My journey to Sydney started on Fri 25 Nov, I left Chaing Mai and flew from Chaing Mai airport down to Bangkok airport to get my connecting flight onto Sydney. The flight down ti bangkok was pretty cheap, so was worth it to save on travelling time, plus i was a bit worried about how the flooding in bangkok was affecting buses and trains etc. Flight was fine really, took 9/10 hours but got fed and free wine which was great!
Arrived in Sydney Sat 26th Nov morning and was very very lucky as a friend Emily was collecting me at the airport! Was so lovely to see a friendly face, was very excited!! We drove back into Sydney, unfort it was raining when I arrived so wasnt the welcome i expected to Oz haha! Emily and her boyfriend Matt and I went out for some lunch nearby to them, in Freshwater, and after lunch we hit the local beaches at Freshwater and then Curl Curl!! The sun had started to shine by then so that was great. Felt very surreal to be in Sydney!! Sat night was not my usual Sat night thats for sure! We went to the 'Opera Bar' which is a bar right on the opera house straight, overlooking the harbour bridge! Jut the mot amazing and suureal place to stand enjoying a nice glass of white wine! We spent the evening with emily and matts architect colleagues from the sydney office and had a lovely evening, they were all really friendly lovely people. Randomly ended up taking to some northern irish people by the opera house, small world. After enjoying some very nice (and expensive!!) wine at the opera bar the 10/12 of u went and ate at a very fancy retuarant called 'Pony' where it wa like 30quid a main meal...as you can imagine backpacking budget panic set in! I ended up ordering just 2 starters to keep it cheap, but the end of the meal came and one of the boses whacked it on 'company expenses' credit card, i couldnt beleive it!! So so generous and kind, I was very lucky to be trated to such an amazing restauarnt in central Sydney!! Emily and Matt have been very very kind to me and I am going to be staying with them for part of my trip, which i just great. They have given me a key to their place and everything,super stars!
Sunday 27th Nov I had a bit of a lie in, the flight with little sleep and then losing a few hrs to the time difference had caught up with me! But had a lovely day on Sunday, went down to another beach, 'Balmoral' beach and met some of emily and matts friends, ramdomly the girl was a speech therapit too haha! Apparantly there is big job opportunuties and money for health workers here. Had a few nice lazy hours on the beach and went back to their plush apartment for some drinks and nibbles which was lush!! Very nice place indeed. Sun night the 3 of us cooked some lovely burgers back at emily and matts place in freshwater, with a friend of emilys who came for tea too, and enjoyed some wine also!! This was my first night in cooking something in a home in over 5 weeks, so i really really enjoyed it!!
Monday 28th Nov I spent the day with my cousin Kerry who lives here in Sydney, and by chance only 10 min down the road from Freshwater, in Dee Why. I met her boyfriend Matt and their lovely baby girl Millie, and spent the day with them. We had some coffee and bfat down by Dee Why beach and then drove to 'Palm Beach' - where they film Home and Away!!! I wa very excited about this, took some photos etc hahaha. Did actually see 2 film crew van down there so they must have been filming!! Palm beach is a lovely area, with very nice and very expensive houses! Had some chips down at Palm beach too and then had a chilled late afternoon watching a dvd with Kerry and Matt, again was sooo relaxing to have some home comforts!! Monday evening I went out with all my australian family, to a Thai place on Dee Why front. The food was yummy and it was bring your own wine which was good!! Beautiful views over the beach and the water...lovely. Very interesting to see the lifetyle etc over here, especially having had family over here for soo long.
Tuesday 29th I hit the sydney sights! Spent time looking around the sydney opera house, royal botanical gardens and the government house gardens. Saw lots of these really weird 'ibis' birds which are sort of like our seagulls, but look pretty cool!! Big long black beaks. Got the ferry over to Cockatoo Island where they housed convicts between 1839-1869 and then used it to build navy ships for WW1,WW2 and Vietnam and Korean conflicts. You can camp on the island but it was sooo windy there I wouldnt fancy it!!
Wed 30 Nov I got the train and bus and headed to the famous Bondi Beach!! It is famous for being very beautiful and quite upmarket, it was lovely but so are sooo many of the beaches here. I did a 6 km coastal walk from Bondi along to Coogee beach...past stunning beaches and cliffs. Passed Tamarama, Bronte Beach, Waverely Cemetry, Clovelly, Gordons Bay and finally Coogee. Had a yummy lunch at a cafe in Coogee and got the bu back to circular quay, central Sydney. I then got the ferry to 'Luna Park' and had some amazing views of the harbour bridge and a massive P&O ferry passing under it. Then I popped on another ferry round to Darling Harbour, which is a really nice area of Sydney. That night I went to a bar right in backpackers central district and had some drinks with a few other travellers, they wa happy hour which was very exciting for Sydney!!
Thursday 1st Dec I spent the day with my mums cousin and her husband...we had a jam packed tourist day and went up the sydney sky tower, sydney aquarium and also sydney wildlife park. Up the sky tower you get amazing views across the city skyline, was fascinating. It is sydneys highest outdoor attraction and the top is twice the height of the harbour bridge! Theres a 360 glass view of the entire city. There were greato screens up there which told you what all the sights were. The aqauarium was also fantastic and housed a range of fish, sharks, sting rays, platipus, spider crabs, starfish, jellyfish, all sorts!! The sharks were pretty impresive and very mean looking!! Had some yummy lunch by darling harbour, on the water, and enjoyed a glass of chilled pinot gris (my fav!!) followed by a free 2nd glass as the place was a little slow with some of the food, haha, immense, i was very happy!!! The wildlife Sydney park wa the highlight for me though...koalas and baby koalas!!! So so cute! I was just amazed to see them so close and was very lucky to see the babies also. Got some great photos. It also had kangaroos, emus, red legged pademelon, possums, lizards, southern cassowary, igaunas, snakes and a gigantic croc called Max!! Definitely got all my aussie animals that I wanted to see fitted in today and got some great photos (on the blog).
