30/10/06 - Arrived in Sydney a little later than planned at 9am. I walked up to the Y Hotel on Hyde Park and requested that my room be prioritised for cleaning. The lady was superb and I got into my room at 10.30am, yippee! I was shattered, as I hadn't really slept a wink on the coach overnight. I also requested if I could use my breakfast voucher now on arrival, considering I would be checking out too early to have it on my day of departure. She didn't flinch and said yes immediately, superb! She will be getting a mention on the guest comment card! Therefore, I had a nice breakfast, then went to my room, which is very nice, I have a double bed, tea/coffee making facilities, iron and board and even a colour TV, yippee! Bargain for 30 quid a night B&B! It's a great location too, just on Hyde Park, so can easily walk out for a nice stroll and cup of coffee at many cafes along the way! I was sooooo tired I didn't do much today, just unpacked and rested and watched TV, especially Grey's Anatomy, I am hooked now, but tonight was the last in the series and it was superb!!
31/10/06 - Spent the day preparing for my next 9 days here. Went and booked my Bridgeclimb on Harbour Bridge for Sunday 5th Nov at twilight, looked at their celebrity photo gallery which was very interesting, I will be in good company once I have completed the climb! I then purchased my SydneyPass, which allows me unlimited travel on all transport, bus, train, ferry and both the Sydney and Bondi Explorer Buses. I mooched around The Rocks and Circular Quay for a while, then I headed back to the hotel. Relaxed for the rest of the day, off on a wine tour tomorrow to the Hunter Valley tomorrow.
1/11/06 - Was up from around midnight with an upset stomach, so unfortunately didn't make the wine tour pick up at 7.30am, but I did manage to speak to the driver in reception to explain that I was unwell and wouldn't be coming. I didn't feel good and just went back to bed and put the 'do not disturb' sign on my door for the rest of the day. What a waste of a day! Later on in the afternoon I rang the tour company and apologised and rebooked for next Wednesday. Never mind.
2/11/06 - I spent the day on both the Sydney and Bondi Explorer Buses. Both took 2 hours to complete their full routes. The Sydney one takes you all around the major sights in the city and you can hop on and off wherever you wish, as another bus will come along afterwards. The Bondi one was the best, I got to see some very exclusive areas out in the suburbs, lots of money around!!! Saw the church where Elton John got married, not to David, but his first marriage to Renata! Some of the houses were just magnificent and their views over the harbour in the distance must be breathtaking! Saw Bondi Beach, which I will definitely come back to in a few days. I decided to stay on both buses for the total 2 hour journeys, so I could see what was where and plan what to come back to, considering I can use my SydneyPass as often as I like. Got back to the hotel around 4.30pm, rested awhile, then got spruced up for dinner with Peter Stewart. For those who don't know, I met Peter five years ago when I went to the States with work. I met him at 7pm at the Skytower, where we proceeded up the lift to the 360 Restaurant. I had requested a good table by the windows and we weren't disappointed. The staff were excellent. This restaurant revolves and the views over the city and beyond at night time were just spectacular. Food and wine was fab, it was great to be out properly!! After dinner Peter took me on a mini tour. He drove me to the other side of the Harbour Bridge and stopped off at a few good points for some photo opportunities back over the harbour onto the city and the Opera House. He also drove me to Manly and we went up to where Nicole Kidman recently got married. I will definitely come back over in the daylight on the Manly ferry. Peter dropped me back at the hotel around 10.30pm, we arranged to meet next Tuesday, he is taking me out for the day, first to the Olympic Stadium and then to the Blue Mountains. I had a great night, thank you Peter!
3/11/06 - Headed to Circular Quay, managed to catch a bus, thought I'd get my SydneyPass's worth! I then caught the 10.30am harbour cruise, the 3 harbour cruises are also included in the SydneyPass, bargain! So I decided to do the 10.30am and 1pm today. It was an overcast day and rained for a short while in the morning, but it didn't spoil the cruises at all. Definitely worthwhile doing! I then got back to the hotel around 5pm and got ready to go to the Opera House! Got to the Opera House for 7.15pm, had a nice glass of wine at the lovely bar and proceeded to find my seat. I saw a show called 'Showstoppers', which featured songs from Broadway musicals, right up my street! It was a fab night's entertainment and the inside of the Opera House is just as impressive as the outside.
