Archive for January, 2009

Published by Linda on 31 Jan 2009

I am a ham and cheese sandwich…….

…….but I´ll get to that later :-) So I crossed the date line – that big milestone finally came so naturally and cheesily enough I had to take a photo of flying into ¨yesterday´s¨ dawn from the plane!!!

Okay, alright it´s a bit crap but it´s more impressive in real life I promise. South America is great so far, so much better than I thought it would be. Flew into Santiago which I expected to be mental but it´s not really, I liked it a lot. Pretty much zero english speaking folk though so I´m learning spanish pretty quickly! It´s easy to practice as the locals are friendly and talk to you all the time. The rest of the time I just make do with body language and gestures and I think they get me – well I haven´t ended up in the wrong place or insulted anyone yet so I think I´m doing okay :-)

Have made a bit of a plan for what I want to see in Chile and Argentina and am really hoping to get right to the bottom but it´s tight timewise as I need to make Rio for Carnival on the 20th February so I´ll have to see….. You can get stuck in places if the buses get booked up.

Before I came, I got pretty excited about new food (as I always do) but they are just mad for their ham and cheese sandwiches, ham and cheese toasties, ham and cheese croissants, ham and cheese pastries (lots and lots of pastries)……. I think you get the picture :-) Now I´d never say no to a ham and cheese sambo but come on I feel like it´s all I´ve eaten since I got here. It´s that or pasta which I´ve kinda gone off at the moment. So feeling extremely unhealthy and sluggish on the food front right now. Steak in Argentina might improve things hopefully.

I have to say the buses are fan-feckin-tastic here, serious comfort people. Planning to do a lot of journeys by night as they are so long and I don´t want to waste daytime on the bus. They also serve you dinner or lunch on the bus – take a guess, oh yeah…….. ham and cheese!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anyhoo, I bussed it to Mendoza, Argentina and had a nice day walking around. Chilled out on Plaza Independencia and had a stroll through some of (huge – 420 hectares!!) Parque General San Martin. I had pre-booked my hostal here as I heard things were pretty busy but when I got there, they were overbooked. So the guy there said when this happens, people stay in his buddies´ house which I was a bit apprehensive about but I said I´d go have a look. Now I totally regret staying there, as it was this gorgeous Argentinian house with a courtyard/garden, tucked away off the main thoroughfare. It would be such a lovely place to live for a couple of months. I met a couple of french and americans who were doing just that. Anyhoo it´s back to normal hostel living now. I was still trying to catch up on sleep so that´s pretty much all I did the first day. Went horse-riding through the mountains……….

…….the next day and it was just lovely. Really hot and it´s so good to be back in the heat. Again I happened upon another hostel up in the mountains where I met a lovely english called Lucy who has been travelling for the last 3 years now. This place was great and would be just fantastic to chill out for a while but for me, I was off on a night bus to Valparaiso.

Valparaiso was far bigger and more congested than I had expected. It´s a port town and it is quite touristy, a lot of folk from Santiago come here for the weekend. I teamed up with my room-mate, Rob from English and we walked around to take in the sights. They have these ascensors here which are basically rickety cables cars that bring you up to take in the views of the port and the bay.

The little houses and hotels up in these parts are lovely. Tiny little place, reminiscent of seeside towns in England. Valparaiso also reminds me of southern Italy with all the hilly streets, shuttered windows and the way it´s built into the hills. Went for a bite to eat that night in a local restaurant and it was totally worth the money (a tenner is expensive these days!!). There was a band including a guy playing the accordian and a couple of singers. It was just gorgeous, I can´t even describe it properly but it was so authentic, just local people having a simple, relaxing night out. Think of ¨Duty Free¨ (remember that TV show?) without the cheese but it had the same kind of vibe. I would have loved to capture it on video but I think it would have been totally out of place, in fairness though, it was good enough to invade their space for an evening.

I think when you´re travelling, you go through phases where everything breaks and/or you just get really tired. These last few weeks have been a little like that, the zip on my (fantastic) backpack broke so I had to get it replaced (with the worst zip ever – thanks Kiwi bag fixer guy) and of course the kind officials in Chile don´t seem to like the look of me so my bag has been searched at every given opportunity. They kinda look half sorry for me when it takes ten minutes to zip it back up!!! Next my ipod decided to throw a complete wobbly and refused to work any more so begrudgingly I had to wipe it and start all over again – nooooooooooooo :-( Having a struggle with my old boss in Darwin to get my last payslip so I can file for tax back. Very tired and kinda fluey after the bussing around New Zealand – don´t know why I feel tired, so much more so than we were doing the driving around ourselves in Oz. Anyway the list of tiny irritations goes on, nothing major but they all come together as they always do. When I arrived in South America, I kinda thought…… god do I have the energy for a new continent???? but having had a couple of good nights sleep, I feel soooo much better and ready to take on the world again :-) Oh yeeeeaaaahhhhhhh!!!!

