After 3 months in Australia, we finally arrived in the fabled capital - Sydney. As soon as we were able we hot footed it onto a train to Circular Quay (where all the cool stuff is). As soon as you approach the station you are smacked with surprise as both the bridge and opera house suddenly burst forth into your eyeline, so near and in the same view.
We were giddy to go and walk about and among them. We felt like we had won the gameshow. These were things that people won on Brucie's Price is Right, not actually real. The pics show how pleased we were. It has been great to be in Australia, but being by the things you most associate with the country brought home to us how lucky we are.
That was until we remembered we were pretty broke now, so after just 4 days we were put to work in what we both believe to be the dullest office job in the world. Seriously. For 3 weeks non-stop we checked receipts against credit statements marking the amount that was tax deductable. We were excited when for the last two weeks we got to do that and then input that data onto a computer. We do think our brains have decreased in size, but luckily the wallet was looking a bit healthier.
With all this working, we maximised the use of our evenings and weekends in Sydney so we could experience all of its delights. We seemed to have caught Sydney at a good time, lots was happening, including the world famous Mardi Gras festival. It didn't disappoint, headed by Rupert Everett the parade included a float with about 100 Kylies all dancing in formation, Vicky Pollards and evertything in between. The streets were packed, you were allowed to drink and it was amazing fun. Check out the pictures.
Being the tail end of summer there was still pretty good weather (and pretty horrendous weather too), so we headed to Bondi as soon as we could. Lisa had been there before when it was winter and hadn't been too impressed, but now in the full glorious sunshine, we were both blown away. Especially after not really being on a beach since we began our trip in Rio. Now it's no Copacabana, but it is pretty nice. A good place to top up our tans, which were suffering from the office with no windows where we spent our days.
We also managed to time our stay to coincide with St Patricks Day, and as Lisa is by all things but parentage and birth Irish, we knew it was our duty to celebrate her heritage. Sydney has a huge Irish heritage, because, um well, most of the convicts were Irish apparently. It made for a great time, hopping from Irish pub to Irish pub, all thronging with actual Irish people and singing all the traditional songs. We had an irish breakfast, drank as much Guinness as possible, got a t-shirt and fell asleep before watching Ireland narrowly miss winning the 6 nations. Great craic.
By this stage we were happy with what we had done, although Gem being the bridge nut she is was disappointed about the price of a bridge climb. (Yes the one thing that will overcome her fear of heights is a bridge - weird? I think so too). Imagine her squeals of delight when, to mark the 75th anniversary of the bridge opening, it was announced that the bridge would be closed to traffic so that people could walk the entire lenght of the bridge where usually only cars can tread. It was an amazing experience, with thousands of people walking together in stupid green caps (they were free) just gazing at what is a pretty cool structure. Hope the pics don't bore you too much, Gem was very excited...
So after a bit of a raucous weekend, we decided to go and see something inside the opera house (as you do). There were a couple of things we wanted to see, but they were too expensive. Or so we thought, apparently being 24 and 27 makes us spring chickens in the eyes of theatregoers, so we got half price tickets and so went to see both Macbeth and the Antarctic Symphony. Fabulous - well perhaps not the Macbeth (Aussies trying to be Scots doesn't work, the hammy Macbeth didn't help either)- but the Antactic Symphony was excellent. Excerpts from Scott's diary were read inbetween music and images from Antarctica. Powerful stuff. Really uncomfortable chairs.
To calm us down from all that excitment, we went to try out the other famous Sydney beach, Manly, so named after because of the "quality" of the aborginals who lived there! It is quite funny seeing the male lifeguards strutting around in their speedos with Manly writtten on their behinds. Anyway... Manly is just as beautiful as Bondi but a bit more laid back, all your cares go away and can splash around in the waves or watch the surfers. Just a really cool place, made even cooler by the ferry trip there which takes you out onto the harbour and gives you amazing views of the bridge and opera house, fabulous.
Wow, this is a long update, bear with us though only a few more things.
After so long in the city, we decided on a day trip to the Blue Mountains, a really old mountain/hill range (so pretty small now - certainly no Andes, but nice all the same). The blue bit comes from the vapour given out by the zillion eucalyptus trees there, though we couldn't really see it. Some stacks, called The Three Sisters, are the main attraction, Aboriginal legend has it that three sisters were made into rock by an elder who did not approve of their relationships with men from a rival tribe. We hiked most of the day around them, a lot more pleasant than our last hike, the Inca Trail.
So long in one place without seeing any sport was getting to us a bit, and with the Aussie Rules season just starting we went to see the Sydney Swans Vs the West Coast Eagles. It's a very long game, 4 quarters of 30 minutes. Luckily it's great fun and we were entertained by trying to figure out the rules - though there don't seem to be any and it's pretty much mayhem on the field. The throw ins are done by officials throwing the ball in behind their heads and throwing their legs in the air at the same time. fantastic.
Not much more to say really, we could tell you about King's Cross, the rather, er, historic area we stayed in. We could tell you all about the fish market, eating oysters by the water and all that. We could even go on about the botanic gardens and the museums and galleries. But we won't. Because we're moving now up the coast, with only 7 weeks to go and about twice as many towns you're all going to get very bored of hearing from us for a while....