Sat 7 Apr 12 - Wed 11 Apr 12
Well, my friend Justine's here now and travelling with me - making it feel much more like a holiday! We had a good few days in Melbourne before we left for Sydney: a 4.5km power walk around Albert Park, a bit of time in St Kilda on the beach, and in some of the city bars with James (it was like a Royal Caribbean reunion!).
After talking to a few people and agreeing to scrap Canberra as a stop (it didn't seem to be worth it), we took an 11-hour overnight bus journey to get to Sydney, of which I don't think either of us dozed for more than an hour or two in total. Still, I guess it saved us a night's accommodation, even if our arrival day was a little bit of a write-off! And it appears that we got out of Melbourne just in time - a thunderstorm began as we arrived at the bus terminal!
We knew that Holly (another friend and colleague from Royal Caribbean) was in town for a wedding, and unfortunately the only nigth she had free was our first night. So, despite the lack of sleep, we met up in Darling Harbour with Holly, her lovely boyfriend Keiran, and younger sister Jenna. We had a meal and some drinks down there; unfortunately James couldn't make it so we couldn't have a full reunion!
Since then we've taken a long walk around the city and the botanical gardens, where there were some great views of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge, as well as some really interesting plants, rock formations, birds, spiders (which Justine was less than pleased about!) and a random possum!
The botanic gardens take you all the way up to the Opera House, so we went up and had a closer look. I tried to take some arty photos, but I don't really think it's a building that works that well close up - it looks much better at a distance! That evening we joined a walking tour of The Rocks, which is Sydney's oldest area where they first settled. It was really interested, but a thunderstorm that started in the middle of the tour kind of put a dampner on it! It had mostly cleared up by the end though, and there was a good view of night-time Sydney from the bandstand we ended the tour at:
We've also done a 8.5km walk from Spit to Manly which took us through rainforest-like bush, past some beautiful little coves and beaches, and past some amazing views.
When we got to Manly we succumbed to a Nando's at the ferry wharf, before meeting my friend Alex, who moved over to Syndey last year. We couldn't spend too long with Alex as he was in Manly to catch a rugby game, but it was good to catch up. We went from there to meet Jenny, a family friend who lives in Manly after emigrating several years ago. We had a drink and a catch up with her, her boyfriend, her son Tom and his girlfriend. A couple of Tom's friends also joined us and we got the barman to take the obligatory group photo:
We got the ferry back to Circular Quay, and although it was cold I stood out at the front of the ferry and caught some amazing views of the Opera House and the Harbour Bridge lit up against the night sky.
We've also done a shorter walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach, unfortunately on a rather windy day which meant that it wasn't really warm enough to sit on either beach for any length of time! But the walk itself was good - along cliffs and down to small secluded bays. More brilliant scenery, and because of the weather Bondi was absolutely deserted when we got there - I'm sure that doesn't happen very often!
We ended up celebrating our few days of Sydney sightseeing with a night out in a local Irish bar called Scruffy Murphy's. There was a really good live band playing so we had a few drinks there and promptly forgot about any plans we'd made to head on to Surry Hills (a southern suburb recommended to us for its cool bars)! But we had a good night nonetheless, and had a long lie-in the next day!
We dragged ourselves out of bed for lunch though, and met up with Kirsty (one of the girls on my South America trip) for some food just down the road from the hostel. It was really good to catch up with her as I haven't seen her since we were in Brazil, and hopefully I'll have a chance to see her (and Paula, who I missed this time) on another trip to Sydney while I'm here.
Despite still not feeling on top of the world after our night out, we hadn't beeen to the Harbour Bridge yet. The bridge climb was way over our budget, so instead we went up one of the pylons where there's a little museum telling you all about the history of the bridge, and a balcony around the top with great views over Sydney. We also walked to the middle of the bridge and back again, because you can't go to Sydney and NOT walk on the Harbour Bridge!
And that just about sums up our time in Sydney. Apologies for the long, photo-heavy entry; I thought it would be best to do Sydney all in one go, but it turns out we actually saw a lot here, so it's ended up as a bit of an essay! Thanks for sticking with it though - more updates coming soon!