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New Years Eve in Spectacular Sydney

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Welcome 2010! Scott and I are both very excited to move into a brand New Year – 2009 was an interesting year for the two of us with many challenges and changes.

Before I dive into the fabulousness of ringing in a new year in this amazing city, I have to back up and cover off on the past few days here.

We have thoroughly been enjoying our time borrowing the Schmidt’s house. It’s wonderful to have our on space bigger than the inside of a van or a small hostel room, and we’ve been taking full advantage by making lavish meals, playing in the backyard and all around hanging out. We are eternally grateful for Kathy and Steve’s generosity for lending us their home!!

A few days ago, we decided to explore Manly Beach. Now, we’re a bit out in the boonies in Mount Colah, so any forays into town involve about a one hour train ride. Our commute to Manly ended up being about 3 hours, because we had to take the train in and take a very busy and crowded ferry over to the beach.

I had decided that we should rent bikes in Manly, seeing as we’re both missing our own. I found a flier advertising a few cool rides around Manly, from “easy” 5 km rides to a “challenging” 20 km mountain bike ride. Now, me, being the somewhat ridiculous person that I am, decided that we should do the advanced 20 km route on the off-road mountain bike terrain. Being slightly inflated in the head, I thought “I’m totally advanced, I ride all the time, and although I don’t mountain bike because I have a hybrid with skinny tires, I still sometimes foray into a few of the gravel trails in the river valley. The terrain here can be no worse, right?” WRONG. Man, was I an idiot.

Beautiful view of the Opera House and downtown just after the fireworks finished.

Beautiful view of the Opera House and downtown just after the fireworks finished.

We rented the last two mountain bikes that the shop had available for the day – both men’s frames, with one being an intense mountain bike, the other a pretty jacked up hybrid to look like a mountain bike. Both were quite large, and Scott felt it was better to put me on the more solid mountain bike. It was a 21 inch frame – my bike at home is 17, and you generally want a smaller bike for mountain terrain because of (at the time I was unaware of this) the intense terrain. I was like, whatevs, I’m tough, I can manage this bike bike. No problemo.

Well, after five minutes on the bike past the beach, the boy’s seat was not being very nice to my girl anatomy and I was stretched pretty far across the frame. Whatever, it’s only 20 km, right? We had to do about 5 km through the town, which was easy (except for a few intense hills which did kick my butt), and made it to the trail entrance. The next 3 km or so weren’t so bad – nothing worse than the river valley for sure. I was feeling ok, although somewhat white knuckled and really tired from having to reach forward to hang on to dear life. My hands were little sweat pools, and I normally bike with gloves, so grip was becoming a problem.

After a few wrong turns, and help from a really nice local, we made it onto the crazy part of the trail. Really skinny trail, tons of rocks, jumps (and I am still unable to hop a curb with a bike – Scott has tried to teach me, but I just can’t figure it out), which resulted in me getting off and walking the bike. A LOT.

Beautiful sunset on the ferry coming back from Manly

Beautiful sunset on the ferry coming back from Manly

Scary crazy mountain biker dudes kept coming up fast behind me and I kept having to get off and pull over for them. At this point, I started to think this is a bad idea. I’ve never mountain biked before, and coming to the most challenging run in Sydney is probably not the smartest idea. Visions of broken teeth and bones started to haunt my mind. I spent a lot of time walking the bike.

Scott, being a whiz at this, was starting to get right peeved at me, as my confidence started to melt and I started saying “I think this is a bad idea, we should turn around.” Finally, after watching me walk my bike up and down some pretty intense rock faces, he said “it looks like the highway is right here, we’ll just jaunt back down it and head back.” He was mad though. I was a weeny girl that had ruined his fun. This turned into a pretty decent argument over how I was terribly sorry he wasn’t with someone more adventurous like Kim or Cheryl (which, Cheryl, would you actually do this? Does this fall into the category of crazy boy stuff? Kim, I know you do it regularly at Kickinghorse…but you are also a crazy ski lady too. )

So, we gave up…probably about 5 km into the run. We could have kept going for another 5. I don’t give up on much in life, so it was tough for me to turn around, but at least I am unijured and ok. Why I suggested we rent bikes instead of just laying on the beach, I still have no idea. I suppose I like to torture myself. And for those of you wondering, Scott and I are still together and OK – we’ve decided it would probably be better for me to try mountain biking again on a good bike (one who is the right size for me, doesn’t jam when you change the gear and have it’s chain fall off every 20 minutes), with some protective gear in case I fall (not a bikini top and shorts – the road rash from that could be pretty intense), and some gloves so I can actually grip the bike.

Scott looking at where his parents used to live.  Why couldn't they live there now!?!?

Scott looking at where his parents used to live just off Manly beach. Why couldn't they live there now!?!?

After the bike escapade, we went to the beach and I jumped right in. I was instantly healed by the salt, sun and sand. We then went for a walk to find Scott’s parent’s old place at Shelly Beach, but because we had the wrong address, couldn’t locate it. Then, it was time for dinner on the Corso, where we had fish and calamari which wasn’t that great. Ah well. We then started the three hour journey back to home.

The next day was New Year’s Eve. Scott spent most of it working on various web things, and I just relaxed and read and played with the birdies that visit us in the yard. We decided to head out to town around 7:30.

