Aussie Adventure – Day 5 & Day 6

January 27, 2009 at 1:04 pm (Uncategorized)

Day 4 – New Year’s Eve!  It was hard to believe that our trip was already almost half over.  We decided to spend the first part of the day in true Australian style and laze around on a beach.  We set off with Julia and Dan at around 8:00 and headed out to Manly beach, just north of central Sydney. 

As is the case with any ocean-front area, parking was at an absolute premium even though it was only 9:00, and we spent about 10 minutes driving around various side streets trying to find a spot.  We hiked it back down to the beach and wow, was the view ever spectacular.  It really took my breath away.  Beautiful waves crashing against a sandy white beach and the hot sun above us – amazing.  Here are a few good shots of the area, although they can’t do it justice:

manly-beach

manly-beach-2

Anyway, we walked along the length of the boardwalk looking for a good place to set up shop, while I gaped at some of the ultra bronzed women on the beach.  They were likely my colouring at some point in their lives, but had since burned to a nice, crispy brown that looked remarkably like cow hide.  It’s no wonder that the skin cancer rate in Australia is so phenomenally high.  Cheryl told us that the highest SPF for sunscreen she can buy is 30!  30!!  I generally wear 50 or higher when I go out in the sun, although I’m a little hyper sensitive about excessive sun exposure. 

Directly across from the centre of the beach was an area called The Corso, which was another pedestrian-only zone filled with lots of shops and restaurants. 

the-corso2

Although we’d only been up for a couple of hours, Dave saw a kebab restaurant and just couldn’t resist the call of the shaved meat.  He sat there, mowing through a big, greasy kebab at 10:00 in the morning in true Dave style.  We grabbed a waterproof camera at a pharmacy, then headed back down to the beach for some well-deserved lounging.

We layed out our towels and took in the beautiful views all around us, then decided to hit the water.  By that time Julia’s friend Renee had joined us, so the five of us waded out into the water for some body surfing.  The waves were pretty big at some points, and I was thrown around a few times when the waves caught me off-guard.  It was so amazing just floating out in the ocean – the water was cool, but not cold, and was a nice relief from the hot sun. 

So after my earlier rant about sunscreen and burned Australians, I think it’s important to detail how my own day of sun exposure turned out.  Yes, I am a bit of a hypocrite.  I completely forgot to put sunscreen on one very important and delicate area – the tops of my feet.  Oh boy, did I pay for that mistake.  Even now, the top of my right foot is still very, very red, and you can actually see the outlines of my index and middle fingers where I spread the sunscreen down my shin.  Unfortunately I stopped a few inches too soon, and ended up looking a little like a burn victim for the rest of the trip.  Dave also managed to procure the inevitable “stupid burns” – he fried the backs of his knees, the tops of his hands and his ankles.  I also got quite a hefty burn on my scalp, but that’s kind of inevitable, as I can’t exactly slather on sunscreen in that region. 

Anyway, we decided to go for broke and blew all concepts of eating healthy at lunch – we had fish & chips from a little restaurant in The Corso, and topped it off with a scoop of home made ice cream with hot fudge.  Delicious.  No wonder I put on so many pounds during this trip…

We headed back to the Norman’s just after lunch so we could get ready for New Year’s Eve celebrations.  Julia and Dan were visiting friends for a party, and Dave and I were spending the evening with Tony and Cheryl down by the water.  I was so excited to see the Sydney fireworks in person – I’d heard so many amazing things about them, and had seen clips of it on the news before, but to be there to see it live was pretty special.  The city of Sydney actually has a website solely devoted to the New Year’s Eve celebration – http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/nye/ and you can tell just how much planning and thought must go into this event. 

Unfortunately Victoria wasn’t feeling well, and ended up staying home for the evening, but the rest of us departed around 4:00 to pick out a good viewing spot.  Tony parked the car and we hopped on a shuttle bus that took us to Boronia Park, which offered great views down the Sydney Harbour.  Until then I hadn’t realized that the fireworks are actually simultaneously set off at seven different locations along the length of the Harbour, and our spot would give us a great view of four.  Take a look at this map – http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/nye/VantagePoints/default.aspx – on the far left side you can see Cockatoo Island and Woolwich Road on the mainland – that little green strip of parkland is exactly where we were. 

We brought blankets, plus a bunch of coolers filled with drinks and food.  Before leaving Cheryl had checked the city website, which said very explicitly that no glass bottles were allowed in any open area.  We dutifully obeyed, and didn’t bring any bottles of champagne, beer or wine, although we did have a box of wine for dinner 🙂  When we arrived, we found that every single group of people all around us had tons and tons of glass bottles.  D’oh!

Since we had many hours to kill until the early fireworks at 9:00, Dave and I decided to go for a walk.  We wandered up Woolwich Street for a good hour before realizing that there was absolutely nothing to see there other than houses.  Not a grocery store, or a shop of any kind, and boy, was it hot.  Back at the park we stopped in at the Woolwich Hotel for a drink, and then wandered back down to our blankets for dinner.  We had a great meal of cold cut sandwiches, cheese and crackers plus some wine, then we relaxed and enjoyed the sunset.  The view of the sun on the harbour with boats slowly cruising along was absolutely gorgeous.