Friday 2nd Dec I headed into the city and joined the 'free walking tour' which was actually really good! It lasted 3 hours and I got to see and learn lots about the city; the harbour bridge, botanic gardens, opera house, sydney tower, the rocks area, hyde park, circular quay and the rum hospital! Was rwally informative and was really nice to learn a bit of the history of sydney, eg where the first esxecution took place (!) and where the flag was placed when Australia was offically 'founded' on 26th Jan 1788. The tour guide gave us all good tips on things to do and see for cheap or free in Sydney which was geeat, as it is VERY expensive here! In the afternoon I took one of his tips and headed on the free city shuttle bus, to 'china town' by 'Paddys market' area. The free shuttle bus was decorated crazily for christmas, soo odd to see christmas decs in this weather!! China town area was good to look around, but different than the rest of Sydney as it has knock off shops selling cheap things! In the evening I headed over to 'Dee Why' area, where my vousin lives and we had a takeaway pizza and bottle of wine night in which was great!! Have been missing those kinda lazy cosy nights in, so that was lovely. Today is mums birthday so of course Skype called home and wished her a very happy birthday. Her and my Dad are off up the coast this weekend at home for a break, I am so glad for them, they deserve a good rest and break away from home. Enjoy!!
Sat 3rd Dec my cousin Kerry and I had a lovely day out with her daughter, Millie. We caught the ferry over from Palm beach (where they make home and away!!) to Ettalong, which is on the 'central coast'. The ferry ride was so beautiful and had fantastic views and the sun was shining all day, perfect!! Ettalong has a few wee markets so we looked around those, had a wander around the town and enjoyed a nice cuppa (I had brought Tim Tams - yummy choc biscuits over here!!) with amazing views over the water. Stunning. In the afternoon Kerry and I got a take away burget from her favourite buger place in Dee Why 'Ben Bry burgers'...we ate them by the beach which was lovely... but unfortunately very shortly after Kerry got food poisoning!! Not good! I was really lucky and escpaed with just some tummy cramps but poor Kerry was really ill! On Sat night I headed out in Dee Why with my other cousin Neal and we had some yummy food and drinks out for his mates birthday. Was a really good night and they were all really friendly and good fun. One even said to me 'Oh my goodness, a real leprechaun' - ha ha!!!
Sunday I had a lazy/planning day for my next leg...New Zealand...got ferry booked for just after Christmas to take me down to the south island etc. Other than that was a lazy sunday!
On Monday 5th December I had an early start at 6am and got the train to go and explore the famous 'blue mountains'. The train takes 2 hours and you can see the landscape changing as you become nearer which was good to see. I got off in the local town of 'Katoomba' which is where you can get the hop on hop off buses to see the blue mountains. I went with a cute little bus company called 'trolley tours' which had fab old fashioned little buses, with commentary as you drove along etc. Met a lovely German couple who I spent the day with, she was studying to be a speech therapist! I did a long 'bush walk' through the 'Blue Mountains National Park' past lots of lovely waterfalls and look out points over the massive blue mountains. Stupidly I had got out the real traveling frame of mind (due to having the luxury of staying with friends and family for my Sydney stay) and so stupidly I wore my flip flops for the day…the bush walk was through mud and stones etc though so by the end of the day my feet were black ha ha! Saw the famous 'three sisters' cliff formation which has an interesting legend behind it, the 'Gordons falls' and 'Leura Cascades' waterfalls and of course, the blue mountains.Thankfully it wasn't too hot aday so the walking etc wasn't difficult. Went on the 'Katoomba Scenic Railway' which is the steepest incline railway in the world! Basically though you pay about 9 pounds sterling to go on a crazily steep railway, holding on tight, for between 30-45 seconds ha ha!!Ended up on the same bus back to Emily and Matt's as them finishing work and so I took them out for a local Japanese meal as a thank you for letting me stay with them in their lovely place in freshwater…they were so kind to me and just gave me a key to their place to come and go as I wanted, absolute stars!!Thank you guys! J
Tuesday 6th December was my last day in Sydney and I spent this doing the dreaded organizing, admin day!! Posting some bits home, updating photos, blog etc, preparation for new Zealand, blah blah! Has to be done though. Tuesday night I went to my cousin Kerry's apartment in Dee Why, where we had a family meal together and said our goodbyes!
My stay in Sydney has been short but very sweet, I have been really fortunate and been able to stay with family and my very good friends and have really enjoyed and made the most of some home comforts!! Having access to a kettle and a fridge and not having to lock up all my things all the time has been AMAZING!!! Have managed to see many of the Sydney sights and lots of the Sydney beaches, which are just stunning, enjoyed some great ferry rides and have even enjoyed some wine in style by the opera house and harbour bridge.Have ate sooo much though over the last 2 weeks and so will need to cut down now ha ha!! Have been so so glad to be able to experience a little bit of Australia and explore Sydney quite a lot.