After all the relaxing of the previous few weeks, it was time to get in motion again and start our Aussie tour. We checked into a hostel Jan. 3rd in the city center and decided to take it easy and head off to the movies for the night. My parents were arriving early the next morning and we wanted to give them a proper Aussie welcome. So we woke up early the next morning and set off for their hotel. To our surprise- they were already at the hotel checking in when we arrived (only 45 minutes after their plane had landed!). I was excited to see them and begin our two weeks of non stop sightseeing with them.
Of course my mom already had a plan for the day, so we checked into the room and headed through The Rocks of Sydney, looking at the day market they have there. The Rocks is the historic part of Sydney with a lot of old building and cafes. We enjoyed a nice walk through there and then headed to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We took some great photos of the bridge before we did the walk across it into Northern Sydney.
The view from the bridge is amazing with perfect views of the harbour and the Opera House. Once we arrived across the bridge we stopped for lunch and then caught the ferry across the harbour to Darling Harbour. Darling Harbour is a large recreational and pedestrian area that is situated on western outskirts of the Sydney central business district. The whole harbour is filled with great walkways along the water and so many cafes and parks. The Sydney Aquarium is also located here, but I decided not to go this time around.
After walking through Darling Harbour, we decided we had done enough walking and it was time for a break! We stopped off at one of my favorite Sydney pubs, Three Wise Monkeys, and dad had his first taste of some Aussie beer. Then it was back to the hotel to relax before heading off to dinner and drinks. That night Matty came out to the city and met my family and me for drinks at a pub near their hotel. Since they were still recovering from their 14 hour flight it was an early night, but a good intro to Australia for my parents!
day we woke up early for another full day of sightseeing. We went off to Circular Quay and the Sydney Opera House for a tour. The tour was really interesting because we actually found out some information about the Opera House instead of just admiring it from the outside. There were two performances going on that we were able to see dress rehearsal for. It was really cool to be able to go inside the different theaters and see how cool the building looks on the inside. The Opera House was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007 and is one of the world's most distinctive 20th century buildings. It actually houses a multi-venue performing arts centre, rather than a single Opera theater. Planning for the Sydney Opera House began in the late 1940s and the motion gained support by 1954. A competition was launched to see who would design the Opera . They received a total of 233 entries from 32 countries. The winner, announced in 1957, was Jørn Utzon, a Danish architect. After many years of delays and structural problems Utzon was taken off the project and never actually saw the Opera House finished. He
merely saw pictures from his home in Belgium.
After the Opera House, we took a walk through the Botanical Gardens for amazing views of the Harbour and the city. We walked for a while because mom was looking for Mrs. Maurie's chair, which none of us knew what it was. When we eventually found the stupid chair it was a weird wooden bench, but mom was happy. The Botanical Gardens is also home to huge flying foxes, essentially huge fruit bats that make their home in certain trees in the garden. The bats were flying around and totally visible during the day, which made it really fun to watch. Apparently, the bats are causing such problems in the gardens, eating the food and stuff that the city of Sydney actually wants to get rid of the bats, but we thought it was the most entertaining part!
Then it was off to Hyde Park to see the park and the amazing churches that surround the park. Sydney is such a cool mix of modern and colonial buildings. It really is an amazingly clean city with such character.
That night, Matty's parents invited us to their house in Bondi
for a BBQ. Mom, dad, and the trio hopped a bus to Bondi so we could walk around the town before heading to the Gallan house for food. We took my parents up to the beach and along the boardwalk. We even showed them where Paris Hilton had stepped on Jeff's towel! When we arrived at the Gallan house for dinner they had a huge meal prepared for us. Salads and grilled onions and meat skewers and even pavlova for dessert. Pavlova is my favorite Australian dessert- it’s a flaky sugary crust filled with cream and topped with fruit. It is yummy! We had a great time and it was really cool for the parents to meet each other- considering Matty stayed with my family in the states and his family took us in on Christmas here.
After two full days of sightseeing, we decided to take it easy our last day in Sydney. We slept in and then took the ferry over to Manly Beach- another Sydney beach just across the harbour. The views from the ferry are awesome. I like to call the ferry to Manly the "Poor Man's Harbour Cruise." We spent the day lounging at
the beach in Manly and doing some shopping. My mom had wanted to head to this place called "Ocean's" because she had read about the amazing fish and chips they had there. So of course, this is where we ate lunch. The fish and chips were good, but they charged a lot for tartar sauce!!!!
