Sydney, part one - June 3
Our exploration of Sydney with Richard and Gawain started in the funky, bohemian area of Kings Cross with a wonderful lunch and fruit smoothies. Our local tour guides then took us to the Royal Botanic Gardens, which is a beautiful park located in the heart of the city. The park is to Sydney what Central Park is to NYC, or at least in theory.
Strolling through these lush gardens is where we caught our first glimpse of wild white macaws, and they were everywhere! It's obvious that people feed them because one decided it liked Richard, landed right on his shoulder and stuck around for photos. The afternoon had us visiting the standard Syndey sightseeing circuit; the world famous opera house, the Sydney harbour and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
After a week of driving down the east coast we needed to slow down and take it easy, so the first couple of days were spent taking care of errands (like acquiring our travel visas to Vietnam), walking the downtown streets and exploring the city. With all of our daily expeditions we hadn't realized just how far we end up walking during our daily travels. It hit us when a truck driver gave us directions to the Vietnam consulate. His response was "it's three kilometers away and you have to go uphill. It's very far, you should take the transit". Of course being on a tight budget and in need of exercise we elected to tackle the walk. The walk ended up only being a short 30 minute walk. It's funny how your attitude changes when traveling; if we were at home we'd probably have taken the car or transit too.
Throughout the week we visited the opera house and beautiful habour a couple more times, had lunch in the historic Rocks district, crossed the harbour on a ferry, and walked across the Sydney harbour bridge for spectacular views of the city. We even spent an afternoon in the impressive State Library of New South Wales researching our upcoming trips to the Philippines and Japan. We were briefly tempted to do the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb, where you actually climb along the huge steel pillars on top of the bridge, but at $300 per person it was a bit too expensive for our budget.
Wanting to experience an Aussie evening at the bar, we visited a somewhat seedy Kings Cross pub one evening to watch the State of Origin rugby match. This was to be a massive game in the world of Aussie Rugby, comparable to an annual hockey game between the US and Canada. It didn't hurt that pitchers of draft beer were only $6 and they had free hot dogs before the game. During half-time the pub had a raffle with some pretty good schwag, and just as Nicole was admiring the great carrying bag, Cameron's number was called! Good thing too, because we love bags filled with free stuff!
It was a great night spent enjoying the local sport with the local people. It reminded us of a big game 7 playoff matchup on a Saturday in Vancouver...which we've unfortunately missed this season!
continued on Sydney, part 2...