And on that note I´m off to Pucon for a couple of days and then on to Bariloche in Argentina.

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157613195065500/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157613156214995/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157613195118756/

Published by Linda on 28 Jan 2009

Heading North

Leaving Queenstown was a bit of a milestone as we knew we only had a couple of stops before hitting the North Island. We stopped at Twisel to see Mount Cook and Lake Tekapu which has this amazing turquoise water and was just spectacular. Check out my other photos on flickr as they are pretty impressive me thinks :-)

Stopped again at Christchurch and Kaikoura but really just to break the journey north. Kaikoura was completely different experience this time as the weather was spectacular. Kate decided to go swimming with Dolphins and I was to go diving with Dolphins and unfortunately we both missed out. If I had been able to get through 5 minutes (literally) earlier, I would have got to go. Anyhoo, them’s the breaks and I settled for cycling around Kaikoura and stopping at some nice beaches and generally just taking in the sun, which we didn’t get a whole lot of in New Zealand.

 

After what felt like the longest journey so far, we reached Wellington, which is a nice relaxed city, would have liked to check it out a bit more but the time is ticking at this stage and we concentrated on the South Island more so the North Island is really just a couple of whistle-stops. We headed out with some of the crew from the bus and had a good old night.

 

Met a lad from Port Umna who of course knew the only other person I’ve ever met from Port Umna – such a small world. Of course one of the girls on the bus has worked with my bro Johnny – again proving Irish people are just everywhere!!! Anyway we had a good night but I now vouch that I am never drinking wine again (well at least until Chile), I suffered the next day and we had another mammoth journey to get through plus we had to jump 15000 feet out of an airplane– Oh yeah and please don’t attempt a sky dive if you’re suffering ill-effects from the night before!!!!

 

It is such an amazing experience, unlike the bungee jump which was great but didn’t live up to expectations, the sky dive more than delivered. Like the bungee, I wasn’t nervous at all and I actually wanted to be – because you need to get hyped up I think. We were harnessed up and up we went.

We circled for ages so we got loads of oxygen into us. I thought that this would perk me up but, again like before the bungee, I started falling asleep. God I’m weird but I think I might get sleepy instead of nervous, maybe it’s my unconscious nerves coping technique or something. Anyway I didn’t really start to realise what I was doing until a girl who was jumping at 12,000ft disappeared out the door….. Hmmmmm THEN I knew something was about to happen!! Also Kate’s turn was up and her pupils dilated to five times their  normal size – absolute classic :-) Anyhoo me next and suddenly I’m sitting at the edge of the plane and the next thing we’re free-falling through the air. The funny thing is with the bungee and the sky dive I expected this sort of feeling like you’re flying – don’t kid yourself, when you’re free-falling through the air, you’re incredibly aware of every ounce you weigh :-) until the parachute opens and whisks you back up.

Such a great experience, I will definitely do another one if I can. My official photos are unreadable from the disk they gave me though, which is a little disappointing so I´ll have to kick some ass!!

Stopped in Auckland just for a short stop, which was much prettier than I had been led to believe. Briefly stayed in the worst hostel ever!! Allergic because the hostels have been really good in New Zealand this place was dirty and untidy. Even when I stored my bag there for the morning before my flight, it was covered in cockroaches when I came back to get it – nice, huh?

And that ends my time in Australiasia. It´s weird to be leaving, it marks the end of a big portion of my trip. Overall I think I preferred Australia to New Zealand, don´t get me wrong, New Zealand is beautiful but I think it´s a bit too much like home in terms of landscape….. and weather!

The Kiwis are quite similar to the Aussies, very friendly and chatty people, with an affection for meat pies. The Kiwis or the Aussies were never able to get Kate´s name though, we used to laugh about it – because it´s pretty straight forward but she was called everything from quiche to Keish :-) I used to tell her she had to said with their accent Kay-ate (phonetically speaking) Also they have these crazy huge car parking spaces, yet I´ve never seen such difficulties parallel parking. I mean in Auckland on the last day, it took 5 people to parallel park a car that really could have been driven into the space – the space was that big!!!

