Friday, 7 January 2011


Hello boys and girls,

Greetings from Sydney!! I have been here several days now and I think I am a little bit in love with it. Lou and I had an amazing New Years Eve in Byron Bay, completed by seeing in 2011 on the beach with several thousand other people, dancing and drinking under the stars, followed by a delightful couple of days winding down in Byron before moving on on 2nd. Lou went straight to Sydney, while I took a 36 hour detour to Coffs Harbour, to visit my dear friend Sophie, who came to Oz the same week I did. I had a really lovely time catching up with her and we went swimming in the sea, ate chips and pizza and watched several movies on the couch. Only had one minor freak out when a huntsman spider sidled into the lounge, but thankfully Sophie was a hero and removed said offensive beasty. All in all it was a wonderful few days and 2011 is looking pretty darn peachy so far.

I got to Sydney on 4th and went to meet Lou at our hostel in Kings Cross, which is in the red light district of Sydney, a 30-45 min walk from the heart of the city. Our hostel was not perfect - the cockroaches were particularly unwelcome and though I heard reports of bed bugs, my room seemed to be clear - but I ended up having a good couple of nights there, before relocating to a more central location yesterday. Lou and I went for a long walk around Sydney, via the botanical gardens and took several hundred photos of the Opera House and Bridge, despite the fact it was totally overcast, then walked the longest possible route to Darling Harbour and admired everything from the view to the monorail to the sexy Aussies that come hand in hand with this place. When the day was over we headed back for an early night, as the following day was my birthday and we had big plans.

On the morning of my 22nd birthday, I was given several lovely pressies by Lou (complete with a cupcake card! she knows me so well!) and I opened the cards from my family, which was lovely. Then Lou and I made our way down to The Rocks (the oldest part of Sydney) (and via Starbucks of course) to find BridgeClimb. BridgeClimb was established in 1998, and is the company that allows you to climb the outer arch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, for the princely sum of $220. Given that my bank balance is looking increasingly pathetic it was never something I would have normally afforded, but thankfully Ma and Pa gave it to me as my birthday present, so I was particularly excited to be there. You get to wear a special sexy grey suit and a harness, which means you can't fall off the bridge (a relief for me since the first thing I had done that day was fall down the stairs in the hostel), and off you go. I was expecting it to be ladders and stairs agogo, and that by the top I would be a magenta version of my former self, but it was surprisingly easy, and with every step the view became ever more magnificent.

We were lucky enough to get good weather, so from our view at the top of the world's tallest bridge, we could see all of Sydney which stretches all the way to the Blue Mountains. It was just breathtaking. Aside from the intricate workings of the bridge itself, which services trains, traffic and pedestrians, the climb itself was exhilarating, and it is truly and experience I will never forget. Unfortunately the only downside was that a single photo of the day cost a ridiculous $26, so I had to sneakily snap some blurry photos on the old iPhone to capture the memories of our fabulous climb.

After BridgeClimb, Lou and I headed out to Bondi (via a cupcake shop) and spent an hour walking through the dodgy parts to get to the beach, which was overall a little disappointing. But the graffiti art that lined that walls behind the beach was really special, so I had a good time anyway. We then headed back to the hostel by which time word of my birthday had spread, and several people were pre drinking in honour of my birthday night out (which I wasn't even aware about). We ended up playing drinking games on the landing in the hostel before catching the party bus to Scary Canary, a backpacker bar in town, where we danced to the very wee hours before weaving our way home. I was very impressed to realise I had returned with the meagre $2.50 I had gone out with, and had singlehandedly failed to pay for a drink all night, which is excellent for my bank balance, but not so excellent for my head. I can confirm that hangovers do get worse as you get older, and I am currently still maintaining I will never drink in excess again. Though we all know how long that mantra usually lasts.

Yesterday Lou and I took the ferry to Manly, which was just lovely. We had beautiful blue skies and lovely white sand, and I happily slept off some of the hangover on the beach. I should point out that I have actually spent the last 6 months wearing the same pair of short shorts, and I have hilariously white tan lines where the shorts go, which has rendered bikini wearing nearly impossible. I had had to accept that I will simply have to wear these shorts until my tan fades, which should be about 2 days after I get home, judging by the weather in England! But anyway, back to Manly. We had a lovely time mooching about on the beach before taking the ferry back and we got some cracking shots of beautiful Sydney in what was the best weather we have had yet here.

Today's plan was to head out to the Blue Mountains to see the stunning sights depicted by our guidebooks and postcards. So we duly got up at 7am to make the 8am train to Katoomba - a journey that takes two hours. Interesting side bar - did you know the trains here are double decker? Even the tubes are on two levels!! It is so weird. So we got on the train all sleepy but excited, and were whisked off to see the majestic splendour of the Blue Mountains, so called because of the eucalyptus evaporating from the gum trees there, which gives the mountains a bluish hue. But a bluish hue was no where to be seen. In fact the mountains in general were completely invisible. It seems Lou and I picked the worst possible day to visit Katoomba, and after walking half an hour to Echo Point Lookout, we were faced with a solid white wall of cloud, and not a mountain or even a small hill in sight. It was very surreal to see such a pure white out, and Lou commented that it looked like we were at the end of the world (and after two hours on a train, it felt it too). But we laughed it off and took pictures of ourselves in the mist, before heading back to Sydney to the sunshine.

Tomorrow Lou leaves for Darwin, while I have a few more days here. I am planning to do all the museums as Lou isn't a museum fan, as well as the Annie Liebowitz exhibition down at the MCA. Then on Wednesday 12th I fly to Melbourne, before Lou joins me on 16th. Really looking forward to Melbourne too! I am having the time of my life out here, it is surreal to think I will be home so soon. Thank you all so much for your birthday wishes on facebook - I am always surprised and touched by the people that take the time to drop me a line! Can't wait to smother you all in love when I get home on 2nd Feb. :)

Until next time my lovelies! xxx

(All photos by me)

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