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Landed in the Land Down Under


View 11 months around the world on geldere's travel map.

We’ve left behind rice, street food, and bargaining in Asia and have arrived in the Land Down Under! And let me tell you what, their economy is doing well because life here is expensive! Nevertheless, it is definitely nice to be back in a first world country where the main language is English :) Although, I’ve already been called “mate”, have had to ask what’s an “esky” (it’s a cooler), and was told I needed to take off my “thongs” after 10 pm (flip-flops). I enjoy the lingo here :)

We were scheduled to meet up with my mom (Ann), brother (Steven) and brother’s girlfriend (Emily) in Sydney four days after we arrived, so instead of spending time in Sydney on the front end, we headed north to New Castle to see some different sights. We spent the first two days enjoying the beaches and walking around the cute downtown. I had an amusing cultural experience at “Gloria Jean’s Coffee Shop”, it went something like this: “Could I please have a coffee?” “What kind would you like?” “You mean like what kind of bean?” “No, would you like a cappuccino or a latte?” “No, just a regular coffee” “Oh… we don’t have that here.” “Umm [thinking – we are at a coffee shop, right?], ok I’ll just get a latte”. It was a pretty funny exchange. They don’t just serve normal drip coffee. On our third day in Newcastle, we took a small group tour to the Hunter Valley for some wine and cheese tasting – Australia’s version of Napa. Thank goodness someone else was driving, because after about the third vineyard, I don’t recall much. In our tour group were two, young Australian couples who left their children with family for a big day out. It was a nice chance for us to get to interact with locals, but let me tell you, Australian’s can drink!
IMG_3099.jpgDowntown New Castle
IMG_3116.jpgThe beach in New Castle
IMG_3147.jpgEnjoying the local flavors
IMG_3157.jpgAnd, we topped it off with a stop at the local brewery

After three full days in New Castle, we made our way back to Sydney and met up with my Mom, Steven and Emily at the airport. They made the long journey to Australia for a two-week vacation and we were so excited to see them! We headed to Bounce Hostel (yes my mom stayed in a hostel) to get our accommodations set and then headed right out for some sightseeing. We walked all over the downtown and through the botanical gardens where we gawked at the enormous “flying foxes” (big bats with fox like faces), the famous Sydney Opera House, and the Sydney Harbor Bridge. We ate dinner in a downtown neighborhood called “The Rocks” at a place specializing in pancakes (delicious!) and got some great views of the harbor at night. Sydney is a beautiful city!
IMG_3206.jpgThe gang in front of the Opera House
IMG_3176.jpgThe flying foxes- and they're as big as they look!
IMG_3233.jpgCan't beat pancakes for dinner

Since Sydney is a pretty big town with lots to see, we decided to sign up for a two-day hop-on, hop-off bus tour. On our first day, we hopped off at the Sydney Fish Market where we ate a boatload of fried seafood; the Sydney Harbor Bridge which we walked across for some great views, and; Circular Quay where we picked up a ferry to Manly Beach. On our second day on the bus, we took a tour of the Sydney Tower and spent the rest of the day around Bondi Beach, including walking the famous cliff path (where we made Mom nervous by getting too close to the edge) and watching the locals catch some waves. It is amazing that so many really nice beaches are only a short commute away from downtown.
IMG_3245.jpgGetting excited for our tour!
IMG_3255.jpgAt our fried seafood bonanza
IMG_3277.jpgA view of Sydney Harbor
IMG_3286.jpgThe Sydney Opera House
IMG_3292.jpgTaken on the Sydney Harbor Bridge
IMG_3309.jpgOn the ferry to Manly Beach- boating competition
IMG_3363.jpgAt our 4D Sydney tower experience
IMG_3405.jpgMe and my little bro at Bondi beach
IMG_3433.jpgOn the cliff walk at Bondi
IMG_3437.jpgMe, Steven, and Emily getting close to the edge ;)

For our last day in Sydney we headed out of town to see the Blue Mountains via a train to Katoomba. We saw the famous “Three Sisters” and enjoyed beautiful views of the surrounding mountains from several view points. We spent the rest of the day walking along paths through the forest and eventually ended up at Scenic World. From there, we took a train down a steep incline to the valley floor (Mom had us all hysterically laughing after she screamed like a little girl as the train took a steep drop, or maybe that was me :)) and a gondola back out.
IMG_3495.jpgA view from the Three Sisters
IMG_3541.jpgOverlooking Blue Mountains National Park
IMG_3564.jpgRe-creating our train experience on a non-moving specimen :)

All in all, we had a great time in Sydney! In four days, we just skimmed the surface and could have visited much longer. Of all the cities we have visited on our trip, it is definitely one of my favorites!
IMG_3586.jpgSunset from the rooftop at our hostel in Sydney

Next stop, Byron Bay! We’ll write more soon!

Posted by geldere 00:03 Archived in Australia

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