Well that´s it, I´m off to Santiago, Chile. Will be travelling alone for the rest of my time away as Kate has gone back to Australia to work. Of course I´ll miss Kate loads but I´m looking forward to the challenge of South America on my own too. And travelling alone isn´t half as scary as you think, in fact you´re rarely on your own anyway.

 

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157612984838372/  

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157612986159450/

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157612940910545/

Published by Linda on 25 Jan 2009

Wanaka, Queenstown & Bungeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee………………

Decided to stay in Wanaka as we heard it was nice chillaxy place and it has beautiful surrounding mountains and a lake. On the journey from Makarora, we visited Lake Wanaka and stopped at some other nice spots for photos.

Wanaka is nice place to chill out. We resisted doing a sky dive as we are saving that for Taupo – the classic sky dive spot which is our second last stop. The only thing about leaving it until the end is that it could be cancelled at the last minute due to weather conditiions. This happened to Claire, a girl who is travelling with us on the stray bus. She did get to jump the following morning though. Anyway we decided to visit the highly recommended Paradiso Cinema in Wanaka. The seats are big comfy sofas and you can even sit in a Morris Minor.

You can also order dinner which is served at intermission. It’s a really quirky funky cinema that has very tempting still warm fresh baked cookies, beer, wine and loads of other goodies to choose from.

The next morning we bused it early to Queenstown as I had to had in my backpack to be repaired (feckin allergic), we were meeting Kate’s friend Michelle and we had to book in for the Nevis Bungy jump. Now all along I said I’d never do a bungee as I reckoned the adrenaline wouldn’t even get a chance to kick in, it would be over so quick. Anyhoo for the last few weeks and some persuasion fom Kate, I kinda thought well I might as well try it or I might regret it. So we said we’d do the Nevis (134 metres) well you may as well go the whole hog, right? Off we went and I was surprisingly relaxed all morning – I even dozed off on the way there for feck’s sake. Still no nerves when we got there and they harnessed us up. Funnily enough Kate was pretty nervous and i thought i would be the nervous one.

Started getting a bit hyper and excited after a while but not the pertrified feeling as I had totally expected. I had really expected everyone to be really pumped and hyper or at least nervous but everyone seemed to be calm, collected and even after jumping people were simply smiling but not ecstatic in the slightest. So my turn came around and they plonked me in the chair to harness up my feet.

Still all good and I bunny-hopped out to the edge. And then I looked down…..and the fear rushed through me. The guys working there are really good though,, he literally stopped me looking down, removed my hand which was clamped to his tee-shirt and told me to look out ahead and on his count jump off. And without analysing it (again very unlike me) that’s exactly what I did!!!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/3210886695/in/set-72157612775954272/

Very liberating feeling, free-falling through the air and there wasn’t a big jerk as you bounce at the end, just a feeling of pressure on your ankles. Fantastic but as I had suspected, it’s over way too quickly, I reckon if I could have done it once or twice more straight afterwards I would have got the rush I had expected. Still though I’m glad I did it and I’m totally psyched up to do the sky dive now.

Spend the next day hiding from the rain and then strolling around Queenstown, which is such pretty town carved into the hills. The following day saw us making the 13 hour round trip to Milford Sound. We had some nice stops on the way……..

but it peed rain for most of the time we were there, which is one way made it spectacular with all these crazy waterfalls forming everywhere. Probably the way Milford Sound should be seen. But it also made it very steamy, foggy and us pretty sodden!!

And so, apart from brief stops in kaikoura and Christchurch to break the journey, that pretty much finishes our journey in the South island. Scary, it’s been a very quick couple of weeks and it’s not long now before I leave for South America. Until next time, check out my photos & videos on……

http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157612775895130/  http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157612775954272/  http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157612809066443/

Published by Linda on 19 Jan 2009

The Wild West & Franz Josef Glacier

After two nights at Abel Tasman, we took off down the Wild West Coast and did a lot of sight seeing on the way. We saw the Buller Gorge, the seal colony at Westport and the pancake rocks and blowholes at Paparoa National Park.

 

The west coast of Australia is a lot like the west coast of Ireland, in terms of landscape, sea-scape, the area being slightly neglected by the government in terms of economic investment and of course a hell of a lot of rain. Now we managed to avoid for most of the time but still there is a distinct Irish feel to it! Even the seal colony was in a place called Westport!!! Some of the locals I met in Barrytown remind me of some of the people I have dealings with in work – classic!!! All good fun though. We had a good night out there even though we suspected that the bus company engineer this whole day so everyone stays at Barrytown (which they basically own) We were promised a mad night out, which is wasn’t, but good old craic all the same.

