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March 20, 2011

Manly Men and Cultural Enrichment

Day 11 (Thurs Jan 6) - Manly Beach

Today was beach day!  It was the perfect day to go to the beach too.  We took the famous Manly ferry over to Manly Beach.  Manly was probably my favorite.  You get off the ferry and there is a very nice boardwalk that you take to get to the beach.  The weird thing about Manly was that there were pine trees on the beach.  It was very unexpected.  We rented umbrellas to have some shade on the beach.  After lunch Dad joined us on the beach.  There were warnings about tides and jellyfish so we could only go swimming in a certain area.  It was a fun lazy day at the beach.  I wish I could spend everyday at the beach!

Day 12 (Fri Jan 7) - Art Galleries, Opera House, Market by Moonlight

Today was Art and Culture Day!  Since it was Melissa's last day so we decided to do what she wanted.  We went to different art galleries around The Rocks.  Her favorite was Ken Dome.  There was also a shop that sold merchandise with his prints on it.  Mom and Melissa both bought some of his prints.  After the art galleries, we decided to take a behind the scenes tour of the Opera House.  Our tour guide was very theatrical.  It was fun to learn about the Opera House and see the inside.  I really wanted to be able to see a show there but unfortunately it didn't work out.  That night we went to the market that is held during the summer in the Rocks.  It was really neat to see all the local artists displaying their art.  There was even one young artist who was featured in a Wisconsin newspaper.  It started raining so we had to cut our shopping trip short.  On our way out we picked up some chocolate covered strawberries.  Since it was Melissa's last day, she decided she wanted to walk across the harbour bridge with Mom and Dad.  I wasn't feeling well so I went back to the apartment early.

Day 13 (Sat Jan 8) - Melissa leaves, Manly

Melissa was leaving today and when Dad took her to the airport, Mom and I went to Manly.  Dad met us there but we left soon because the weather was starting to rain.  Today was a VERY low key day.

Day 14 (Sun Jan 9) - French breakfast, Day Market, Watson's Bay, Walk across the bridge

Today we decided to have breakfast at a little French cafe.  It was very yummy and you know how I LOVE my french food!  We then decided to walk around the Rocks Market during the day.  There was so much cool stuff.  My favorite was either the 3D stamps or the framed strips of film from movies.  We got a present for baby Westley there too.  After spending too much money at the market :) we decided to take some ferry rides.  The one place we hadn't seen yet was Watson's Bay.  We went out there and there was a cute ferry landing that reminded us of the one in Merrimac.  They even had ice cream and everything.  We went back to the city for dinner and decided to walk across the Harbour Bridge since I hadn't done that yet.  We got all the way across and decided to check out Luna Park.  I had seen it on the Mary-Kate and Ashley movie "Our Lips are Sealed".  We got some treats for our walk back across the bridge.  We took some pretty pictures of the skyline and Opera House.

Day 15 (Mon Jan 10) - Packer game, Shopping

Today was the day of the Packer playoff game versus the Falcons.  I had already missed two Packer games and seeing as how this might be there last of the season (thankfully it wasn't, Super Bowl Champs 2011!!) I wasn't about to miss it.  I had Melissa skype me the game from home.  Since the connection in the apartment was horrible, I went with Dad to his office.  I was fairly tame with my screaming and only had to be told to be quiet once.  After the game, Mom and I went shopping! I got a lot of great buys.  The prices in Australia were usually pretty high but we found some new great buys.  My new favorite store by far is Cotton On.  For our last meal, we decided to go to the Belgium bar next door.  They are famous for their scallops so I just had to try some.  I got mine a l'escargot.  They were prepared with garlic and butter and they were sure good.

Day 16 (Tues Jan 11) - Last Day
Today was the last day of our Sydney Adventure.  Mom and I left that afternoon to return home.  The plane rides were all uneventful.  We had to walk outside in Denver and it was so cold!  We wanted to head back to warm Sydney.  It was nice to finally be home though and I'm so grateful for the opportunity to travel to Australia.  It was a once in a lifetime trip that I will surely never forget.

Roadtrip to Port Stephens and a little sandboarding...

