19.01.2014 - 22.01.2014 24 °C
So much for 'Two Rolts, Two Continents, Two Rucksacks'!
Sunday 19th January
We set off at 5.30am to take the bus to the airport for our flight to Sydney. Considering the standard of driving, the bus ride was uneventful; however we were pleased to be off the 80 mile an hour bus being driven by a man who didn't look much over 20, on his phone, and sniffing a clear liquid out of a small glass bottle.
We checked in for our Air Asia flight, which had cost all of £100, even after all their Ryanair style add-ons.... We headed through to departures, got some food and drinks for the flight and waited to board. Our flights from KL international had all allowed you to take your drinks through, but Air Asia did not allow it at the low cost terminal. Seeing a chance to make more money, they also re x-rayed your bags at the gate, confiscated drinks bought in airside and forced you to buy their overpriced water on the plane. I bet Ryanair is disappointed that they don't have access to x-ray machines at the gate for this little stunt.
We arrived in Sydney at about 9.30pm to find that we could finally test out the epassport gate! (These never seem to be working in London.) We both headed up to the gate, and I had to take my glasses off. Without my glasses, I can see absolutely nothing, and so had to shut one eye and cross the other to try and read the screen. Clearly the machine didn't like that, wouldn't work and so I had to use the normal passport counter, much to Chris' amusement as he had gone through.
We checked into our accommodation, which had been advertised as shared bathroom. We were very pleased to discover that not only did we have a balcony, but also there was a private bathroom off of that! You know you've been travelling too long when you're more than pleased at having a bathroom, even if it's technically not attached.
Monday 20th January
The following morning, we dropped off our laundry, which probably weighed about 5kg. Lately in Malaysia, we've struggled to get it done for much less than £2 a kilo and so were not looking forward to hearing the cost of this. Turns out it's $10 (£5) to have it washed dried and folded!
That morning, we visited the Powerhouse museum, which is in the former steam powerhouse in Sydney. Along with quite a detailed exhibition on steam power, there were also exhibitions on space, Australian shops from the early 20th century, when the Beatles toured Australia, and an exhibition which had lots of ways to play with light.
Insert by Christopher: Another exhibition had real inventions but with ridiculous and amusing made-up stories for each one. For example shoes with mice on the front which the 'inventor' made to help his wife get over her fear of mice, only for her to try to run away from her own feet. Unfortunately I was waffling while Zoë was reading the introduction, causing her to misread it and not realise it explained this and read each of the twenty or so explanations believing them to be true. I had quite a giggle at how gullible she was. She really is quite stupid.
In the afternoon, we wandered through Hyde Park, to the cathedral in the middle. This cathedral looked a lot older than its 200 years and was pretty impressive. Afterwards we visited the shopping area, including the magnificent Queen Victoria shopping centre, which was incredibly grand inside with Victorian tiled floors and an open double height central area with balcony walkways between the shops. Chris bought some new clothes as he was beginning to look quite the scruff bucket.
Feeling as though we couldn't confirm we were in Sydney until we saw the Sydney Opera House, we took a train up to the harbour and by the time we got there, is was wet and miserable with a heavy drizzle. We headed to a restaurant for an early dinner, hoping it would pass and we could see the harbour by night but had no such luck.
Tuesday 21st January
The following day we visited the Sydney Museum, which shows Sydney life during the 20th century. The museum is located on the grounds of the first government house from the 1700s. At the front of the museum, there is a viewing cube, which looks out onto the square in front of the museum entrance. From above you realise that the various different coloured slabs and tiles have been placed to show the foundations and floor plan of the original building.
After lunch, we wandered around the harbour and the front of the Sydney Opera House before taking the ferry across to Manly bay. The main reason for taking this ferry is to obtain a better view of the harbour and therefore the Opera House and Harbour bridge.
We spent a couple of hours in Manly, wandered along the beautiful coastal path, which overlooks the crystal clear waters before stopping for a coffee on the promenade. All along the coastal path were signs warning of penguins, but unfortunately we were not lucky enough to see any.
After sailing back to Sydney harbour, we walked over the Harbour Bridge and took yet more pictures of the Opera House.
Again after dinner it began to rain and so we headed back, hoping to see the harbour by night on our final day.
Wednesday 22nd January
We rose early this morning and took the tram to Sydney fish market. We had read that this was the second biggest fish market after Tokyo's and so had fairly high expectations after the huge, chaotic Tokyo fish market being one of the highlights of our trip to Japan back in 2012. Sadly, there was not much to compare, with little bustle and only a few stands, with most of it shut off to the public. Never mind! We stopped off on the way back into town at Paddy's market, which is housed in an old fashioned looking market building.
We took advantage of the cheap electicals and the very good pound to dollar exchange rate and Chris purchased a new wide angle lens. I have now lost my husband to the ability to take new types of photos.
Despite the weather still not being great, (this is not proving to be what I had always thought about Australian summers; it is similarly wet and miserable at times and no one is saying 'it's not normally like this' but rather affirming 'this is Sydney',) we took the train to Bondi beach, which has gorgeous fine gold sand beaches. There is a large pavillion and cafés along the streets. It kind of reminded us of Brighton, if it were to have a facelift and some sand imported. It's a shame we didn't see it in the sun, but there were still a few wetsuit clad surfers playing in the waves.
We took the bus back to Central Quay, which was definitely more interesting than the underground train as we travelled through the surrounding suburbs of Sydney. We booked tickets to see 'La Soirée' at Sydney Opera House before getting dinner at a harbour side restaurant.
La Soirée was not we imagine, described as a 'burlesque circus cabaret'. Perhaps the clue was in the burlesque. The first act was three men painted and dressed to look like Aboriginies. They crept through the audience crouched low with spears to the stage in the centre. They moved around the stage before getting onto it and stamping their feet a little, before the music changed from traditional didgeridoos to Greek music with a dance twist and they began thrusting and gyrating to the music. We were in stitches from start to finish. We had bought cheapo mezzanine seats; however the ringside seats weren't full so we were upgraded and had front row seats. This allowed for a lady in a too tight red PVC dress to wiggle her bum in Chris' face and have him give her a bum push on to the stage.
Another act involved a lady hiding a hankie in her suit and gradually taking each item off so it couldn't hide the hankie anymore. She was soon naked and after a little thrusting and wandering around the audience, she went up on to the stage and hid the hankie one more time before mischievously retrieving it....
There was also a speech made by the Queen, who flashed his Union Jack boxers to finish. Most acts followed this style of entertainment, although there were a couple of proper acrobatic acts performed while suspended from the ceiling. (With a slight twist I suppose.)
I don't think we will be forgetting what we saw at Sydney Opera House anytime soon.
The following morning, we picked up our hire car to begin our adventures down to Melbourne.