I met a couple of locals in the pub who were openly smoking funny fags, the contents of which they cultivate themselves. Makes for entertaining conversation :-) We also got a great home cooked roast chicken dinner with loadsa veggies and roast potatoes (I’m not a fan of roasties – I think they are just shrivelled up potatoes) but nonetheless it all went down a treat :-)

The next day saw us busing it to Franz Josef, home of one of the fastest moving glaciers in the world. On the way, we stopped at this crazy Bushman’s centre. It basically explains a bit about the west coast, the animals that were introduced from other parts of the world and the history of reindeer farming. New Zealanders are crazy, man, they introduced reindeers, then started shooting them awhen the population grew too large and then when the price of meat went up they started capturing them from the west coast. Now the interesting part is how they captured them. They literally flew around in a helicopter and a nominated mad-man jumped and rugby tackled the reindeers to the ground, hog tied them and hooked them on to the helipcopter while they went on to find more victims. The method then developed into using a kind of net gun which dropped a net over the reindeer so the Bushmen didn’t have to wrestle them as much. Seriously, these people were nuts!!!! What the hell is wrong with using a tranquilliser dart????? It was very entertaining though, in particular the cafe menu gave us a laugh…..

….we weren’t tempted to sample any of these “treats” though!!

Anyhoo back to Franz Josef and we had to climb it to see what it was like. it’s kinda spooky though because you get glimpses of it around the town and it’s mighty!!!

It’s so huge that where we started in the car park, you’re kinda thinking, we’ll be at the base of it in about 10 minutes but it actually takes about an hour or so to even get on the ice. We went for a half day trek and it was really good. Amazing scenery and surprisingly warm (hence the shorts) until the sun went in and the wind started. Then it was fricken cold man!!!!!

You can almost see the cold on my face, can’t you??? And anyone who knows me, will know I’m a serious coldy-cat :-) Still though it was worth it to do this…..

…….and see this

The only thing was, I didn’t really feel like I had enough time up there. We really should have gone for a full day’s trek (as everyone who did was on a high afterwards) but the half day was probably 8 or 10km and we thought we might have enough as the full day was 6 hours on the ice, plus I was kinda sick that day so I was speed wobbling a bit – not so good for walking on the ice. It is a bit freaky actually, the spikes totally weld you to the ice but you still think you’re going to fall. Very enjoyable though and I highly recommend anyone to try it – but go for a full day or I think some companies do a three-quarter day. Back to camp and I finished off my day steaming in the sauna and a tasty dinner and it was all good :-)

We headed off the following day and caught some glances of Fox Glacier and Mount Cook. Our last stop on the wild west track was in Makarora, where there was pretty much a petrol station/hostel/bar/restaurant – exciting stuff!! (I foolishly believed that these might all be in separate buildings, alas no but what do you expect in a town with a population of 40!! Roll on a little civilisation (I hope) in our next few stops – Wanaka & Queenstown.

Until next time…….more photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157612546211613/ and http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157612636420468/

Published by Linda on 15 Jan 2009

Camera Crises in Christchurch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Do you know what I hate…….Cameras, memory chips, USB keys and computer viruses!!!!!!!! Grrrrrrrrrr our first day in New Zealand was spent trying to sort this crap out. Both of us used “diseased” computers in an internet cafe in Sydney. Boo to it! Anyway we got things somewhat sorted and were able to move on.

Christchurch is lovely, very relaxed and laid back and we just soaked it all in…….

….and fed our Sushi habit :-) We decided to take a break from driving and book a bus ticket which will take us all around New Zealand (North & South islands). We have a jammed packed schedule and will have to pick and choose what we want to see because we can’t see it all in 19 days unfortunately :-(

Our first stop after Christchurch was Kaikoura and we chilled out there for a few days. Plenty of walks planned, however the weather was pretty grim so we didn’t get to go. This also meant whale watching and swimming with Dolphins was out. Bummer. We did check out some seals though, but I have to say they are pretty fecking lazy buggers. There’s not a whole lot else you can do in Kaikoura, apart from sample the famous crayfish but at $75 a head, it’s a little bit out of our price range!! We will pass through Kaikoura again so we might get to swim with Dolphins yet. We did stay in a backpackers that’s worth mentioning, it was kinda like a cross between a convent and your grannies’ house in a comforting yet creepy and damp way too. Anyhoo this sign on the noticeboard really amused us…..

