A Tale of Two Cities: Part Two

Trip Start Jan 28, 2011
Trip End Jul 30, 2011

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Where I stayed

Flag of Australia  , New South Wales,
Sunday, March 27, 2011

After checking into our hostel, we went off to get a feel for the place, since we were aiming to spend 4 nights here including the world famous Bondi beach. I for one have been told that pictures of the iconic Sydney Harbour were just a fraction of how breathtaking the view is. With the sun shining, ice creams in hand and huge grins on our faces we learnt why. The Sydney Opera House, made up of 4 million tiles and a whole lot of Dutch architectural courage protrudes out framing the circular quay to the right while the Harbour Bridge wraps around  to the left of the harbour. After a brief walk around the Rocks, Sydney's answer to The Laines and over the bridge, we sat down to a game of knockout whist and our good friend Mount Gay joined us once again.

Since the Lonely Planet warned us of the thousands of animals and insects that are likely to kill us in Oz, mixed with Alex's schoolboy excitement we thought it appropriate to venture across the harbour to Taronga Zoo. Here we encountered everything from terrifying alligators to funnel-web spiders to elegant giraffes. Favourites had to be the gorillas' hierarchical banter with each other and the spider show where we learnt we have nothing to fear unless we are stupid enough to poke one more than three times. On our way out we witnessed a zoo themed wedding (yes Jen's first ever wedding) complete with elephants with 'Just Married' on their bums!

On return, the heavens opened and whilst Wells and Alex caught a bus George and Jen cagged it up and power walked through the botanical gardens where we encountered an old friend, All-American Mike who we met in Paihia. Avid blog readers will know that this is a good 6 weeks ago and after arranging to meet up that night we had our first night out in Sydney. Note to self: $10 boxed wine (aka Goon) does not do any good to one's head the morning after consumption.

Manly beach welcomed us with some of the best weather we've had so far as we all collapsed and admired the surfers. With waves twice the size of either of us we lotioned up and stuck to the beach.

Alex and I were so tempted by the harbour front restaurants we decided to indulge and opted for a picturesque Italian with a view of the Opera House and the bridge. Finally I had some proper Australian wine (Semillon Savignon blend, Dad) and the food managed to distract us from the sparkling view.

An added bonus of our Manly visit was definitely the ferry ride there and back. While Jen and Alex whistled off for a romantic meal, George and Wells whiled away the evening watching ridiculous surfers tear up the waves  and then caught their own romantic ferry ride home so as to see Sydney Harbour lit up in all it's nightime glory. Even though we had seen the famous Harbour sights from every angle possible (as our photos will soon show!), we finally took the walk around the Opera House, and gazing out to the bridge and up at the spectacular building all lit up was truly memorable.

We rounded off our last day in Sydney city by ticking off a few of the classic tourist must-dos. A walk around Darling Harbour, shopping in Paddy's Market, lunch in Chinatown and a stroll through the Botanic Gardens (with hundreds of Flying Foxes in tow), meant leaving Sydney was no easy task. However if anything is able to draw you out of the buzz of central Sydney, it's the lure of sand and surf at the world famous Bondi Beach.

Safe to say our hostel wasn't the best we've encountered especially when you're confronted with a 10 man hot-box of a dorm and flying cockcroaches (to which Wells nearly had a heart attack when one landed on her!), yet situations are easily remedied when one has poker chips and a bottle of Mount Gay to hand. Needless to say grimy hostel surroundings were soon forgotten when a night out in Bondi was on the cards.

Even a decidedly monstrous rum hangover could not quell our love for Bondi, especially on a beautiful hot day. After sleeping in the sun, watching surfers, rowers and lifeguards alike and jumping some seriously epic waves we all understood why everyone goes on about 'that' beach...and yes we were a tad tempted to get into a bit of trouble just so the Bondi lifeguards would come to our rescue and we'd have a cheeky cameo on Bondi Rescue!!

From the beach to the bush, we finished off our whistle stop tour of the Sydney region with a trip to the Blue Mountains National Park. After being transformed into keen bean trampers by the NZ landscape we were probably a bit too excited about the prospect of putting the Merrells on again and going for a good old walk. The landscape of the Blue Mountains did not disappoint; from the astonishing Three Sisters rock formations to the stunning Katoomba Falls and views of lush forest as far as the eye can see, this National Park was postcard perfection. And we even got up close and friendly with nature...or at least Wells did, when a lovely leech fell onto her from a dripping overhanging rock. Luckily, 2 minutes later we happened across the next best thing to crocodile Dundee who swiftly produced water, anti bacterial gel and salt out of his Mary Poppins style tiny rucksack and became Wells' new best friend when he quickly de-leeched her...luckily only a leech sized lovebite remains!

Here's a bit of cultural knowledge for you- the reason Canberra was named the capital was simply because the Aussies could not decide between Melbourne and Sydney....and after visiting both we understand why! After discussing our ups and downs of both, we realise we love and could easily live in either. Oz, you've done yourself proud.
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feens on

with all this rum and flying cockroaches your trip is starting to sound more and more like my own! but wells i really feel for you, i have yet to have a cockrach land on me and i hope that day never comes! xxxx
(ps i particularly loved your 'oar-gasm' on the last post) xx

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