23 January 2012

Sydney: the CBD

We now find ourselves at my last adventure from the past. In 2011, Christy and I made our way down under (and down underER) to Australia and New Zealand. This was a step outside of our comfort zones because it wasn't a typical tour like we've always been on. This was pretty much an independent, but customized tour. We picked different day tours and combined them all together to create the trip. While this was through a company, Brendan Vacations, they were more like the organizer. We didn't see the same people every day - we were pretty much on our own, only with transfers, day tours and flights already booked.

So, why Australia and New Zealand? Well, it's one of those places we've always wanted to visit, and after visiting Israel, something was ignited inside of me. Whereas before I never really thought I would seriously ever visit Australia, after Israel I really thought "why the heck not?" So, Christy and I made it happen. We researched for months and did it. Oh, and as for New Zealand? Well, if you're going to make the 12-hour flight to Australia, come on! I had heard New Zealand is one of the prettiest places in the world!

The Harbour Bridge, looking towards Sydney's CBP, or central business district

So, in March of 2011 - Christy and I made our journey west from LA (first time doing that, usually we fly towards Europe). I have to say the flight wasn't entirely awful either - Qantas was so roomy and comfy, and for whatever reason,  the flight was nowhere near full. So Christy and I got a row to ourselves! woo -hoo! But, word of caution, if you're planning on saving your snacks to enjoy once you land on Aussie soil, forget about it! Christy and I learned the hard way that no food is allowed into the country (in your carry-on anyway, they are a little more lenient for packaged food in checked baggage.)  So Christy and I shoved as many chocolates, chips, pretzels, etc as we could fit in our mouths in the 20 minutes before landing! So - word of warning.

Christy, left, and I - after 12 hours of flying

I have to say, Sydney, from the start, was kind of working against us. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved Sydney - it was a hip, fun city...similar to New York, only it felt way safer. But maybe it's just us, but we kept getting hit with so many unexpected issues - none of which were that big of a deal, but the trip just started out...different than we expected. Maybe it was the change from dependent touring to independent that made these changes more noticeable. Anyway, having to figure things out on our own helped prepare us (maybe? slightly?) for our future, completely independent traveling. 

I loved the contrast between new and old, displayed beautifully in Sydney

Me and Christy have a bad track record with "HOHO" buses (Hop On Hop Off), dating back to 2008 in  London, but I'm proud to say we actually caught the HOHO bus in Sydney! (Only after an hour of waiting at a stop the bus never went to, and asking helpful people along the way...)  But, we were productive! After a 12-hr flight, starting at 10pm and arriving at 7:30am local time (with only an hour or so sleep), we resisted the urge to sleep the day away in our hotel and saw the sights. (What, are we learning from our mistakes or something? Like sleeping our first day away in Tel Aviv..) Needless to say, we were dependent on our delirious giddiness to keep us awake and functioning!

First day, and I already knew this would be our mantra

                 Sydney's Queen Victoria Building                         Detail of  St. Mary's Cathedral 

St. Mary's Cathedral

Our first day in Sydney was definitely a success. While we were still getting into the groove of this trip's pace, I think we both fell in love with Australia and her people instantly. The people are friendly, funny and....cheeky! The term someone gave Christy and I as well - "cheeky." I love it because it's so true! Christy and I are always laughing about something - finding humor in everyday life and keeping the spirit alive! That's what we do! Every since Australia, we've dubbed ourselves the "cheeky girls ("gi'ls", if you say it with an Aussie accent..)

   I was excited to see this Ibis, till I found out they're 
                        pretty much common

Looking over Darling Harbour

Beautiful Victorian houses in Paddington

The fountain I had been so excited to see - El Alamein fountain. Pretty!

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