Day 10 (Wed Jan 5) Reptile Park, Port Stephens

Today was the day for our one and only day trip out of Sydney.  We were hoping for good weather because we were going on a dolphin watching cruise up in Port Stephens.  Our first stop was at Reptile Park.  Now don't get me wrong, Reptile Park was fun but it seemed like a place where elementary students go on field trips and it was our 50th time going to an animal park in Sydney.  We did get to pet koalas, definitely one of the highlights of the trip.  They are not fuzzy and cuddly like you would think.  There hair is very coarse and they do not like to be held at all.  We also got to see crocodiles and wombats.  We got to feed kangaroos that were hopping around in the open and had close encounters with some wild emus.
After leaving Reptile Park, we headed up to Port Stephens.  We ate lunch at a little restaurant that boasts the best fish and chips in NSW (New South Wales).  It was very good!  You could tell this was a tourist town somewhat like Wisconsin Dells because it costs $3.00 for a candy bar (even with Australian inflation this seemed high for us Americans).  We got on our boat to watch the dolphins and the weather had taken a turn for the worst.  It wasn't bad weather but the sun had gone down and it was a bit chilly.  We got to see some dolphins but the boat was very crowded.  The highlight of the trip came next.  We got to ride in a boomnet!  This was pretty much the equivalent of extreme tubing.  The lowered a large net that resembled a fishing net on the back of the boat.  As the boat was still moving forward at full speed, you could climb down into the net and sit in it.  The water was FREEZING but it was so much fun.  The waves would splash up and you could feel like you were almost flying out of the net.  Only a handful of people actually got in the net but the people who didn't were missing out!  We came out bruised and burned from the rope but it was one of the most fun things I have ever done.

After leaving Port Stephens, we went to another beach.  Here we got into 4WD vehicles and rode around on the sand dunes.  I felt like I had been transported to the desert.  We stopped at the largest sand dunes I have ever seen and got to learn how to sand board.  You ride on a board that resembles a small sled.  It is about the size of a snowboard but you sit on it instead of standing.  It was very fun but resulted in a lot of sand in my swimsuit!  We got back on the bus after that and traveled back to Sydney.  It was a good end to a very fun day!

Forget margaritas, I want my Pancakes on the Rocks!

 Day 6 (Sat Jan 1) - Parramatta, Pancakes on the Rocks

We decided to keep it low key on New Year's Day.  Melissa wasn't feeling well so she and mom stayed at the apartment.  I went with the boys to Parramatta.  Parramatta is a large suburb outside of Sydney.  We took a RiverCat Ferry out there.  The ferry would only take us part way because the River was so low.  We had to wait at the ferry stop and wait for a bus to take us the rest of the way.  It was one of the sketchiest bus rides ever!  We finally made it and the city was a ghost town.  We stopped at a bar for some refreshments before continuing to walk around the city.  We walked around looking at the different sites before deciding to take the train back.  Once we got back to Sydney, we decided to take Sarah up on her recommendation and eat at Pancakes on the Rocks.  It was delicious and the perfect end to the day!

Day 7 (Sun Jan 2) - Rose Bowl, Adam's Last Day

Today was Adam's last day in Sydney.  The boys wanted to make the most of it so they traveled out to the Blue Mountains.  Melissa still wasn't feeling well so us girls decided to stay in Sydney.  I got up early in order to watch the Badgers play in the Rose Bowl.  Luckily we got the channel in Sydney.  Unfortunately the Badgers did not do so well and they lost to TCU.  We just layed around the apartment for the rest of the day and watch some Big Bang Theory.  Mom and I went to Cole's again.  This time it was thunder storming.  It was quite an adventure getting there and back!  After the boys came back we decided to lay low for the rest of the night and get pizza for dinner.  It was sad that Adam would be leaving the next day.

Day 8 (Mon Jan 3) - Shopping, Sydney Tower

Adam was leaving that afternoon so we decided to do some last minute shopping so he could get the souvenirs he still needed.  We went to different malls and sports stores downtown.  Mom and I decided to venture to the Coach store in the QVB building.  The prices were really expensive even more so than in the US.  We did find some Brewers pins in on of the stores which was exciting!  After going back to the apartment and getting Adam to the airport, we decided to go to Darling Harbour and visit the Sydney Tower at night.  It was another nice low key day.

Day 9 (Tues Jan 4) - Opera House, Olympic Park, Wildlife World

Today was our first day without Adam.  We were finally free (just kidding!).  We slept in and Dad got some work done at the office in the morning.  Around noon we met Dad at the Opera House.  We got some take away lunch at a stand in Circular Quay that included one of the many frozen cokes of the trip.  We then headed out to Olympic Park.  I have to admit this was one of the attractions I was looking forward to the most and one of the bigger disappointments.  It was very deserted and there were not a lot of people around.  They still use some of the stadiums for sporting events and concerts but otherwise the area is pretty dead.  We walked around and took pictures and then decided to head back to the city.  We did one of the things left on our tourist pass, Wildlife World.  Unfortunately we got there right before closing so we had to hurry through the exhibits.  We got to see snakes, kangaroos, and more koalas.  That night we decided to get pizza from Dad's favorite restaurant, Giovanni's.  He apparently eats there a lot because they know him as Pol (hehe).

Bright Lights, Big City: NYE 2010

Sydney Australia - New Year's Eve capital of the world!

