Archive for December 2009
Christmas day in Australia is here! We have made plans with our roommates, Natasha and Morgan, to open our gifts together and then have a Christmas breakfast before Andrew and I head into work, and before they head out to visit with their family up the coast. My parents sent Andrew and I a box of gifts and stockings that we have been waiting to open until now. We have arranged a video Skype call to open our presents together. The theme for Andrew and I this year was matching Olympic gear from Canada, since we are missing the winter Olympics by being in Australia this year. Matching Olympic t-shirts, water bottles, luggage tags, and even mitts! (Not sure how much we will be using those here in Australia!).
As well as some new clothes and travel size accessories. Almost feels like we are all together celebrating. We take some pictures with them on the laptop so we can have official pictures on Christmas day together! After that, off to work for both of us on double shifts today. We can’t complain though, we are getting paid 2.5 times our regular wages to work today, and it’s raining out today. Overall, it wasn’t a white Christmas, but lots of great memories.
Andrew and I have both been working a ton of hours at each of our restaurants since it is peak season here in Sydney, but we are lucky enough to both have today off together. We plan a day out that includes a nice long lunch at Nick’s Bondi beach, relaxing at the beach, and then going out to see Avatar tonight the at Imax theater.
First stop, Nicks Seafood Restaurant on Bondi beach, where we can both take advantage of our staff discount. We decide to go all out and order the seafood platter, that comes with lobster, crab, oysters, mussels, prawns, calamari,
octopus and John Dory fish! We take our time and enjoy each of the delicious seafood items. We even get desert – I highly recommend the warm chocolate fondant if you are a chocolate lover. We break a new record in spending at a meal, $240 before our discount, but well worth it. (and it is part of our Christmas present to each other as well). Next stop, laying on the beach to digest our huge meal. Its a bit overcast today, so no swimming, just a nap on the beach before heading home.
Last but not least, the much awaited movie Avatar in 3D at Imax. We have had to purchase our tickets days in advance since it has been sold out everyday since it was released. We see the 9:30 show, and it lives up to the hype. Andrew and I both love the movie, the 3D effects are amazing and landscape of Pandora is breathtaking.
All in all, a great day off together, and much needed after a crazy day of work! Looking forward to our first southern hemisphere Christmas in a few days!
We decide to rent a car today and get out of they city for a change. The Blue Mountains is a picturesque area about 1.5 hours outside of Sydney. There are lots of options for organized tours if you don’t have your own transportation as well. Getting there is easy, just follow the signs outside of the city and you can’t miss it.
We downloaded a few maps that show the different view points that you can drive to. There are numerous hikes in this area as well – everything from easy 1 hour hikes to overnight 2 & 3 day hikes depending what you’re up for. Most of the view points are also accessible by car and a short walk. The first stop is Wentworth Falls– here you can really see how the drought is affecting the area, there is hardly any water fall at all – but still a beautiful vantage point.
The most famous lookout point in this area is the Three Sisters – three giant rock formations. Legend says they are three sisters who were turned to stone by their father for their protection, and then he never got the chance to turn them back. This area is a bit disappointing as it has been really over done and is very touristy – they paved the whole area which makes it very accessible, but also means you will be sharing the view with bus loads of tourists. Not the kind of quite and remote we are looking for. Also, there are tons of bugs here – as in swarms. You can’t stand still for more than a few seconds without being covered – bug spray is essential (if only we had some!). Scenic World is also close by here in the city of Katoomba – it has walking paths down in the forest, a railway ride and a gondola. A great way to enjoy this area with kids, but not for us today.
After this stop we are able to get off the beaten path a bit more and enjoy some views on our own in peace and quite. Make sure you plan your trip on a clear day as the views are unbeatable. We drive around for a few more areas to take in all the different vantage point, and then head home, just beating the rain on the way home.
Lions and tigers and bears oh my! Andrew and I have two days off this week and we decide to make the most of them since we are going to be working like crazy for the next several weeks over Christmas. We walk down to Circular Quay to catch the ferry to Taronga Zoo – only a 10 minute journey by boat. They have a 10% off special for $48 that includes the ferry and admission to the zoo, however using our YHA card we save 20% off admission which is a better deal.
The ferry ride to the zoo provides great photo ops of the the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. The zoo is on a remote area of land surrounded by water, and even though you are only a 10 minute ferry ride from the city, it feels like you have entered Jurassic Park. You will want to pick up a map from the entrance to make sure you don’t miss any of the exhibits. Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes as there is lots of walking.
Taronga has all your favourite animals – elephants, giraffes, lions, chimpanzees, zebras, tigers, bears, koalas, kangaroos, and tons of others I had never heard of before. You won’t want to miss the elephant show, where the elephants do tricks for the audience and you get to learn about the newest member of the family Luk Chai. There are lots of opportunities to get up close and personal with the animals if you are willing to cover the extra costs. An awesome day out, felt like a kid again! This attraction lives up to the hype and is definitely worth the money. Tomorrow – off to Blue Mountain!