Tis the season to be jolly

After saying goodbye to Fritz it was off into the big city and to our hostel. It was all very straightforward which was just as well seeing as our one year two bags had turned into one year 8 bags….(and we even accidentally left some stuff behind in Fritz!) The hostel we booked back in April was situated in the Rocks area of Sydney which overlooks the beautiful harbour with the Opera House and the bridge. Being at such a great vantage point comes at a cost and after our uneventful trip on a double decker train we had to negotiate some very steep stairs with our umpteen bags! It was all worth it though, look at the view from the roof terrace!!

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For our first evening in the bright lights we decided to head to the Glenmore pub up the road as they were doing $12 steaks and we couldn’t be bothered to traipse to the supermarket. Plus, after our fly ridden last night in the van, we thought we deserved a treat. The steak was amazing for £6.50! We had a wander around the harbour afterwards which was beautiful. There was a really nice feel about the place and we both instantly felt happy in Sydney, we knew that Christmas and New Year were going to be incredible.

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Next day was Christmas Eve. I’d decorated our bunk bed with tinsel and fairy lights and we had a tiny little tree in the room with crackers but we were missing something…presents. I generally leave present buying to the last minute anyway but this was taking things to the extreme! We headed into the city to see what we could find, apparently everyone else had the same idea. Everywhere was so christmassy with trees and christmas music, but it still didn’t feel like christmas because it was warm and I was shopping whilst wearing shorts, weird. We did manage to buy each other a few things though even with a tiny budget.

That evening Tom had arranged to meet some family friends Melissa and Ashley for a few drinks so after wrapping all the presents in free wrapping paper I’d stumbled across in Melbourne, we headed out to meet them.

As usual a few drinks turned into quite a lot of drinks and at midnight we all toasted Christmas Day before heading our separate ways. Once back at the hostel Tom put a stocking on the end of my bed, apparently when I noticed it my face was priceless!!

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I went to bed that night as excited as I usually do on Christmas Eve. It hadn’t been the Christmas Eve either of us were used to but nevertheless it was still Christmas so I was as excited as a small child.

We awoke the next morning to rain!! When planning the trip we’d both said that we really wanted to go to the beach on Christmas Day and I certainly wasn’t going to let a bit of drizzle stop me!
We started off the morning by opening our presents whilst playing christmas music before heading downstairs to make our gourmet breakfast of salmon and poached eggs, well it was Christmas Day!

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It didn’t look like the rain was going to stop but we decided to head to Bondi Beach anyway. I’d love to say that once there the clouds cleared and we had a lovely sunny day on the beach…but that wasn’t the case, it was pretty miserable weather wise.

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After staying out in the rain for as long as we could we headed to a pub for some food. We couldn’t find anywhere selling traditional Christmas dinner and there actually weren’t many pubs open around Bondi. We were both a bit disappointed as we’d been really looking forward to Christmas on the beach. Our first Christmas in a hot climate and what does it do…rain! We headed back to the Rocks a bit dejected and a bit soggy. On our way back towards the hostel I spotted a really Christmassy looking pub called Phillip’s foot so we decided to stop for a drink…we’d stumbled across the most perfect pub ever! It was like walking into santa’s grotto.

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We had a lovely evening chatting to people and even though it wasn’t the Christmas we’d been looking forward to the Christmas pub saved the day!

Usually on Boxing Day we are both heading to work so it felt odd to be wandering around Sydney in the sunshine. I have always found it odd that anyone would want to go shopping on Boxing Day but “someone” wanted a t-shirt from the Nike shop so off we went into town with the rest of the Sydney population.

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We definitely didn’t want to hang around for longer than absolutely necessary so we decided to head to Darling Harbour. After being so cold and wet the previous day we had a lovely time wandering around the pretty harbour in the sunshine.

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In the evening however the rain decided to return just as we were heading to the supermarket to get some food for tea. Tom had bought me some new flip flops for Christmas but not wanting to ruin them on their first outing I wore my old ones which we renamed ‘the ice-skates’. For some reason the rain had caused all the pavements to become ridiculously slippy and much to Tom’s annoyance it took us 5 times as long to get there as I shuffled along like an old lady!!

The next day we went to Manly beach which involved a 30minute boat ride through the harbour. You can do a harbour cruise but we’d read that it was much cheaper and just as good to get the ferry to Manly…the views were amazing.

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Manly beach was a beautiful long stretch of white sand with a lovely little town attached to it. I hired a surf board for an hour and was actually quite successful in standing up, maybe I will be a pro by the end of this trip!! We had a nice relaxing day on the beach before a tea of grilled fish, beautiful.

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For our last Saturday in Australia Tom researched a fun pub crawl for us to do. We’d heard that Sydney didn’t have that many cool bars, unlike Melbourne. But with a bit of research Tom found some great little places, most of which were hidden (I.e we had to wander down a dark ginnel to find one of them, and it was just a door next to a bin…the bar was amazing though!)

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It was a great night with some visits to amazingly cool bars (our budget took a bit of a beating) and we ended up in a place which was an old fashioned pizzeria with a club out the back playing rock. You could order slices of pizza with your drinks and play pinball machines in the back bar!

After a day of trip planning and wandering around the botanical gardens we decided to head back to Bondi the following day, weather dependant. We hadn’t really seen it properly when it was grey and drizzly so we wanted to go on a sunny day. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a packed beach in my life!!!

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They were also doing some filming for the Bondi Rescue TV show that we both love, so we spent most of our time there looking out for some of the stars! We’d arranged to meet Ed in Bondi, another person we’d met whilst in Africa. It was great to see him and we spent the day chatting to him whilst lazing on the beach before going for a few beers….pretty much what we’d wanted to do on Christmas Day…oh well.

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We both went to bed really excited that night as the following day was something we’d been looking forward to since the start of the trip…New Years Eve. Back in April when we’d booked the hostel we’d also booked tickets for their New Years Eve party on the roof terrace, I was beside myself with excitement.

In the morning we just had a wander round the harbour. It was really hot and we were both so pleased we’d made the decision to go to the roof terrace party as by midday the harbour was ridiculously busy with people securing their spot for the fireworks. I’m not sure Tom would have coped so well with the 12 hour wait!! We also climbed up the Pylon lookout which had great views over the harbour.

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Once the roof terrace opened we headed up for our food and drinks and as it started to go dark the excitement grew. I’ve often seen the fireworks on TV and always thought how amazing it must be to watch them…and there we were on a roof overlooking Sydney Harbour!! During the evening there were various other shows like a plane doing tricks and light shows which were all really good. Plus at 9pm there were some fireworks for the families who weren’t staying for the midnight ones. They were amazing so I knew the main ones were going to be out of this world, I was not disappointed. I don’t think we’ll ever see such impressive fireworks again. Just being there for the iconic display was incredible. The pictures just don’t do it justice, but it was truly one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen and something we won’t forget for a long time.

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The following day we pretty much did nothing but recover from the epic NYE and lounged around. It was our last day in Australia and we were both really sad to leave. We’d done so much in this huge country and in the grand scheme of things we’d hardly seen any of it!! I’m just pleased we managed to last the whole 6 weeks without seeing a snake! Our adventure in Australia really was incredible. When I think back to everything we’d done from snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef and sailing the Whitsunday Islands, to seeing Koalas in the wild, I sometimes can’t believe how lucky we are to have had the chance to experience all those once-in-a-lifetime things. The NYE fireworks really were a fitting end to our fantastic adventure down-under!!

As usual if you’d like to see more photos please click here

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