Hi everyone, thought I should update you on what I've been up to as it has been a while since my last blog.
Things haven't been quite so hectic recently, as I had a bit of a break in Sydney, spending 4 weeks there over Christmas and New Year, enjoying the luxury of my own room before setting off backpacking round the rest of Australia!
It was nice to spend a few weeks in Sydney, as it meant I could get to know the area a bit better, and have some time to relax as well.
It was the start of Sydney Festival whilst I was there, and the first night was huge, there were loads of different outside stages with various music and dance acts around the city centre, and about 300,000 people turned out to see it, so there was a brilliant atmosphere. My brother and I met up with some of his friends to see Grace Jones play in the domain, but to be honest she was a real let down. She just seemed like some desperate old woman who had begged for the chance to be allowed to perform again, and she was trying to prove that she used to be someone.
One of the days I did the Manley to Spit Bridge 10km walk along the coastal track, which is a beautiful walk. There are lots of small sandy bays, some of which are really quiet and secluded, with just a few people enjoying a picnic, or snorkling in the crystal clear water. Part of it also takes you into a national park area, where I saw lots of goannas basking in the heat of the sun.
My last Friday night in Sydney Marcus, Carla and I went to watch 'In Bruges' (my new favourite film!) at the Open Air Cinema at Mrs Macquaries Point in the Botanic Gardens. It was a brilliant night out....The setting is so good it is almost surreal; the huge cinema screen rises up from the edge of the Harbour, with the City Skyline to the left and the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge to the right, giving you fantastic views every time your eyes stray from the screen. I don't think I'm ever likely to go to another cinema with a setting as good as that! Being Australia, it is also really well organised (they are brilliant at putting on big events without any hassle) with an onsite bar and takeaway restaurant, so we enjoyed a bottle of champagne and fish and chips while waiting for the film to start! And as we were watching, every now and then a Fruit Bat would try to steal the limelight by swooping in front of the screen...now you don't get that at your local cineworld!!! The next day Carla and I went to the Paddington Markets, which is really good with loads of quirky craft and one-off fashion and jewellery stalls ...but Marcus didn't fancy joining us to look round jewellery and craft stalls for some reason! In the evening we went for a nice meal then made our way along to see the Gypsy Kings on the outdoor stage at the Domain as part of the Sydney Festival. Although it's not my usual choice of music, I have to admit they did an excellent job of getting the whole crowd up and dancing, so it made for a fun night out!
On the Sunday, my last day in Sydney, Carla and I headed off to Balmoral beach. It is a beautiful beach with a real family feel, but much quieter than some of the other Sydney beaches, so we weren't too crammed. That eve we had a nice meal in with a few glasses of wine...a really nice way to spend my last day in Sydney!
On Monday I caught the Greyhound bus to Canberra it only took a few hours, so the journey wasn't too bad. The first thing I noticed when arriving in Canberra was how quiet it was...after being in Sydney for 4 weeks it seemed like a ghost town, and this was at rush hour!! I could immediately see why people had been assuring me that one night in Canberra would be enough!!
The next day I set about trying to fit in all of the attractions in one day before catching the overnight Greyhound bus to Melbourne...looking at the guidebooks i decided it shouldn't be too much trouble! To be fair to Canberra, I did like visiting the Capital City, and the places I went to were very interesting, but there just isn't much to do there. I visited Parliament house, which is Australia's most expensive building, costing $1.1 billion! It is an amazing building, very impressive, with endless granite and marble, and a massive stainless steel structure holding the flag mast on the roof garden...but you can't help thinking what a total waste of money it really is....I also visited the National Museum of Australia and the Australian War Memorial which were both very interesting and educational...I cannot believe what a cultural day I had!!!
The overnight bus to Melbourne took 9 hours, so I arrived at 9am and made my way to the girls flat.... It was great to know I had somewhere to stay, and somewhere other than a hostel, which is always good! And it was great to catch up with the girls again, as i hadn't seen them since Queenstown, before Christmas.
Melbourne has a totally different feel to Sydney, and I think generally people are pretty divided as to which they prefer...but I love both! To me it is like Sydney is a proper business city, clean, neat and organised, but also very pretty and polished; and Melbourne is a lot more relaxed, and laid back...doesn't take itself too seriously, and is a bit rough around the edges. Melbourne also appears to have more history, and has some really nice little cobbled lane ways with cafes and bars, that seem almost European.
Last Tuesday a big group of us went to the Tennis for the day, it was such a fun day out. We all dressed up in classic Tennis whites (well as close as we could get), with mid calf length socks, trainers and sweat bands, and even had the old wooden rackets! Some of the guys wore very short shorts and fake moustaches, and looked like they were from the 118 adverts! There were about 20 of us altogether, playing badminton on the grass (well we thought it would be a laugh), and we looked hilarious, 3 film crews interviewed us, and apparently we made it onto the TV in the US! Some of the gang (6 or 7 I think) rent a big converted factory, and we all went back there that evening to carry on the Party....it is such a cool place, spread over four floors with massive rooms, a dance floor, and a huge courtyard out the back...we ended up dancing in the kitchen till about 6am!
It was Australia Day on the 26th Jan, but it was pretty low key in Melbourne. I think they make much more of a day of it in Sydney, but here I think people mainly have their own Bar-b's at home. We all went down to the park for the day, and just relaxed and had a few beers, but we still got to see the fireworks from where we were, which was cool!
We have just come out of a heatwave here in Melbourne, it was in the mid 40's for a few days. I do love the heat, but it was a bit unbareable...it was too hot to sleep (no aircon!), too hot to go out, and we ended up in the flat watching DVDs for a couple of days, I even made a few trips to the supermarket just to hang out where there was aircon for a while! It's back down to the 30's now though, which is nice! Just to keep you updated, I'm here in Melbourne for a couple more day's then off to Tassie on Wednesday for a week.
Speak soon, take care.
Love Gem xx