4/11/06 - Checked emails in the morning as I was expecting to meet up with some English nurses I'd met on the Whitsundays tour, but they hadn't made contact on where and when to meet. Never mind. I went down to Chinatown and had a look around 'Paddy's Markets'. Lots of usual stuff, I had a lovely chinese meal in the massive foodcourt. Weather is still pretty miserable, it's raining and very overcast, but still quite warm. I decided to go to cinema later to see 'An Inconvenient Truth'. Wandered round the shops for a bit, then thought I'd hop on one of the explorer buses in order to get back up town to the cinema. I waited and waited, but no bus arrived and I sensed that something was not quite right. The bus eventually turned up and we then found out why there had been a hold up. Basically, there had been a demonstration down at Circular Quay regarding global warming and the Australian Governments reluctance to sign up to Kyoto. I was miffed, as I would d to have been down there demonstrating with them, why hadn't I seen any flyers about it? I've learnt about the fact that the US and Australia haven't signed up for Kyoto and I had to chuckle to myself that today of all days, I had decided to go and learn more by seeing the movie 'An Inconvenient Truth'. I got to the cinema eventually and watched the movie. It was really good and I learnt alot more. I urge everyone to see this movie and to take action in making a contribution to help save our planet! We can all do little things to help, like ensuring you don't waste energy in your homes, use energy saving light bulbs, turn the heating down by a few degrees, don't have it on at all when you don't really need it, etc, etc.... Also visit the website www.climatecrisis.com to learn more. The movie was an eye opener!
5/11/06 - Well today is the day of my bridge climb! I am booked on the twilight climb to the summit of Sydney Harbour Bridge! Looked out the window to check the weather and 'oh no!' it's still raining and very overcast and very windy! Spent the day hoping it would clear up, but it didn't. Left the hotel in plenty of time to get down there, it started to rain so I went to put up my umbrella when a gust of wind caught it and turned it inside out and then bent the handle part in half! So basically it ended up in the nearest bin and I got a bit damp! Checked in at the Bridge Climb offices, the lady was lovely and gave me a towel (I must have looked a bit wet!) I dried off, then at 6.10pm was taken through with my group to start the climb. We had to sign declaration forms, that basically if we fell off we wouldn't hold them responsible, then we had to pass a breath test, then we got kitted out with a jumpsuit, fleece, weatherproof jacket, hat, cap, handkerchief and a belt which held our radio and headset connections and the all important harness!! My Gosh, I was worn out before we even started the climb itself! very safety conscious, they even showed us how to climb a ladder, then we had to show them we could do it ok! My group were lovely people. The weather turned out to not spoil it one bit, it was just magnificent! The whole experience took just under 4 hours (it should be 3.5 hours but a group ahead of us, a lady got sick, so we had to wait for her to be brought back down). The views over the city and stretching out to the suburbs were just fantastic, so pretty all lit up at night. You're not allowed to take any cameras up with you (a safety issue, due to not allowing things to fall on the cars below, etc.) but they take lots of piccies for you on rigged up cameras, they are expensive when you get back to the shop, but well worth it. You do get a group photo for free along with your 'climbed to the summit' certificate. It was an expensive thing to do, but well worth it, I'd recommend everyone to give it a go whenever they are in Sydney. It was strange whilst I was up there to think that Tracey was at that moment up in the air flying to Dubai!
6/11/06 - I'll come back to this because I can't for the life of me remember what I did on this day!! I've remembered now! I spent the day over at Manly. Caught the 30 minute ferry over, saw Manly Beach, saw again where Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban got married, beautiful college on top of the hill. Had lunch over there and headed back around 3pm. Oh My God! It was choppy getting back out of Manly Harbour, at one point I thought we were going to go over! Apparently this is normal! It was fine as soon as we were clear of land. Nice place though.
