storm moved the beach to the skatepark ...
WE'RE BACK! I know it's only been a couple of weeks, but our adoring fans (our mums ...) need their fix.
So we left off the last blog having arrived in Sydney - to be more specific Bondi Beach. Our home for the next week was to be Bondi Backpackers, imaginatively named as it is a backpackers and is in fact based right on Bondi Beach. This place was a recommendation from a nameless, no longer friend of ours - RACHEL McKENZIE - as she had stayed here before. On arrival we were delightfully told we'd been upgraded. What was this upgrade we speak of? A queen size double room? A suite with panoramic views of the beach? No, no - unfortunately they thought that the people who had booked a 4 person dorm 4 weeks in advance, would seriously view a 6 person dorm as a fricking (sorry for the language) upgrade. But wait. There was more. This room had a fricking (apologies mum) sea view! A SEA VIEW. Why hadn't they mentioned this before???? Anyway, Novo argued our case and managed to get a paltry discount from the draconian receptionist. We made our way to the
room which the girls had been up to and met our new dorm mates. An Italian and an English chap who had been in the room for months and was part of the furniture. Nice guys and Chris in particular helped us out with a few local spots and getting around. But the highlight of the room - THE VIEW. I could see the sea ... right out our window. Delighted was an understatement. Who needs the comfort and privacy of a the dorm you booked with your pals when you have the ocean outside your window ... Anyway that is almost enough on this shit hole (not even sorry for that one). The windows leaked, the manager was an angry lady, the staff were nice enough and the other guests were great. We did get our original room 2 days before checkout - and as one last laugh, they informed us on the day prior we were getting an upgrade to a better room, wasn't even said in jest. These jokers upgraded us twice in 7 days. Heroes.
So Sydney. We did the Bondi Beach thing (we walked on the beach, the girls sunbathed whilst Novo
and I returned the van). Our first day we went into the CBD to do the free walking tour (the same company as Melbourne) and we had high expectations. It didn't disappoint, it really is a wonderful idea and flawlessly executed. Melbourne was better but not by much. We saw the main highlights including the opera house and harbour bridge. The opera house was a bit underwhelming purely due to the huge expectation when you see it on say many filtered instagram photos. More on that later ...
Our next day we decided to go to Manly Beach via the ferry from Circular Quay in the middle of the city. This was highly recommended by a good friend of mine, Mr Iain Porterfield. In fact, it was so highly recommended, Iain and his wife Emilie came with us. This was just wonderful. I hadn't seen him in a few years so we grabbed a couple of beers and explored Manly. And had a couple more beers. The ferry was pleasant, inexpensive and a fun way of getting around.
Now from here, the weather started to deteriorate drastically. To cut a long story short, New
South Wales experienced the worst weather it has seen in over a decade. It was declared a natural disaster in parts and meant we were on lockdown in the hostel. This called for one thing and one thing only. A night of getting stupidly drunk on the Aussie legend that is Goon. Basically the crappiest wine you can think of in a 4 litre box. Again to cut a long story short - it does bad things to good people. Picture Sam in a bike helmet running head first into a metal bunk bed frame. We braved the elements to venture out to the cinema and shopping at Bondi Junction but that was about it for our first week.
Following our wonderful week in the leaking towers of Bondi, Sam and I went to stay with the aforementioned Iain and Emilie in their awesome apartment in West Ryde. This was like going from a cave to David Beckham's house. A couch, a TV, continuous hot water and a double bed. Bliss. Our first day in West Ryde, we decided to go back to Bondi - as you do. But the Bondi to Coogee walk had been recommended
so highly and the weather had improved enough for us to crack on a pair of shorts! Kerry, Sam, Novo and I walked the hilly few KMs to Coogee which was well worth it. Rachel, you almost redeemed yourself with this recommendation. We also planned to catch up with Alex my friend from Camp in America (she's made a guest appearnce on the blog before). In the end we met her in the CBD and due to time constraints we only had time to walk over the famous Sydney Harbour Bridge. Wow. It costs $250 to do the bridge climb. To be honest, waking over it seemed just as impressive and it was free. You get incredible views of the city and more importantly the Opera House - good spot for an Instagram filtered snap. We said our goodbyes to Alex and our chums from the last 2 months Kerry & Novo as they were staying in Bondi for an extended period whilst Sam and I decided to keep heading up the coast.
Before we departed we had a fun weekend of activities with the Porterfield's. This included a Friday night BBQ with Kangaroo steaks and kanga
bangas (kangaroo sausages obviously), both of which were bloody marvellous. Saturday was Sam and I's very first ANZAC day. Now for you uneducated fools, this is a remembrance day for Australian and New Zealand forces from the batle of Gallipoli. What it meant for Sam was a day at the races. What it meant for me was the chance to partake in the best game ever. Two-up. A game only legal on ANZAC day. Essentally it's heads or tails with hundreds of dollars changing hands every minute or so!! Both Iain and I ended up $100+ up which was just an added bonus to a fantastic day. Far too many beers and the general excitement of two-up led to the girls meeting us in town and not long after taking us to bed as speech had begun to be problematic for us both. Especially with a long trip to the Blue Mountains in the morning, this was a good call.
A couple of bleary eyed gentlemen awoke early with the girls fresh as a daisy. We started the long drive to the Blue Mountains and our first destination, Wentworth Falls conservation centre for breakfast. It
most photographed attraction 'the broken column'
was touch and go for a while if I was going to make it but just like with the bull ant, I pulled through. Breakfast was amazing and the view even more spectacular!! Hangover was well and truly gone (kind of).
The Blue Mountains were amazing and probably deserve their own blog but I just don't have time for that unfortunately. Katoomba lookout was amazing, Pulpit rock was terrifying and every view was just out of this world. Basically if you are in Sydney go here.
The jewel in the crown was Jenolan Caves. These naturally formed caves are something to behold. It is impossible to put in a blog what they are like and to be honest the photos don't even come close. Google it and again if you are in the area you should make time to go, it's worth the admission price (circa $40 per adult).
A slight panic on the drive home with the petrol light coming on and no petrol station for a good while and I mean a good while in Australian terms so a good 15-20km. We made it just in time! A couple of hours back to Sydney and a 12 hour bus to Byron bay awaited...
A huge thank you to Emilie and Iain for letting us stay - I will be back for the next Anzac Day and two-up.
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