We arrived in Sydney an hour late at 9.30pm local time on Friday 29th January 2010. The flight was fine at only 8 hours it was a breeze! Apparently a bit turbulent for Franki, though not enough to keep me from catching a bit of shut eye.
Family friend Sophie kindly picked us up from the airport, nice to see a familiar Yorkshire face in Oz! She drove us to her Unit (Aussie word for flat!) in the Freshwater/Manly (north Sydney) area of the city. We had a brief city tour on the way driving over the Harbour Bridge and seeing the Opera House at night! Their unit is lovely and we had our own room and comfy bed, a great luxury to have on our trip as it will probably be the last comfort we have for a while once we leave Sydney!
Day 1 Sydney! The weather started off a bit cloudy so didn't really think about putting any sun cream on... massive error!! Sophie walked us down to Manly beach, very nice and only about 15 minutes walk from their house, how lucky! We walked along the beach front and down the main shopping and restaurant area and to the Manly ferry terminal where you can catch ferries into the City.
We decided to get a weekly pass so you have unlimited travel on ferries, buses and trains in the area for a week, before stepping aboard the ferry to the City! As Franki is not a fan of ferry's or water for that matter , she was surprisingly ok about it, the journey a bit choppy in parts but on the whole I would describe the water as being as still as a mill pond. It takes 30 mins to get to the City and you get the most amazing views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge as you come into dock. Too many of the major sights in the world seem to leave you somewhat underwhelmed, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Sydney Opera House do not. They really are impressive up close and seem larger and grander than you could expect. Walking around the harbour in Sydney cannot fail to bring a smile to your face.
We walked over to the oldest part of Sydney known as the Rocks, where they have the weekend markets on which were really great with loads of stuff we would have liked to have purchased but which our budget would not allow! Sydney is amazing you can't help but fall in love with the place and I can't imagine any visitor to Sydney not to have a great time. There is so much to see and do here but is a very expensive city if compared to the UK, hope the rest of Australia is a bit cheaper! We walked some more around the rocks and visited the Rocks Discovery Museum, then grabbed a bite from the G'day cafe, a chicken kebab takeaway (not like the horse plus other meat late night drunken Kebabs in the UK) and ate down in a park by the Wharf overlooking the Opera House and harbour you can't get much better views than that!
Next we ventured over to the Sydney Harbour Bridge it was quite a walk across it and by this point it was starting to get pretty hot but we kept going regardless and walked across to the metro station on the other side only to find it was closed for maintenance! Gutted, so we had to walk all the way back across! Pretty amazing views though so couldn't complain too much! We also went to Darling Harbour which is amazing but again bit pricey to eat and drink unless you manage to find any magical happy hours!! After day one we got home to find we were looking a little bit rosy! The sun would be a bit stronger in the southern hemisphere then! Franki could have led Santa's sleigh with her Rudolph like nose and I was possibly the most sunburnt man in Sydney. Oh Dear
Jimmy Sacked from writing, too slow Franki to take over..... it may not be as funny as Jimmy's but i'll try!
Day 2 we tried to go to Government House as they have free tours on a weekend but typical for us it was closed for one day only due to "special events" so maybe next week! We went back to our favourite Darling Harbour and to the National Maritime Museum, which was quite interesting for a Museum! Jimmy had previously spotted the Blackbird Cafe at Darling harbour which has a happy hour at weekends so suggested we go here so we could actually afford to eat and drink! Jimmy sampled fish and chips Aussie style and I had a bite and they were lovely!! Quite a difference from the UK ones!!We then got the Ferry home and Sophie kindly picked us up before we went to get a Thai takeaway for tea! Yum!
On day three spent a lot of time on Facebook uploading a millions Singapore photos (sorry didn't quite realise how many we had!!)then walked to Freshwater and got the bus to the Ferry (realised this is quite a walk in the heat!!) Arrived in the city trying to look for the Tourist info centre and ended up in the Museum of Contemporary Art!! (yes Mum we did go into an Art Museum but no the talent was wasted on us) Basically it was a crock of s***. We didn't really appreciate the lines and blocks of colour which was supposedly art. Most of the pieces looked like they were painted by Stevie Wonder. A personal favourite was entitled "92 Bounces" which was a white piece of paper on which tennis balls covered in black paint had been dropped on, wait for it 92 times! Wow! The description plaque waffled on about it representing the vastness of space and time. Yeah right it was utterly crap! (Jimmy's words)
We visited Cadman's Cottage as this was also on route not very exciting but the oldest cottage in Sydney so worth a look! Then went onto Central station after picking up all the brochures and maps I could carry in the Tourist info centre (Kate and Alex you know my love of maps! lol!!) Went to find out about Grey Hound buses (after first trip on Sydney trains - very snazzy double Decker ones!), so need to decide the date we want to leave Sydney L and start spending our lives on buses, it's going to be torture! We then walked back to our fave Darling Harbour this time to visit the Sydney Aquarium, quite a cool museum, even had some little salties on display, especially for you Dad! Big feature here is the Dugongs (their cousin is the Manatees!) funny looking things but obviously had to take a few pictures and then time for us to leave! Ran out of budget for the day so ashamed to say we had a McDonalds for our tea!!!! All tastes the same although Jimmy reckons Fanta tastes better here but I guess he would know with his previous job experience!!