7/11/06 - Got picked up at 7.30am for my tour to the Blue Mountains. We stopped off at a wildlife park first (Featherdale) and it was great. I saw and was nearly attacked by a pure white peacock, it was strutting around with it's feathers all on show, I stopped to take a piccie, then it started to run for me! I had to run away! Hilarious! Saw the usual kangaroos, wombats, dingoes, kaolas, etc. Got to the Blue Mountains eventually and the views were breathtaking. They are called the Blue Mountains as the eucalyptus trees give off their oil into the atmosphere which gives a blue haze and this hangs over the mountains, very pretty. Saw the Three Sisters, apparently there used to be seven pointed rocks, but over millions of years with erosion they cracked and fell away. The remaining three are showing signs of wear and erosion too, but will probably out last another generation or two! We also saw the Wentworth Falls, who's curved structure was copied for the design of the Wentworth Hotel in Sydney. On the eay back we stopped off very quickly at Sydney Olympic Park, but it was too quick, so I may go back if I have time. We then cruised back down the river and I decided to get off at Darling Harbour for one last look around and to soak up the atmosphere of everyone celebrating the Melbourne Cup! Everyone was in good spirits (and lots of spirits inside of them, bum bum!) I wandered back to the hotel through Hyde Park, it was beautiful as it was just coming into dusk.
8/11/06 - Another early start with a 7.30am pick up for the Hunter Valley Wine Tour. I have been really lucky with all the groups I have been with and this group were no exception. There were 3 Scottish couples, one of which lives over in Perth now and we had such fun and laughter all day. We visited 3 wineries, Reg Drayton, Lions Gate and The Grapes. Everyone was very knowledgeable and we had a 'behind the scenes' tour at Lions Gate with Michael, who was very good. At The Grapes we also tried their brandies and liqueurs, I didn't try the last few, as I was beginning to feel quite tipsy! The last drink here was a Chilli Schnapps, I was definitely not trying that one and by the looks on some of the others faces, I did the right thing! We then visited the 'Smelly Cheese Shop', need I say more! The cheeses were very tasty and their olives were to die for. After that it was off to the Chocolate Shop where I stocked up on chocolate buttons and marshmallows. On the way back to Sydney, needless to say the bus was very quiet, as we all fell asleep. We stopped off briefly to handfeed some wild kangaroo also. Got dropped back off at hotel around 7pm.
9/11/06 - Decided to get back on the Bondi Explorer bus today, but I got off this time at Bondi Beach. I searched for a hunky lifeguard to have a photo with, but to no avail, I think they were all hiding somewhere as the weather wasn't that great! I decided to take the coastal walk round to Bronte Beach where I could hop back on the bus. It was fab! There was a 'Sculptures by the Sea' exhibition all along the coastline, which made it more interesting. It took me about 1 hour and it was worth it. It also took me through Tamarama Beach, where there were lots of old photos of when there was a funfair there in the 1880's. It was quite spooky, as there was a photo of some children on a ride and one girl looked just like my Mum! Eventually got back on the Explorer Bus and I went all the way back to Circular Quay where I then jumped on a ferry to go round to Olympic Park Wharf, I wanted to have a look around considering our stop off the other day hadn't been for long. I saw the Olympic Cauldron which held the Olympic Flame, it is now a lovely fountain. I also saw Cathy Freeman's winning strides, which have been mapped out, wow! they are so wide, I had to do 2 strides for her 1! The Olympic Poles design outside the stadium had Kylie immortalised forever at the top of one of them and I also found my Bondi lifeguard on another! The 'Sprinter' sculpture was pretty cool too! The journey back didn't get off to a good start, I waited over 1 hour for a bus back to the wharf, got fed up of waiting, so decided to get the train back instead, so now I have taken every transport available in Sydney! (oh, I haven't done the Monorail though!) Got back and started to pack, as off to New Zealand tomorrow!
10/11/06 - Got picked up at 6.30am and taken to the airport. I asked at check-in for an upgrade (remember my challenge?), she asked me to speak to someone at the Customer Services desk. So I did and she said they are really stingy these days about upgrades (yeah, don't I know it!), but she recommended I ask the cabin crew once onboard. Once everyone seemed onboard, I plucked up the courage to go and ask the crew who were stood at the front chatting. They were lovely and listened to my challenge and after a bit of looking at each other and mumbling, they said, 'go get your things and sit up here', RESULT! Woo hoo, big comfy leather reclining chairs, champagne, lovely food with proper crockery and silver cutlery (except the knife but it was still a posher plastic!) They were lovely to me, thank you very much guys! Only 2 more to go!