Sydney was expecting 1.5 million people to come into the city to watch the fireworks, and as we rolled off the train into the hoards of people, we could see they weren’t wrong. We really didn’t have any idea where a good place to watch from was, and we had been given conflicting advice. The young couple we met on the plane from Christchurch said to watch it from the botanical gardens, beside the opera house, but when we were there a few days ago scoping it out, it seemed that the fireworks would be obscured by the opera house, so we didn’t think that was a great idea. And we remembered the gardens having only a few entrances where it would be possible for security to search bags, and given that we were carrying four rum-laden coke bottles, we opted out of that.

Instead we headed to Milson’s point, directly across the harbour from the opera house, which was recommended to us by the people whose house we are currently occupying. Coming out of the train station, we basically followed the hoards of people into the streets, hoping that they knew where they were going. We ended up in between a few apartment buildings with an OK view for the 9:00 children’s fireworks, and quickly found that this spot wasn’t exactly ideal. We were really close to the bridge, close enough that it actually obscured the view. This wasn’t the place.

So, instead, we headed a bit further from the bridge and wandered through the houses and appartment buildings, amazed at how many house parties were around us. The entire city was partying and the atmosphere was electric. Serendipidously, we happened upon a small wharf, which I think was actually a water taxi station, with a clear view of the opera house and the bridge. We camped out on the grass back on land until about 11, talking with people around us, and when it started to get really packed we headed onto the wharf.

For the next hour, we talked with a couple Iranian brothers beside us, one from Sydney and one from Toronto, and they were really cool. The one from Sydney is a computer programmer like Scott, and they chatted about geek stuff and talked about jobs in Sydney. The job market for that kind of thing is apparently pretty booming here… hmmm….

f0310853Finally, the countdown started, and the fireworks were amazing. Every square inch of the bridge had fireworks coming off it, fireworks behind it, and even the rooftops of the buildings in the city had fireworks off them. It was spectacular, by far the best fireworks display we’ve ever seen.


This is where we watched the fireworks (the green arrow, top-right), you can see the opera house directly across the water in the white ovals.
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And everybody partied. Despite the liquor ban, everybody had bottles of wine, and a few guys were even giving away bottles to complete strangers. The mess afterwards was fairly disgusting, but what can you expect?

Buzzed on Coke and rum, we wandered back to the bridge and eventually crossed into Sydney’s downtown, and headed to The Rocks, a trendy area with weekend street markets. But tonight it was pure revelry, a huge street party. The last time I’ve seen a party like that was when the Oilers went to the Stanley cup, but unlike dumb Edmontonians, nobody wanted to fight or riot, everybody was just having a good time. Even scary-looking drunk guys were really friendly, giving high fives and saying “Happy New Year, mate!” in the friendliest of tones, and the cops were just letting the party go on. The atmosphere was just incredible.

Finally at about 3AM, we decided to make the long ride home, and eventually made it home around 5AM. We’re not sure if it was the coke or the energy, but we weren’t really tired either. It was just a great night, definitely one to remember.


6 comments to New Years Eve in Spectacular Sydney

  • Scott

    Just a quick note – we would have had this up a lot sooner if it weren’t for a small unfortunate incident of my laptop dying and losing ALL my data, including all of our pictures from the trip (yeah, I’m retarded, we didn’t back them up anywhere). Fortunately, the guys at the Apple Store got me up and running, and 16 hours and a lot of downloading later, we’re back (almost) to where we were.
    As for the data, luckily, we sent all our pics home on a couple CD’s we burned a few days ago, and only lost the New Year’s pics. We had also deleted all the recent images off the camera, but, due to some data recovery magic, I managed to pull a bunch of pics off the cameras, including some really old ones from Mexico from last year and 2 years ago. So, hopefully our parcel with the CD’s makes it home, and we’ll be all good! And I’ll be sure to backup everything ALL the time now.

  • Kim

    Well I don’t know about the mountain biking. The second time we went I wussed out on the 2nd day after realizing I didn’t really like being terrified all day. So I may or may not have done it, it’s true, it’s more likely Nate wouldn’t have done it! but on a bike that didn’t fit would have been waay more challenging. Come with use biking next year. They promised to take me somewhere easier, like Marmot, instead of the hardest bike hill around!

  • Dad

    The video of New Year’s celebration was EXCELLENT. Even caught you two smooching on the video cam! Good Stuff. The celebration here was a bit more subdued although we did get to go out in the Keg’s boat into the Charlotte Bay Harbor which was interesting. Please no more fighting. Take it from someone who is Manic, it isn’t worth it. Looking forward to more. I return from Florida in another week (where did the last 3 go)?

    Love Dad & Lorna

  • Scott

    Check out the 2nd video, this one of the finale:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o1Ohu__J2Lw

  • Cheryl

    Kenna, I would NOT have done that. I went on real mountain bike trails with my Dad last summer and was really scared. I had to walk my bike down all the steep parts and switchbacks because I was too scared to ride it, and that was on my own bike. And I don’t think it’s reasonable to plop yourself on a really hard trail with a shitty bike that doesn’t fit for your very first mountain biking experience and expect you to just go full bore. I think that is how people break bones, which would wreck your whole trip.

    New Year’s looked awesome, though! :)

  • Meredith

    Sounds like an AMAZING New Years guys!

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