Sydney was just as wonderful as we had hoped. Despite being saddened to leave Victoria, we were glad to be arriving at this much anticipated destination. A landmark that is recognisable to most from a young age; the Sydney Opera House is a place on many bucket lists. The initial view had me beaming from ear to ear and not for the first time, feeling the need to pinch myself to remind me this was real.
We were lucky enough to spend New Years Eve in Sydney. However, far from a boozy night, we spent the entirety of the day sat in the botanical gardens ensuring our spot for that nights event. We passed the day through a mixture of napping, unwanted sunbathing, even more unwanted sun burning, playing cards, and people watching. It was certainly a long wait from 9am, and it was easy to become awfully jealous of those that had paid for tickets and therefore waltzed in at 8pm looking fresh and being handed glasses of fizz. A lesson well learnt perhaps, and yes Lucy, we know you told us before – but it was very expensive for our tight backpacker budget! Should we visit again (and we intend to!) we will keep that in mind. However if you have the money, go for it! That, or a private boat in the harbour is what I’m aiming for.
The fireworks were undoubtedly spectacular. Even our slightly obscured view couldn’t take away from the tremendous performance and the atmosphere of being so close to arguably the most iconic New Years Eve performance in the world. 30 tonnes of explosives were used and set off in sync to various musical legends. And we got to welcome the new year in 10 hours before everyone else at home!
Courtesy of the naughty Pike’s, we took a dinner cruise on the harbour one evening – complete with three course meal, champagne and cocktails! Not very backpacker! The food was scrummy and the views were incredible. This is possibly something we wouldn’t have done without the Pike’s recommendation and of course their ridiculous kindness. I’m so glad we did – another thank you to you guys, like you hadn’t already done enough for the two of us!
Of course the other highlight was being reunited with my Mum and Nan after not seeing them for 3 months. It’s crazy how fast that time has passed, and all the things that have happened in between. It didn’t take long to get back into old habits and a lot of gossiping, eating, and cocktail drinking was had. James even got a morning to himself in the Maritime museum (thank you family for saving me from that one) whilst the girls visited the aquarium, and of course didn’t pass up on an opportunity for coffee and cake. The goodbye was still oddly sad. We are reunited in Auckland in merely a few weeks, so it shouldn’t have been at all! I guess it was just lovely to have a touch of home; especially so when they arrive with heaps of missed English biscuits!
Our accommodation was over the water in Manly. The first few nights were in a lovely Air BnB find with two English girls. They had landed in Sydney from home, only at the start of their adventures, and therefore it was easy for us to feel like the boring old folk! We weren’t quite “full of life”but rather still in holiday mode from our relaxing time in Melbourne after a full on road trip. On parting ways with the girls, we had no set accommodation booked and just planned on looking for something cheap and cheerful in the city, or sleeping on Mum’s hotel room floor! As if by magic however, Helena appeared (you may remember from previous posts, the UNO loving English girls that couldn’t contain their laughter around Captain Cod at the Whitsundays – Helena was one of them). After picking us up and taking us to a scenic cafe for breakfast, Helena offered us her spare room for the two nights left of our stay. We enjoyed UNO of course, and a yummy BBQ with her and her other half Jimmy. This kindness is something that has really touched me, not just on this occasion, but throughout our journey so far. For someone, who realistically barely knows neither myself nor James, to invite us into their home and expect absolutely nothing in return is such a selfless act that no amount of thank yous can ever quite repay. It has certainly put a lot into perspective for me. We are already part of the Couch Surfing community at home; I hope we can continue this on our return but with a much fresher understanding of just how much small acts of kindness can make a difference to people. Travellers must be more grateful than I ever realised for our free digs, company and conversation. I know we were – thanks again Helena and Jimmy! There’s a bed for you around the Peak District if you ever want it, and I’ll even invest in UNO.
We had nowhere near long enough to explore all there was to see in Sydney. Staying with locals gave us plenty of tips, things to do and walks to take. Free tourist things are our favourite, and we were gutted we couldn’t do more of them. We barely explored a fraction of the city, and yet we both still felt a warmth towards the place. I guess it will have to go on a list of places to revisit – if we find the time amongst all of the places we are yet to go!