Australia 2014 Part 1

Earlier this year we went to Australia again. It has taken me absolutely ages to get around to blogging about it. Mostly because I’ve just been too depressed to even look at the photos. Leaving Australia to fly home this time was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Just did not want to come home and if it hadn’t been for an imminently expiring visa, I’m not sure I would’ve!

The first time I went to Aus was 2011. I wrote a rather lengthy 10 part blog about it. The missus has been many, many, many times. She has family there. This time, there are nearly 3 times as many pictures so I’ll (try to!) keep the writing to a minimum.

Last time we went in the cheap season at the beginning of April. Flights were about £700 a person. This time we decided to go peak and over Christmas. However, this was going to be very expensive unless we flew out on Christmas Day which halved the price to £1200 per ticket. So that’s what we did!

We caught the train/tube to Heathrow and stayed at the Hilton again. My top hotel when flying from Heathrow! It was like a friggin ghost town! It was so surreal. We had dinner at the hotel, check out the neat table decoration:

I had a Jack Daniels and it cost me something like £9! *shakes fist*

We had a mid morning flight so we got up fairly early to check in, beat the crowds, then had breakfast at a VERY English themed restaurant! Seriously, UKIP could hold their annual conference here!! (Well, if it weren’t for the fact that the waiting staff were all “foreign”!) Lots of milling about trying to contain the excitement of going on holiday and the loathesome anticipation of 26 hours before seeing a bed again!

The flight was actually really good. We flew Malaysian Airlines this time (Qantas last time). We went on a massive A380, one of the new fleet. We were lucky enough to be placed upstairs which feels like a much smaller private flight and there are far too many toilets for the number of people which made the whole experience much more pleasant! Also, the side seats get a side storage container to dump all our stuff in and the leg room was incredible. All in all a really comfy flight!

There was a changeover at Kuala Lumpur and we merged with a plane from Sri Lanka. There was a massive family on board who were scattered through the seats and they just would not sit down and kept ignoring the flight staff while they talked to each other. In the end the cabin crew turned the lights off and it was like putting a curtain over a parrot cage! Bliss!

Arrived in Sydney at night and it really wasn’t all that busy. I think we were one of the last flights in. Last time we were really late in and the airport was dead! Got through customs and baggage claim really quickly which was nice. Hopped on a shuttle bus and headed to the airport hotel where I had a jetlagged argument with reception over whether my hotel was prepaid or not. Which was fun.

Hotel was amazing. If you know you will feel like crap after such a long flight, don’t arse about trying to get to the final destination, just stay at the airport, have a shower, get some room service, start again in the morning! Last time we stayed in an apartment and went straight there and it was a hassle trying to organise the eats when we’d just arrived! This hotel stay took the stress out of things.

In the morning we got a cab to our other hotel in Kings Cross/Potts Point. I love this area of Sydney. Close enough to the city without being too pricey. In addition to being a big backpacker area it’s also home to a big gay community and I’ve just always found these areas to be super friendly. Like Kemp Town in Brighton. We were in Sydney for 6 nights over New Years. Not surprisingly, New Years Eve cost the same as the other 5 nights put together. We arrived quite early, check in wasn’t until 2pm but check out from the last one was 10am, so we went for a wander.

Last time, I bought Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light from a record shop which had an automated spinny thing behind the counter. It was the coolest fucking thing I’d ever seen! We went back there to buy something (anything!) but alas, it had closed:

After buying Wasting Light we ate at a café and had steak sarnies and chips and watched a man pick up a hooker at lunchtime. This café had also closed. I think Aus might be heading towards recession, which is kinda sad.

We went back to the hotel and they had our room ready. As we were so early they gave us a great room with a phenomenal view over the domain, the harbour and down to the bridge:

For the first day, we just mulched around and had lunch at a great café called Zinc which has some of the friendliest staff I’ve ever known in a café! Then we had dinner at the hotel. Just trying to get over jetlag really. The next day we went into Sydney CBD and had lunch at Guylian Belgian Chocolate Café. By contrast this was one of the most over priced, unfriendly craply waited places I’ve ever been to. Seriously they weren’t even busy and yet still they sucked a massive amount of ass! They got no tip! There was one waiter who we thought really needed to rethink his career choice as waiting was not the one for him!

However, I did manage a smile. I was in Sydney after all and it was a baking hot day!

After lunch we went through the Botanical Gardens and had a trip on the petit train and got some useful info about the trees, plants and conservation work they do there.

Here I am ignoring hot chicks and falling in love with Sydney all over again!

On the way back I called off at Harry’s Café de Wheels and got me a pie!

The next day we went to Elizabeth Bay Gardens and lounged about and I got really badly burnt. Typical Brit on holiday eh?! Funny story, we got some pasta from a café but no forks, in the park there were some people having a party for some kids, the missus walked over and asked for a fork and they just gave it to her. No judgement, no snark, no accusations of being a kiddy fiddler. When does that ever happen in the UK?!?!?!

At some point in the holiday we wandered about Macleay Street and took some random snaps but here is one of the fountain:

We also covered some new ground and went to Rushcutters Bay Park. This was brilliant. I think most of the locals were away over New Years to get away from the crush and as a result it made parks like this really quiet and peaceful. We had a smoothie in the café and watched middle class people play tennis badly.

In the afternoon we met up with the missus’ cousin who is an Aussie who lived in the UK for years and has now gone back to raise a family. We went up to the North shore. I’d not really intended going there but I’m glad I did because it opened up a whole new part of Sydney for me. I’m not sure why but I thought it would just be sprawling suburbs like Melbourne but it’s much nicer than that. We went for nachos and wine at a local bar and played with a child!

On New Years Eve, we headed down to the harbour and went to the Chinese Gardens. This was one of the things I regretted not doing last time and was the main reason we came back to Sydney this time. I’m so glad I went, it was just beautiful, and tranquil and hard to believe this is right there in the middle of this busy bustling city. You simply must make this a place to visit on your travels!

Outside, we met this little guy:

Here are some inside photos:

And the little fella met us inside, or this was his brother:

Afterwards we walked back down the harbour and the missus met Eric Bana!!!! Well, his waxwork anyway:

The queues were getting pretty massive by this point, all getting ready for the fireworks. We were very glad our hotel had a view. Here are a ton of pics as we saw in the New Year from our hotel room, with champagne and pizza:

We spent the next couple of days just lazing around waiting for our flight to Tasmania. See part 2 for how we got on there. We went to the New South Wales Art Gallery which we also didn’t have time to do last time. It’s so weird that Australia just doesn’t have much history older than 200 years or so and the art is relatively modern. They had a European section so you could see all the really old stuff and a super cool aboriginal section.

Last time we were in Sydney, we went to the Botanical gardens and just fell completely head over heels in love with the city. It happened again. I love it so much, it’s my favourite place on this whole Earth. When growing up, I always knew I was born in the wrong place, I just never imagined it was TEN AND A HALF THOUSAND MILES away from the right one!

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