As the evening wore on an older Aussie fellow beside us delved further and further into his whisky, and started shouting obscenities at a group of Lebanese 20-somethings sitting right beside him.  It was a little embarrasing to hear the continuous string of racial slurs this guy could come up with.  But, as Tony would say, this guy was a classic red-neck hick, or “bogun”, as they’re called in Australia, so we tried to ignore him as he screamed things like “If I had a machine gun I’d mow them all down”.  Oh, and he was there with his wife and kids.  Classy.

We were, however, treated to a magnificent sunset – here are a few shots:

sydney-harbour-sunset-nye-2

sydney-harbour-sunset-nye

Around 8pm we went back up to the Woolwich, and Dave managed to smuggle two beers out of the bar before the bouncer caught us, which he and Tony enjoyed just before the early fireworks began at 9pm.  I have to say, I was thoroughly impressed with the kiddie version of the fireworks, so I couldn’t imagine what was to come at midnight.  After the first round was complete and dusk set in, there was a large parade of boats decorated with lights in the shapes of huge sea creatures that wound its way throughout the harbour.  It was amazing to watch.

Time seemed to stop in between 9:30 and 11:30 – we were so excited for the big midnight show, and it seemed that the universe wanted us to endure each excruciating minute until the final countdown to its full extent.  I’m used to watching the ball dropping in Time’s Square, so was a little surprised when there was no countdown or huge lead up to the actual stroke of midnight.  All of a sudden a single firework was let off into the darkness, and then the entire sky lit up in a blaze of glory.  It was dazzling and overwhelming – there was literally too much for the eye to take in.  We watched as the display was set off simultaneously down the harbour with pinpoint accuracy – the timing was impeccable.  The Sydney bridge was lit up from one end to another with the full rainbow of colours.  I really can’t put the experience into words.  It was really magical.  After a full 15 minutes of complete awesomeness, the finale was completed and the crowds began to sing “Auld Lang Syne”.  We exchanged hugs and wishes for a Happy New Year, then set off towards the shuttle that would take us back to our car.

Unlike most major cities like Toronto, Sydney was incredibly well organized in planning this event.  As soon as the fireworks finished a fleet of dozens upon dozens of city buses pulled up and began shuttling people away from the epicentre.  The total time from leaving the park to pulling into the Norman’s driveway was 45 minutes.  45 minutes!!  I assumed, from experience at Canada Day events back home, that we’d have been stuck in traffic for hours.  Hallelujah!  Back at home we celebrated with the bottle of champagne I’d picked up at Dan Murphy’s, then everyone went to bed.  Happy New Year!

On New Year’s Day we were a little limited on our sightseeing options, since many of the tourist spots (outside of beaches) were closed for the day.  Victoria and Cheryl wanted to do some shopping in downtown Sydney, so we decided to tag along and head over to the Sydney Tower.  Along the way we made a pit stop at another fantastic beach – Bondi Beach.  It’s probably the most tourist-y of the Australian beaches, and is well-known for its lifeguards who wear the little speedos (or banana hammocks, or budgie smugglers – Tony has many euphemisms for the male bikini). 

Although it was only mid-morning the sand on the beach was boiling hot and the sun was beating down on our heads.  Tony, Cheryl & Victoria dropped Dave and I off at the boardwalk and we meandered on our own for a bit.  The beach is very large, and the sand was beautiful – like a sun bleached bone.  Here’s a good shot:

bondi-beach

We had only planned to walk along the beach, but there were some great waves and Dave couldn’t resist the urge to do a little more body surfing.  So he stripped down to his skivvies and I took some videos of him frolicking like a dolphin in the surf.  He definitely had a great time. 

We only stayed for about an hour, then joined up with the fam and headed into Sydney.  I was excited to check out one of the shopping landmarks, called the Queen Victoria Building, only to find that it was closed.  Booo.  It’s a beautiful Romanesque building right in the centre of downtown that apparently has a lot of great stores:

qvb

Oh well, it wasn’t meant to be.  We had a nice lunch at the Three Wise Monkeys tavern on George Street, and then wandered over to the Sydney Tower.  This was the third component of the Discovery pass we’d purchased at the Aquarium, and is very similar to the CN Tower in Toronto  (http://www.sydneytower.com.au/).  It wasn’t nearly as spectacular as the CN Tower, but it was pretty cool, and gave us great views of the entire city of Sydney.  We actually had the most fun at the souvenir shop, where we both picked up really snazzy Australia rugby jackets and I got a new bag.  Woo!

Later that evening we had a fun night out with Julia, Dan and Victoria at a local restaurant called the Hillside Tavern.  It was a very relaxed day, and we definitely enjoyed the downtime!

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5 Comments

  1. kara said,

    Hello! lisa teacher~!

    I’m Kara. I want meet you. I don’t like my teacher. but I like you

    now teacher is speak is very fast and stuffy and very not funny

    I love you.

    an answer please

    bye~

    • kara said,

      teacher~ please reply me~

  2. Linda said,

    Hello Lisa!
    I’m Linda. Can you remember me?
    I want to see you!
    This blogs is good!
    See you again!
    P.S : Give me a e-mail to my e-mail please!

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