Of course this must be meant in the most innocent possible way, right? :-)

The following day we bused it to Nelson (including a 2 hour bus breakdown in Picton on the way – groan) which we thought might be a good spot to head out and have a couple of drinks. The first pub had 14 people in it – including 2 bar staff. They closed up about 11pm and we thought that’s it. Oh dear!!! Then we happened upon a pub with some life and some live music. Had a good old session and even met a guy from Cork who’s living there.

 

Then we were off to Abel Tasman which is a huge national park. We opted to see the park on a full day sailing trip and we got a lovely sunny day (sweet) for it which was just lovely. We got to see more seals, fabulous scenery and beaches and of course famous “Split Apple Rock” used in a lot of tourism advertising for New Zealand…….

………….and basically just took in the great scenery, soaked up the rays and chillaxed lazily for the day. I know this is really boring but I also got to cook which is like a little treat for me :-) We do try to cook but honestly it works out cheaper and way less effort to buy the $10 backpacker meals that are on offer most places. We stayed at “Old McDonald’s Farm” (I kid you not!!!)

The bus driver told us that mad scientists successfully mated sheep with camels. Now I presumed he was messing but actually this is the result…..

Freaky, huh? Anyway the 100 acre Old McDonald’s Farm is actually for sale for the bargain price of $7 million if anyone is interested???

Anyhoo with thoughts of e-i-e-o and “shamels” in my head, I’m outta here. Until next time…..

 

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157612595378788/

Published by Linda on 10 Jan 2009

Melbourne & The GREAT Ocean Road

I was looking forward to Melbourne because so many people talked about nice cafes and funky bars that you find down little alleyways. After Sydney and the rest of Oz, Melbourne felt very, very European but we sorted that out by feeding our latest Sushi habit mmmmmmmm :-) God sushi is great!!! And Amy you were right, it’s everywhere around Sydney and Melbourne!! It’s the perfect meal for me because you can have little bits of everything :-)

We rented a car (a bucket of shite but damn it was cheap!! :-) ) for a few days and drove the Great Ocean Road which is just breath taking. Everyone says it’s beautiful but that doesn’t even sum it up to be honest. We drove through little towns like Geelong (where we stopped for lunch by the water), Torquay (and resisted buying surf gear – oh it’s soooo hard) and visited Bells Beach which is just outside. This is pretty much the most famous surfing beach in Australia.

 

It’s really lovely but the current is so so strong, it’s not really recommended to swim there – even though we did see some idiot attempting it. We drove on to Lorne where we stopped for the night (as we had set off a little late) Lorne is lovely, a nice small town with good bars and restaurants but it was a treat to have a home cooked dinner in the hostel, cooked by our friend, Remi – so thanks for that mister :-) . The following morning we headed off to see nearby Erskine Falls and then headed on to Apollo Bay. The road from Lorne to Apollo Bay is basically carved into the cliffs and the views are out of this world, kinda distracting when you’re trying to drive!!

 

The real must see spots started after this when we reached Port Campbell, The Twelve Apostles……

 Ahhhhh seriously just look at it!!! There’s only 6 of them left now but it’s still massively impressive, don’t ya think? We got a great day weatherwise too so our photos came out really well. Next up was The Arch…..

London Bridge…….

Bay of Islands, Bay of Martyrs, the list goes on and on….. and you can check out the rest of them on my flickr site. We basically filled our cameras (for a change!!) and even though the pictures came out pretty well, they still don’t do it justice. It is just AMAZING!!!!

 

Back to Melbourne and we met up with Snowie (Cork girl) and Heath (who we worked with in Darwin) and they showed up some of the Melbourne nightlife.

 

We found ourselves wandering down a very dark dodgy alleyway (where you find the best little spots in Melbourne) to find a cracking bar with a kind of science lab theme. These are the bathrooms……

 

Good fun, and one too many glasses of wine for Lindy – oh dear!! Melbourne is great but I do think you need FAR more time here to explore or else someone needs to show you around – big time.

And so that ends my time in Australia and I’m really sad about leaving actually. I didn’t think I would be as sad as I am so it’s a little unexpected. There’s so much to see here and I’m gutted we didn’t have the time to see the west coast which I think would be really beautiful but unfortunately I’ll have to wait til next time…….

