Friday, 6 January 2012

Sydney for New Year!

Our night bus arrived in Sydney at 7am and the sun was already shining. With no booked accommodation we decided to do some more couch surfing for the first few days in the city. We sat and had a drink at Central Station whilst waiting for Hass who had kindly offered to meet us there and show us to his place. He lives out in Kensington so we had a bit of a walk then a bus journey then another bit of a walk before we could finally stop and rest after the bus! I'd managed to sleep for the majority of the journey thankfully as I was exhausted from Byron, Inge on the other hand had not been so lucky.

At first I was pretty sceptical about the city with at least a dozen people waiting to cross the road every time and swarms of people on every street but after a couple of days there I actually quite liked it. After a couple of hours chilling at the flat and coming round, we took the bus back into town as Hass wanted to show us around. We got off at Hyde Park and walked down to Circular Quay where the Sydney Opera House is located. After a few snaps, if I'm honest, I was ready to go. Yes, architecturally, the Opera House is quite impressive, however it wasn't as interesting as I had thought. We walked back along George Street – the main sort of shopping street in Sydney, bought some food for the following few days, then headed back to the flat. We watched a couple of films but I was ready for bed pretty early on, especially given the fact it was New Years Eve in a couple of days and I really needed to catch up on some sleep!

The next day we had a pretty lazy morning, it seem to take us forever to come round and get our act together to leave the house! We headed to Circular Quay where we met Stacey and some of her friends before catching the ferry to Manly. I'd been told Manly is one of the better beaches around Sydney but I can't say I was overly enthusiastic about the place. After lying in the sun for a while I decided just to go have a quick look around the shops but I wasn't really in the mood for that either! Back on the beach we started making plans for New Years Eve – naturally Inge and I were planning on meeting up with Stacey and hopefully Digby as he was in Sydney too. We decided on a time and place, so all that was to do now was to buy food for a day long picnic!

Back at the flat we prepared our bag for the morning as we had an early start ahead. We left at 8am to meet the guys at 9am at central station. By about 10am 5 of us had made it to Dr Mary Boothe's Look out at Milson's Point. I thought this was pretty early but there was already people there getting their spot for the fireworks. Other friends of mine queued up at the Botanical Gardens from 6am in the morning in order to get a spot their, and some went to the Opera house. Milson's point is on the opposite side of the bridge to these places, but is a lot less crowded and still has an amazing view of the bridge. The place was getting busier and busier as the hours went by and we were trying to hold a spot for a lot more people. Eventually a few others arrived so it became easier. To my surprise, Alec, Steve and Andy – with whom I had travelled in Malaysia – came and joined our group and spent New Year with us. It was really cool to catch up with them after so long! Digby and his friends who I'd met in Noosa arrived a bit later, as did Sam and Billy who we'd met on Fraser Island. More friends of friends turned up and by the end there was over 20 of us together which made it a lot of fun! We spent the day chilling in the sun and catching up with each other as we'd not seen most people in a few weeks.

The first fireworks started at 9pm – apparently the family show for young children who couldn't stay up late. Even these were impressive. Midnight arrived and none of us could believe we'd been there for 14 hours the day had gone so quickly! I had to admit, the New Year firework show was incredible. I think I had expected something absolutely outstanding because there is such a hype around the Sydney Fireworks, and it was by far the best I've ever seen, especially the ending but maybe not quite as good as I had built it up to be. The show lasted for over 10 minutes and the crowd was constantly clapping and cheering – the atmosphere was great! After the show was over, everyone seem to disperse and no one knew where each other were. I ended up loosing my shoes (and later discovered I lost my sunglasses too) so I was left to wander the streets of Sydney with bare feet! As we weren't with Hass we had to find somewhere else to crash at that night – I eventually reached a friends house in Burwood at 5am in the morning after hopping on and off various trains and walking what seemed miles with no shoes on!

On New Years Day, Inge and I wanted to get back to Hass' as soon as we could. We left Burwood just after 10am and it took us a whole 2 hours to reach Kensington (I still had no shoes at this point) Sydney is huge! We literally got in, got some food, got changed and decided to head to the beach. Hass joined us as we went to Bondi. The queue for the bus from Bondi Junction to Bondi Beach was unreal – clearly a lot of people decided to go there on NYD. The beach was packed, however we managed to find a nice little spot with a decent amount of room so it didn't feel like were too squashed in. A while later Andy and Steve joined. Hass left a little later so it ended up just being the four of us relaxing on the beach until about 8pm. Its amazing how it stays sunny for so long, there wasn't a cloud in the sky all day! It was the perfect way to spend the first day of 2012.

The next morning we left Hass' quite early as we'd decided to check into a hostel as we wanted to be closer to town and wanted to visit the Blue Mountains that day. Initially we'd agreed to hire a car with the guys but they'd had a heavy night and weren't answering their phones so we just decided to catch a train there. We took the train to Katoomba and got a hop on hop off bus pass around the area. The landscape was amazing, so different to anything I have seen in Australia to date. The blue haze on the mountains gives them their name and the views were stunning. We visited Echo Point, The Three Sisters, Leuna Cascades and Gordon Falls. The bus was quite good as you could get on whenever and had the option to walk along the cliff to different sections and get picked up again. It was a scorching hot day but apparently it was only the 2 previous days that the weather had been nice and not raining so we were pretty lucky! It was an exhausting day but a nice last day for me and Inge.

On my last day in Sydney, Inge left early in the morning and then I changed hostels to a cheaper one for one night before spending the day saying bye to people! I met up with Andy and Steve and the Opera house and spent a couple of hours with them before they went to the airport to go to New Zealand then met Stacey and relaxed in Hyde park. I later ran into Charlotte and Ro who I'd met in Byron so had one last drink with them before getting back to my hostel for an early night ready for an early start and a new adventure the next day.

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