Day 5 (Friday Dec 30) - Mosman's Bay, Shrimp on the Barbe, NYE

Today was the day we had been waiting for, New Year's Eve!  We had heard all along that if you are going to be in Sydney you should come over New Years.  We had a full day planned.  Dad, Melissa, and Adam all got up early to go to the Sydney Fish Market.  They got us shrimp and prawn for our meal.  We made shrimp on the barbe using the grill on the public balcony of The Cove.  It was very yummy!  Since we didn't want to get too far from the city and didn't want to sit out all day reserving spots for the fireworks, we decided to ride the ferries.  We went out to Mosman's Bay.  We got a nice view of everyone lining up to watch the fireworks.  They weren't scheduled until 9pm but people were lining up by noon.  We came back to cook our fancy NYE dinner.  We cleaned the prawn all by ourselves (and when I say we I mean Adam and I).  It was a fun experience but made my hands smell like fish for at least a day after.

After dinner we went down to the harbour to stake out a spot for the fabulous fireworks we had been hearing so much about.  There were SO many people in Sydney for New Year's.  They estimate that about 1 million people come to Sydney specifically for the holiday.  Needless to say we were not expecting the enormous crowds.  Popular spots such as on the Opera House steps fill up very early and then are closed off to additional people.  We eventually found a good spot where we could still see the Opera House but couldn't see the bridge.  The 9pm fireworks did not disappoint.  After those we decided to head back up to our balcony for the midnight fireworks.  We had our champagne all ready to go.  We watched a lighted boat parade to pass the time.  Unfortunately we still could not see the bridge for the midnight fireworks but had the TV going to see them live.  It was a fantastic fireworks show, probably one of the most intense I have ever seen.  Watching the people come home from the midnight fireworks definitely made us glad we were already at home!  We went to bed soon after to prepare for another day of touring!

Riding the HO HO and Living the Beach Life

Day 3 (Wednesday Dec 29) - Hop On Hop Off, Bondi Beach

Today was our first hot and sunny day in Sydney.  We decided that we would be buying our Hop On Hop Off bus tickets today.  The Hop On Hop Off (or more affectionately known to us as the HO HO) is a double-decker tourist bus that takes you around the city.  A narrative describes the different sites you see.  You can buy a ticket and get on and off as many times as you want for 24 hours.  We decided today was the day we would conquer it.  Lucky for us the first stop was Circular Quay, about two blocks from our hotel.  We got to see different sites such as The Sydney Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge, Darling Harbour, Circular Quay, Town Hall, The Rocks, St Mary's Cathedral, Hyde Park, Kings Cross (the red light district), Sydney Fish Market, and many others.  We didn't expect to stay on as long as we did but we rode the entire ride all the way through.  We went home for lunch and changed into our beach gear.  I discovered that I left my swimsuits state side after emptying my suitcases and turning my bedroom upside down.

Since the HO HO also has a Bondi Beach route, we decided to take the bus to Bondi in the late afternoon.  Unfortunately we couldn't figure our exactly where the bus picked up.  We ended up taking a regular bus out there instead.  You never realize it until you get there but the beaches are all a good 30 minutes away from downtown Sydney.  We got there around 4pm.  We sat on the beach a little and of course Melissa pushed me into the water when a wave was coming and I got all wet.  We had our first experience with take away (aka take out) fish and chips.  Then we went shopping along the boardwalk with the soul purpose of finding Rachel a new swimsuit.  I got one and we decided to head back to the city.  Unfortunately so did everyone else. We had a bad experience trying to get on the bus.  Melissa, Mom, and I all got on but the driver would not let Adam and Dad on.  We eventually made it back all safe and sound but it was quite the crisis at the time.

Day 4 (Thursday Dec 30) - Coastal Walk, Bondi to Cooge


Today was another nice day (sunny and warm).  We decided to do the coastal walk from Bondi Beach to Cooge.  We made our way back out to Bondi Beach.  After lathering up with sunscreen we headed out.  Our first stop was Mackenzie's Beach.  We kept on walking and soaking in the views and our next beach was Tamarama Beach.  We were pretty hot at this point so decided to stop and take a dip.  Mom decided to stay back with the bags in the shade.  Melissa, Adam, Dad, and I went into the ocean.  You always forget how much you hate the taste of salt water until it gets in your mouth.  We also got to experience baths.  They are smaller sheltered pools of salt water where the little children learn to swim.  Baths are my new favorite and I wish I lived on the beach just so I could swim in one every day!  Our next stop was Bronte Beach.  We stayed here for lunch.



After Bronte, we headed off toward Covelly.  This beach was a little different than the rest. There was a lot of pavement and it reminded me of a public outdoor pool except the water was obviously the ocean.  This half of the walk after lunch was very hot and there wasn't as much of a chance to dip in the ocean.  The next point of interest was the Waverly Cemetery.  This cemetery boasts some of the most expensive plots with the best views.  After the cemetery we finally hit Cooge.  We stopped at a Beach Bar to get some refreshments before laying out on the beach.  After a long day in the sun it was nice to head home for an early night.