When we finally touched down in Sydney we were both incredibly excited at the prospect of once again being in an English speaking country, where people couldn't deflect answering questions by simply saying "wait" or "it's ok". Our first impression was mainly shock at how cold it was there and it quickly became clear that we're going to have to re-adapt to colder temperatures than what we've grown accustomed to in South East Asia. Our second impression was disgust as our "free transfer" to our hostel didn't show up for over an hour, and when the bus finally did arrive it slowed down slightly, pretended not to see us standing there in plain view and sped off again. Even the other bus drivers were amazed. Maybe the driver was from Kuala Lumpur and had decided that transferring only two people wasn't going to buy him a new holiday home and therefore wasn't worth his time. The mind boggles. Anyway, once we made it there on another bus, Base backpackers turned out to be a pretty cool place to stay, but was never worth $90 a night. Still, they had a bar next door which did a $10 meal deal specially designed for paupers like us, so that was a bonus.
On our first full day in Sydney it was grey, overcast and drizzly all day. Feeling more at home than we ever had up until that point, we set out to find our way to the Opera house and do the tourist thing. My first goal was to get a cup of tea from a cafe somewhere, but apparently in Australia tea is a commodity that only high court judges and Bill Gates can afford. It was during this most solemn of quests that we saw a bus smash into the side of a car, with another car narrowly missing the other side. Once we'd seen that no one was hurt, we had to laugh at the driver of the second car getting out, clearly furious, and calling the driver of the crashed car a "drongo". No idea what that means, probably something like "I say my man, you appear to have a dent in your driver's door". It was amazing to think that we'd made it through China and Thailand, two places where traffic laws barely exist, without seeing a single crash, and then we see one during our first day in a country where they have laws for everything. Anyway, after that we made it to the Opera house and went on the guided tour, our guide for which was a crazy old lady who may or may not have actually worked there. After that we wandered around the Rocks (the older part of town) and took in the sights whilst hypothermia slowly set in. Then, in the evening, we saw a fight, which was great.
The next day we went to something called the Barracks Museum, which was slightly dull but had an interesting exhibition on prison hulks (decommissioned war ships used as temporary prisons during the Empire days). After that we wandered around the massive botanical gardens (which took up more of the day than it was supposed to) and took photos of the Opera house with the harbour bridge in the background at dusk, which really was a spectacular view.
On our last full day we decided to explore the area in and around Darling Harbour. It was nice and sunny for a change so to take full advantage of that we bought tickets to go into the old submarine that formed part of the Maritime Museum. It had only been decommissioned in 1999 and hadn't really been turned into a museum in the way HMS Belfast has, which actually made it more interesting. Some bits were off limits but you could go right up to all the interesting bits of machinery like the torpedo tubes. After that we went round the warship moored next door, which was also pretty interesting as it had served as an escort vessel during Vietnam before being refitted and used as a training ship. Besides that, we went to the Chinese garden there which was nice, and had the best hot chocolate ever created at the Lindt cafe. We drank this in awe as we walked back to the harbour to make our attempt at crossing the bridge. After struggling to actually find a way to get onto it, we made it half way across before turning back as it was almost dark. That night we decided to treat ourselves and ate at a great French restaurant and rounded off the perfect evening with a dessert of Krispy Kremes. Top stuff.
I would just like to mention that unfortunately we left our memory card with all the Sydney and blue mountains photos on it and about 1000 others in a computer in Sydney, Hopefully though we will be picking this up in a few days when we go back to Sydney as a very kind person handed it in to the hostel we were staying at.