We also visited the gorgeous Botanical Gardens and had a picnic with views overlooking the Harbour Bridge and Opera House, our picnic also included a pink doughnut that I had been desperate for since landing in Sydney and seeing them at every food stall in the City so hence the smiley picture of me! We walked round the gardens and to Mrs Macquarie's Point/Chair (not all that really and covered in tourists from China!) so not worth taking a photo of! Got some good pics in the Gardens, Jimmy snapping away at the wildlife, which included Ibis birds and cockatoos! We did have four close up pictures of a cockatoo but I managed to delete them!! There was a short rain shower, whilst in the Gardens nothing like what we were going to be faced with later in the week!!! We also went up the Sydney Tower, (again rainy) so hence not many photos or photos we did take have grey skies and rain drops! Whilst there the ticket to the Tower included the Oz Trek experience, crazy 3D ride thing which I sadly found quite scary as you were jolting around in your moving seat on this 3D experience going through Australia! That night we met Sophie after work and got a lift back with another familiar face family friend and Sophie's dad Paul who drove us to his lovely house in North Sydney, where we had an English/Oz BBQ and caught up with the family! This is where Jimmy managed to come away with an Australian hat and naked ladies stubby holder!!
Another day, another trip out this time to the famous Bondi Beach!! Absolutely loved it despite on our arrival on the beach an older man with a green sun cream line down his nose and body board under his arm saying "Welcome to the worst beach in Sydney!" not quite sure if he was joking or just a bit crazy but he then preceded to inform us where all the names of the beaches came from and invited Jimmy to have a go on his body board!! (He didn't take him up on his offer and then said his goodbyes and disappeared off to the sea!!) We just chilled out on the beach for the afternoon, soaking up the rays (it's a hard life!)also listening to our IPod's to see which songs had made it onto our playlists.. as in the UK we thought they could take 240 songs on each one so made our playlists based on this to then find when syncing the IPods they only take 120 songs!!! So the IPod randomly selects songs to fill the list so we didn't know what was going to appear on them!!I certainly got a shock when James Taylor's classic hit "You've got a friend in me" appeared on my IPod when I certainly not included this in any of my playlists!!! We then got the ferry and bus back to Manly and went to visit Jimmy's family friend Martyn and his mum Recha who happen to live only round the corner from where we are staying! Very spooky - literally the next street round! They kindly cooked us a lovely Moroccan Chicken dinner and was lovely to catch up with them also!
The next day was our trip for the ultimate Fish and Chips!! We got the ferry to Watsons Bay to the famous Doyle's fish and chip shop! You can have a takeaway or sit in the restaurant but the main difference is the price!! The takeaway set us back a mere $12.00 each and they were lovely, where as in the Restaurant it would set you back $40.00 each!!!!! The fish was lovely and I had calamari and fish on mine which was even better! We then got the ferry back to the City and for a trip to the infamous Kings Cross!! (Backpacker/red light district) Wow!! What a place! Got a huge Coca Cola sign there which also featured on our photos for Jimmy! Only plus point from Kings Cross is we got a free mini doughnut with cheapest bottle of water found so far at a bargain $1!!!Then wandered into another Art Gallery (free and lots better than contemporary art one!) then into the Botanical Gardens again and this time at dusk were greeted by millions of fruit bats hanging and flying around the trees!!! Quick supermarket trip on the way home where I discovered the Tim Tams we had heard so much about from Kate!Soooo nice! Like Penguins in the UK but a lot better!!
We did so much in Sydney it is hard to detail it all on here without boring you all to death so I am trying to be brief now!!
Other attractions we visited and we visited a lot...included on Friday Government House -which had a free tour on weekends (yes we finally made it on a day when it wasn't shut for special events) - quite interesting, very posh place!
Also paid a visit to the Hyde Park Barracks Museum - interesting, three floors in the Museum - first floor full of info, second floor bit less info, and top floor practically bare! One small room of convicts hammocks then a larger room of more hammocks then huge room full of Silhouettes of men just around the outside with bare space in the middle - hilarious!!!
