Ringing in the New Year – Sydney Style – Part One

3 01 2011

Items I have learned today:

– queue = line

– bush walk = a hike

-I don’t think i will ever get used to the idea of having Christmas right in the middle of summer, but having new years then… would not be all that hard to adjust to!

-There is a HUGE rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne (kind of like with the cougars and the huskies, but minus the universities).  Prior to arriving to Sydney, I had heard things like:

  • It’s nice, but you would never actually want to literally LIVE there
  • I SUPPOSE you will like it, but it’s really dirty
  • Everyone in Melb likes Sydney, but everyone in Sydney wishes they were in Melbourne (hah)
  • It’s REALLY expensive
  • It’s a little grimy…
  • and so on, and so forth
The Harbor Bridge and I

The Harbor Bridge and I

So I was expecting to think that it would just be OK, and that I would be broke after a week.  WELL, I absolutely LOVED it!   It’s INCREDIBLY gorgeous, it was not that expensive (comparitively speaking) and I’m pretty sure I am going to move there in a month or two.  No offense to Melb, I do love it here, but I am only in Australia for a year and I would really like to see/do/live in as many area’s as I can before I go back home.

Sydney

Sydney

Day 1 Sydney-

I went to Sydney with Clem and her husband John (they were the ones that originally planned the trip and allowed us to tag along), two of Clem’s best friends from the UK – Rani and Sobia, and Alaina and her friend from home Lania.

Sydney’s weather was FABULOUS the entire time we were there (I got so accustomed to Melb weather, I was beginning to forget that it is summer).  We arrived on Weds (Dec 28th).  Our hotel was in an area about 30 minutes outside of the city called Burwood.  So we arrived mid afternoon on the 28th, and caught a train into the city.

That evening we went down to Circular Quay (pronounced KEY) to see the Opera House and tour around the city for a bit.  Now, it might sound retarded, but when I rounded the corner and actually saw the Opera house for the first time I was amazed.  There is totally a difference between seeing it on TV a bizillion and two times and actually seeing it in person.  It’s BEAUTIFUL.  I was telling the others that I was with, that even if I moved there and lived there everyday for the rest of my life… I don’t think that I would ever get sick of the view from the harbor.

The Opera House and I

The Opera House and I

Lania and Rani trying to point at the Opera house... I thought the angle was amusing ;)

Lania and Rani trying to point at the Opera house... I thought the angle was amusing 😉

View from Circular Quay

View from Circular Quay

After our evening of picture taking, we decided to head back to the hotel.  We had to be up early the next morning to go on a tour of the blue mountains.

Day 2 Sydney –

It was up and out of the hotel by 7:00am (ish) to go and meet our tour group for the Blue Mountains.  Our Tour Guide’s name was Geoff.  Now, it doesn’t help that we went on their busiest week. Normally they specialize on smaller groups (no more than 24)…. well we had two HUGE tour buses.  Alaina and Lania ended up being on a separate one from us.  I ended up on the back of the bus (which I don’t mind) with Clem, John, Rani and Sobia right in front of me and a group of young backpackers from the UK right next me (a fact that I kind of minded).  The majority of the trip instead of being able to hear what Geoff was saying over the microphone (granted he did speak quietly.. and it his voice was VERY monotonous) I got to hear ALL about the which beaches the backpackers wanted to go to and the outfits they had planned out for New Years! FABULOUS! Sigh.

Here was what I was able to piece together from Geoff’s mumbles:

  • The blue mountains are blue due to the eucalyptus trees
  • Aborigines will not just tell you their stories you need to earn their trust (which apparently Geoff thought was the equivelent of taking them to a bar and buying them a couple beers)
  • European diseases wiped out a HUGE percentage of the aborigine population, so that even today many stories remain mysteries to the aborigines themselves.
Blue Mountains

Blue Mountains

Our first stop was a park where the rowing competitions for the Olympics were held.  We stopped there to settle payment arrangements and have a ‘light refreshment.’   I would say that it was VERY light, considering there was nothing with caffeine (only apple juice) and one tin of cookies.

Next it was off to “Scenic World”  Now I’m pretty sure Scenic World makes a killing on whomever goes on a tour of the blue mountains. We got dropped of, were told that we would be spending an hour and a half there, and that basically our options were paying the $25 entrance fee for the 3 “rides” or sitting in the gift shop and crying.  So instead of sitting there, as appealing as that sounded, Rani, Sobia and I payed the fee.

The three rides consisted of a cable car, a train and a sky bridge. Now each was cool in their own way, the railway and cable car were the “steepest in the western hemisphere” and the sky bridge was beautiful.. but each lasted about 10 seconds (literally) and the queue (line) was about 20-30 mins.
Geoff (our tour guide) asked us to do the sky bridge first, take the cable car down, do a quick walk through the rain forest, and take the railway back.. which we did.  He apparently didn’t anticipate that the other 50 tourgroups with us MIGHT have the EXACT same plan… and so we ended up being 20 minutes late back to the bus.

I learned pretty much nothing here, but got to see some pretty beautiful sights.

Sky Bridge Over

Sky Bridge Over

Glass Floor on the Sky Bridge

Glass Floor on the Sky Bridge

Rain Forest

Rain Forest

Actually, I take that back, I did learn one thing.  Apparently the national park there is about the size of Belgium… I probably saw the equivelent of a few city blocks then in Brussels.

Next it was off to Leura for lunch.  I think my favorite quote of the day was Geoff telling us that we could get take away.. or ask if the restaurant would have time to serve us in 30 mins (in other words…. get take away).  We all grabbed food, and walked around the town.  Finding vegetarian options for Rani and Sobia proved to be a bit difficult.  Apparently Australia is the only country that eats their national animals (the Emu and the Kangeroo), so I guess I am not all that surprised that it might be difficult for non-meat eaters to find food.

After lunch, we lost 3 people.  We waited 20 minutes, but when they were still a no- show it was on to the next destination for a “bush walk”   The Bush Walk for Rani, Sobia, Clem and I consisted of grabbing ice cream and sitting down… VERY ADVENTUROUS I know.. but we were tired, and it was relaxing.  John made it down and took a few pictures for us.

Resting after my "hike"

Resting after my "hike"

Finally it was off to the look out to get a final view of the blue mountains and hear about the three sisters.

The three sisters is this GORGEOUS Rock formation formed by erosion.  Eventually it will disappear.  There are all kinds of aborigine legends around it.  The one Geoff told us was that he got an aborigine drunk and then the guy said it was considered sacred and was a place where the woman went for child birth? Regardless, it was beautiful. And some day I will read all about it.  According to wikipedia, a story created by non-aborigine local to generate interest in the area was about three sisters  that fell in love with men from differing tribes.   As the supposedly fabricated story continues on… an elder of the tribe then turned them into stone to protect them, and was killed before he could transform them back.  I just remember reading about them in Cold Mountain.  Here they are:

Three Sisters - Photo courtesy of www.noodlesnacks.com

Three Sisters - Photo courtesy of http://www.noodlesnacks.com

After that it was back to the city on our “express” (aka public ferry when we should have had a proper cruise.. still NOT BITTER AT ALL that we missed out on that one.. NOPE not at all) back to the city.

I attempted to take a few pictures, but ended up with water in my face (due to the waves and the speed of the boat) instead of an actual legitimate picture.

Rani, Sobia, Maria and Clem on the ferry back

Rani, Sobia, Maria and Clem on the ferry back

We arrived safely back to the city and then…………………………………………………….

I’m tired.  Haha.  I fill you all in on the details on the rest of our trip soon.

I hope everybody had a fabulous New Years!!


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