able to kip hard that night, no jetlag which was nice, was great not spending the night in a hotel as well.
After an awesome sleep the next day Ang & I got the bus into Sydney City Centre, about 5km South of the unit in Lane Cove, to meet up again with Fran. Took in a few sights in and around the harbour which was stunning, and yes the weather was awesome. It is literally the depths of winter at this time of year and we are talking clear blue skies and 18-20 degree temperatures. I am told this is unusual but who cares, this is the life. Had a wander through the botanical gardens on the way back into towns and saw actual parrots, as well as other weird & colourful birds, in the wild just flying about like sparrows etc back home, crazy. Had lunch in town then got the train out to Parramatta, which is a city but still in the Sydney district, I think. About 30mins on the train to get to Ang’s cousins Brendan & Karina, whom we would crash with for the next few days.
Had a real nice time there enjoying some nice home comforts, top food and some quality wine. Was also able to catch some cricket coverage as well which was nice. It was also like living at blockbusters as Karina’s DVD collection was something special, we must have spent about 3 full days watching ‘How I met your mother’!
Whilst we were staying there we made a couple of excursions back into Sydney. First to see Steve, another cousin of Ang’s, who lives with wife Amanda and son Solomon in a northern suburb called Chatswood, quite nice actually, good potential for us next year. Anyway we were sat there enjoying a cup of English Breakfast and I looked round to see what I thought was some kind of Albino Eagle sat on the balcony. It turns out it was a cockatoo, a similar bird to the Cockatiel we had as a pet when I was about 8 but at least 10 times the size. These things are native to Australia and actually quite common, proven when we started feeding it and 3 of his mates turned up, awesome site just seeing 4 of these monsters chilling outside the window waiting to mange down on bread rolls practically whole.
Next day we headed out with some friends on a coastal walk from a place called the spit to Manly beach and it was incredible. The weather was still brilliant and the harbour just looked magical, on a par with anything I have seen in the last few months. The water was crystal clear as well which surprised me, and the harbour was full of boats and kayakers and all sorts, in the winter as well I couldn’t believe it. After walking for a few hours we landed at a microbrewery place in Manly, which are seemingly quite popular here, then I was brought back down to earth when I saw the beer prices. Granted this was a specialist place but at about 4.50 a pint I’m going to have to make some sacrifices when we move here, like on food! I have since found some cheaper Ales but it’s still much pricier than in the UK. And while we’re on the subject of beer, the choices here are ridiculous. Lager, amber ale, golden ale, pale ale, pilsner, draught, stubbie, schooner, longneck it’s gonna be fun working out what it all means. So far my favourite is Coopers Pale Ale, which is kind of like a cloudy lager but without the gas.
On Friday 24th we were back in Sydney staying with Shelley again and I spent most of the day by myself while She treated Ang to a posh belated birthday lunch in the Centrepoint Tower, a rotating restaurant overlooking the city. I checked out the museum which had an exhibition on the deadly creatures of Australia, like snakes, spiders & jellyfish etc etc. Almost got caught up in a children’s presentation about global warming with a couple of hyperactive presenters giving it all the “He’s behind you” gayness but managed to escape out a side door before it was too late. After the museum I treated myself to Fish & Chips, which I had been looking forward to since I got here, it’s just not the same when it’s not served in a newspaper! Then went on the monorail but that was a bit guff, before meeting the girls then going out in ‘The Rocks’ area of the city to continue my Oz beer education.
After waking up with a bit of a sore head Ang, Shelley & I  headed out to the Blue Mountains  for the weekend, about 1.5hrs West of Sydney. The first view was of a famous rock outcrop called the 3 Sisters and again the scenery was spectacular. The national park consists of a load of table mountains made of sandstone with shear cliff faces and waterfalls about 200m down to the forested valleys, unbelievable that this was only 90 minutes from Sydney, and still the weather was stunning. We stayed in a caravan for the weekend and made use of the BBQ facilities on the first night and on Sunday spent a full day on a cliff top walk overlooking a valley they call the great canyon, the weather wasn’t so good today, overcast and it chucked it down luckily not long after we got back and then all night.
Next day the weather was great again and we did a short hike before heading back to Sydney for a couple more days before the next leg of the Journey.

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