Sydney, Australia 2010 – Day 4

04/28/10

We booked Blue Mountains Special Tour with OZ Trail tours. We met somewhere near Central today to catch our tour bus for Blue Mountain to visit the Three Sisters. Our guide Steve was very informative and funny. Traveled in a 20 seater bus (full bus) and made our way around to Blue Mountain. Stopped by the Neapean river, a short bushwalk to Wentworth falls and to Leura Village where we stopped for lunch and ate some nice meat pies.  After lunch, we travelled a bit father before arriving in Katoomba. We then hopped onto a cable car to cross the canyon between the Three Sisters and the Katoomba Waterfalls.

The story behind the Three Sisters is actually really interesting. Three sisters fell in love with three men from a neighbouring tribe, but marriage was forbidden by tribal law. Battle ensued, and the sisters were turned to stone by an elder to protect them, but he was killed in the fighting and no one else could turn them back.

We took the railway up a steep incline to the rainforest where they pointed out different types of gum/eucalyptus trees (ribbon gym, scribbly gum etc) on our walkthrough. We then made our way to Kings tableland. It’s a high point with a beautiful view but apparently there were a number of suicides and wrecked cars when you looked over the cliff at the bottom. It was a little windy but nonetheless a beautiful view from the edge.

We took the cable car over and down then the train back up which pulls you backwards so it feels like you are standing. Sad part of today was that we were unable to see kangaroos even after visiting another national park after Kings Tableland. On our way to the ferry, we drove through the Olympic Park where the driver pointed out several buildings that were used for the 2000 games. The ferry ride home brought us along the Parramatta river where we watch the sun set and had the pleasure of the full moon making its presence known as we sailed under the Harbour Bridge.

We leave for Cairns tomorrow morning.

Sydney, Australia 2010 – Day 3

04/27/10

This morning we decided to goto the famous Bondi (Bond-die) beach and try our hand at surfing… surfing never happened (for us). We ended leaving home around 930AM and made our way to Bondi Junction. At Bondi Junction, we went to Westfield Mall which was a lovely mall with stores outside. Some staple stores were Chanel, Louis Vuitton but also stores like Quiksilver and Glue.  We shopped for a bit and finally got to Bondi beach by 1-130PM. We walked the boardwalk not really knowing where we were going but for a holiday, the beach wasn’t overly crowded. We found the “Let’s go Surfing” shop but saw that the hours for surf lessons ended at 12 which we didn’t check on the website before we left. We saw them on the beach in mid lesson. What a bust. It also didn’t help the mood that it was an overcast day and sun was far from being seen. We grabbed some fish and chips and ate on the beach then waded in the water for a bit before making our way to the coastline which was the Bondi to Coogee walk. The walk is nice and brings you above the water and a good lookout point. Waves, rocks, beach and surfers made the walk even that much more enjoyable. On this walk, you can walk the whole coast up to Coogee Beach or just leave the path and enter in the suburban areas and catch a bus the rest of the way.

We walked on the trail up until Tamarama beach where we entered into the suburban neighbourhood. I absolutely love good architecture and being beach homes and what not, there were a few modern homes I could picture myself living in.  We made it back to Bondi Rd and tried to plan last minute to see if we could make it to the zoo but then realized it closed at 5PM and it was already 4PM so we decided to head back to Circular Quay area to shop at a semi indoor and outdoor mall. We finished around 530-6PM and took the train to meet up with uncle and auntie for dinner. Uncle had lent us a mobile to use during our stay so we met them in Chatswood at one of their usual spots. So much food. Apparently, to their standards they say Andrew and myself don’t eat much. Trust me when I say I am stuffing myself. Uncle keeps joking that he doesn’t want us to return home and complain to our father that uncle didn’t feed us enough. As per my fathers request, we had Aussie lager with uncle.

Tomorrow is Blue Mountain and day after we leave for Cairns.

