Well, after a week of catching up with family/friends, recharhing our batteries, taking care of the last minute details, and condensisng all our 6 months of needs into two packs we headed off to Sydney.
Laying everything out the day before our flight
Packed and ready to go….can’t believe it all fit!
The good news is, at the last minute we were able to switch our flight to the direct flight from LA to Sydney which allowed us to skip the layover in Seoul and 9 extra hours of flying time…woohoo! However, this did give us a 10 hour layover in LA. As luck would have it, Cathy’s sister Jenn was out in LA working and we were able to rent a car for $30 and head out from the airport and see her. She was working at the St. Regis hotel down near Laguna beach, so we got to spend the day hanging at the resort…..very faaannccy, thanks Jenn for hooking us up!
Hanging out at the St. Regis
After 24 hours of traveling we finally landed in Sydney on Monday morning at 6am!
Just cleared customs
We made our way to the Pullman Hyde Park Hotel, which we were able to stay at using Cathy’s Marriott points and some frequent flier miles. The hotel is right in the middle of the city and right across from Hyde Park which put us in a great location for walking around. After settling in we headed off to walk down to Circular Quay. Circular Quay is the main harbor to see the Harbor Bridge and Opera House. Along the way we passed through a few parks and St. Mary’s Cathedral.
St. Mary’s Cathedral
Sydney Harbor Bridge
As we walked around we started to get a little hungry, and headed to a cafe for a sandwich. This lead to our first reality of being in Australia. Things are really expensive here right now for Americans. Being on a fixed budget, we both agreed the cost of food is going to be one of our biggest challenge down under.
We finally made our way to a Vodafone shop and we now have a pre-pay mobile phone while we are here. Instead of posting it up here on the blog for the world to read, just e-mail Cathy or myself and we will e-mail it back to you if you need to get a hold of us. The jetlag caught up with us pretty quickly that first day and we ended up crashing fairly early. The next day we woke pretty early and headed back down to Circular Quay, and caught the ferry over to Manly Beach. We spent the morning walking around the beach, and then over to the Shelly beach lookout. The beaches are just beautiful and even though the temps were in the upper 60s people were still chilling on the beach, and a lot of people were out surfing.
On the Ferry over to Manly Beach
Looking down at the waters of Shelly Beach
We then headed back to Circular Quay to catch another ferry over to Darling Harbor where we grabbed a late lunch. After spending the afternoon in Darling Harbor, Cathy came to the conclusion she liked it better than Sydney Harbor. It is just a little less touristy, quieter, and easier to get around.
View of the bridge and opera house from the boat on our way to Darling Harbor
That evening we were both craving a little exercise and I was able to find a climbing gym a few train stops up the road. We headed over to the Sydney Indoor Climbing Gym, and after a quick belay test, we were able to crank out a good workout on the 60′ high walls. After a couple of hours the jet lag was setting in some more and we headed back to the hotel to crash, and we both slept like rocks that night.
The next day Cathy had a late morning conference call, so we had a late start to the day. It wasn’t entirely possible to disconnect ourselves form work life back home! We decided to catch the train and bus down to Bondi Beach and check it out. We had lunch on the beach and then spent the afternoon walking 4K from Bondi to Coogee beach. If you are ever down that way both of us would highly recommend this walk which is right on the coastline. The views are spectacular! The only shame is the rock of the cliffs is pretty brittle, because it could be an awesome climbing area as well.
People surfing at Bondi
Another view of Bondi
Along the coastline on our way to Coogee Beach
Up until our final day the weather had been awesome, sunny and in the mid to upper 60s. Unfortunately, all things can’t be perfect and our last day the weather moved in and it rained most of the day with the temps dropping. We spent the day working out at the hotel gym, and Cathy practiced her mask clearing skills in the hotel pool in anticipation of her dive class next week. We then head to Surry Hills for a happy hour and an early dinner.
Friday we packed up our bags and headed to the airport to catch our flight to Adelaide. We met up with my mom, stepdad, and my sister at their hotel. After a year of planning we all headed out that evening to surprise my uncle for his 70 birthday. Annette, a friend of my mom and uncle had helped us with coordinating and getting my uncle to a local restaurant. Once he was in the restaurant and settled in with everyone my mom and stepdad walked in and surprised him. Cathy, my sister, and I hung back and waited for things to settle down, and then we all walked in on him………..using the Australian term, he was gobsmacked! We had a great evening and he really enjoyed the surprise.
One happy and surprised Uncle Peter
On another note, now that the surprise is finally out of the bag we are putting back up the travel plan page, so everyone can keep up with where we are.