Rained rained rained when we left the tour - Sam arrived in Sydney but his flight was delayed and then they couldn't get the baggage off the plane due to electrical storms!!
We visited Kings Cross again; bit more of an eye opener this time! Highlight of this visit was old approx 80 yr old man stood in doorway of Newsagent shop with plain white T Shirt with massive black lettering reading "I Did Kylie"!!!!!!!!!!!
We then met Sam, had a wander found a bar with happy hour so we could have a few drinks and then an expensive pizza for tea in a Restaurant in the Rocks!
Saturday - chucking it down!! The weather was soo bad; it didn't stop raining all day! Miserable walk round Manly and Shelly Beach -we got absolutely soaked!! That night we were kindly invited to Jimmy's family friend Martyn who was having a party at his house to celebrate getting his Australian Citizenship, (there were a couple more Brits there - we seem to be meeting more English than Aussies here!) including one connected to my family friends - which was very weird and shows how small the world is!
Sunday - We met up with Sam and went to the Australian Museum (chucked it down again!!)- Lots to see in here but highlight of the trip were the Booby birds!!!A selection of different types of these birds called Booby Birds, named Brown booby, Northern booby, you get the idea!!! Had us in fits of giggles, really showing our maturity at the age of 24 nearly 25 yrs old!!! Left the museum to walk in more torrential rain to Woolloomooloo Wharf to find the famous Pie shop for pie floaters!!Finally found it after a walk through the poshest flats around where apparently Russell Crowe lives! The boys had their pie floaters, a pie covered with mash potato, mushy peas and gravy and they were a bargain at $5.00 each!We then took Sam to Kings Cross for another eye opening visit and Darling Harbour for a few drinks and wander around!
Week 2 - Monday - Wednesday Lunch we went up to the Blue Mountains, 2 hours on the slowest train ever which had stops just about every 10 minutes but we passed the time playing Sharkeys Top Trumps!! Those reading who went to Sheffield Hallam may remember Sharkeys cocktail bar and I somehow ended up with a pack of Top Trumps Sharkeys Cocktail Theme! Our hostel was only 5 minutes from the station so dropped off our bags and had a look round, pretty nice for a hostel with free Internet and games - air hockey, pool, chess and table footy! Attempted to go to the famous view points on Day 1 despite the weather but finally got there after I slipped on a wet grate straight onto my butt! And there were no views just fog and mist and rain!! So went the long back to the hostel via the Supermarket to pick up some pasta and chocolate for our gourmet dinner of tuna, pepper and mushroom, tomato pasta with a chocolate bar for dessert!! Had a gorgeous day the second day (so booked another night at the hostel), with amazing views and went to Scenic World where you have a trip on Worlds Steepest Railway Incline and Cable cars across the valleys. Highlight of the visit was the burping resident in the hostel Internet room!!!We think he must have some form of burping Tourettes he would let rip these huge, long burps, then say " Excuse me" or " aw crap" every couple of minutes!! Whilst talking to himself in English and what sounded like German!!! Very funny when you are sat in a silent room!! We got back to Sydney at around half one and went to Kings Cross again (we are not obsessed with the place honestly it is just always on our route!) to STA shop to buy Greyhound tickets - so much cheaper than getting direct from the Greyhound!! We also walked to Fish Markets and Paddy's Markets then Sam went to his new hostel and we got train to Newtown and tried to find somewhere to eat but not with our budget!! So after walking the world's longest street both sides we got the train back to the City to a pub called 3 Wise Monkeys (we passed this on our earlier walk) and had bargain $10 meals for our dinner, not the best quality but food! Then visited Woolworths Supermarket, amazing!!I was loving it in here, Woolworths is one of their supermarket brands but this one had a whole floor of confectionery!!
Thursday was another beach day visiting the Northern Beaches - Dee Why and Curl Curl and then did a scenic walk past Freshwater beach back to the Unit. Thursday night we took James and Sophie out for dinner to Dee Why (I say we, Sophie kindly drove us there and we got dinner and ice cream - honeycomb flavour- my favourite - had first one at Scenic World on the massive ice creams you got there!) and walk around then trip to North Head for amazing views of City at night (camera couldn't quite catch them though!)
Last full day in Sydney we did the coastal walk across the beaches, we got the ferry and bus to Bondi Beach and then did the 2 hour coastal walk from Bondi to Coogee beach via Bronte, and Clovelly (not sure I have spelt this correct!) beaches!In scorching weather, 33 degrees!!!!!!!!
Hope I haven't bored you too much; I will let Jimmy write the next one properly so it will hopefully be a more entertaining read!!
Last day today, packing our bags to leave on the Greyhound bus at 7pm Sydney time to arrive at first stop Port Macquarie at 1.45am!!