Sydney, Australia 2010 – Day 2

04/26/10

Uncle had offered to be our tour guide and take us on a day tour of Sydney. We walked over to the Cityrail (equivalent to Toronto’s Union Station) and took the train from Gordon into the city to Central Station. It was a double decker train going in which was nice. When we arrived at Central Station, we found our way to Circular Quay where you can see the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Uncle and Auntie had recommended a Belgian beer restaurant to try a pot of oysters but it being a holiday and all, it was closed. We did our touristy stuff and took tons of photos at the harbour and of the opera house but being a holiday, the place was covered with people. Uncle bought us day passes – “MyMulti” that he calls “1 day trippa’s” which cost 20AUD that gives you access to train, bus and ferry transportation. From the docking area, we could’ve boarded a ferry that would’ve taken us to the zoo but we opted to head over to Manly beach. It was a nice 30 minute ride over with views of the harbour and Opera house from the waters and less people in my shots. When we docked at Manly Wharf, we walked the coastline on the path as the beach was overly crowded due to the holiday. We stopped nearby for lunch at sushi restaurant with a conveyor belt. I tried to do some shopping but as i was looking around, I was wondering why there was winter jackets out and i realized that in Australia right now (April/May), they are going into fall. Also, we were confused with the conversion rate from CAD to AUD which is actually at par with one another.

We decided to take a “scenic route” home by taking the bus with many turns through rural neighbourhoods which took about an hour. It stopped in Chatswood which is like another Chinatown unfortunately we were too tired to walk around. Uncle is letting us go out on our own the next 2 days. I think i know my way around now.

Sydney, Australia 2010 – Day 1

04/25/10

I knew long in advance that I wanted to travel to Australia and timing wise, I was in limbo just awaiting my final grades for my final year in university and actual graduation ceremony. My brother, Andrew had accumulated about 3 weeks of paid vacation so it was settled – 03/25/10-04/13/10 – a 3 week trip to Australia & New Zealand (2 weeks Australia – Sydney, Cairns & Melbourne & 1 week New Zealand – Auckland & Rotorua),

First off, when planning a trip to Australia make sure you figure out if you plan on travelling outside of Australia (for eg – roundtrip ticket flying in and out of AUS but wanting to travel to New Zealand and return for a day in AUS) and if you plan on coming back as you need to purchase either a single or multi-entry visa. You can also purchase your visa at the airport.

If I knew this ahead of time, my trip would have gone so smoothly. What makes matters worse for myself in particular is the fact my last name is just a single letter – U and your passport and visas need to have the same exact spelling. But at least I was travelling with my brother Andrew so I wasn’t holding anyone else back. Let’s just say we dealt with 3 Air Canada employees that were our saviours and it was a good thing we got to the airport a few hours ahead and were quick to run to our gate where you could see them manually changing us from red listed to allowing us aboard to our first stopover to Vancouver.

Flight from Toronto with a stopover in Vancouver and landing in Sydney, Australia = 4 + 16 = 20 hours of flying. This was my first ever international flight and I can tell you I barely slept and watched practically every single movie on the way over. Keep in mind that when you land in Australia, they are very particular about sterilizing the plane so you will be sitting in the plane after landing for a bit.

We departed Toronto on April 23rd, 2010 and arrived in Sydney, AUS on Sunday April 25th at 830AM.

Our Uncle Ronald (my father’s best friend who resides and retired in Sydney) picked us up from the airport. We haven’t seen him in over a decade and the first thing he says to us “I was looking for these 2” *takes out a photo of Andrew and myself circa 1992*.

Uncle Ronald drove us around to see icons of Sydney especially Kings Cross (not much action during the day) but apparently we came on the weekend of Anzac Parade which is the Australian & New Zealand memorial / remembrance day. We continued onward to the fish market, Lady Macquarie’s Chair, Opera House, Sydney Harbour Bridge. We then headed over to Chinatown for yum cha with our uncle and his friends Elena, Eric and Philip.  That night, uncle Ronald and his lovely wife Maisie took us to their friends home for a big dinner. There was a big Winnie, small Winnie, Ricky, Tommy, Eric and Elena as well as uncle Ronald and auntie Maisie. Dinner was good and well a mixture of food coma and jet lag started to set in as Andrew and myself started to doze off on the couch. We left their place around 10-1030pm and got back around 11pm; we went right to bed. I think we did pretty well our first day in Australia considering we spent 20+ hours on a plane and time difference.