But for now it’s on to the next chapter…… New Zealand, which will be action/adventure packed!!!!

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157612280266032/

Published by Linda on 07 Jan 2009

Sydney

A word of warning, this blog could be long and muddled up. Sydney is the longest stop I’ve had for a while so I can’t really remember what happened on what days. Anyhoo I’ll start at the beginning, I drove from Byron Bay to Nelson Bay and it really took it out of me. Headed for Sydney on the 22nd and after a couple of slanging matches with the satellite navigation lady, I arrived in Coogee Bay, home for Christmas 2008.

Coogee is like a mini Bondi in a lot of ways but a bit more relaxed. Stayed in the Coogee Bay Hotel which is a hive of activity and big hit on the pub list in the area. Anyhoo headed into Sydney that night and had a stroll around China town and the following day myself and Remi, who I first met in Darwin and was going to be hanging out with us for Christmas, started hitting the must sees list. Had a look at one of the Cathedrals and a stroll through Hyde Park and around the Market Street area. Resisted shopping but went to some really lovely shopping malls including the Queen Victoria Boulevard which had the nicest Christmas trees I’ve seen in Australia. It spans the 3 floors of the mall so you can see a piece of it on every level. Just gorgeous to stand under. It felt sooooo Christmassy :-)

It also had a grand piano which played Christmas songs all by itself, very cute!! (you can watch the video on my flickr… http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/3176542082/in/set-72157611510055485/

We walked through the Strand Mall which is really old fashioned and quaint (apart from the prices!!).

Then we headed to Darling Harbour which I wasn’t massively impressed with to be honest but later I went back there at night where it is much prettier when it’s all lit up.

Next was the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge and they are just as awesome as you would imagine. We had a great day weather-wise and got billions of photos. Went for a drink at the Opera House bar which offers views of the bridge and the Opera House so we hung out there for ages. 

We also went on a cruise of the harbour which was okay but there was no commentary!!! It gave us some more nice views of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge though.

Also had a stroll through the Botanical Gardens where you’re invited to hug the trees, smell the roses and walk on the grass. It’s really beautiful and absolutely massive.

Christmas day saw us taking the walk from Coogee Bay to Bondi.

It’s a nice walk in ways but a little strange in others, like when you walk through a massive graveyard (with many Irish buried there), a car park and a housing estate. Still though you walk through some beautiful beaches and eventually you find yourself walking on the cliff top with the sun shining and gorgeous views.

Suddenly the sprawl of Bondi beach hits your eyes. It was just so packed with people………

Full of Irish in GAA jerseys and designer sunburn and english with no jerseys at all really :-) Christmas dinner was a picnic so I did miss my Mammy’s cooking but Christmas day on the beach is just lovely and such a novelty!!! As is wearing a bikini and having a swim!!

Headed off to Manly on the ferry. Manly is a lovely area with gorgeous beaches, some were really packed but it’s summer time here and all the kids are off school so everywhere is busy. The water there is lovely and clear and I took advantage with a long swim.

We also had a stroll across the Harbour Bridge (which we were meant to climb but it was booked out – gutted!!!) and through the first settlement area in Sydney which is called The Rocks. It’s pretty much like Coronation Street (English Soap Opera) with tiny little corner shops, terraced houses and pubs with rooms to stay over them.

Sydney is quite British overall, from the street names like King Street, Queen Street, George Street, to their obsession with meat pies, slow steady all day drinking and just a generall feeling of Britishness!? I suppose I just forget that it’s long live the Queen over here.

We also hung out in The Rocks for most of New Year’s Eve day and evening as it is really close to the harbour so we walked down and watched the fireworks there with the masses and it was spectacular. There’s a few videos on my flickr site that show some of the action.

Took it very easy on New Year’s Day, I literally only went to the new South Wales Gallery to see an Impressionists Exhibition and did pretty much nothing else all day!

Our last day in Sydney we headed off to Blue Mountains, it is just beautiful there, the air is sooooo clear that I couldn’t stop sneezing! :-)

Believe it or not I also relaxed and slept a bit over Christmas, which isn’t like me at all!! But it was nice to recharge the batteries. I was really sad to leave Sydney, it felt like a huge goodbye in many different ways. Even though we have Melbourne to follow, I kinda feel like leaving Sydney behind was a huge milestone. It’s also 2009 and I’ll be home in a few short months which is very, very scary…..

More photos on http://www.flickr.com/photos/lindybear/sets/72157611510055485/