We walked through Hyde Park on our first morning and met Sven outside his hostel on the way into the city centre. It was then a short walk through the Botanic Gardens before we reached the harbour and our first views of the world famous bridge and opera house. Both were stunning to see in real life and with a warm sun sparkling off the water made it a really wonderful view. We walked round to the opera house and the boys played at running up and down the steps for a while before we headed over towards the bridge. The Southern end of the bridge is a place called “The Rocks” which is the original European settlement in Sydney. Many of the original brick buildings remain and it is very English in style. We wandered around the markets at The Rocks before ascending several flights of stairs to reach the bridge. Out on the bridge we had more good views of the opera house so Nicola took another couple of million snaps before we headed back . By this time the boys were getting tired so we picked up some snacks and drinks and headed back to the steps of the opera house for a break. After their snacks Peter, Joseph and Luke counted the steps up to the opera house (50). On the way down Luke tried to find out how many steps he could jump down face first before Nicola could catch him (3) - and came out of it with interesting bruises. We finished the day going back through Hyde Park and fell exhausted into an early bed.
We were up early on our second day after a long sleep. I headed out for a run down near the gardens on the Olympic triathlon course (2000). After I got back we looked at the map and measured how far we had walked yesterday and were surprised to see it was almost 9 miles (we think Joseph’s longest walk prior to that was about 5 miles) - no wonder we were so tired!
We met Sven at our hotel and headed over towards Chinatown where we bought tickets for the monorail. We took a ride right round the monorail loop before disembarking at Darling Harbour on our second lap. We had a good look around the maritime museum where the main exhibits were a Darwin exhibition and “trash or treasure,, souvenirs of travel” - something we have accumulated plenty of. We had a picnic lunch at the harbour while a military jazz band played in one of the waterside amphitheatres. The harbour area was really busy and there was an excellent atmosphere. After lunch we wandered around the harbour and saw a few street performers - my favourite was a three piece band in which the drummer and trombone player were on stilts and the saxophonist rode a Segway. We rode the monorail back round to Chinatown and after a quick visit to Paddy’s Market (selling the usual junk found in any UK market but ten times the size) we finished off with dinner in Chinatown.
By day 3 we were fairly exhausted, so after walking into the main harbour for breakfast (via the Botanic Gardens where we stopped to watch fruit-bats coming home to roost) we caught a ferry over to a place called Manly, North East of the city. We spent most of the day on the beach (but couldn’t help doing a little two mile walk along the esplanade because it looked like such a nice walk). The shops and cafes in Manly also looked lovely (but the only shopping we did was picking up some sun-cream, we have got out of the habit of taking it everywhere we go since we got to New Zealand!). After a relaxing ferry ride back to the city we stopped off at Peter’s favourite eating joint “Pie Face” for dinner. Once the kids were in bed Nicola and I started the epic re-pack, which surprisingly went ok.
Day 4 - our first day of rain in Australia, but after a quick swim in the hotel pool with the boys, we left by taxi for Sydney airport to say goodbye already. After being under whelmed by New Zealand it has been great to visit somewhere which really blew us away again - the first place we've been to for a while that we think we would like to live.