having ourselves a Merry Christmas
23.12.2010 - 27.12.2010 25 °C
This is a hard one to write - Sydney in a nutshell.
Like Hong Kong it has a setting to die for, and is incredibly photogenic, the coves and rolling headlands that make up the harbour break it up so that its doesn't feel like a big city, more like a collection of little villages and towns. It has been heaving with visitors over Christmas, but it absorbed us all pretty well - goodness knows what it is like on New Years Eve which is the real big event in the city. There is a booming party culture, but it doesn't seem to get out of control and its not hard to find peace and quiet if you want it. The museums and parks are all excellent (and cheap) and the architecture is terrific. Didn't see any funnel web spiders but there is a very bad cockroach problem. In a way maybe it is working too hard on delivering the perfect tourist experience, and sometimes it felt a little soulless, but then we didn't get out of the tourist compound much.
We had a magical Christmas Eve, surfing at Bondi, which of course is much harder than it looks. You spend about 80% of your time dragging the bloody board out to the waves, 10% of your time falling off and 10% actually surfing (I imagine skiing is much the same). We all loved it and Bondi was great.
We followed up with a night visit to the Sydney Observatory, looking at Jupiter and Sirius through the telescopes. The guide supplied a non stop list of the relative sizes of the sun, each of the planets, their moons and a number of stars which the boys now keep reciting every time there is a gap in the conversation.
Christmas day brought blazing sunshine all day. The whole of Sydney seemed to be packing their picnic baskets and headed round to their mum's, the neighbours, or down to the beach. We went for the last option (cheapest really) and took the ferry and the bus to Balmoral, which is like Four Oaks by the sea. Every square inch of grass and alot of the beach was taken up with picnics and bar-b-ques. We ate at a nice restaurant run by a Frenchman – it was full to bursting and service was slightly frantic – like Marco Pierre White doing school dinners - but it was a great meal and very jolly. And it really didn't feel in the slightest bit odd to be on the beach.
In between we have picnicked in the beautiful botanical gardens, looked at the opera house from almost every angle, seen hundreds of flying foxes, and walked miles and miles round the city. The worst part of the whole experience was leaving today, when we were stuck in grinding post holiday traffic for two hours driving up to the Blue mountains. Naturally, they have been shrouded in mist all day. I think it suited our mood – we are crossing our fingers for better.
Thank you for all your comments and I really hope you have all had a wonderful time too, snuggled round the tree in the seasonal chill. Can't wait for next year......
P, C, S and J