After coming back to the city, we met some of my friends from Uni at the Opera Bar for evening drinks. The Opera bar is a super trendy bar at the Opera House looking at the Harbour. Kate and Amanda came and met us and we had a cocktail. It was pretty nice to have my parents meet some of my friends from Uni. They heard all these names five years ago when I was here so it was really cool to places names and faces together for them. Then we spent our last night in Sydney eating at a pub in Darling Harbour right on the water. For our last night in Sydney, my parents wanted to go to a bar. I took them to Scruffy Murphy's because I remembered it being fun and have live music that played Blink 182 covers when
I was here. The live music remained, but it was full of 18 year old drunk kids. I guess I didn't notice five years ago when I was in that mix! Luckily they had an upstairs where we could still hear the music. We had a great night chatting over drinks before waking up to get our rental car the next morning.
I had a blast being back in Sydney. It was actually surprising how much I remembered from the first time I was there! I really didn't need a map of the city and got us around pretty well without getting us lost. It was definitely good to be back. Sydney still remains one of my favorite cities in the world. It has everything a person could want. Beach, fashion, nightlife, food and amazing scenery.
The next morning, we picked up our rental car to head three hours south to Canberra. This is where I went to Uni on exchange five years ago, so I was pretty excited to go back. The first challenge was picking up the car, having my dad drive it on the wrong side of the road and make it back to their
hotel in one piece. This proved difficult because of all the one way streets in Sydney, but we made it back with no major incident. Then it was off to Canberra. We only had one night there so we had a lot to do in one night! We arrived in the afternoon and everyone got settled into their hotels/hostels. We had lunch at one of my favorite restaurants in Canberra- Chicken Gourmet! I actually have never eaten anything there except for the chips and gravy, which is what I had for lunch. Chips and gravy is an Aussie specialty where they cover their french fries in gravy. I like it from Chicken Gourmet because they use chicken gravy instead of the really brown gravy. I loved it!
Then we went off to do some sightseeing in Canberra. Canberra is the capital of Australia (I know, hard to believe) so most of the sights have to do with national museums and stuff like that. Our first stop was the Australian National War Memorial. This museum houses the Australian Tomb of the Unknown soldiers and tons of other war related memorabilia. It is quite pretty inside with water and lots of
flowers. From the War Memorial, we decided to walk to Parliament house. Everything in Canberra is set on fairly straight lines, so you can directly see Parliament House from the War Memorial. The problem is, there is a lake between them and no direct bridge. We ended up walking quite a distance out of the way to get to the bridge that crosses the lake that takes us to Parliament house. When we arrived at Parliament House, the guards thought we were crazy for doing that long walk. We did make it to Parliament in time to see the inside of the building and see the inside of both the Senate and the House. Since it is still holiday times, they were not in session and therefore we got to go inside. Then it was back to the hotel to grab the car and drive out to the University of Canberra so I could show my parents where I studied abroad.
The Uni still looks exactly the same except they are building these new amazing dorms. I was able to show my parents the center of the campus, where I lived on ressies, and of course, the local bar
I went to. Everything was still there. We even got to see some kangaroos roaming around the campus, which is awesome because I had promised Jeff that there were always kangaroos at my school! At least the boys got some excitement by coming out and listening to me tell stories about when I went to school there.
That night, we introduced my parents to Turkish kebabs. A weird thing for Australia, but one of my favorite things to eat here. You take shaved pieces of meet and wrap them up with lettuce and onions and chili sauce in a pita bread thing. They are yummy. Even my dad liked them and he is hard to impress. My parents were staying at the Crown Plaza hotel right next door to the Canberra casino so we decided to go into the casino for a night cap. In the hour we were there, Jeff turned $30 into $830 on the roulette table. Needless to say our night in Canberra ended on a high note and now I know Jeff will forever like Canberra!
It was pretty weird being in the city when it was so quiet. Canberra is a University town
and Government town and with Parliament not in session and the Uni's on summer break it was really quiet. I mean, I know Canberra is a quiet town, but this was crazy. I kept telling everyone that is it usually more lively. It was nice to be back in Canberra though and share all my old memories with my parents and Jeff. The next morning it was off on the boring drive to Melbourne!
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