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In the Land of Oz...

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Here we are, finally in Australia…where our gray abyss woes are supposed to end! NOT.

We arrived in Sydney VERY early on Boxing Day, after an even earlier flight from Christchurch (which is two hours behind Sydney) feeling exhausted from lack of sleep. The flight was uneventful, except that we flew over lots of gray clouds (outlook: not good). We randomly ended up on the same flight as two Americans who we had met at a holiday park in Te Anau about 10 days earlier, so that was cool. They gave us lots of hints and tips for Sydney. And I think we found an airline worse than Air Canada: Pacific Blue. Total bare bones – they don’t even give you a complementary drink…you have to pay for water.

Anyway, so into Sydney we land, and it’s rainy and cold…about 17 degrees (and their winter usually doesn’t go much below 18, and rarely below 12)…and it’s the middle of summer. What is up with us and terrible weather? I was pissed and ready to ditch Scott and his stupid rain curse and spend the rest of the trip on my own.

Us in front of the Sydney Opera House

Us in front of the Sydney Opera House

Landing in Sydney felt like landing in Hong Kong – it was crazy, chaotic and nothing made sense. We somehow got our baggage approved by some random chick walking around and got to skip the large queue to have our bags x-rayed (we have no idea how or why) and left the disastrous security area to a mass of people (mostly Asian) and no order whatsoever. Not really knowing the best way to get to our hotel, I went to the info booth. They told me a shuttle was best…but it seems they were telling everyone that. So, I booked a shuttle and waited in the waiting area for some guy (this time middle eastern) to come find me and ask me where I was going. I replied “Y Hotel Hyde Park.” He didn’t write it down or anything. When he apparently had enough people to fill his van, he strode us through a very windy route to get to a random van (which felt like his own personal car). I still felt like I was in Asia. Nothing was marked, he didn’t ask for my ticket….we wandered aimlessly for this random van…

There were about 10 of us in it. He kept dropping people off. Scott kept asking “does he know where we’re going?” I said “he asked me once, but never again…” and at the end of it all, the van was empty, and he thought we were staying at the same place as two German girls in the van. We told him again where we wanted to go, and he seemed right pissed – he said “you told me the same place as those girls!” I was a bit worried he wasn’t going to drop us off, but he did.

Anyway, we finally arrived, unscathed, at our hotel and were told we couldn’t check in until 1 p.m. (it was 9 a.m.). We were exhausted. So, we went to a coffee shop to wait and call our family since it was Christmas back home.

Our first day in Sydney was spent uneventfully as we were tired and grumpy and cold. The weather was just awful…so we spent most of it sleeping once we were able to get into the hotel. The hotel was awesome. I thought it was a hostel, but it was actually a YWCA hotel, with very nice rooms and a free continental breakfast in a great location right near the downtown.

Scott in Hyde Park

Scott in Hyde Park

Day two in Sydney was better. We got up early and started exploring. The weather was better, but still not great. It was really muggy and super overcast, but at least the cold wind had died down and we weren’t freezing – it was about 21 degrees.

We started our exploration through Hyde Park (which is where we were staying) and came across what we thought was an Islamic protest, but turns out it was a procession (we were handed a leaflet) to honour the prophet Hussein. It was a pretty neat sight and very well organized.

We then walked through the Botanical Gardens, and were amazed at all the different birds that were around. We came across a gorgeous white cockatiel, some funny birds I don’t know the name of, and….BATS! Bats were hanging from the trees all around us! It was pretty awesome.


Bats hanging upside-down in tress in the Botanical Gardens

Bats hanging upside-down in tress in the Botanical Gardens

We made our way to the harbour and got our first glimpse of the Opera House. Amazing. For both Scott and I , this was a moment. Like other iconic buildings in the world (the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty), we’ve grown up seeing thousands of images of it. So that was pretty cool to see it live in person. We went up and got really close and saw the great detail of its architecture. We tried to see if anything interesting was playing while we were there, but to our disappointment, there wasn’t much…just some comedians and a singer we’ve never heard of. Moby is coming the day we leave. Darn.

After that, we walked down to Circular Quay and up to the Rocks Market. The market was super cool – lots of handmade stuff you won’t find anywhere else. I bought a really nice dress from this amazing designer who was very sweet…it was a steal. We then walked up and over the Harbour Bridge, which was super cool, and got a nice view of downtown Sydney. We saw people walking along the top of the bridge, so on our way back, we dropped in to see what it was – apparently, you can climb the bridge for a small fee of $300 per person. We decided to pass (even though it would have been awesome).

Kenna on a scooter

Kenna on a scooter

At that point it was time to jump on the train to Hornsby, to meet the brother of my mom’s friend, who had graciously offered to let us stay in his family’s home while they are away in Adelaide for the holidays. We arrived at the Schmidt’s place, and were treated so wonderfully…they made us a delicious dinner and showed us around for our stay here. They have four kids, and we had a great time playing with them and all their new toys they had received for Christmas. Their backyard has a pool and a trampoline with a giant tree house over it that you can jump onto the trampoline from – it’s awesome. We went home that night feeling really happy and had a wonderful time with our hosts!

Day three afforded us gross weather again. It was pouring, and a bit on the cooler side. We decided to attempt to do indoor activities…we started off by heading to Paddy’s market, which was like stepping into Hong Kong. The Asian population here is very strong and vibrant – we went over 24 hours in Sydney before hearing an Aussie accent! We would have been more impressed if we weren’t heading to Asia on this trip…so we didn’t buy anything because we know we’ll get it for cheaper when we get to Asia.


Waterfall in the Chinese Gardens

Waterfall in the Chinese Gardens

We then went to try to see the Sydney Aquarium – but unfortunately, everybody else in the city had the same idea to pass the bad weather and the line-up was about 5 hours. We decided to pass. We headed instead to the Chinese Gardens – although they are outside, they are somewhat sheltered from the rain and very beautiful.

After this, we were pretty tired of being wet and so decided to head back for the evening after picking up some dinner and drinks – we decided we’d try out the Sydney night scene since the weather sucked. After a few drinks at the hotel, we headed to a pub on Liverpool St. (the same street on which we were staying) that looked pretty happening. It was about 4 levels and had something for everyone: the main floor was a basic pub, the middle floor was more of a classy lounge, and the top floor was a big dance floor. The very top floor was closed, but it looked like a live band plays there on certain nights. We had a pretty fun time, asking the bartender for “aussie shots” (to which were given something called a “Queen f—k”) and dancing to all the Australian hits. There’s a song by a girl named Kesha here that is REALLY popular…not sure if you have it at home, but they played about four versions of it last night. We stumbled home in the wee hours of the night, satisfied with our gallivant into Sydney nightlife.

Kenna playing with a very tame cockateil

Kenna playing with a very tame cockateil

Today was pretty boring. We had to check out of our hotel early, and we were pretty tired from our late night…and just made the trek out to Hornsby to get settled into our borrowed home for the next 6 nights. We did laundry, got groceries, spent lots of time on the free internet, made a nice supper since we have a fully stocked kitchen…all that domestic jazz…and just enjoyed the FINALLY hot weather. Today was a beautiful day, so we spent a lot of it in the backyard, admiring the white cockatiels and rainbow lorikeets that come to play. The sound in the backyard is just amazing – it’s like living right next to the Amazon rainforest, with bird, insect and other unidentifiable noises. We even saw little geckoes running around in the grass!

Tomorrow we plan on hitting up Manly beach and renting some bikes as long as the weather cooperates for us…the forecast looks promising, so let’s hope it holds!

Be sure to click on the thumbnails below for lots more pictures.



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